Monday, 25 February 2013

Top 5 Certifications to Start Your IT Career in 2013


Thinking of getting into IT? Here’s a list of the top five certifications that we think are the most effective way of entering the IT world. Once you have completed one of these, you can start your IT career, gain experience and gain higher certifications that will land you that powerful salary:

The A+ certification is considered a benchmark and stepping stone for people who want to enter the IT World. The Comptia A+ certification is the industry standard for computer support technicians. You’ll gain the skills and knowledge in installation, preventative maintenance, networking, security and troubleshooting. It is part of the certification track for corporations such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Novell, and has become a requirement for their engineers. There are almost a million IT professionals worldwide who have certified in A+ since the program’s beginning in 1993. CompTIA also offers its popular Network+ certification which you can gain with the A+ in just 7 days. You'll gain the skills and knowledge necessary to configure and operate a variety of networking products. Combined, the A+ and Network+ certifications are backed by major computer hardware and software vendors, distributors, resellers and publications. According to, the average salary for a A+ professional is £23,500 and for a Network+ professional is £23,250.

More than 95% of companies around the world use Microsoft products and technologies. Now's your chance to be a part of it. The MTA certification is the first stepping stone for all Microsoft certifications. The MTA is part of Microsoft’s new range of certifications which are very popular. Gaining this cert offers a stepping stone onto the more powerful and respected MCSA and MCSE certifications. This year will see many companies now looking for the updated Microsoft certs, which is why many MCITP aspirants are being directed to MCSA and MCSE. Learn more about the new Microsoft certs and the paths to take here: How to become a Microsoft Certified Professional.

In a Linux Jobs report, eight in ten recruiters said that hiring a Linux talent was a priority in 2012. The popularity for Linux has not stopped growing, and will continue to grow throughout  2013. This CompTIA course provides you with the basic hardware, software, and networking skills necessary to function in an entry-level Linux role. It also offers a stepping stone to the more powerful Linux certs such as the LPI level 2 and level 3According to, the average salary for a LPI professional is £25,000.

4. CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate)

CCNA is a great way to enter the IT industry. But requires dedicated training and some may find it hard if they are completely new to IT. You can first take the CCENT to get more familiar with the material. Cisco certifications are world renowned and respected. Having a CCNA shows that you have the ability to setup, troubleshoot, monitor, upgrade and maintain networking hardware based on Cisco equipment. Once you gain your certification, and some experience, you can move on to more advanced certifications like CCNPAccording to, the average salary for a CCNA professional is £38,500.

5. CompTIA Security+

The Security+ is one of the highest paying security certifications and again offered by the vendor neutral CompTIA. It's considered an important stepping stone for a career in IT security. It demonstrates that you have a strong knowledge of security concepts, cryptography, access control, and the tools and procedures to respond to security incidents. You’ll also learn about disaster recovery methods, risk management, and compliance and operational security. Once gained, You’ll then be able to anticipate and prevent cyber attacks, and effectively deal with security events. The Security+ cert is greatly recognised in the industry, many companies have it as a requirement including the U.S Department of Defense’s IT department. It's important to note that although this is considered an entry level cert for security, you must first have at least an A+ certification. to understand the core concepts. According to, the average salary for a Security+ professional is £60,000. If you want to find out more about the top IT security certifications, see our recent blog post here.

As you can see, CompTIA dominates the list as the best entry level certification provider. You can find out more about who CompTIA is in our recent blog post. 

Firebrand caught up with Terry Erdle, the Executive Vice President for CompTIA at the EMEA conference. He spoke to us about leveraging CompTIA programmes to educate and certify the IT workforce. Watch the full interview below where he talks about some of the new content and certifications coming out.

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Are there other IT certifications to consider?

If you think we missed one, let us know in the comment section below. It all depends on what sector of the industry you would like to enter. The further you go with your certifications, the more specific your skills will become. Good luck in starting your IT career in 2013.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

20 billion app downloads in a year! and 1.4 Billion smartphones


Remember when we were happy enough with a phone that did exactly what the name suggested? Perhaps with a game of ‘snake’ every so often.

But since the iPhone and the rise of the touchscreen, there has been an ever increasing desire for new apps.
Apple App Store logo
Apple users downloaded 20 billion apps last year alone. That’s almost 3 apps for every person on this planet!

