Thursday, 28 March 2013

Guest Post: “Making Money With Open Source” - Bill Quinn

About the Author: Bill Quinn is CEO at LPI UK & Ireland promoting Linux Certification. 

LPI UK were honoured to have the time of maddog for a far too short a visit to the UK. maddog had managed to alter his schedule to facilitate two days in the UK on a return from CeBIT (the world's largest computer and telephony show, held in Hannover, Germany every year).

The theme for the trip was “Making Money with Open Source” delivered to Academia – students, the next generation. Whilst the focus of the trip was what you can do with Open Source, how people have successful businesses with Open Source and the flexibility that there is with Open Source it is particularly timely with the demand for highly qualified IT people. It is estimated that by 2015 there will be 300,000 jobs in Europe in IT that can not be filled because the skills are not there. 90% of hiring managers say it is hard to find Linux pros. 93% of employers plan to hire a Linux pro in the next six months.

Stop one was University of Cambridge, known for their work on XEN virtualization, and more recently for the development of the Raspberry Pi. The afternoon consisted of maddog, David Rusling, CTO of Linaro and Heidi Howard of Signposts.

Linaro is the place where engineers from the world's leading technology companies define the future of Linux on ARM. The company is a not-for-profit engineering organization with over 120 engineers working on consolidating and optimizing open source software for the ARM architecture.

Signposts is a concept to replace the concept of logging into a central server to make the connection between two clients behind NAT routers, among other things.

maddog gave a brief History of himself, and the people he had met which then flowed into examples of how you can make money with Open Source. The talk articulated the benefits of Openness.

Tuesday was a busy day – 3 stops in 3 different locations. Stop one was with The Open University to be interviewed by Andrew Smith (Lecturer Department of Communication and Systems Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology).  Andrew had brought a series of questions from his students about Linux, Open Source and Opportunities. The answers will be edited into a podcast.

Next stop was Barnfield College. The first thing you see as you enter the College is the computer suites, or should these be computing, voice  and networking suites given the amount of Cisco, IP Phones and Computers? Barnfield have been championing Linux in education for some time, with many of the students working on extra curricular activities relating to Open Source. It was announced that week that Barnfield student Nehmaan Ahmed is part of the UK team for WorldSkills in Leipzig. WorldSkills is akin to a world championship in various vocational fields – Nehmaan is representing the UK in the “IT Network Systems Administration” category.

The international competition lasts for four days, with four hours and forty-five minutes of competition time per day. The competitors will be tested on the skills in the following domains:  Cisco Routing and Switching,  Cisco Wireless, Cisco Voice over IP, Cisco Security (the ASA firewall), Linux (including Apache2, Samba, RADIUS, iptables, Postfix, BIND9, Nagios, Cacti and lots more), Microsoft Windows 7 & Server 2008R2. There will be thirty countries competing in Germany in July.

maddog at Redhat
Next was the final stop of Birmingham City University where the Faculty of Technology, Engineering & the Environment facilitated a talk with maddog and Phil Andrews, VP Northern and Eastern Europe for Red Hat. Even though maddog and Phil Andrews hadn’t discussed before their talks, the two talks complemented each other very well. Red Hat focused on the Enterprise – how the Enterprise needed a stable and supported version of Open Source which is what Red Hat brings through its subscription model. maddog focused on the technical person who wanted to start a business. maddog is a fantastic speaker who brought real life examples to the talk. One example was the company in Brazil who needed GIS software to explore the Amazon. The cost was $ 500,000 a licence and they needed 9 licences. What broke the deal though was that the Brazilian company needed the software in Portuguese. The software company advised that it was not in their best interest to deliver a version in Portuguese. Subsequently the Brazilian company contracted with a local Open Source developer who delivered what they needed, in a shorter timeframe and for a cost of $ 350,000. The cost was not the primary issue, it was the fact that they could see the code and develop it how they needed it – in this case local language.

