Friday, 27 July 2012

Firebrand releases new SAP HCM certification

Firebrand has launched a new fourteen-day SAP Certified Application Associate – Human Capital Management course. This accelerated SAP course will help you improve your SAP Human Capital Management (HCM/HR) skills.

The SAP HCM certification validates your knowledge of the SAP Human Capital Management system.

You'll pass the following exam to gain SAP certification:
  • SAP® Certified Application Associate - Management & Administration with SAP® ERP 6.0 EHP5

You'll learn about SAP® HCM organisational units, Master data, Time data management, Payroll, Personnel development and training, Personal administration, Organisation management and Processes and reporting.

Certifying in SAP HCM will make you a SAP® Certified Application Associate, which qualifies you for roles such as: SAP® HCM consultant, project team member, analyst or trainer.

Did you know that a SAP HCM consultant earns, on average £85,000 p.a? (source:

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cloud computing skills in demand

A new study of 500 IT and business professionals and 400 IT firms by CompTIA reveals that the evolution of companies to the cloud will result in change in job descriptions, and will lead to restructuring of IT departments in businesses.
The report reveals that more than three out of five companies are adding new types of skillsets to their IT departments to keep up with growing cloud requirements.
According to the report, the skills in demand include private cloud developers and administrators, departmental liaisons, integration specialists, cloud architects, and compliance specialists.
Types of Skills/Roles Companies Have Added to IT Departments
Skills to build private clouds - 69%
Departmental liaisons - 64%
Integration specialists - 63%
Cloud architect - 61%
Compliance Specialist - 44%
Source: CompTIA
The report shows that businesses believe that adopting cloud computing is having a positive effect on IT employment.
32% of the organisations said that they had restructured their IT departments, and nearly half of those companies built new cloud computing related roles.
To ensure that IT personnel have the new skills, they are being sent to train and certify. Two-thirds of companies in the survey who reported undergoing an IT department restructuring revealed that their IT staff had taken training to build new skills. “This training may often be initiated by the employees,” the study states.
To find out how to learn the Cloud Essentials, visit:

CompTIA Cloud Essentials | Firebrand Training

Should You Jump On the Cloud Bandwagon?

IT departments have been seeing a renewal in funding within their companies, according to Though some of these funds are earmarked for customer engagement, a fair amount is also meant for tech development.

Cloud Computing | Firebrand Training
With businesses becoming more and more reliant upon custom applications, many are finding that they’re quickly outgrowing their on-premise hardware and servers – which means that many CIOs and ITs are wondering how to manage that growth.

The Cloud has appeared as one of the miraculous solutions to these needs. However, as it often happens in the IT industry, the noise level around this new buzzword makes it hard for IT professionals to really understand what the cloud really means and how they can take advantage of it.

If you’ve found yourself wondering about this cloud frenzy, and if you should jump on the cloud bandwagon, here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide whether or not to take the plunge and which provider to choose.

Are your apps good to go, or will they need to be ported to a new technology?

One of the reasons that many companies have found switching to the cloud cost prohibitive is that many cloud vendors have very rigid terms regarding programming languages. You’ll find that each provider has selected a different technology stack to support the development, deployment and runtime of their cloud applications.

What this means is that, if your existing apps are written in .Net and you’re considering a cloud infrastructure that uses Python or Java, you’ll have to completely rewrite your apps. Do you have the resources, time and budget for that? Another aspect to consider is the flexibility you will have to switch to another cloud vendor if you wish.

Before deciding to which cloud provider to use, make sure their technology stack is in line with the one you’re currently using to minimize the cost of porting applications. Start by evaluating what you already have, how easy it will be for you to port those apps to the new platform, and what other options (cloud vendors) will you have if you decide to switch vendors later on.

How much will it cost to evolve your apps?

Research shows that anywhere from 60% to 80% of the total cost of ownership of an enterprise application goes towards its maintenance and evolution after the initial release. 

Will moving to the cloud cut down on this cost? Not really! The issue here is that the cost of maintaining and evolving apps is tied to the technology used to build the application, and not the infrastructure the app is running on.

Before deciding which cloud provider to use, spend some time evaluating if the underlying technology will allow you to add more functionality to your applications faster, while keeping the cost of those changes stable. 

Do you have a firm IT strategy?

As a company, before you can decide whether or not it’s time for a switch, it’s important that you’ve spent time working out your IT strategy. In particular you need to think about your people resources.

If migrating to a specific cloud provider means switching your development platforms, then you’ll need to retrain some of your people on this new technology. On the other hand, you’ll probably keep some applications on-premise, which means you’ll need to have enough resources to maintain them.