Last year had so many downloads that the figure represents about half of the 40 billion downloaded to iPhones, iPads and iPods since the App store was launched in 2008.

Last month alone saw a record 2 billion apps downloaded due to the launch of several new Apple devices just in time for Christmas sales.

Apple revealed that it had paid developers (who created around 775,000 worldwide) over £4.4 billion.

Last year among the top paid apps were Whatsapp Messenger at 69p, Draw Something at £1.99 and Angry Birds Space at 69p.

Olly Mann, tech expert and presenter on LBC 97.3 has stated that the app boom will continue in 2013. Adding that “Downloads in the Android, Amazon and Windows app stores will continue to grow too, so this isn’t solely Apple’s wheelhouse.”

Google Play app store for Android devices got to 25 billion downloads in September 2012.

This increasingly growing industry is a very lucrative one, and many are jumping at the opportunity. Especially now with the big release of Windows 8 devices.

Windows 8 Sells 20 million copies since November

Windows Store printscreenIn the ten weeks since its launch, Windows 8 has sold 60 million copies, announced Tami Reller, CFO of Microsoft’s Windows division, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2013) in Las Vegas.

Mobility is taking over!

By the end of 2013, there will be 1.4 billion smartphones in use: 798 million of which will run Android, 294 million will run Apple’s iOS, and 45 million will run Windows Phone, according to a study by ABI Research. The worlds population is at 7 billion, meaning that there will be one phone for every five people.

Firebrand Training caught up with Business Group Director for GFK, Carl West at the CompTIA EMEA conference. GFK is a market research company who track what consumers are buying. He gave us some astonishing facts about mobility, watch the interview below.

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Video Transcript

My name is Carl West. I'm Business Group Director for GFK. We are a market research company. We operate in 115 countries around the world. Essentially what we do is we track what the consumer is buying, the channel pull rather than channel push.

Today I'm going to be talking about mobility. We've got a panel debate coming up with the CompTIA EMEA event. It's quite ironic really. Here I am talking about mobility, and then you look at this little pen here. On the end this is why mobility is so important now, and this illustrates it. This is a little touch thing on the end which works with your iPod, your iPad, your Samsung Galaxy tab. Just this little device here says why these media tablets and these ultra-mobile devices are becoming part and parcel of what we do.

We're going to be talking about that. We're going to be talking about the fact that smartphones are now becoming the defacto form factor in the UK. In December 2011, 24.9 million handsets, smartphone handsets have been sold over the past six years. That's an installed base, 24.9 million smartphones. Now you think about where smartphones came from in the space of the last two, three years, we've now got more smartphones in the market than we have the old feature phones. Actually these devices are, in most cases, more powerful than some of the computers we had five years ago.

So, mobility is really, really important right now. The other thing that we'll be talking about today are some bring-your-own devices. Now more and more of us are buying these consumerized devices. We take them into the workplace. We're using them. Our IT managers don't know we're using them. In fact, I do it. I bring my tablet into work, and I use it side by side with my work machine.

These managers, the IT managers, in these businesses have to learn how they work with these type of devices. The first thing all the IT managers will say, they'll say about security. They'll say about policy. They'll say about data privacy, all of those elements. But what we're trying to do and what we'll talk about in the mobility debate today is how as an organization it's a way of engaging with your customers again, and actually it's a way of engaging with your employees.

Cisco came out with some research. In 17 countries they did basically a questionnaire, and 89% of the executives said that their own staff already bring their own devices into work. So, if they're bringing these devices into work, why not embrace it and make it a perk of working for that organization rather than putting a brick wall up and saying, "No, we don't accept these devices."

Take the opportunity

Take the first steps in becoming an app developer with an MTA Mobile Development Fundamentals and MTA Gaming Development Fundamentals certification.  They can both can be gained together in just 4 days. They’ll help you be on your way to succeeding in advanced certification courses.

You can also take the MCSD: Windows Store Style Apps course where you’ll learn how to create Windows Store style apps using C#. The MCSD certification will prove your ability to design and develop beautiful, elegant apps that are alive with activity for the cloud. You can also learn to create Windows Store style apps using HTML5 on the MCSD: Windows Store Style Apps course. Both take just 9 days

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, , IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Skills gap leaves Britain vulnerable to cyber crime


A shortage of IT security experts is leaving Britain vulnerable to the threat of internet attacks and cyber war research shows.

