Showing posts with label Cloud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cloud. Show all posts

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. 


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Cisco launch new CCNA Cloud and CCNP Cloud certifications


By Sarah Morgan


Today Cisco introduced two brand new cloud certifications to complement their already comprehensive certification portfolio.

The Cisco certification Pyramid
Available globally, the CCNA Cloud and CCNP Cloud are new job role certifications, designed to build and validate your cloud skill set.


Cisco CCNA Cloud – only six days

Companies are embracing cloud to help them to be more agile, flexible, and effective – with a CCNA cloud cert, you’ll get the skills you need to help these companies succeed with cloud technology.

On this accelerated course, you’ll learn how to perform entry-level provisioning and support for Cisco cloud solutions. You’ll also study:

  • Cloud characteristics and models
  • Cloud deployment
  • Cloud compute
  • End-user support
  • Infrastructure, administration and reporting

The CCNA Cloud certification will prepare you for the role of a cloud engineer or cloud administrator working in a small/medium business, or as support for a large enterprise.

Get this crucial cloud certification in just six days with Firebrand.


Cisco CCNP Cloudonly 12 days

Become a recognised expert with Cisco cloud technology and get the skills you need to build, implement, provision and support Cisco Cloud and Intercloud solutions. This certification is a progression of the Cisco CCNA Cloud.

On this accelerated course, you’ll learn how to:

  • Implement and troubleshoot Cisco Cloud Infrastructure
  • Automate Cisco Enterprise
  • Manage application centric infrastructure

Plus, this Cisco course includes all four CCNP exams, and is delivered exclusively by Certified Cisco Instructors. Get CCNP Cloud certified in only 12 days with Firebrand.


Firebrand are among the first to market these brand new Cisco cloud certifications. And with accelerated training, you'll be certified at twice the speed.

190+ courses and counting

Firebrand’s portfolio now exceeds 190 accelerated courses from vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA.
(ISC)2

We’re committed to developing new accelerated courses. To stay up to date with our newest and most cutting edge training follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn.

Find out how you can get certified at twice the speed and take a look at our full range of accelerated training.


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, 21 May 2015

Brand new (ISC)2 CCSP and Microsoft MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect courses from Firebrand


By Sarah Morgan


With IDC predicting 7 million cloud jobs created by 2015, mastering cloud technology can lead to a fulfilling and profitable career.

And to help you build – and prove – your knowledge of cloud computing, Firebrand has launched two brand new career changing accelerated cloud certification courses:



(ISC)2 Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) - only six days

On this six day accelerated course, you’ll get the knowledge you need to secure your organisation’s cloud infrastructure.

Your business may be using an outdated approach to cloud technology which could open the way for costly and embarrassing cyber-attacks. To prevent these malicious attacks, businesses around the world need CCSP certified professionals with advanced cloud security skills.

Achieve the CCSP and you’ll learn how to secure cloud environments & purchased cloud services. You’ll also study:

  • Cloud data, platform, infrastructure and application security
  • Architectural concepts & design requirements
  • Compliance and legality
  • Operations

This advanced certification, developed by leading information security organisations, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)2, proves your cloud security expertise at a global level – get it in only six days.



Microsoft MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect - only seven days

Get four Microsoft certifications in only seven days on this accelerated Microsoft MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect course.

You’ll learn how to migrate your existing on-premise infrastructure to Azure – Microsoft’s globally integrated cloud platform.

Plus, get the skills you need to design websites, application storage and infrastructure in Microsoft Azure.

On this course you’ll achieve a Microsoft MCSD and three Microsoft Specialist certifications, by studying and passing these Specialist courses:
  • Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
  • Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions


190+ courses and counting

Firebrand’s portfolio now exceeds 180 accelerated courses from vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA.
(ISC)2

We’re committed to developing new accelerated courses. To stay up to date with our newest and most cutting edge training follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn.

Find out how you can get certified at twice the speed and take a look at our full range of accelerated training.


