Thursday, 20 August 2015

5 Reasons why you don’t need A-levels

 By Sarah Morgan

If you’re receiving your GCSE results today, you’re probably planning your future. If you’re a student who sees A-levels as the only option, here’s why that isn’t the case.

Apprenticeships are a way to earn skills, experience and money without the hassle of going to college and studying for A-levels and can get you started in the career of your dreams.

Firebrand’s IT Apprenticeships are the opportunity you’ve been looking for and is the best thing that could’ve come your way. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Get paid to learn

You could earn up to £18,000 a year on an IT apprenticeship. Once your learning’s completed, your salary typically rises to  £20,000 and then to £23,500 the year after that.

In the time it takes for someone finish A-levels and university, you’ll have already earned far more than the £27,000 debt they’ll have accumulated. You’ll also have five years of valuable experience behind you.



2. Get a meaningful job, hassle free

It’s often said how hard it is for graduates to find jobs because there is so much competition. You have the chance to bypass that, using a Firebrand IT apprenticeship as your shortcut into work. You’ll be working for a respected company, doing a job that really matters.

Plus, we’ll find your job for you – no endless trawling through jobs boards. Once we receive your details, we’ll do the leg work for you.

3. Invest in your future

An apprenticeship isn’t a short term fix. Taking the time to learn skills in a meaningful, practical environment will prove your work ethic, as well as your knowledge and ability. These skills are highly valued by employers and you’ll be seeing the benefits for years, because you started your career the right way.

4. Get industry recognised qualifications and up to £27,000 worth of training

Firebrand Apprenticeships are aligned with the demands of the IT industry. The qualifications you’ll earn are from well-respected vendors like Microsoft and Cisco. Not only are thy desired across Europe qualifications like these will give your CV an edge.

Also, apprenticeships are funded by the government and your employer. This means the £27,000 worth of training you’ll receive will be completely free.

Find out what’s so great about being an IT Apprentice from someone who is one - Guen, Firebrand's very own - http://bit.ly/1EC6iYR



5. Choose from a wide range of jobs

Roles like Network Engineer, Mobile App Developer, Software Developer, Web Developer and Games Developer are just some of the roles that you can do with a Firebrand IT Apprenticeship. These are some of the most highly sought after and in-demand jobs in the industry, giving your career fantastic potential for growth.

So, on the job training, valuable experience, industry recognised qualifications and backing from a respected employer in the industry are all included in an apprenticeship. This combination can take you anywhere you want to go.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity. Head over to our website and Apply Now.

 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. 


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The First Look at Windows Server 2016


Firebrand teamed-up with Microsoft Evangelist Ed Baker to deliver a First Look at Windows Server 2016 in London, on Thursday 13th August. Seventy lucky Firebranders squeezed into a room at Microsoft’s offices in London to catch a glimpse of Windows Server 2016 in action – and to see what the Nano Server buzz is all about.

Ed opened by saying there was going to be a “fundamental change” in the way we use Windows Server. After three hours of demos – including a few PowerPoint slides - we’d learnt why.

Nano Server is at the heart of this fundamental change – it’s fast, it’s small, and it’s easy to use (common themes throughout the new look OS). Microsoft describes it as “a purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers”.

Small and perfectly formed, Nano Server is designed for fewer patches and updates, faster restarts, better resource utilisation and tighter security. The focus on size was highlighted when Ed unveiled his server setup – which looked complicated as a network map on screen, but was no more than a laptop and four hard discs on the table in front of him.

“Servers aren’t valued pets”

Before we got to see Windows Server 2016 in action, we were given a reality check. Ed reminded us that “servers aren’t valued pets” concluding by bluntly saying “when you don’t need them – kill them”. We no longer need to get attached to our servers…kill off a server when you don’t need it, and reactivate it when you do. That’s the power of cloud computing.

Ed asked us all to think ‘services’, not ‘servers’. We’ve moved away from a data center being made up of expensive hardware; individual servers in a siloed infrastructure. Slow, expensive innovation and development constraints have been replaced with low-cost, standardised, automated processes. Nano Server – combined with PowerShell – is what allows us to do this.

Before getting into the detail, Ed explained just how little computing power Windows Server 2016 needs: a 1.4GHz 64-bit processor, 512MB RAM, a 32GB disk and a Network Interface Card. That’s it.




What’s New in Active Directory Domain Services?

The development of Windows 10 and Office 365 means Microsoft is heavily in the world of single sign-on and end-user self-service. Windows Server 2016 is the backbone that supports this – through Azure Active Directory (AAD)  connected to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). As Ed explains: “If you can manage and control your identity, you can manage and control your data”.

And guess what – it’s simple. Just tell Azure AD Connect AD DS which servers it needs to be assigned to and it does the rest for you - installing the synchronisation and even ADFS if required. Other improved AD DS features include:

  • Privileged access management
  • Azure Active Directory Join
  • Microsoft Passport – helping you keep all your important data even more secure

There was also a definite cheer ripple across the room when Ed announced that Windows Server 2016 won’t work with  File Replication Service (FRS) or Windows Server 2003.