Cyber crime costs the country hundreds of millions of pounds every year and the skills shortage is not helping. The country’s critical infrastructure that supports government, emergency services, utilities and transport is at risk of online attacks, the National Audit Office warned.

The report stated “these services are essential to daily life… and their protection from cyber attacks is crucial”.

Figures in the government, academia and business claimed that the shortage crisis could last for two decades. The current pipeline of graduates and practitioners would not meet demand.

The NAO report added that “this shortage of ICT skills hampers the UK’s ability to protect itself in cyber-space and promote the use of the internet both now and in the future”.

How much?
The report comes after a large amount of warnings about cyber crime, which is currently estimated to cost up to £27billion a year in Britain alone. Foreign secretary William Hague has stated that computer systems which supported the London Olympics were attacked every day during the event.

Closing the Gap
Britain’s brightest computer brains came together on Saturday at the offices of the internet security company - Sophos for a cyber war game designed to find the most talented individuals.

Cyber security firms confirmed that it has become increasingly difficult to find the best computer minds because the teaching in schools and universities is not up to standard.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK logoThe Cyber Security Challenge UK was set up as a competition in 2010 to encourage the UK to get rid of the digital skills gap.

During the challenge, candidates encounter creations of both cyber criminal gangs and nation states in a virtual environment. They take on the role of forensics and defence specialists working for the UK Government. All attacks are based on real-life scenarios. Candidates then presented their findings to a panel of judges and made recommendations on actions to be taken.

Sophos LogoThe most successful participants are likely to be offered jobs or bursaries that will help them start a career in the industry.

250,000 new viruses are released on the internet every day, and 30,000 websites fall victim to malicious software every 24 hours.

Governments around the world are investing heavily on improving cyber capabilities in order to protect everything from banks to nuclear reactors, water purification plants to the national grid.

Firebrand Training caught up with James Lyne, Sophos Director of Technology Strategy at CompTIA's EMEA conference. He spoke to spoke to us about the importance of cyber security education. Watch the interview below.

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Video Transcript:
Hi. My name is James Lyne and I'm the Director of Technology Strategy at Sophos. Today at the CompTIA conference we've been running a panel about how to encourage the next generation of cyber security talent, and how to more effectively get the message across to existing employees within businesses today.

It's been one of the huge challenges of the past 20 years of security. Really the outcome of the panel was that, while we're making a lot of progress, there's a lot of attention on this issue in everything from public sector and government, through to small businesses. We've still got a long way to go, in particular in the area of new devices like mobile phones.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Video: What is the IAMCP and what do they do?


What is the IAMCP?
The International Association of Channel Partners (IAMCP) is the world’s leading technology partnership of Microsoft with over 5,000 corporate members in 80 chapters in 40 countries, serving a community of over 100,000 people.

The IAMCP provides members with information, training and events designed to increase business opportunities locally and internationally.

They help partners to expand their trade borders and establish strong business alliances with direct links to people from Microsoft and a forum to discuss the latest Microsoft technologies.

IAMCP has four fundamental pillars - P.A.C.E.


Firebrand managed to catch up with the IAMCP’s current Worldwide President Kelvin Kirby at the CompTIA EMEA Conference who gave us a brief introduction into the IAMCP.

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Video Transcript:
Good afternoon. My name is Kelvin Kirby. I am the current Worldwide President for the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners. Our organization represents about 5,500 partners worldwide in the Microsoft Partner Channel, and we have 80 chapters in 40 countries all around the globe.

Our community is essentially just focused on Microsoft Partners who want to partner with other partners in various locations. It could be either in the same country, it could be in different countries, but basically they want to develop their services and promote other services outside of that. So we have a very vibrant community. I encourage you to go and find out more about IAMCP at

Get more information about the IAMCP and how to join here:

About the Author:

Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

What is Agile Product Ownership and how does it work? SCRUM


Agile Project Management is a powerful and effective method of delivering projects in a flexible and interactive manner. It takes on the view of the product owner, the stakeholders and the development team.

Agile product ownership Process - SCRUM
Agile Product Ownership Process by Julian Arias - Firebrand Training

Product Owner

The product owner is the person who has the idea and product vision. They don’t know the details of what the product is going to do, but they know why the product is going to be built, the problems it will solve and for who.


The stakeholders are the people who are going to use and support the product being developed.


