Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The 5 best CCNA books for exam revision in 2017

best ccna books, ccna revision


[Updated: This list of the best CCNA books was updated for 2017]

The CCNA is a challenging certification and a rite of passage for thousands of networking professionals across the globe. Achieve the CCNA certification and you’ll be on track for a rewarding career in networking and a £40,000 salary (ITJobsWatch).

The CCNA certification also qualifies you for advanced Cisco Career Certifications, like the CCNP: Routing and Switching. These certifications will further prove your skills and help you to achieve some of the top roles in networking.

To get the CCNA: Routing and Switching certification, you’ll need to pass two exams:

  • Exam 100-105 - Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 v3.0 (ICND1)
  • Exam 200-105 - Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 v3.0 (ICND2)

And whether you’re a networking professional or a newbie, revision is essential to pass these exams. To help you pass your CCNA exam first time, we’ve compiled a list of the best CCNA books. Take a look at the top 5 best CCNA books for exam revision.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Top 10 TOGAF resources you don’t need to pay for

TOGAF Resources


Achieving the TOGAF certification proves you’re among the top enterprise architects. Demand is soaring for TOGAF; the average salary for a certified TOGAF professional is £70,000 (according to data from ITJobsWatch).

Before you enter the enterprise architecture elite, you’ll need to pass two tough TOGAF exams – Level 1: TOGAF 9 Foundation and Level 2: TOGAF 9 Certified. These exams are challenging and TOGAF revision is essential.

The Open Group

Luckily, there are ways to prepare for your exam with TOGAF resources that won’t cost you a penny. From exam simulators to eBooks, make the most of these free resources and you’ll be in a better position to pass your TOGAF 9.1 exam first time. Here are the top 10 TOGAF resources you don’t need to pay for.

1. The Open Arch - TOGAF Exam simulator


Manuel Di Toma, the creator of The Open Arch, has created a great exam simulator for enterprise architects studying for their TOGAF 9 certification. You’ll get access to five TOGAF 9 exam simulators across both exam levels. If you create a basic account you’ll also be able to save your exam progress and return to it later with your log in details.

To develop this online resource, Manuel has worked closely with TOGAF® 9 certified Architects. However, it’s worth noting that The Open Group are not directly involved with this free resource.



2. Orbus Software - TOGAF 9 in pictures


Orbus has developed a set of clear TOGAF 9.1 in Pictures Poster Pack - this resource is a must-have for visual learners. Not to be substituted for a comprehensive study guide (or accelerated course), this resource will make for an undeniably useful revision tool.

This pack covers the key areas in TOGAF 9.1, including The Architecture Development Method, Guidelines and Techniques, Content Metamodel and Architecture Repository and Architecture Capability Framework.



Spend a couple of minutes creating an account and you’ll get access to the pdf files. That’s a small price to pay for this useful TOGAF revision resource.


Friday, 4 August 2017

10 CompTIA A+ revision resources you need for a first time exam pass

Top 10 revision resources for CompTIA A+


The CompTIA A+ certification is widely regarded as an essential starting point for a career in IT and over one million IT professionals around the world have achieved it.

Developed by CompTIA, the A+ is supported by major corporations - Dell, HP and Lenovo require their service technicians to be A+ certified and it’s even supported by government branches like the US Department of Defence.

But to achieve this cornerstone certification, you’ll need to pass two challenging exams: CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902. Even if you are an experienced professional, it’s still worth undertaking CompTIA A+ revision before you sit your exam. If you’re new to IT, studying is essential.

To make sure you pass your A+ exam first time, we’ve collected a list of resources from around the web. Here are 10 CompTIA A+ revision resources for a first time pass.

Onsite ISACA exams now included on accelerated Firebrand courses

Firebrand’s ISACA courses are getting accelerated, again. From 1 August 2017, you’ll be able to sit your official ISACA exam onsite on these courses:

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – 4 days
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – 4 days
  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) – 3 days
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – 3 days

And with Firebrand’s Certification Guarantee, if you don’t pass your ISACA exam first time you’ll be able to train again for free.

Friday, 28 July 2017

5 Ways To Conquer Your IT Recruitment And Training Strategy With Apprenticeships

UK businesses could gain an additional £18bn revenue from apprenticeships, Government research reveals. With over 665,000 individuals already started apprenticeships since 2015, the UK Government has accelerated its apprenticeship reforms in England, with new legislation like the Apprenticeship Levy making apprenticeships an irresistible solution for organisations with inefficient recruitment and training budgets.

Current employers are enjoying the financial and practical benefits of IT apprenticeships, and are also taking advantage of the rewards offered by the Government by doing so. Apprenticeships are helping improve IT training and recruitment strategies for small and large employers – here’s how your business can take advantage of the benefits...