Related articles

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, 18 March 2015

How to test your Azure Traffic Manager settings

   By Debra Littlejohn Shinder



The more traffic you have, the more important traffic management becomes. When motor vehicles first appeared on the roads, they were few and far between and little management was necessary. Yet today traffic control devices are essential to prevent accidents and traffic jams. Likewise, today’s oft-overburdened networks carry data packets from hundreds or thousands of endpoints across routers and switches and through gateways, making traffic management a necessity to ensure performance and reliability.

Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager is a tool designed to work with Microsoft’s cloud operating system to enable you to control the way traffic is distributed to Azure cloud services, web sites and other endpoints that you specify by applying policies to DNS queries. This can result in significant improvement to availability, performance and responsiveness – all of which can be concerns when working with cloud services over an Internet connection, especially for those who are used to the high speed of today’s local networks.

Traffic Manager is deployed in association with an Azure subscription, after which you can add your endpoints, select a monitoring configuration and load balancing method, then create a profile and configure the settings. You can configure Traffic Manager settings in the Management Portal, by using REST APIs or using PowerShell. You can also create nested profiles, which refers to a setup where you have another Traffic Manager profile as an endpoint.

For more information about how to control network traffic distribution with Azure Traffic Manager, be sure to check out Richard Hicks’ article over on CloudComputingAdmin.com.

Before you get that far, though, you might want to test your Traffic Manager settings after configuring them. To do that, first make sure that you set DNS TTL to a low value, such as 30 seconds, so that the changes you make will be quickly propagated and you won’t have to wait to see the results.

You can check your Traffic Manager profile using the common nslookup utility:

  1. Open an administrative command prompt window.
  2. Enter ipconfig /flushdns to flush the DNS resolver cache.
  3. Enter nslookup <Traffic Manager domain name>

Examine the results returned from this command. This should show the DNS name and IP address of the DNS server that you’re using to resolve the domain name. It will also show the Traffic Manager domain along with the IP address to which it resolves. The second IP address shown should be a public virtual IP (VIP) address that is assigned to one of the cloud services or web sites you’ve configured as an endpoint in Traffic Manager.

Now, to test your failover load balancing method, follow these steps:

  1. With the endpoints up, using a single client, use the nslookup tool to request DNS name resolution of your company domain name. The resolved endpoint should be for your primary endpoint.
  2. Either take down your primary endpoint or remove the monitoring file (this will make it appear to be down to Traffic Manager).
  3. Wait now for the DNS TTL plus two minutes to pass.
  4. Now flush the DNS client cache as described above.
  5. Request DNS resolution again. This time the IP address returned should be for your secondary endpoint.
  6. Take down the secondary endpoint and repeat the process for each of the endpoints. The key here is to be sure that the DNS resolution request comes back each time with the IP address of the next endpoint on your list.

If you’re using the round robin load balancing method, the steps to test are a little different. The first step is the same, but the endpoints won’t be in order. Make sure you get back the IP address of one of the endpoints on your list, then flush the DNS cache and repeat to get a different address from your list, and so forth, until the IP addresses for all of your endpoints have been returned.


Author Profile

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP (Security) is a technology consultant, trainer and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security.

She is also a tech editor, developmental editor and contributor to over 20 additional books. Her articles are regularly published on TechRepublic's TechProGuild Web site and WindowSecurity.com, and has appeared in print magazines such as Windows IT Pro (formerly Windows & .NET) Magazine.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Best Cloud Certifications for 2015


By Sarah Morgan


Certifications are a great way for IT professionals to prove that their knowledge and skills are up-to-date. They can be especially crucial in a fast moving industry like cloud computing, where importance is placed on keeping up with new technology or running the risk of becoming outdated.

Cloud now encompasses hybrid, public and private technologies as well as the software and dedicated hardware that enables these systems to work together. For businesses to reap the full benefits of cloud these systems must be built, maintained and secured by skilled IT professionals.