Both the product owner and stakeholders have ideas and needs for the product, these are known as user stories. There are many stories, so the product owner uses the ideas to create concrete user stories.

The development team

The agile development team are the people who are going to build the product or system and develop the user stories. Agile teams do not release the whole product at the end; instead they release stories (features of the product) bit by bit. This is measured by the amount of stories released per week. This is known as ‘Capacity’. One idea could count as 2 stories or even half a story depending on its size. Capacity is measured by the amount of stories/features released per week.

Optimum Capacity

One of the main problems Agile tackles is that the stakeholders ask for a lot of features and ideas. They usually have more ideas than the capacity of the development team. If the development team’s capacity is 6 – 8 stories per week and the stakeholders are coming up with 15 stories, the team will get overloaded. It creates multitasking and demotivation which then lowers the quality and value of the features.

The way agile tackles this issue is by calculating the optimum capacity of the dev team. In this case it would be between 6 to 8 stories per week. Then the product owner decides which 7 of the 15 stories or ideas the stakeholders came up with should be developed. This is called ‘Yesterdays Weather’ in Agile and SCRUM terms. The idea is to lower the work in progress or ‘WIP’. In this case, the WIP limit for the dev team would be 7. This will keep them busy the whole week while working fast and effective. But a new problem arises from this, which must be tackled.

Product Backlog

As the dev team is creating 7 new features each week and the stakeholders are coming up with 15 ideas each week, a backlog and queue of ideas starts to get larger and larger. In SCRUM, this queue is called the ‘Product Backlog’. This means that eventually the features released will be the ones asked for 8 months before, which is not very ‘Agile’.

Saying NO!

The only way to combat this is to just say NO.  It is easy to say yes to a new feature, but the hard part is saying no. The reality is that to be Agile, some things must be pushed away. The product owner decides which stories should be developed by looking at both its value and its size. Some stories can be big (take a long time) but have little value, while there could be smaller stories with a higher value. The obvious choice here is the smaller one as it will not take long to build but add a lot of value to the product. The same goes for stories of the same size but with different values, the one with higher value is the best option.

So how does the product owner measure the value? They can’t. The value of a feature is guessed and can be wrong, but that’s ok. With time the product owner gets better at guessing while understanding the product more. This means that the most important job for a product owner is to decide what not to build, which is hard.

The product owner also decides the sequencing of the queue. This would be deciding what to build now and what to build later. This can be difficult so the owner uses help from both the stakeholders and the dev team. The owner asks the stakeholders what they value, and asks the dev team what they think is big or small in terms of time.

Communication is the name of the game

From what you can see, communication is very important when it comes to the Agile methodology. Communicating, prioritising and guessing the correct figures is called ‘Backlog Grooming’. The owner should run a Backlog Grooming workshop every week for one hour. The whole team should be there and the some of the stakeholders too.

So when it comes to succeeding in product ownership, the most important thing to keep in mind is communication and of course; passion.

Agile and SCRUM

This is a basic introduction into the world of Agile and SCRUM. Hope it helps. Below is a 10 minute introduction into the world of Scrum development methodology. It shows you what it is to be a SCRUM Master and how it works. The following topics are covered:

If you want to learn more, check out the Professional Scrum Master (Agile) course which takes only two days! Click here for more information:

About the Author:
Julian writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Julian is the companies Digital Marketer.

Friday, 8 February 2013

CISA, CISM and CRISC awarded Best Professional Certification Program


ISACA’s CISA, CISM and CRISC certification programs are finalists for the “Best Professional Certification Program” in SC Magazine’s 2013 Awards.

In a recent study by Foote Partners, it was found that CISA, CISM and CRISC certification holders earn pay premiums that place the certifications in the top 7 percent of all 268 IT industry certifications reported by Foote Partners.

According to the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index, those who obtain the CISA, CISM or CRISC certifications are ranked among the highest paid professionals.

SC Magazine Awards 2013 FinalistsTo make this list, a certification program must average a pay premium in excess of the equivalent of 10% of base salary.

CISM was already voted among our top four security certifications. CISM is also highly sought after for IT positions. It is also widely recognised in organisations and government agencies.

It provides a body of knowledge for information security management, focusing mainly on information risk management. It also demonstrates to employers that the professional has a strong understanding of security governance, risk management and compliance, security program development and management, and security incident management.

According to, the average salary for a CISM professional is £52,500.

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.