1. Slash your IT recruitment costs

Companies that find niche IT skills will likely spend a small fortune on recruitment. Firebrand’s free, fast recruitment service means all you need is to send a job description and we’ll source the best candidates for you to interview.

With more young people choosing to get into IT through vocational routes, you’ll have access to a growing pool of future professionals looking for an alternative route into IT. Through apprenticeship recruitment you’ll employ motivated and passionate professionals, not candidates with irrelevant experience and skills.

Currently hiring and need some help? Send us a job description here and we’ll see if apprenticeships might be right for you.

2. Fill your skills gaps through personalised programmes

83% of apprentice employers say they rely on apprenticeships to fulfil future skills needs, according to the Learning and Skills Council. Demand for IT expertise is mounting, and UK businesses are struggling to find qualified employees they need to satisfy current and future skills requirements.

IT apprenticeships and training


Because Firebrand runs over 400 training courses from vendors like Microsoft, CompTIA, EC-Council and Cisco throughout the year, the apprenticeship programmes are fully flexible. This means you can select specific training at any time that suits you, and create custom-built programmes that suit you and your apprentices.

Browse our customisable programmes here.

3. Cut high staff turnover


According to the Learning and Skills Council, 4 in 5 apprentice employers say they have crushed turnover rates since taking on apprentices, with a further 88% saying apprenticeships have led to a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

Plus, apprentices that successfully complete their accelerated programmes can become excellent ambassadors for your business, helping attract future waves of talented staff. In fact, 76% of apprentice employers polled by the National Apprenticeship Service say they promote their apprenticeship credentials when pitching for new business or talking about their company.

Read more about how we find top apprenticeship talent here.

4. Upskill current staff


Apprenticeships can be an effective route to specialising existing employees in fields like infrastructure support, cyber security, networking, data analysis and cloud technologies.

By placing existing employees on role-specific apprenticeships, your business gets new skills without significant financial investment. You’ll get full facilitation support from approved training providers - like Firebrand - to make the most out of the training.

Talk to us about upskilling current staff here

5. Only pay 10% of the training cost

Employers with wage bills of under £3 million now benefit greatly from financial support from the Government. 90 percent of the cost of apprenticeship training is paid for already, meaning you’ll pay just the remaining 10 percent of the full cost of award-winning accelerated training. Plus, if your organisation has less than 50 employees, you won't pay a penny.

UK-based employers with a pay bill of over £3 million must invest 0.5 percent of it in hiring apprentices through the Apprenticeship Levy. Monthly payments are transferred to a digital Apprenticeship Service account (and topped-up by 10 percent by the Government), where funds can be spent on training across a range of employer-led, role-specific programmes, including:


Find out how paying for apprenticeships works here.


Improve your training and recruitment strategy with apprenticeships.

Request a consultation or call 0800 081 6022

Monday, 10 July 2017

Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure Stack announced at Inspire 2017

Today at their Microsoft Partner Conference, Inspire, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft 365 – a new set of commercial offerings bringing together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security.

Microsoft 365 is a complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower companies and all workers, recognising that people are at the heart of digital transformation,” writes Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business at Microsoft.

Two new offerings were introduced at the Inspire event. Designed for large organisations, Microsoft 365 Enterprise combines Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise and Enterprise Mobility + Security into a single subscription.

The second offering, Microsoft 365 Business, is designed for small-to-medium enterprises (SME). It supports 300 users and integrates office 365 Business Premium with the tailored management and security features found in Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Microsoft 365 Business is available in public preview from 2 August 2017.



For a closer look at Microsoft 365, take a look at this blog from Microsoft.

Microsoft Azure stack now available to order

Microsoft kicked off Inspire with the launch of Microsoft Azure Stack, which allows businesses to host their own hybrid cloud. Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft Azure that brings the flexibility and fast-paced innovation of cloud computing to an on premise environment.

As hardware partners, Dell, HP and Lenovo are now creating integrated systems to run Azure Stack and hosts apps on hardware alongside a business’ current infrastructure. The first Azure Stack systems are now available to order.

For businesses, professionals and contractors set to take advantage of Azure stack, this is the ideal time to sharpen Azure skills.

Build and prove your knowledge of Microsoft Azure Stack through the organisation’s well-supported training and certification programme for Azure technology.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Nominate for (ISC)2’s Information Security Leadership Awards

(ISC)2’s EMEA Information Security Leadership Awards (ISLA) is the perfect opportunity to recognise the excellence and hard work of information security professionals - and nominations are now open!

The (ISC)2 EMEA ISLA awards are unique in that they provide the cyber security community with an opportunity to acknowledge professionals that have distinguished themselves under specific projects, programmes and initiatives.


Your nominee could be a well-known figure, a standout leader or even an unsung peer of yours working tirelessly in the background.
  