Taking cloud a bit too literally...
photo by George Thomas, licensed under Creative Commons














 
Industry experience combined with official certification can go a long way to getting you hired by businesses in need of cloud-skilled employees. So, if you need to advance your cloud knowledge or are looking for a career-changing technology in 2015, some of these certifications may be just what you need. Let's take a look at the best cloud certifications for 2015:

1. CompTIA Cloud+

The CompTIA Cloud+ will validate your cloud knowledge and prove you understand the best practices required to work within cloud environments. 

This certification has been designed by CompTIA to act as a career step toward cloud focused roles for experienced network, storage and data administrators. Because of this, it’s recommend you have at least 2-3 years’ experience with networking, storage or data centre administration as well as familiarity with hypervisor technologies. 

With the Cloud+ you’ll prove you can:

  • Understand the available cloud delivery models and services
  • Maintain, implement and provide cloud infrastructure 
  • Explain, identify and implement security techniques
  • Implement and use resource monitoring techniques

The Cloud+ is a well-rounded certification used in a wide range of jobs from cloud engineer to business analyst. 

If you’re more interested in cloud technology from a business and technical perspective, we recommend you take a look at CompTIA’s Cloud Essential certification. This alternative certification focuses on the business value of cloud, steps to successful adoption and the risks and consequences of the technology.


2. Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

Microsoft’s Public Cloud service, Microsoft Azure is gaining popularity worldwide with 1000s of new customers joining every day. Microsoft have made a clear commitment to Azure, investing over $15 billion in building and maintaining the datacentres that power the platform.

To complement their cloud portfolio and to encourage Azure uptake, Microsoft introduced two new specialist certifications in 2014.

The first of these – Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions – is focused at IT developers with basic experience in implementing and monitoring Microsoft Azure solutions.
Achieve this certification and you’ll be able to establish your own Azure virtual network environment, construct Azure Virtual Machines, host azure websites and design your own resilient cloud applications.




If you already hold the MCSD: Web Application cert, this qualification is a brilliant way for you to achieve a rounded understanding of the Azure platform.

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass Microsoft Exam: 70-532. Plus, both specialist certs do not require any pre-requisites as they are not part of Microsoft’s typical certification track.


3. Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Solutions

The second of Microsoft’s new specialist Azure certifications is aimed at experienced IT professionals who administer on-premise infrastructure. As such, you’ll be expected to possess an understanding of virtualisation, network configuration, Active Directory, and database concepts.
Complete this certification and you’ll prove your ability to:

  • Implement and manage virtual networking within Azure
  • Plan and create Azure virtual machines
  • Deploy and configure websites in Azure
  • Manage and backup monitor storage solutions

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-533. Both specialist certs do not require any pre-requisites as they are not part of Microsoft’s typical certification track.


4. VMware® vSphere 5.5

When it comes to cloud, experience with virtualization technology is "very important, since that's essentially what makes cloud computing more flexible and increases utilization," argues Wendy Duarte, vice president of recruiting at Mondo.

As one of the fundamental technologies powering cloud computing, it’s no surprise that a virtualisation certification would feature on our top 5 list.

VMware’s Mike Adams states the relationship between virtualisation and cloud succinctly, - “Virtualization is a foundational element of cloud computing and helps deliver on the value of cloud computing…Cloud computing is the delivery of shared computing resources, software or data — as a service and on-demand through the Internet."

Products like VMware vSphere allow businesses to cut the cost of their server sprawl by running multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer, which can then be easily accessed remotely.

vSphere 5.5 eliminates the need to run several sub-optimal servers, but as always, it takes skilled IT professionals to implement and manage this powerful technology. So, to sharpen your virtualisation skills or to take the first steps towards bringing virtualisation to your organisation, we recommend you take a look at VMware’s vSphere 5.5 certification

Find out more about vSphere 5.5 here, but bear in mind, this certification may change with the release of vSphere 6 sometime in 2015.


5. Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

Security is a primary concern for businesses pre and post cloud migration. With the CCSK, you’ll prove you can handle cloud security vulnerabilities.

The CCSK is a web-based certification that tests for a broad knowledge of cloud security and includes topics from architecture, governance, compliance, operations, encryption and virtualisation.