At the end of the day you will definitely need to have enough skilled people to maintain several applications in different infrastructures.

Before going cloud, make sure you’ve fully evaluated and planned for the resources you’ll need to allocate to both the cloud and on-premise infrastructures and applications.

Is your infrastructure the bottleneck?

If someone tells you that an application development project is delayed because of issues in your development, quality assurance or production environments’ set-up, they are probably lying! In the vast majority of cases, projects are hindered because the development process is broken (and in some cases, the technology being used is old).

Companies have found that the cloud can really improve infrastructure set-up. Yes, the Cloud does lower operational costs, and it does reduce the time needed to have servers up and running. It also gives you elasticity to add more servers when needed, and remove them when load goes down.

However, this has little to do with delivering projects within budget and on time. To do so, you have to look into your process. You’ll need to evaluate the methodology and tools you’re using.

Before you consider shifting to cloud computing, it’s imperative that you’ve spent time fixing any existing issues with your application delivery process. The cloud fixes the “hardware” part so you have a place to deploy your apps to, but you still need to fix the whole development and deployment process if you want to rip all the benefits the cloud has to offer. 

While there are application development platforms that will make a shift to cloud computing much more gentle for a company, it’s not a decision that can be made lightly. Every company needs to fully evaluate its own IT issues and needs before jumping on the cloud bandwagon.

Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting on business strategy, you can find her writing about style on her fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Companies embracing the Cloud

Information Age, along with Star polled 219 readers, mainly IT managers from UK, and researched companies’ perspective on cloud and whether they believe adapting to cloud will lead to growth.

Out of the surveyed, 70% have adopted or are planning to implement the virtualisation of internal infrastructure. 30% of the respondents have implemented cloud-based backup and recovery in their businesses, and 15% plan to, in the coming year. This is more than any other technology listed.

Information Age reports that organisations that were expecting growth are likely to shift to the cloud-based technologies. Bigger organisations (£100m+) have almost universally embraced virtualisation and SaaS. Small and medium businesses are more likely to implement cloud-based email.

New SAP CRM Fundamentals course launched

Firebrand has released a new ten-day accelerated SAP Certified Application Associate CRM Fundamentals certification. The new SAP course will help improve your SAP Customer Relationship Management.

To gain the SAP certification, you’ll need to pass the following exam:
  • SAP® Certified Application Associate - CRM Fundamentals with SAP® CRM 7.0 Ehp1 (Code: C_TCRM20_71)

 The SAP® CRM certification will prove your understanding of SAP® CRM basics and navigation. You’ll learn about: master data, organisational and product management, transactional processing, sales and marketing, customer service, middleware setup and maintenance, billing, pricing, interaction channels and CRM reporting.

Once certified, you will become a SAP® Certified Application Associate in CRM Fundamentals with SAP® CRM 7.0. You'll be able to manage your company's SAP® CRM, and gain the skills and knowledge for roles such as: SAP® CRM consultant, project team member, analyst or trainer.

SAP CRM Fundamentals

Friday, 20 July 2012

Microsoft to release 80430A: MS Dynamics® AX 2012 course

Microsoft Learning has announced the release of a one-day 80430A: Vendor Management and Collaboration in Microsoft Dynamics® AX 2012 course.

This new MS Learning course builds on the knowledge and skills gained from the Procurement in Microsoft Dynamics® AX 2012 course. It focuses on the processes involved with Vendor on-boarding and collaboration.

To view the course syllabus:

Note: This course is available for download on PartnerSource and CustomerSource, and will be available to order from 16 August 2012.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Cisco to update its CCIE certification

Cisco is updating its CCIE Security exams (v4.0) on 19th November. Both the written and lab exams will be updated. Cisco has already made the objectives for the new v4.0 written exam and lab exam available on their website.

The written exam will be a two-hour, multiple choice test with 90-110 questions covering areas such as security protocols, operating systems, application protocols, security technologies, and Cisco security applications.


Economy's gone into a double-dip recession, you've heard rumours about people being fired at work, you don't have enough to get that new car you've been eying, you can't buy the diamond your girlfriend/wife demands.

All we can say is,

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bill Gates? You’ve got competition…

Most eight-year olds these days love playing computer games. Shafay Thobani is creating them.

Shafay, an eight year old from Pakistan, has just qualified as the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). He mastered complex internet protocol and domain name systems during a 13-month course.

On April 9, 2012, Shafay secured a score of 91 per cent in the relevant exams, making him the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) at the age of eight years and 24 days. The boy certified in MCTS in Microsoft Windows 7 Configuration and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2.