Nominations are open until the 12th of July 2017, midnight BST and are open to all professionals in information, cyber, software or infrastructure security in the EMEA region.

You can submit your nominations here.

Award Categories:
You can nominate individuals (both (ISC)2 members and non-members) in the following four categories:



Senior Information Security Professional: This goes to someone that has significantly contributed to the enhancement of the information security workforce by demonstrating a leadership role in any security workforce improvement initiative, program or project. Ideally, this nomination should have at least five years of experience in an information security role.  

Information Security Practitioner: This award acknowledges an individual that has distinguished themselves by implementing and/or managing the implementation of a component of a security programme. Nominations typically should have at least three years of experience in an information security role.

Up-and-Coming Information Security Professional: This award recognises a person who is a new, rising star in the information security field. The project, improvement or initiative may not relate to leadership and instead may relate to their current position or education.

Woman Information Security Professional: This will be awarded to a female who has contributed to women’s representation in the profession and raised awareness to encourage vocations among women. The ideal nomination should have at least three years of relevant industry experience.

Who’s the judge?
Submissions will be judged by members of the Europe, Middle East and Africa Advisory Council (EAC) and will consist of the following industry leaders:
  • Yves Le Roux, CISSP, CISM: Co-chair of the (ISC)2 EMEA Advisory Council 
  • Dr. Yiannis Pavlosoglou, PhD, CISSP: Strategic Change Manager for Operational Resilience at UBS.
  • Tom Gamali, CISSP, CISA: Head of Group Technology Risk and Business Continunity Management for Kuwait Finance House
  • Rainer Rehm, CISSP, CISM: Security Architect at MAN and one of the founding members of The (ISC)2 Chapter Germany 
  • Sofiane Chafai, CISSP: Information Security expert with over 15 years' experience in managing ICT and security projects 
  • Paco Hope, CISSP, CSSLP: Recognised expert in the field of software security. He is the author of two security books, a frequent conference speaker and a regular online author 

Award Ceremony:
Awards will be hosted at the (ISC)2 Secure Summit in London in December. This will also act as the perfect opportunity to bring together our community and celebrate the achievements and commitment to excellence that we all continue to strive for.

Shortlisted nominees from different countries will be sponsored to attend the event. 

For more details on how to submit your nominations and what the judges are looking for, check out this guide

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Bring in new skills and save a fortune with apprenticeships – find out how at Microsoft Inspire

Learn how to grow your business with Microsoft apprenticeships at this year’s Microsoft Inspire, based in Washington DC. Apprenticeships are customisable programmes built to bring new skills into your business and offer a compelling alternative to hiring graduates.


Firebrand will be hosting three “How to make the most out of Microsoft Apprenticeships” roundtables during Microsoft Inspire 2017. This is your opportunity to meet Firebrand and get the insight you need to hire apprentices quickly and easily.

Firebrand is inviting everyone attending Microsoft Inspire 2017 to a series of roundtable sessions with Firebrand co-founder, Stefano Capaldo. Regardless of which roundtable you attend, you’ll learn:

  • How Microsoft Partners can make the most out of apprenticeships
  • How Levy and non-Levy apprenticeship funding works
  • Which apprenticeship programmes are available
  • Which apprenticeship programme is suitable for you and your business
  • What it’s like being an apprentice employer
  • What support is available from training providers

Every roundtable is an interactive, 60 minute closed-group discussion. Reserve your place fast, because there’s a limited number of places available. The roundtables are scheduled for:


Once you’ve registered for the roundtable, we’ll invite you to the meeting through MyInspire.
Microsoft Inspire is a brilliant opportunity for Partners to network and Firebrand’s “How to make the most out of Microsoft Apprenticeships” roundtable will be no different. This is your chance to take advantage of Firebrand’s apprenticeship experts and get expert feedback from fellow Microsoft Partners.

You’ll also get the opportunity to meet with existing Microsoft apprentices and learn about their experiences in the UK lounge – keep an eye out for Firebrand’s all-star apprentice, Guen Dang.

Sign-up for the “How to make the most of Microsoft Apprenticeships” roundtable now!






Saturday, 10 June 2017

Attend the next UK Cisco TechHuddle: “Where Application Meets Infrastructure”

Discover what happens when cloud applications meet infrastructure at Cisco’s next TechHuddle. TechHuddle returns in July 2017 with “Where Application Meets Infrastructure” - this is your chance to get face-to-face with Cisco experts.

During the TechHuddle, Cisco experts will guide you through the key elements involved in building and implementing cloud in your business. With Cisco, you’ll also discuss industry shifts and cloud economics.