To complete this cert you’ll need to pass the CCSK examination: a 60-question multiple choice exam, completed within 90 minutes. Don’t be fooled by the open-book nature of this assessment - you simply won’t have enough time to research every answer individually (and still pass).

It’s worth noting that the CCSK is not a substitute for other cloud certifications. Instead, the CCSK augments your other credentials by proving your knowledge and competency in cloud computing security.

The CCSK is a great supporting certification for IT professionals holding ISACA’s CISA qualification. CISAs emphasise that the CCSK provides the necessary context and focus to effectively audit cloud environments.
Plus, the CCSK can also be employed effectively aside (ISC)2’s CISSP due to the parallels between both certifications Bodies of Knowledge. Additionally, the CCSK builds upon the CISSP by providing context that is important to the cloud.

Since Cloud Security Alliance first released their Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) in 2010, thousands of IT and security professionals have utilised it as an effective way to upgrade their skills. 


Prove your knowledge

Cloud computing, one of Gartner’s top 10 technology trends for 2015, has already attracted 90% of businesses who now operate using the technology. Cloud’s flexible cost scaling and cost saving has resulted in a massive demand for cloud-ready IT professionals. 

In fact, 65% of IT departments can’t find enough qualified staff to support their cloud projects, report IDC. 

Now you just need the qualifications to prove you can support this in-demand technology.

Related articles:

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, 14 November 2014

How Microsoft is changing the face of IT education


By 


Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, spoke at Future Decoded this week about the success and worldwide adoption of the Youthspark apprenticeship program.

Amongst talk of Microsoft’s cloud-first, mobile-first ethos, Satya also described Microsoft’s vision for the future of education.

Satya Nadella spoke about the importance of computer science being within STEM (Science, Technology, English and Maths) education.

Microsoft’s aim is to make computer science and IT education available to all. ‘The role of technology is to empower people,’ Satya states – he views IT education as something not to be restricted to the ‘elite.’

A commitment to IT education

So far Microsoft’s global apprenticeship program, YouthSpark has enabled over 6000 IT-passionate young people across the UK to find jobs as apprentices.

Through 30+ programs, Microsoft YouthSpark has created new opportunities for more than 227 million young people in over 100 countries around the world.

‘To me that’s the kind of empowerment, at large, that will transform societies and economies.’ – Satya Nadella

Announced in 2012, this company-wide initiative aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth by 2015. And with more than 75 million unemployed young people around the world, it’s definitely a worthwhile cause.  

The UK needs more digital skills

Microsoft isn’t the only company aware of this need for IT education amongst young people. There’s an undeniable lack of digitally skilled workers in the UK. In fact the UK will need another 750,000 digital-savvy workers by 2017, according to research from O2.

That’s a massive deficit but consider this:  Telefónica’s UK CEO Ronan Dunne, speaking at Future Decoded, explained how NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training) are actually more digitally literate than the UK’s existing workforce.

The IT-savvy professionals we need are out there, they just need programs like YouthSpark to prove that a career in IT is one worth pursuing.

Know a young person passionate about IT?

Firebrand is partnered with Microsoft as part of Get On, the UK division of the Global YouthSpark initiative.

Firebrand Apprentice, Kimberley Bolton, was the first woman to receive a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award. Now she’s a Microsoft Apprentice ambassador and was sat on the Microsoft Apprenticeship panel at Future Decoded.

Kimberley explained how at first she was somewhat uneasy going into her IT apprenticeship but with encouragement from staff and a strong female role model, she prospered.  Kimberley previously saw her role as a ‘man’s job’ but now she’s doing it, and with incredible success.


Bring in new talent and secure the future of your business with a young apprentice or graduate from Firebrand. Boost your business and help solve the worldwide need for IT education.


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, 7 November 2014

How to become a Microsoft Azure Specialist


By 


IT Professionals with experience and knowledge of cloud technologies are increasingly in demand. Demand for ‘cloud-ready’ IT professionals will grow by 26% annually through 2015, with as many as 7 million cloud-related jobs available worldwide, IDC report.