In hindsight, had he heard of Firebrand, Shafay could have achieved his certifications in 11 days. He would have been the age of seven with the certs!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Intelligence Chief explains “astonishing” levels of cyber-attacks

A news article on BBC has reported that MI5 is battling "astonishing" levels of cyber-attacks on UK industry. The intelligence agency's chief, Jonathan Evans, has warned internet "vulnerabilities" were being exploited by criminals as well as states.

"Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states," he said. "The extent of what is going on is astonishing."

"This is a threat to the integrity, confidentiality and availability of government information but also to business and to academic institutions," Mr Evans said.

"What is at stake is not just our government secrets but also the safety and security of our infrastructure, the intellectual property that underpins our future prosperity and... commercially sensitive information."

"We appear to be moving from a period of a deep and focused threat to one where the threat is less monolithic but wider," he said.

He also said greater collection of communications data will be allowed from social networks to tackle crimes, including terrorism.

"It would be extraordinary and self-defeating if terrorists and criminals were able to adopt new technologies... while the law enforcement and security agencies were not permitted to keep pace with those same technological changes," he said.

The last few months have seen high profile hack attempts, including the Flame Virus and 1.5 million password leaks by LinkedIn.

Security skills are in-demand and much needed. To view security courses offered by Firebrand, visit:

Five simple ways start-ups can defend against hackers

In the last two months, the Lebanese government website has been hacked twice, the Flame Virus spread at a rapid pace taking the digital world by storm and LinkedIn lost 1.5 million passwords to hackers. This is again highlighting the importance of cyber-security.

Symantec’s 2011 Security Report reveals an 81% increase globally in malicious cyber-attacks last year, with 5.5 billion attacks blocked just by Symantec alone.

There are a few measures that Selahaddin Karatas, manager of security firm SolidPass, recommends as start-off basics:

  1. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) should be adopted from day one. 
  2. Login forms must be encrypted. Personal data and private information should be anonymized and secured in an encrypted database.
  3. Admin access rights should be clearly set. It must be clear who has access to what and where.
  4. Procedures should be in place to prevent "insider" attacks.
  5. Softwares/Programs which take private personal information or import contact address books should have stronger security in place like mobile apps like Path and iCloud.

Nine-day MCSD: Web Apps course launched

Firebrand has released a new nine-day MCSD: Web Applications certification.

The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certification extends developer skills beyond traditional platform boundaries. MCSD courses equip you with skills needed to develop fast and fluid applications.

You’ll need to pass the following exams to certify in the MCSD: Web Applications:
  • Exam 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3
  • Exam 70-486: Developing ASP.NET 4.5 MVC Web Applications
  • Exam 70-487: Developing Windows Azure and Web Services

The following Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) are provided on the course: 
  • MOC 20480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3
  • MOC 20486: Developing ASP.NET 4.5 MVC Web Applications
  • MOC 20487: Developing Windows Azure and Web Services

Monday, 16 July 2012

New 10-day SAP Business Warehouse Implementation certification launched

Firebrand has launched a new SAP Certified Application Associate Business Warehouse (Implementation) certification. The accelerated ten-day course is for professionals who understand Data Warehousing and the Data Dictionary.

You’ll need to sit and pass the following exam on the course:

  • SAP® Certified Application Associate - Modeling with SAP® BW 7.3 & SAP® BI 4.0 (Code:C_TBW55_73)

Broadly, you’ll learn the following elements on the course:

  • Enterprise Data Warehousing
  • Business Warehouse Modeling & Implementation
  • Business Warehouse Data Acquisition
  • SAP® Business Objects (BO) Reporting Clients & Information Design Tool

You’ll become a SAP® Certified Application Associate in Business Warehouse (BW) Implementation on finishing the course and passing the exam.

Firebrand releases new SAP Business Warehouse User course

Firebrand has released a 10 day accelerated SAP Certified Application Associate Business Warehouse (User) course. The SAP Business Warehouse course is ideal for a System Administrator, Junior Consultant, or professionals in a Project Team with basic Business Warehouse experience.

To get the certification, you need to pass the following exam:

  • SAP® Certified Application Associate - Business Intelligence with SAP® BW 7.3 and SAP® BI 4.0 (Code: C_TB130_73)

The three broad topics covered on the course are:

  • Business Warehouse Query Design & Analysis
  • Business Warehouse Web Apps Designer & Data Warehousing
  • Business Warehouse Portal Integration and Business Warehouse Workbook design With BEx

You’ll become a SAP® Certified Application Associate in Business Warehouse (BW) User after passing the exam.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Microsoft WPC 2012: Day Four

Firebrand had an enriching experience, learning about Microsoft’s plans for the following year. We engaged and focused around what matters most – taking advantage of the opportunity we have to succeed together. 1.5 billion people use Microsoft products every day, and now Microsoft wants to help us target the other 5.5 billion.