You’ll get first-hand demonstrations of Cisco technologies as you learn how to:

  • Deliver a multi-cloud plan
  • Get started with a Container Service
  • Provide infrastructure as code despite having more CLI than API
  • Make open source work off the shelf

During July, you’ll get the opportunity to learn directly from Cisco experts at three TechHuddles. The upcoming UK Cisco Tech Huddles are:

  • London: 11th July 2017 (9:00am – 2:00pm)
  • Manchester: 12th July 2017 (9:00am – 2:00pm)
  • Glasgow: 27th July 2017 (9:00am – 2:00pm)

Register now to attend one of three events Cisco TechHuddle events in July.

Remind me, what is the Cisco TechHuddle?

TechHuddle is Cisco’s quarterly technical update which includes live events and webinars from across the UK and Ireland.

These events are built for technologists and are focused on discussion, learning and interaction with Cisco’s experts. At a TechHuddle, you’ll share your own experiences and challenges with like-minded professionals and Cisco evangelists.

Previous TechHuddles have seen Cisco team-up with Meraki to shine a light on the world of cloud networking or combine forces with Fast IT to transform IT infrastructure.

Each quarter TechHuddles take on a different focus. For a closer look at the topics and issues tackled at recent events, take a look at the TechHuddle blog and YouTube Channel.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Latest EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP) v3 certification launched


EC-Council today announced the launch of the latest version of the EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP) certification, designed to build the critical skills your organisation needs to continue running following a disaster.


Earlier today, EC-Council COO, Sean Lim, announced the launch of the EDRP v3 certification. During a live presentation, Sean outlined exciting updates to the EDRP which resulted in a complete overhaul of the credential, bringing it right up to date.


Why you need disaster recovery skills


The need for disaster recovery skills within your organisation is critical to the continued functioning of your business following a disaster. Organisations lacking a disaster recovery and business continuity plan risk significant financial losses, reputational damage and complete business failure in severe circumstances.

The threat is very real. Statistics from FEMA - a US Department of Defence organisation - report almost 75% of organisations without a business continuity plan fail within 3 years of a disaster. Of these businesses, between 40-60% never reopened their doors immediately following the disaster.


Disaster recovery is a growing industry


Unfortunately for you, disaster events are on the rise. In fact, the disaster recover industry is expected to grow to almost seven times its current size - from $1.6 billion in 2016 to $11.1 billion by 2021. This come as no surprise considering that more than half of companies (54%) have reported a downtime event that lasted more than 8 hours in the past five years (State of Disaster Recovery 2016 – Zetta).


State of Disaster Recovery 2016 Infographic - Zetta


Two thirds of these organisations went on to report that they would lose upwards of $20,000/day for every day of downtime. Consider the revenue your business generates per day and imagine how losing your website and phone systems could impact that. This is an increasingly likely scenario - 34% of organisations reported downtime caused by a malware attack. 

Despite these shocking statistics, 2 in 5 companies still do not have a documented disaster recovery plan, and only 40% of these organisations test them once a year.

Can your business afford not to be prepared?


How the EDRP certification protects you


The EDRP course focuses on developing the skills you need to prevent - and recover from - disasters affecting an enterprise scale organisation. These skills could mean the difference between business recovery and business ruin.

This purpose-built course will teach you to identify vulnerabilities and construct the countermeasures required to prevent and mitigate failure risks within your organisation. 

You’ll develop a foundation in core disaster recovery principles, including preparation of a disaster recovery (DR) plan, risk assessment, policy and procedures development and implementation of the DR plan to recover from disaster – should the worst happen.

EDRP v3 has been completely redesigned to align to the latest job task analysis and market research with key additions including:

  • New curriculum focused on business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Meeting regulatory compliance for standards including ISO 31000, ISO 22301, ISO 22313, NFPA 1600 and many more along the NICE Framework
  • Cloud-based virtual labs to simulate business continuity / disaster recover techniques in real time
  • Bridging the gap between business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Updated exams to validate both knowledge and practical skills across business continuity and disaster recovery

The course syllabus covers:

  1. An introduction to Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
  2. Business Continuity Management
  3. Risk Assessment
  4. Business Impact Analysis
  5. Business Continuity Plan
Developing the skills to:


  • Design a business continuity management framework
  • Create a risk assessment report
  • Create a business impact analysis report
  • Create a business continuity strategy

Want a detailed look at the new curriculum? Take a look at this page for more in-depth knowledge of the EDRP certification.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Firebrand Launch the Azure Academy

We’re living in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. According to Forbes, the cloud computing market is set to reach 127.5 billion by 2018 and 42% of UK and US companies are actively looking to hire professionals with cloud computing skills.

Microsoft’s public cloud offering Azure is leading the way with 120,000 new customer subscriptions per month. Demonstrating the strength of Azure, 90% of Fortune 500 companies are currently using the platform.