However, demand has outpaced supply. IT managers report that the reason they failed to fill an existing 1.7million cloud-related positions in 2012 was due to a lack of training and certification.

The IDC White Paper report that 56% of IT departments simply cannot find enough qualified staff to support their cloud projects. 

Two giants are currently fighting it out for dominance of this thriving technology sector – Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.





Though Amazon may be the current cloud leader, it’s all too clear that Microsoft is closing the gap.
Especially so when considering Microsoft noted in its last earnings call that cloud revenue grew 147% year-over-year. 

At WPC 2014, Microsoft also unveiled these impressive Azure statistics:
  • 57% of Fortune 500 companies now use Azure
  • 300,000+ active websites
  • More than 30 trillion storage objects
  • Over 1 million SQL databases in Azure
  • 300 million Azure Active Directory users

With over $15 billion invested into building and maintaining datacentres across the globe, Microsoft is clearly committed to Azure. And it’s shows.


What is Azure?

Microsoft is going all in on Cloud technology. Microsoft Azure is an open collection of compute, storage, data and networking running in a global network of Microsoft-managed datacentres. 

You may also know it as Azure Ad and Azure online backup but it’s role remains the same – it allows organisations to build infrastructure as a service (IAAS), Platform as a Service (PAAS) and Software as a Service Solutions (SAAS). 


Sound familiar?

If you have recently studied Windows Server 2012 R2 and the latest versions of System Centre and SQL, you might have already studied Azure. Microsoft has already begun to introduce Azure material across their certifications and exams. 

This highlights Microsoft’s commitment to Azure, and proves that an understanding of the software is becoming increasingly necessary in related certifications. After investing $15 billion into worldwide datacentres, it comes as no surprise. 

And in the last couple of months, Microsoft have released courses, exams and certifications specifically based around Azure. 

The two brand new Microsoft certifications are:
  • Microsoft  Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
  • Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions


Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

If you’re a developer looking to enhance your Web Applications and Windows Store Apps through building your own cloud services – this certification is for you. 

Or, if you hold the MCSD: Web Applications, this certification will prove a brilliant way to gain a greater understanding of the Azure platform. 

This Specialist course, built for developers, teaches you how to establish your own Azure virtual network environment. 

If you want to expand your development skills to cover Microsoft Azure, this is the certification for you. You’ll learn how to construct Azure Virtual Machines, create and host Azure websites and design resilient cloud applications. 

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-532


Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

Microsoft is now the second largest provider of cloud infrastructure solutions and this Specialist certification has been created to set you apart as a knowledgeable Cloud professional. 

You’ll learn how to migrate your existing on-premise infrastructure to Microsoft Azure as well as:

  • Plan and implement data services based on SQL
  • Deploy and configure websites
  • Publish content through CDNs 
  • Integrate on premises Windows AD with Azure AD

To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-533


When can you get certified?

You can sit both the 70-533 and 70-532 exams and attain your respective certifications now. But bear in mind – you have two options for scheduling these exams: Pearson VUE and Prometric.

If you want to sit your exam after January 1, 2015 – book it with Pearson VUE. This is because after December 31, 2014, Microsoft will stop delivering their certification exams through Prometric.

Training providers are racing to cater for the demand for these new Microsoft Specialist certifications. We are proud to announce that Firebrand is one of the first to market - and will be running courses in the coming months.


How to know when you’re ready

These Microsoft Specialist certifications are not part of the traditional MTA, MCSA and MCSE / MCSD tracks. As a result, you won’t find any pre-requisites for these Azure certifications.
However, Firebrand instructor, Mike Brown has reviewed the curriculum of both Specialist certifications and strongly recommends an in depth understanding of virtualisation before taking on these exams. 

Because of this emphasis on virtualisation, if you possess the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 certification, you’ll be better prepared than most for these new Azure Specialist courses. Those without this cert should consider it as a great introduction to virtualisation. 


Prepare for your Microsoft Specialist cert now

To get started on Microsoft Azure - take a look at the Microsoft Virtual Academy. You’ll find 28 Microsoft Azure short courses available which provide a great self-study introduction to the technology. 