Nano Server finally unveiled

At last, Ed showed-off what everyone was here to see. He setup a Storage Direct Cluster through Nano Server, using four Nano nodes (the four hard disks mentioned at the start of the article) and a Windows Server 2016 node (the laptop).

In the past (for now the present) each disc device would need to be connected to a node. This is restrictive - especially as the network gets bigger and we’re trying to upscale. Now, storage spaces can be hooked-up directly with internal disks, eliminating the need to share SAS infrastructure.

This couldn’t have been achieved before without a shared storage mechanism like a JBOD enclosure or a SAN, now we can use standard internal storage and create a shared pool across all the nodes. In this instance each nano dodge had four small internal hard disks making 16 in total. These were combined into a storage direct pool and then added to a failover cluster, in the form of a storage volume formatted as a cluster shared volume.

The pretty-simple setup process is only done once, because it can then be re-used and automated whenever new server space is required. With the new rolling cluster upgrade, you can now add new servers to a cluster, transfer the settings to it and upgrade the cluster version number (to get all the benefits of Windows Server 2016) - all by simply running a rolling upgrade in PowerShell or though the failover cluster manger GUI.

Having spun up the network, it took an impressive 30 seconds to boot (compared to at least five minutes from previous OSs). Yes, there were some cheers in the audience.














Even more new features in Windows Server 2016

There was also time to hear about a few more features in Hyper-V and File and Storage Services. New features for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 include:
  •  Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
  • Production checkpoints
  • Hot add and remove for network adaptors and memory
  • Integration Services delivered through Windows Update
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Virtual machine configuration version
  • New virtual machine configuration file format
  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Linux secure boot
  • Compatible with Connected Standby
  • Windows PowerShell Direct - ever lost the ability to get into a VM? Rather than binning it, you can use PowerShell Direct to get into it

New features for File and Storage Services in Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Storage Spaces Direct – the next stage in software-defined storage, which enables SATA and NVMe devices to become cluster-available. This is what enables each server to plugin direct with its own internal discs, rather than the need for a shared SAS JBOD
  • Storage Replica – developed to help you “tolerate” disasters. Disasters happen, and they can be planned for by replicating data between sites via standard storage and networks
  • Deduplication

Nano Server is seven times faster!

Ed concluded by comparing deployment and servicing (based on all patches in 2014) improvements for Nano Server. All make impressive reading:
  • Nano Server takes just 40 seconds to boot, compared to more like 300 from full Server
  • The disk footprint of Nano Server is 400MB, with Sever Core almost 5GB
  • Virtual Hard Disk size 400MB compared to 6GB in Server Core
  • Critical bulletins – for full Server, there were 23, compared to two for Nano Server
  • Number of reboots – only three from Nano with 11 from full Server

All of the demos were on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2, with Technical Preview 3 coming soon. So in the words of Ed, download the Technical Preview now and start playing!



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. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

So you messed up - turn your A-Level results failure into a career opportunity

Haven’t got the A-level results you needed? Don’t worry, this is your opportunity to accelerate your education pathway into a lifelong career in IT.


University is not the only route to your chosen career. IT apprenticeships offer an alternative pathway which will help you leap frog your peers as they trundle off to do a three year degree.

So if you didn't get the A-level results you needed, don't bother with UCAS clearing. Find out why failing your a-levels and choosing a Firebrand IT apprenticeship is the best thing that could have happened to you.

Earn while you learn

During your IT apprenticeship you’ll be paid a starting salary up to £18,000. Upon completing your apprenticeship, starting salaries are typically around £20,000 – with a salary rise of around £3500 a year after that.

Apprenticeships are 33% faster than University degrees

Whilst a typical University degree runs over three years, your Firebrand Apprenticeship runs for two years. You’ll get the skills and qualifications you need 33% faster than your peers.

Plus, with 99% of Firebrand Apprentices ending up in full-time employment following their apprenticeship, you’ll be 3 years into your career by the time your peers are finishing University  looking for their first job. Best of all, no student debt!

Get a real job

You are not just on a training course. This is a real job, with real a business. You will learn business critical skills, and gain years’ worth of real work experience. Did I mention we find the job for you?

No need to trawl through job boards of the local papers. Just give us your details and we’ll match you to an IT job near you.

Avoid £27,000 worth of student debt

While your peers are off racking up £1000s worth of university debt, you’ll working in your chosen career, earning a wage and developing skills that will form the foundation of a successful future.

Earn industry recognised qualifications and get up to £27,000 worth of training

Firebrand Apprenticeships are aligned to the requirements of the IT industry. You’ll train and earn industry recognised qualifications that are in demand by businesses throughout Europe.