For those unfamiliar with Azure, it’s “a growing collection of integrated cloud services – analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web – for moving faster, achieving more and saving money”.

In this post we’ll take a look at Azure’s growth and how rapidly expanding demand for Azure cloud professionals is creating a skills gap. 

The growth of Microsoft Azure



In July, Microsoft announced that Azure revenue and usage again grew by more than 100% in the past quarter. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella attributed the growth to a mixture of high demand for cloud platforms combined with Azure’s ability to offer solutions that reflect the realities of today’s world. 

Testimony to this high demand and growth, is Microsoft’s recent announcement of the first complete cloud offering delivered from a global provider within the UK. These datacentres, which adhere to Microsoft’s stringent Trusted Cloud principles, means Azure can now offer customers 28 regions – with six more coming soon. More than any other major cloud provider.  

As mass adoption continues to accelerate, so too does the demand for cloud professionals with well-developed skills in Azure solutions. In a recent study by the managed cloud provider Rackspace, jobs specifying Microsoft Azure experience increased demand in the UK by 75%.

Lagging significantly behind this demand however, is the number of qualified individuals capable of supporting a business’s Azure needs. Rightscale found that the number one challenge for companies looking to bolster their cloud capabilities is the shortage of appropriate skilled job candidates.

Furthermore, while Microsoft’s Azure certifications provide excellent insight into the cloud platform, professionals and businesses alike are increasingly looking to further their Azure knowledge and subsequent application.

Microsoft offer a series of highly-demanded Specialist Azure certifications; Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions and the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect – aimed at demonstrating how to competently implement and administer Azure in a business environment. However, the demand for more in-depth, technical know-how surrounding Azure has seen Firebrand training in partnership with Microsoft develop the Azure Academy.

The birth of Firebrand’s Azure Academy 


Azure Academy is a new, accelerated product created by Firebrand Training in partnership with Microsoft and partners. The Azure Academy introduces the cloud platform in a greater and never-before seen depth.



The accelerated nature of Firebrand Training means each deep dive is just 4 days. Moreover, the content provided includes more than 80% in-depth technical content not found in the Microsoft Official Curriculum.  

Our UK Commercial Manager, James Lapwood said: "We’ve worked with Microsoft and partners in creating the accelerated Azure Academy. The content of the programmes - from Apprenticeships through to expert-level Deep Dives - has been developed based on what the market has asked us for. All delivered at twice the speed of traditional training".  

This Academy, which should be seen as an extension of the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect, is made up of three deep-dive programmes:
  • Infrastructure and Networking
  • Data Platform
  • Application Development

Let’s take a look at them in a little more depth:


The first of the three brand-new Microsoft programmes is Infrastructure and Networking. The course will focus on topics such as:
  • Cloud computing environments
  • Azure storage, backup and recovery
  • Automation, PowerShell and the Azure CLI
  • Microsoft Cloud Estate

You can see the full curriculum here.

The second deep-dive program is Data Platform. This programme will develop understanding of Azure data services, analytics and IoT – plus a detailed look at security. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Implementing Azure SQL Database
  • Azure Redis Cache
  • Azure HDInsight
  • Azure BizTalk Service

Check out the full curriculum.

The third and final Azure Academy programme is Application Development. Aimed at developing your knowledge of designing cloud application in Azure, some of the topics you’ll focus on include:

  • Availability
  • Data-management
  • Messaging
  • Resiliency

Integrated into each deep dive program is a focus on Azure security. With security in the Cloud seen as the second largest cloud challenge to businesses, the need for a holistic understanding of security is imperative.

Check out the full curriculum


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Discover 7 new Microsoft MCSA and MCSE certifications

Microsoft have announced the launch of 6 new MCSA certifications and 1 new MCSE certification. This demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to a growing Azure, Big Data, Business Intelligence (BI) and Dynamics community.

These new certifications and courses will support Microsoft partners looking to upskill and validate knowledge in these technologies.  

Following the huge changes announced in September, these new launches will simplify your path to certification. They'll minimise the number of steps required to earn a certification, while allowing you to align your skills to industry-recognised areas of competence.

This blog will outline the new certifications Microsoft have announced, focusing on the technologies, skills and job roles they align to. 

So what's new?


MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365

This MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 certification is one of three Dynamics 365 certifications launched. It demonstrates your expertise in upgrading, configuring and customising the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.

There are currently no MOCs aligned to this certification. We have developed our own Firebrand material that will prepare you for the following two exams needed to achieve this certification:
  • MB2-715: Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer engagement Online Deployment
  • MB2-716: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configuration 
This certification will validate you have the skills for a position as a Dynamics 365 developer, implementation consultant, technical support engineer or system administrator.

This certification is a prerequisite for the MCSE: Business Applications. 

MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations

The second of these three Dynamics 365 certs is the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. Here, you’ll get the skills to manage a Microsoft SQL Server database and customise Microsoft Dynamics 365.

On this course, you’ll cover the following MOC:
  • 20764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure 
The second part of this course, of which there is currently no MOC, will cover Firebrand's own material. 

To achieve this certification you’ll need to pass the following exams:
  • 70-764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure
  • MB6-890: Microsoft Development AX Development Introduction 
Earning this cert proves you have the technical competence for positions such as Dynamics 365 developer, solutions architect or implementer.  

Just like the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365, this certification is also a prerequisite to the new MCSE: Business Applications certification. 

MCSE: Business Applications

Earning an MCSE certification validates a more advanced level of knowledge. The MCSE: Business Applications certification proves an expert-level competence in installing, operating and managing Microsoft Dynamics 365 technologies in an enterprise environment.

In order to achieve this certification you’ll be required to pass either the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 or the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. You’ll also be required to choose one of the following electives to demonstrate expertise on a business-specific area:
  • MB2-717: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales
  • MB2-718: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service
  • MB6-892: Microsoft Dynamics AX - Distribution and Trade
  • MB6-893: Microsoft Dynamics AX - Financials  
Earning your MCSE: Business Applications certification will qualify you for the roles such as Dynamics 365 developer, implementation consultant, technical support engineer, or system administrator.

MCSA: Big Data Engineering

This MCSA: Big Data Engineering certification demonstrates you have the skills to design and implement big data engineering workflows with the Microsoft cloud ecosystem and Microsoft HD Insight to extract strategic value from your data.

On this course you’ll cover the following MOCs:
  • 20775A: Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft HDInsight – expected 28/6/2017
  • 20776A: Engineering Data with Microsoft Cloud Services – expected 08/2017
And take the following exams:
  • 70-775: Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft HD Insight – available now in beta
  • 70-776: Engineering Data with Microsoft Cloud Services – expected Q1 2018
This course is aimed at data engineers, data architects, data scientists and data developers.

Earning this MCSA acts as a prerequisite, and your first step, to achieving the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential.

MCSA: BI Reporting

This MCSA: BI Reporting certification proves your understanding of data analysis using Power BI. You’ll learn the skills to create and manage enterprise business intelligence solutions.

The MOCs you’ll cover on this course include:
  • 20778A: Analyzing Data with Power BI
  • 20768B: Developing SQL Data Models 
In order to achieve the certification, you’ll take the following exams:
  • 70-778: Analyzing Data with Power BI - expected Q1 2018
  • 70-768: Developing SQL Data Models 
This certification is aimed at database professionals needing to create enterprise BI solutions and present data using alternative methods.

This certification is a prerequisite for the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential. 

MCSA: Cloud Database Development 

This MCSA: Cloud Database Development certification will prove you have the skills to build and implement NoSQL solutions with DocumentDB and Azure Search for the Azure data platform

This certification covers the following MOCs:
  • 40441: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
  • 20777: Implementing NoSQL Solutions with DocumentDB and Azure Search – expected in August 2017 
In order to achieve the certification, you'll have to pass the following exams: 
  • 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
  • 70-777: Implementing NoSQL Solutions with DocumentDB and Azure Search – expected in Q1 2018
This course is aimed at specialist professionals looking to validate their skills and knowledge of developing NoSQL solutions for the Azure data platform. 

This certification is also a prerequisite certification to the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential. 

MCSA: Data Science

This course will teach you the skills in operationalising Microsoft Azure machine learning and Big Data with R Server and SQL R Services. You'll learn to process and analyse large data sets using R and use Azure cloud services to build and deploy intelligent solutions.

This certification covers the following MOCs:
  • 20773A: Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R – in development, expected May 2017
  • 20774A: Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning – in development, expected June 2017
To achieve this certification you’ll be required to pass the following exams:
  • 70-773: Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R – available now in beta
  • 70-774: Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning – available now in beta 
This certification, which is your first step to the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics cert is best suited to data science or data analyst job roles. 


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Free cyber security training for the NHS

Yesterday's ransomware attack that infected so many trusts within the NHS was avoidable. There are complexities within that environment relating to updating software which I understand. Having said that though users are the first line of defence, as well as better filtering of emails before they arrive at users devices. I'm confident the patient data in the back end systems is safe. More can and should be done to prevent future attacks. Firebrand of course wants to help, training people quickly is the only reason we get out of bed in the morning.

Firebrand's cyber security portfolio of courses spans protection and detection as well as end user training. We are also unique in offering accelerated cyber security apprenticeships. As you probably know public organisations including the NHS need to have 2.3% of their staff on apprenticeship programs by 2020. A great way to spend their Apprenticeship Levy.