Because these Azure certifications are so new and in-depth, you won’t find a great deal of external resources. As a result, self-study could prove unjustifiably tough. 

But, if you can prove your knowledge of Azure, you’ll be well placed to take full advantage of the driving demand for Cloud technology.


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, 15 October 2014

Using Host Groups to build a Private Cloud based on System Center 2012/2012 R2



By Debra Littlejohn Shinder


Everybody is migrating to the cloud – or so it seems. But some companies just aren’t ready to put everything “out there” in a public cloud, and for them, the private or hybrid cloud deployment model makes the most sense. Building a private cloud from scratch can be a daunting task, though. Microsoft has tried to make it a little easier for customers with Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012/2012 R2.


Definitely clouds.
Image courtesy of arztsamui / morguefile
One of the important concepts involved in creating a private cloud that’s easy to manage is that of host groups. Host groups are created in System Center 2012 R2’s Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). VMM is Microsoft’s management solution for virtualized resources, including those in a private cloud. 

A host group is a simple idea: it allows you to manage multiple servers as one entity. You can then create your private cloud based on the resources that reside in one or more of your host groups. Microsoft’s cloud computing model encompasses three resource pools that make up the fabric. These are defined as compute, network and storage pools. The three resource pools are managed by VMM. For a better understanding of this, see the post Fabric, Cloud Computing Abstraction Integrated in VMM on Yung Chou’s Hybrid Cloud blog on the TechNet web site. 

Once you have a basic understanding, you can create your private cloud. Of course, you’ll need admin privileges to do this. There are some requisites, which include the preparation of the fabric in VMM. You can find out how to do that via the TechNet article Preparing the Fabric Scenario in VMM.

Once that’s done, you can get down to the business of creating the host groups in VMM. Here’s how: In System Center 2012 or 2012 R2 VMM, open the Fabric workspace and follow these steps:


  1. In the Fabric pane, expand the Servers node.
  2. Right click All Hosts.
  3. Click Create Host Group. 
  4. Replace the default name (New host group) with the new name that you want to assign to the host group.


You can create a tiered host group structure by repeating the process after right clicking the parent node under which you want to create a new child host group. You can create a parent host group for each different physical location, for example, and then within each one you could create host groups based on hardware capabilities (that is, the top tier group in each location offers the highest level of performance and reliability, etc.). You could also group hosts based on server roles or business units, or whatever structure makes sense for your organization. Note that you can also move host groups around to different locations within the tree structure if you need to. 

After you create your host group structure, you can configure the properties of the host groups. Back in the Fabric workspace, expand Servers again and then expand All Hosts, and click the host group you want to configure. Click the Folder tab, and click Properties in the Properties group. 

Here you can configure the following host group properties: 

  • General settings (group name, location in the hierarchy, description and encryption)
  • Placement rules for customizing on which host virtual machines are deployed
  • Host reserves (the amount of CPU, memory, disk input/output, disk space and network input/output that will be allocated for the host operating system on each virtual machine, either specified for a host group or for an individual host)
  • Dynamic optimization and power optimization settings (balancing of VM loads within a host cluster and evacuation of hosts to save power)
  • Network (inheritance settings for network resources including IP address pools, load balancers, logical networks and MAC address pools)
  • Storage (allocation of storage logical units and allocation of storage pools to host groups)
  • Custom properties for VMs, VM machine templates, hosts, host clusters, host groups, service templates, service instances, computer tiers and cloud. 


For more information about building host groups, see Part 2 of Brien Posey’s 11-part article on Building a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 over on the WindowsNetworking web site or to learn more about private cloud read Private Cloud Storage Network Storage Considerations series on CloudComputingAdmin.com

Author Profile

DEBRA LITTLEJOHN SHINDER, MCSE, MVP (Security) is a technology consultant, trainer and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security.

She is also a tech editor, developmental editor and contributor to over 20 additional books. Her articles are regularly published on TechRepublic's TechProGuild Web site and WindowSecurity.com, and has appeared in print magazines such as Windows IT Pro (formerly Windows & .NET) Magazine.