LPI UK would like to thank maddog for an incredibly informative and interesting couple of days, at the same time extending gratitude to the speakers, the facilitators and the people who came to listen.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Exam tips and preparation: Cisco CCNA certification


The Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA) is one of the most respected Associate level certifications in the world. It’s ideal for entry-level network engineers working with Cisco technology - the earlier you can achieve it, the more knowledgeable and ultimately employable you will be.

It pays well too – the average advertised salary of a CCNA professional is £38,500 according to

Plus, the CCNA certification has received a Gold certification from the IPv6 Forum's Education Certification Program. This means that if you gain this certification, you can display the IPv6 logo, which shows that you have attained IPv6 knowledge and skills.

Perhaps more importantly, the CCNA Routing and Switching is a prerequisite to the expert Cisco certifications, like the CCNP Routing and Switching (CCNP holders earn an average salary of £47,500!)

But in order to gain this certification, you’ll need to pass one of two testing options:

  • ICND1 and ICND2 exams
  • CCNA 640-802 exam.

CCNA 100-101 ICND1 Exam

90 minutes (50-60 questions)

This exam qualifies you as a Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT). So, if you’re only interested in gaining the CCENT, you’ll only need to pass the ICND1.

The ICND1 tests knowledge and skills required to install, operate and troubleshoot a small branch office network.

This exam covers the basic topics related to modern networks, this includes:

  • IP data networks 
  • LAN Switching technologies 
  • IPv6 Routing technologies 
  • IP Services (like DHCP, NAT and ACLs) 
  • Network Device Security 
  • Basic troubleshooting 

The exam also covers the protocol knowledge of LANS, WANs, hardware basics, and subnetting. As well as introducing the Cisco Command Line Interface (CLI) - used to configure, monitor and trouble shoot problems on Cisco devices.

Questions can come in a variety of formats from multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, to hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Bear in mind, unlike other exams (like CompTIA’s A+), you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later.

CCNA 200-101 ICND2 Exam

75 minutes (50-60 questions)

This exam picks up where the ICND1 exam left off but with greater depth and a wider variety of configurations.

You’ll be tested on your knowledge of installing, operating and troubleshooting a small-to-medium sized enterprise branch network.

The ICND2 covers more advanced topics related to modern networks, this includes:

  • Advanced LAN switching - such as Spanning Tree Protocols, VLANs and VLAN Trunking 
  • IP Routing technologies 
  • IP Services (FHRP, syslog, SNMP) 
  • Troubleshooting 
  • WAN Technologies 

Just like the ICND1, questions come in a variety of formats: multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Again, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later.

Both ICND exams cover a wide variety of topics. This makes it an inherently tough exam. And it’s important you fully understand it – most of what you will learn on the ICND serves as the basis for all other Cisco CCNA track exams.

CCNA 640-802 Exam

90 minutes (45-55 questions) 

Here’s your second option. The 640-802 exam essentially combines the same topics as both ICND1/ICND2 into one exam.

As mentioned previously, you’ll have the option to take this longer exam instead of taking both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams.

This exam covers topics related to modern networks:

  • TCP/IP 
  • IP Routing and addressing 
  • Cisco router and switch CLI 
  • LAN switching 
  • WLANs 
  • Spanning Tree Protocols 
  • VLANs and VLAN Trunking 
  • NAT 
Questions can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Just like ICND exams, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later.

Tips for difficult areas

Get a concrete knowledge of the following topics – here’s where most students slip up:

Note: these tips apply to both the ICND1/ICND2 and the 640-802 exams.

IP Subnetting
– It can be hard to memorize the terminology and understand the mathematics behind subnetting. Ensure you fully understand it and can apply it effectively before taking the exam.

Remember which processes to use and how to use them. Memorize how to apply the IP addressing and routing concepts while working with the math.

Time – This is particularly crucial as you will not have the option to skip questions and go back to them later. As a result, you might find yourself spending longer than you typically would on each question. This can quickly add up, you don’t want to find yourself rushing through the last questions.

Take particular care of the sim, simlets and testlets as these can take the most time.

CLI - Practice using commands on the CLI to become familiar with the configurations. It’s worth investing time into understanding the router and switch commands.