Firebrand would of course relish the opportunity of talking to any NHS trusts about cyber security training and apprenticeships. I appreciate this might seem like we're trying to profit from this situation. However I'm extremely proud of what Firebrand does. We've trained 65,000 people over 16 years. We've given them skills that make them better at their jobs or further their careers. I know what we teach on our courses makes businesses or government departments more secure, better prepared.

So I'm not going to apologise for this offer! We will give up to 10 NHS trusts one free cyber security course each in exchange for a meeting with a senior member of staff to discuss training and apprenticeships. We can bring a security expert with us if needed and we can explain the range of courses we offer and help you plan where you need skills. During the meeting we will figure out which free course you'll benefit most from. No strings other than agreeing to the meeting.

If you work for an NHS trust feel free to contact me via LinkedIn. The first 10 NHS trusts to contact me get the courses.

For background here's the video of my interview with BBC London News yesterday talking about what has happened at the NHS.




Friday, 12 May 2017

5 things you need to do after the NHS hack

NHS hospitals across England have been hit by a large scale cyber attack. A pop-up message demanding ransom in exchange for access to the infected machines.

NHS Digital said: “A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack which is affecting a number of different organisations".



Whilst it’s too late to stop the current hack, this is a wake-up call for all. In this post, we will identify the steps needed to secure your own information now and in the future.

This is what you need to do
Be wary of emails from the NHS:
 Now is the perfect time for cyber criminals to strike through a phishing attack. Avoid downloading or clicking links in any emails coming from NHS. Almost all malware is installed unknowingly by the victims themselves.

Change your passwords and security questions: Even if you haven't been hacked, change your password and security questions immediately. This is especially important if your email is connected in any way to your bank or a PayPal account.

Additionally, you should look to change the passwords in any other account that uses the same or similar security information. This ensures hackers cannot access other accounts through NHS information. It is also sensible to check your password recovery settings and ensure they have not been changed to a third party.

Avoid contacting your GP practice: Avoid contacting your GP practice unless absolutely necessary, your local pharmacy can provide free and fast advice for non-urgent conditions.

Update your security settings and run a security scan: This the time to make sure your computer is secure. Make sure you run a virus scan and have the most recent security updates on your operating system. If you don't have an anti-virus application, invest in a high-quality one like McAfee or Norton Antivirus. This is something you should be doing as best practice regardless of the issue.


Report it to the police: If you believe you have been hacked and are now the victim of identity theft or fraud, file a report with Action Fraud.

BBC report on Firebrand's police force cyber crime training

This morning, Firebrand Training’s unique Cyber Crime Pathways Programme featured on BBC Breakfast News.

The BBC covered an exclusive insight into how non-technical police officers are trained and skilled in the cyber security investigation and forensic techniques required to catch criminals.

The Cyber Crime Pathways Programme, delivered using our unique accelerated training approach, shows frontline police officers how to effectively respond to the rise in cyber crime across the UK.
Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s leading technology reporter, watched as a team of police officers infiltrated a simulated hacker’s lair.

The high pressure scenario required the police to utilise their training to efficiently find hidden devices and collect the forensics evidence needed to identify the cyber criminal.

Interviewed on BBC, DC Steve Mersh said: “It’s a case of learning the practical skills that we can utilise, no different to a finding a gun at a crime scene that we can make safe from the public and attribute to the criminal”.



Missed it this morning?


Since the Cyber Crime Pathways Programme launched in 2014, Firebrand has trained 659 police officers across 80% of all police forces in the UK. Part of the 960 accelerated courses taken by police are hands-on, practical crime scene simulations like those featuring in the BBC programme.
At a time when you’re more likely to be a victim of a cyber crime than any other offence, the UK is dedicated to upskilling their force to combat this growing threat.

“Back in the day, the officers would simply turn up and literally just pull the electricity supply out of the back of the computer, bag it, tag it and send it away for a forensic investigation which could take months before they got back with anything meaningful” says Phil Chapman, Lead Cyber Security Instructor at Firebrand Training.

Phil continued: “We’re proud to provide accelerated cyber security training to local police forces across the UK. Cyber crime is one of the largest threats to businesses and consumers today - our police need the know-how to respond to this unique form of criminality.

“Firebrand has developed an amazing partnership with local police forces across the UK and we’re excited to share our ongoing work with the BBC.”

Get the skills you need, fast


It's not just the police force that need to prepare for the growing threats of cyber attacks. With two-thirds of large UK businesses the victim of a cyber attack in the past year, it's time you secured your business.

Get the cyber security skills you need to defend your organisation, fast. Choose from 50+ accelerated cyber security courses covering the full requirements of your business across technologies and disciplines.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

6 things you need to know about GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to come into effect from 25 May 2018. UK businesses need to be ready or face severe consequences.