Our checklist:
  • We’ll continue networking and engaging with partners via WPC Connect and engage with the online community via DigitalWPC
  • Compete to win and drive customer satisfaction
  • Focus our attention towards: Windows 8, Office 365 in the cloud, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Phone 8
  • We’re gearing up for the Windows 8 RTM release the first week in August and general availability at the end of October
  • Top 8 tech trends: Cloud, Data, Social, Natural Interaction, Ecosystem of Computers, Consumerization of IT, Connectivity, and Machine Learning
  • Understand the MPN Competency Updates
  • Familiarize ourselves with the new MPN branding
  • Nominate 500 eligible non-profits serving youth in their communities for the What’s Your Cause Challenge

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Microsoft WPC Day 3: It's a New Era

Jon Roskill opened up the keynote and explained how partners and Microsoft will work together in the coming year. Kevin Turner talked about Microsoft’s vision of the cloud service for every person, every device, and every business.

Some of the big announcements of the day were:

IDC Study: A recently commissioned study by IDC issued a report showing that a 50-person Microsoft partner organization with approximately US$5-10M in revenue and 2-5 competencies can realise US$320,000 in value directly attributable to MPN benefit utilisation.

Tools to Compete and Win: Kevin Turner shared Microsoft’s commitment to helping partners succeed by delivering solutions above competitors in the market including growing virtualization growth at twice the rate of VMWare and outdueling Google Apps with Office 365.

MPN Competency Updates: Some of the updates to the MPN Competency include a new Application Development competency, a new Collaboration and Content competency, an evolved Desktop competency, and a revamped Digital Marketing competency. 

New MPN Branding: Microsoft has announced new partner strategy and programs. These enhancements are implemented with partners in mind.

Microsoft Translator: Commercial availability of the Microsoft Translator Hub is now available.

Windows Server 2012 Innovations Showcase:
Over 20 partners showcased applications and hardware supporting the new capabilities of Windows Server 2012. This ecosystem of partners ranges from OEM, IHV, ISV and ODMs supporting technologies in networking, storage, virtualization and application developers. 

Watch live stream and the day’s talks on DigitalWPC

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Microsoft WPC 2012 - Day 2

Today, we found out about many new Microsoft programs and technology features. This continues the theme Microsoft has set for this year’s WPC - A New Era. Together. Microsoft explained the capabilities of virtual machine for Windows Azure, a program designed to help customers transition from the VMWare infrastructure to Microsoft. Microsoft talked about why it believed MS Dynamics to be a true game changer for ERP, and new Windows Phone 8 capabilities and features.

Notable announcements:

Windows Server / Azure: Microsoft announced a new Community Technology Preview (CTP) of new technologies that enable hosting service providers to use their Windows Server data centers to deliver the same great web site and virtual machine capabilities recently announced for Windows Azure.

Switch to Hyper-V Program: A new program to help customers transition from VMware infrastructure to Microsoft has been announced. The “Switch to Hyper-V” Program provides partners with guidance, training and software tools, including the Virtual Machine Migration Toolkit, to more seamlessly migrate virtual machines to Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center.

Microsoft Dynamics: Microsoft revealed that several new independent software vendors are choosing Microsoft Dynamics or extending their solutions across Microsoft Dynamics platform.

Windows Phone: Microsoft revealed the new hardware capabilities coming to Windows Phone 8 and the features Windows Phone 8 will deliver through integration with Windows 8. They talked about the new apps which will Microsoft will be releasing for Windows Phone 8.

What’s Your Cause Challenge: Microsoft has launched a new challenge, where they will be giving out software donations. MS wants to know: What’s your cause? Between July 10 and August 31, 2012 Microsoft Partners are challenged to nominate 500 eligible non-profits serving youth in their communities to receive a software donation from Microsoft. More information here

To watch a live stream of WPC, or to catch up on the day’s talks, visit: DigitalWPC

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Microsoft WPC: Day 1 - It's not just talk. It's real. It's happening.

Steve Ballmer opened his keynote by saying, “It’s not just talk. It’s real. It’s happening. It’s here.” Over 16,000 attendees from over 156 different countries across the globe to joined us for the largest Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference ever and to hear what Microsoft has in store for us in the following year.