Variable Length Subnet Masks (VLSM) – This introduces the possibility of subnets with overlapped address ranges which cannot easily be identified.

Spanning Tree Protocol – Most people have STP enabled and believe there isn’t much need to understand it. They would be wrong – it’s a complicated topic which can take time and repetition to learn. Check out this useful explanation.

Access Control Lists (ACLs) –Knowing how to match TCP and UDP port numbers, both source and destination can be very difficult.

Preparation Hints

Don’t neglect the power of studying with others. That doesn’t mean you have to join a study group - there are plenty of forums online where you can get involved; ask questions or help out others. Either way, you’ll get to interact with people in your situation and you’ll have the opportunity to exercise your own knowledge in an active way.

The CCNA covers a huge range of topics. Consider this when planning out your revision and preparation; it will take a considerable amount of time for you to learn every topic back-to-front.

Make sure to read practice exam papers and gauge how comfortable you feel with them – if you’re uncertain, now may not be the time to take the exam. 

We recommend reading:

How do you study?

Obviously you want to learn the way that suits you best. The two most popular routes for achieving your CCNA Routing and Switching cert are split between self-study and attending a training course.

You have undoubtedly committed to some form of self-study in your life and you’re probably aware if this works for you. Studying for the CCNA will certainly take dedication and a considerable amount of time (assuming you have a job and other obligations). You’ll also need a variety of equipment to test apply your learning in a practical way.

If you want a simpler way of learning, attending a course will likely appeal more. You won’t need to worry about buying your own hardware, or trawling the internet for that one nagging question you have about the ICND2 exam. Attend a course and you’ll be able to interrogate your instructor about every last detail.

What’s more, a training course will provide a structured approach to learning. Having somebody else to guide you will save you masses of time, energy and money.

Firebrand’s accelerated CCNA course is just 6-days – how is that possible?

Excellent resources

Internetworking Technology Handbook – a handy resource from Cisco themselves

CCNA Tutorials Ebook – slightly cumbersome but useful online tutorial/ebook

CCNA Version 5-draft by Matt Basham – another free Ebook

Online Cisco Courses – a well-put together resource covering both ICND exam topics

Free CCNA Cheatsheet (not literally of course)

You should also take advantage of the Cisco learning network

And check out this great YouTube series:

Router simulators

…all that’s left is for you to put in the effort, Good Luck!

About the Author:       
Sarah 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. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Why start an apprenticeship?


The sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week took place last week and was the biggest and best yet. Hundreds of events took place across England.

The Week was designed to celebrate Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

Every year the Week increases in popularity and National Apprenticeship Week 2013 was a phenomenal success, with hundreds of events and activities on offer. These ranged from business events designed to encourage more employers to recruit apprentices, to interactive careers events aimed at potential apprentices.

So why choose an apprenticeship?

Government figures show that almost one million 16 to 24 year olds are currently unemployed, and of those that continue into university, most will leave with nearly £44,000 in debt. But there is another option, an apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship is a real job where you get access to training and experience that will give you a great advantage in the job market. And to top it off, you’ll get paid a guaranteed wage while you’re learning.

Apprenticeships are becoming ever more popular, with both employers and learners attracted to the excellent career prospects they provide. Over 500,000 apprenticeship courses were taken up in 2012 in the UK. This number has risen every year for the last five years. Unlike a University course, as an apprentice you will receive a wage throughout your training. The average national wage for an apprentice is around £170 a week and we recommend that your employer increases this as you pass your exams. You’ll also get paid holidays.

A recent survey found that although you’re not guaranteed a job at the end of your 12 months apprenticeship, over 80% of apprentices are still working for their employer a year after the course finishes and almost half (42%) had received a promotion after completing their apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships with Firebrand

A Firebrand Apprenticeship is a real paid job, in an IT related business where you learn on the job and all your training is provided through Firebrands Accelerated Learning technique.

  • We’ll find you the job
  • Fast-track training
  • Earn while you learn
  • Hands-on work experience
  • Industry-standard qualifications
  • Work in a fast-paced fast-growing industry

The Firebrand Apprenticeship course lasts for a year and during that time Firebrand will give you five weeks of intensive training backed up with continual assessment while you’re in work.