In November 2016, Tesco Bank fell victim to a cyber attack in which £2.5 million was stolen from the current accounts of 20,000 customers. If the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) finds Tesco failed to comply with measures to keep people’s personal data secure, they could face a fine up to £500,000. Under the new regulations set out in the EU GDPR, the same fine could be set at £1.9 billion.

After May 2018, businesses failing this new strict data protection compliance regime will face severe penalties of up to 4% of worldwide turnover. The GDPR means significant changes for all businesses that use or store the personal data of EU citizens.  
“When it comes to data security, the silent spectre of EU General Data Protection Regulation is slowly kicking organisations into action, and incidents such as this will only accelerate this trend” - Nigel Hawthorn, the Chief European spokesperson at Skyhigh Networks.

In this blog we’ll look at 6 things you need to know about GDPR in order to prepare for its implementation in 2018. 

1.  Understand who GDPR applies to


Regardless of your business’s location, if you’re handling the data of European citizens then GDPR applies to you. Companies across the globe will be held to the exact same security standards.

This gives the European data protection authority the power to take action against any organisation breaching these regulations, regardless of geographic location.

Driven by the huge fines businesses face - if they fail to meet the protection requirements - 70% of businesses are now expected to increase spending to address data protection and sovereignty, according to Ovum

2.  Understand what counts as personal data


GDPR will widen the definition of what constitutes personal data. The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) failed to recognise genetic and biometric information as personal data, while the GDPR does.

Under the EU GDPR, personal data will be defined as:
“Data consisting of racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person's sex life or sexual orientation”.

This broad definition means almost all customer information now falls under the category of ‘personal data’. Your business must comprehend the significant changes in the incoming regulation, securing any and all data to avoid severe punishment. 


3.  Review your business’s Terms & Conditions


The GDPR regulation introduces new guidelines stressing the need for explicit individual consent before using a citizen’s data. Businesses will need to use simpler language when asking for consent, be clear on how the data will be used and understand that inactivity does not constitute consent. Lengthy and complicated terms and conditions which lack clarity will no longer be tolerated.

EU citizens will also have greater influence over what happens to their data. Including data erasure (commonly known as ‘the right to be forgotten’) and data portability (transmitting data to another controller).

GDPR also introduces the data minimisation principle, requiring organisations not to hold data for any longer than absolutely necessary. This law also prevents businesses from changing the use of data from what it was originally collected for – unless they request permission. 

4.  You’ll need to conduct Privacy Impact Assessments


The GDPR introduces the need for Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) for any project where privacy breach risks are high.

Your business can no longer begin projects involving personal information, unless a privacy risk assessment has been conducted first. Your business must also work closely with a Data Protection Officer to ensure compliance throughout all projects.

Your organisation must integrate security into the core of all projects, rather than it being a simple consideration.

5. You may need a Data Protection Officer


The EU GDPR removes the notion that regulations should relate to an organisation’s size or the number of employees. 

If your organisation fits any of the three scenarios below – outlined in article 37 -  it’s mandatory that you appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). The core activities of the organisation involve:

  • the processing of personal data by a public authority
  • “regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale”
  • large-scale processing of special data—for example, biometric, genetic, geo-location,

The role of the DPO is to monitor organisational compliance to the regulations and report all and any findings to the highest management level. A study by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) suggests that 75,000 DPOs will have to be appointed globally in the next two years.

This same study shows that staffing requirements are likely to present a big challenge to organisations that don’t hire or develop the skills quickly.

Firebrand offer the Certified Data Protection Officer certification designed for those with at least two years of experience in data protection. Sitting this 3-day course will build the skills and knowledge required to fulfill the role of DPO to maintain compliance against the EU GDPR.    

6.  Reporting a breach – constant monitoring required


In addition to outlining how your businesses should secure their data, the GDPR also has strict regulations on how your business must respond in the event of a data breach.

This includes the common breach notification requirement, combining all breach notification laws across Europe under one definition, providing clarity on how your business reports a data breach. This notification law “requires organisations to notify the local data protection authority of a data breach within 72 hours of discovering it”.

Considering Yahoo stumbled across one of the largest security breaches in history two years after it occurred, this law forces even the largest organisations to be more proactive in identifying and reporting incidents.  If GDPR applies to your organisation, you’ll need to put in place tools and processes to monitor and create alerts in the event of an incident 24/7/365. 


Time is running out...

You have just 12 months to prepare for the incoming GDPR. As outlined above, there must be significant changes to the way your business collects, handles, secures and shares data in May 2018 and beyond. 

Once these regulations are introduced, your organisation won't get away with a minor fine for mishandling sensitive information. Failure to prepare will lead to severe - inf not business ending - financial consequences. Don't get caught out, start your GDPR readiness journey today.