Plus, apprenticeships are funded by the Government and your employer. This means you could get up to £27,000 worth of training for free.

Interested? Head over to our website and Apply Now

Friday, 7 August 2015

5 best books for your Scrum Master certification

 By Sarah Morgan

Becoming a Professional Scrum Master proves to an employer that you can apply Scrum principles within an organisation. This means doing more than your usual project manager. Due to the edge the certification can give you, according to itjobswatch.co.uk, the average salary for a Professional Scrum Master is £50,000 – at least £5,000 more than without the cert.

This means the Professional Scrum Master certification is not easy to pass. On top of this, the sheer amount of books written about Scrum means wading through resources can be difficult. If you’re looking for the best revision resources and ways to get more familiar with the processes and ideas used, don’t waste time searching around. Below are the best books to help you learn the skills you need.


1. Agile Certification Study Guide: Practice Questions for the PMI-ACP exam and the Scrum Master Certification PSM I exam: Volume 5 (Part of the Agile Education Series) by Dan Tousignant 
ISBN: 978-0984876785

The most up to date revision guide on the market. Volume 5 of the series contains 50 new questions that outline the new exam content. The best book out there specifically designed to help you study for the exam.

Includes:

  • A total of 370 practice questions to help prepare you for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master assessment (PSM 1) exam
  • A complete Scrum and Agile glossary
  • A wide list of web resources for you to refer to whilst you study

How good is it?

Tousignant has 20+ years of business management experience, managing software and web development projects. Combine that with the wide range of questions, it covers all aspects of the exam and is sure to be a great help to your revision.


2. Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership by Geoff Watts 
ISBN: 978-0957587403

Written by one of the most respected and experienced Scrum coaches in the world, it breaks down the components of Scrum and states how you can become a better Scrum Master in a straightforward manner. A quick read that will give you tips on how to improve personally.

Includes:

  • Practical examples, helpful stories and cautionary tales from someone who has years of industry experience of Scrum
  • How to go beyond being the average Scrum Master
  • Ways to continually improve the actions of you and your team

How good is it?

All 14 reviews on Amazon gave it 5 out of 5 stars and many in the industry use it as a handbook for daily guidance. A trustworthy resource for tips and tricks.


3. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland 
ISBN: 978-0385346450

Written one of the inventors of the Scrum software development process, he explains why the world needs Scrum to become more efficient. Discussing the relevance and values of Scrum in today’s world, amongst other things, the book will allow you to see why Scrum is used and gives you a unique insight, which you may not have considered before.

Includes:


  • Insight into the idea of constant improvement
  • Explanations of how Scrum can help you achieve things others consider to be impossible
  • Various rules and initiatives to follow so you can understand the basic underlying principles of Scrum 

How good is it?

It averages 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon (152 reviews), and is a succinct book to help you become more productive. A good read, but lacks explicit revision material and is better used to your improve overall understanding.


4. The Professional Scrum Master's Handbook (Professional Expertise Distilled) 
ISBN: 978-1849688024

Viscardi’s guide is jargon-free and relaxed, helping you to easily grasp what it takes to become a better Scrum Master. It also clearly outlines how the role of a Scrum Master differs from that of a project manager.

It looks at defining what a true obstacle is and the best ways to overcome them using Scrum. Plus, it covers the mental side of Scrum and establishing trust between you and your team members.

As well as this, it covers fundamental issues with such depth, that it is a great revision guide when combined with practice questions.

Includes:


  • Questions and exercises to get you thinking like a Scrum Master
  • How to create a backlog between you and your team to support continuous improvement
  • Creating and transitioning between cultures so your team can deliver results efficiently

How good is it?

It averages 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon (12 reviews), many describing it as “indispensable” for anyone serious about Scrum. Because it is comprehensive about the basics as well as offering unique advice and insight, it should be considered a valuable resource, for revision and general study.


5. Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Enterprise Software Development) by Henrik Kniberg 
ISBN: 978-1430322641

A unique Scrum book, following how one Swedish company implemented Scrum and continuous improvement over the course of a year.

As you would expect, it’s hugely practical and acts as a starter kit for anyone new to Scrum. Henrik and his team conduct various experiments which allow you to see the impact of different permutations of Scrum in different situations, that are rarely covered in Scrum books.


Includes:


  • Practical tips for Scrum and XP  (Extreme Programming) practices
  • Typical shortcomings and how to address them
  • Dealing with internal and external resistance
  • Diagrams and photos illustrating day-to-day happenings and situations

How good is it?

Averaging 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon (19 reviews), this book resonates well with people because of its personality and unique format. Reading about someone, from start to finish, how Scrum works in a way that seems real-time is much more interesting than a standard textbook. Combined with informative insight, means the book is a stimulating and valuable resource.

Firebrand’s training for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master certification 

If you’re looking to get training for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master certification, Firebrand offers an accelerated learning course designed to prepare you and get you certified in just two days.

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.