At the end of the course, after passing your exam, you will be ready to work in an industry where starting salaries for apprentices are around £18,000 and you will be able to work in any of the following jobs:

    Firebrand Apprenticeships
  • Support Technician
  • Website Administrator
  • Helpdesk Professional
  • Software/ Web Developer
  • Desktop Support Engineer
  • Network Planner
  • Database Administrator
  • Network Engineer
  • Software Tester
  • Mobile and Windows app Developer

If you're interested in becoming a Firebrand apprentice, go to our Firebrand Apprentice site. 

Here’s what Dragon’s Den investor Peter Jones says about apprentices: “Throughout my career, some of my best hires have been people who have bypassed the traditional route of university and learned their skills through apprenticeship schemes or alternative education courses. They have come to the workplace with a solid understanding of the real world and a steely determination to succeed. Those are the characteristics we need in order to build an entrepreneurial Britain.”

Prime Minister David Cameron joined Skills Minister Matthew Hancock on a visit to meet young apprentices at a training academy in Buckinghamshire. There the Prime Minister pledged to make it the ‘new norm’ for school leavers to take an apprenticeship or go to university.

About the Author:
Sarah 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. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

LinkedIn 503: Service Unavailable


Those trying to login to LinkedIn will currently be seeing the status 503: Service Unavailable as sported by the image below:

LinkedIn - 503: Service Unavailable
LinkedIn - 503: Service Unavailable
The LinkedIn servers have crashed, the no.1 business social network is down, the end is nigh!

At this stage the system has been offline for approximately 15 minutes with no update as to the cause of the issue, one would guess server failure. But lets not rule out the possibility of outsider forces interfering. It was not to long ago that there was a massive LinkedIn password hack with over 6.5million passwords confirmed to have been compromised.

The hugely popular business social media site recently passed it's 200 million user mark as reported by TechCrunch. So one would think there is a large number of workers out there currently frustrated by the lack of access to social network.

Have you been affected by LinkedIn going offline? Do you have any insight as to why? Share your thoughts on +Firebrand Training UK or tweet us @beafirebrand.

About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy for Firebrand Training's portfolio of websites. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

SharePoint 2013 Learning Roadmaps


As organisations across the globe look set to adopt the latest SharePoint instalment, administrators and developers alike are preparing to get to grips with a whole host of new functions and applications.

SharePoint 2013 is  the 6th revision of the business collaboration software and comes retrofitted with Yammer, (for greater social integration) and a vast range of new capabilities outlined on the Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Tech Center, or check out the following video:

SharePoint 2013 Learning Roadmaps

To help prepare you for the latest rendition, the helpful folks over at Microsoft's SharePoint IT Pro blog have set about compiling a range of learning roadmaps. If unfamiliar with the terminology, a learning roadmap is the process of compiling multiple content types (articles, videos etc.) and organising them to create a learning pathway customized for the readers skill level and needs. 

So whether you are getting to grips with SharePoint for the first time, or you are a seasoned veteran, you have a pathway for quickly digesting knowledge and getting up to speed on a select topic or technology.

From SharePoint zero to SharePoint Hero

Each learning roadmap from Microsoft is segmented into 6 sections aimed at taking you from no prior knowledge right through to being a topic expert. The roadmap sections are outlined below :

Prerequisite information – this is the base knowledge to help prepare you  for the topic you are about to learn.
Level 100 – is the beginner level giving introductory information about the topic.
Level 200 - comes next and is intermediate information about the topic.
Level 300 - crank it up to 11, this is advanced information about the select topic.
Ongoing Learning – for all those looking for extra credit, this is a source of follow on information for the topic.
Additional Resources – if you still haven't had your fill this is a collection of information sources to support the topic.

Existing SharePoint Roadmaps

As of today (March 19th 2013) there are 5 learning roadmaps in existence which are as follows:
If you can't find what your looking for, keep checking the SharePoint 2013 Tech Center for updates, they seem to be coming thick and fast with 5 published in the last month. Also be a good citizen and if you see any issues, or want to add to the existing roadmaps, there is an option to provide feedback/amendments.

You can go your own way (prizes for who wrote that song)
If you fancy doing things your own way, why not create your very own fully customized roadmap? Microsoft have provided a Learning Roadmap Template, so for the eager beavers amongst you, why not not create your own SharePoint 2013 learning roadmap today.

Once you've created your roadmap masterpiece, feel free to share it with us via our Google Plus Page +Firebrand Training UK or why tweet us @beafirebrand.

If you're interested in gaining SharePoint certification, why not check out our 6 day SharePoint 2013 MCSE certification course.

About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy for Firebrand Training's portfolio of websites. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

(ISC)2 wins “Best Professional Training Program” by SC Magazine


(ISC)2 has won an SC Magazine Award in the Best Professional Training Program category at the 16th annual SC Magazine Awards Gala in San Francisco in conjunction with RSA 2013.

This SCMagazine award was the fifth for the (ISC)2 organisation that has already won twice before in the category of the “Best Professional Certification Program” for its CISSP certification.

Executive director of (ISC)2 W. Hord Tipton said  “The 2013 (ISC)² Global Information Security Workforce Study released at RSA this week confirms that the gap between demand for qualified information security professionals and supply has further widened, which makes it imperative for government, academia and industry to embrace a new approach to information security training and education,”

SC Magazine - Awards 2013“Through our comprehensive education program, we are working to close the skills gaps that are threatening the future of the global information security workforce. It’s an honor to be recognized by SC Magazine for these efforts.”

There were many professional information security organisations that entered the Professional Award categories.

All submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges, who selected the winners. There are many factors judges consider when selecting winners such as reports or product reviews to narrow down the hundreds of submissions to the Best Professional Training Program Category.

The SC Magazine Awards is now in its 16th year and are the global leader for IT security professionals and products that fend off the security threats of today.

About the Author:
Sarah 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. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Monday, 4 March 2013

How to win free training for the rest of your life


Firebrand is giving one lucky person free training for the rest of their lifeThe prize could be worth over £1 million!

Free Training For Life - Firebrand TrainingWhich courses are covered?

All of them. You’ll have lots of choice as Firebrand runs more than 165 courses. That's any of our Microsoft courses; from MCSA to MCSE, and Windows Server to .NET. Our other partners includes Cisco, Oracle and CompTIA.

Or maybe you’re a project manager - PRINCE2 and PMP could be yours for free. If you're responsible for IT security, we've got (ISC)2 and EC-Council courses too. Now's your chance to become a Certified Ethical Hacker.

The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16, living in the European countries where Firebrand operates: UK; DACH (Germany, Switzerland, Austria); Nordics (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland); and Benelux (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg). 
Free Training For Life - Firebrand Training

Increase your Chances!

Once you complete the entry form, you’ll receive a unique URL that you can share with your friends or followers. Each time the unique URL is used by another entrant, you’ll receive another entry in the competition. So if 100 of your friends and followers enter their details, you’ll get 100 additional chances to win.

The closing date for entries is Sunday 1st September 2013; and the winner will be announced at 13:13 GMT, Friday 13th September 2013.

For full terms and conditions, click here:


Frank Højgaard, Managing Director reveals “At Firebrand we train everyone from apprentices straight out of college, through to consultants on £100k+ a year salaries at the leading edge of IT. We’ve estimated that the winner will increase their earning power by more than 3x over their lifetime with a winner in their twenties earning more than £5million over their lifetime compared to around £1.6million without the training.”

Frank added: “And that’s using a very conservative estimate on salary increases. A recent EU survey shows that instead of falling during the recession, IT jobs have been growing by 3% across the board, and are set to continue to rise. However, even with the increase in numbers, the EU estimates that by 2015 there will be a shortfall of 700,000 IT-trained staff.  As far as we’re concerned there’s never been a better time to be in IT and to win IT training for life.” 

About the Author:
Sarah 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. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.