Steve Ballmer explained about how Microsoft’s preparing for the New Era and how partners are at the very core of this story. He says ‘this is the year for all of us’. Firebrand is there to find out about new technologies and competencies Microsoft is planning to release.

Kurt DelBene shared his thoughts and insight about being partners in productivity and announced Office 365 Open. Tami Reller then talked about Windows 8 and showcased how it adapts to the user experience.

The big announcements from the day were:

Office 365 Open: A new way for partners to provide Office 365 Open through a pre-paid offer which enables partners to deliver packaged services with a single invoice and manage the customer relationship.

Office 365 Advisor Program: Starting today, changes to the program let the most active partners sell and earn more from Office 365.

Windows 8 RTM/GA: Windows 8 is on track for release to manufacturers (RTM) during the first week of August, and the product will reach general availability (GA) at the end of October. Enterprise customers can get Windows 8 as early as August, and the product will be available in 109 languages in 231 markets.

Office 2010 / Windows 7 momentum: There are now 1 billion people using Office worldwide, and licenses for Windows 7 have reached 630 million worldwide.

Microsoft acquires Perceptive Pixel: “The acquisition of PPI allows us to draw on our complementary strengths, and we’re excited to accelerate this market evolution,” said Kurt DelBene, president, Office Division for Microsoft. “PPI’s large touch displays, when combined with hardware from our OEMs, will become powerful Windows 8-based PCs and open new possibilities for productivity and collaboration.”

To watch it live, or catch up on the day’s talks, visit: DigitalWPC

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Microsoft releases new Dynamics® AX 2012 80424A course

Microsoft Learning has announced the release of a two-day 80424A: Product Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics® AX 2012 course.

This course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to use the intermediate and advanced functionality of the product configuration feature in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

The course teaches you basic setup, how to build a product configuration model, how to prepare a product configuration model for release, and configuring lines on the AX client and the Enterprise Portal.

Note: This course is available for download on PartnerSource and CustomerSource, and will be orderable on 26 July 2012.

To find out the course syllabus, visit:

How to find legit test preparation sites?

 Learn how to identify legitimate test preparation sites and materials.

Video courtesy - Microsoft Learning

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Microsoft opens Beta Exams for all

Microsoft is making the beta exams available to everyone to keep pace with the new technologies being released.

These beta exams count towards the certifications like MCSE or MCSD. The exam scores are available after the release of the final exam, which is 8-12 weeks after the beta exam.

Beta exams can only be taken once by a candidate and are available through Prometric.
Microsoft has released the following beta exams:

  • Exam 410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
  • Exam 687: Configuring Windows 8
  • Exam 480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3

New MCSA Windows 8 certification released

Firebrand has released the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Windows 8 certification.

To gain the new MCSA cert, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • Exam 70-687: Configuring Windows 8
  • Exam 70-688: Managing and Maintaining Windows 8

Getting certified on the Windows operating system proves to customers and employers that you have the technical skills necessary to do the job.

Candidates looking for this certification are IT professionals who configure or support Windows 8 operating software. The professional could be a consultant, full-time desktop support technician, or an IT generalist who administers Windows 8-based computers and devices as part of their technical responsibilities.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Microsoft releases Small Business Competency

A recent Microsoft survey, undertaken by Edge Strategies, reveals that 50% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) believe cloud computing will gain importance in their operations. More than half (58%) predict that cloud implementation will make them more competitive.

Microsoft has helped SMBs seize this, with the launch of the Small Business competency. Only 5% of Microsoft partners have competencies – with only 1% with Gold competency. 

To gain the Silver Small Business Competency, your company must employ (or contract) a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) who has passed Exam 70-323: Administering Office 365. The MCP must also pass one of the following:

  • Exam 70-169: TS: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring  
  • Exam 70-321: Deploying Office 365 
  • Exam 70-680: TS: Windows 7, Configuring 

To gain a Gold Small Business Competency, you must employ or contract with two MCPs who have passed two of these exams:

  • Exam 70-321: Deploying Office 365 
  • Exam 70-323: Administering Office 365 
  • Exam 70-680: TS: Windows 7, Configuring 

Another MCP must also have passed two of these:

  • Exam 70-169: TS: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard, Configuring
  • Exam 70-321: Deploying Office 365 
  • Exam 70-323: Administering Office 365 
  • Exam 70-642: TS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring  
  • Exam 70-680: TS: Windows 7, Configuring 

To find out all you need to know about Microsoft competencies – and get ahead -  visit: