Showing posts with label Microsoft specialist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Microsoft specialist. Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Which Microsoft Azure certification is best for you?

 By Sarah Morgan


Adoption of cloud infrastructure is no longer a new trend or unknown entity. Cloud computing is now a mainstay in the IT industry and the numbers back this up. According to a 2016 IDC study, public cloud spending is growing at 6 times the rate of overall IT spending growth, due to reach £96 billion annually by 2019. Plus, there are now over 18 million cloud jobs worldwide.

Alongside cloud technology, usage of Microsoft Azure is also growing rapidly. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, said there are now over 5 million organisations using Azure Active Directory, and over 50 trillion objects stored in Azure as a whole. This highlights the scale of Microsoft’s cloud operations, with Microsoft keen to grow and develop its cloud services in the near future.

Image from Microsoft
80% of Fortune 500 companies are now using Microsoft cloud technology and Azure is gaining 90,000 new customers a month. With worldwide adoption of Azure infrastructure increasing, having the skills to manage Azure systems is now a great asset to you and your business. Also, helping you take advantage of Azure’s benefits like Microsoft support resources, interoperability with many devices and high flexibility and versatility of Azure virtual machines. The range of Azure courses on offer has steadily grown alongside the cloud platform and there are now many to choose from, each offering you Azure skills suitable for different roles.  To help you decide which is best for you, in no particular order, below is a breakdown of all current Microsoft’s Azure certifications.


Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions


The Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions certification is aimed at Server Engineers or Architects. It proves you know have the knowledge and skills to migrate your existing on premise architecture to Microsoft Azure. Perfect for anyone needing to migrate their legacy systems to the cloud where you'll need to create Azure virtual machines and networks, implement and manage Azure storage solutions, implement cloud and mobile services among other skills in migrating and implementing Azure.

To achieve the Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions certification, you’ll need to pass Microsoft exam 70-533. If you're looking to develop the skills and knowledge to pass this exam, you'll need to get to grips with course 20533B: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, which is aligned to the 70-533 exam. 

Firebrand has a 3 day accelerated version of the Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions course, 50% faster than traditional courses. You'll learn how to:

  • move your virtual machines, websites, storage and data services to Microsoft Azure
  • manage it all in the long term
  • get skilled up on Azure features like: 
    • Active Directory 
    • Content Delivery Network 
    • SQL Data Services 
    • managing Azure in a hybrid environment.

Image from Microsoft



Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions


The  Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification is aimed at Developers looking to specialise and take their skills onto Azure. This certification proves you can create an environment for web development on Azure virtual machines as well as design cloud applications on Azure.

You need to pass Microsoft Exam 70-532 to achieve the certification. You should look to sit course 20532B: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions as this is aligned to the 70-532 exam.  This will give you the best possible chance of getting Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certified.

Firebrand has an accelerated 3 day Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions course. This is 50% faster than traditional training courses and will teach you to develop the following skills: 

  • ASP.NET web architecture and development skills 
  • Hosting on Azure 
  • Storage and management of SQL data on Azure.

Specialist: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions


The Microsoft Specialist: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions certification is most suited to Azure Cloud Architects or Azure Consultants. It demonstrates your skills to design and manage the technologies Azure offers and how they work together. It is best suited to those looking to design public and hybrid Azure solutions in their business.

In order to achieve the Microsoft Specialist: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions certification, you’ll need to pass exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. Whilst there is no specific course aligned to the exam, you can sit Firebrand’s accelerated 7 day course which includes all the skills you’ll need for the 70-534 exam. It covers topics like:

  • Designing best practices for virtual networks 
  • Network Security Groups (NSGs) and how they help to create perimeter networks
  • System Centre products and how they integrate with Azure


MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect


The MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect is the most comprehensive Azure specific certification currently available and combines all three of the Specialist certifications. As the title suggests, it is aimed at Azure Solutions Architects, proving you have all the skills to design, build and deploy an entire solution on Azure. To achieve the certification, you have to pass all three specialist exams 70-532, 70-533 and 70-534.

This means the best way to pass these is to sit all three Microsoft Specialist courses,  aligned to each exam. 

The best way to this is by sitting Firebrand’s accelerated 7 day MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect course, which is 40% faster than traditional training. It includes curriculum for Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure SolutionsDeveloping Microsoft Azure Solutions and Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, which are aligned to all three exams. This covers the full range of Azure topics including:

  • Designing cloud applications for resiliency
  • Hosting web applications on Azure
  • Implementing and managing virtual networks
  • Planning and implementing data services 

MCSA: Linux on Azure


The newest Azure certification on the market, the MCSA: Linux on Azure, is the first ever certification from a Microsoft and Linux collaboration. It is aimed at Linux Systems Administrators, Engineers and support staff. It proves your skills as a Linux systems administrator and your abilities to migrate and use these systems on Microsoft Azure.

You need to pass exam 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions and the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) exam. Sitting courses 20533B and LFS220: Linux System Administration will prepare you for both exams. 

On LFS220, you’ll learn about Linux processes, filesystems, backup and recovery methods and networking. The 20533B course will then cover Azure migration, so you can use your Linux systems on Azure. Firebrand has an accelerated MCSA: Linux on Azure course, which can get you certified in just 5 days.


What else?


As well as the Azure specific certifications we’ve mentioned above, there are other Microsoft certifications that include very useful skills relating to Azure. These could be useful to you before specialising with an Azure certification. Check out a breakdown of these below:

MCSA: Windows 10 – Microsoft’s cross-platform vision is led by Windows 10 and included in this is its combination and integration with Azure. Microsoft’s MCSA: Windows 10 certification is aimed at Support Technicians and Systems Administrators and teaches you about security, administration and technical support for Microsoft’s newest operating system. Crucially, the course also covers how to integrate Windows 10 with Microsoft Azure and features like Active Directory, Microsoft Intune and Azure Rights Management. 

MCSA: Office 365 – Office 365 is a cloud-based technology. This means it is closely linked to Azure. Much of what the MCSA: Office 365 covers is integrating Office 365 with supporting technologies including Azure Active Directory, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online. All of these are based in the cloud. Getting MCSA: Office 365 certified is a great way to start building your cloud and Azure skills, whilst of course getting in depth skills on Office 365. This certification is aimed at Systems Administrators looking to specialise in Office 365, or if you need to setup Office 365 in your business.

MCSA: Windows Server 2012 – Getting certified in another of Microsoft’s most prominent technologies is most useful for Server Engineers, Server Support or Server Administrators. It gives you all the skills to implement, configure and manage Windows Server 2012. The certification also includes a brief overview of Azure and how Windows Server 2012 relates to it. This is an important factor as many System Administrators are using Azure cloud infrastructure that uses Windows Server 2012. If you’re planning to run your Azure architecture with Windows Server 2012, this certification gives you a useful bridge between the two technologies.


Now you know what skills each Azure certification demonstrates, you should be able to find an Azure certification that helps you achieve your goals. The range of Azure certifications from Microsoft is still relatively young and growing and as Azure develops, so will the accompanying certifications. This means if there isn’t an Azure certification that helps you do exactly what you need right now, Microsoft may well develop one in the near future.

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, 9 January 2015

How to retake your Microsoft exams for free


By Sarah Morgan


Want to become a Microsoft certified professional or master a new Microsoft technology in 2015? Second chances don’t come around every, day but with Second Shot you can now get a free retake for that tricky Microsoft exam.


How to get your free exam retake


Take any MCP exam between 5 January 2015 - 31 May 2015 and if you don’t pass you’ll get a free retake.

Failing your first attempt isn’t fun and it’s even worse when you have to shell out £99 for a retake. Luckily for IT professionals out there who want to get Microsoft certified in 2015, over the next five months, your second attempt will be free.



Plus, Microsoft Second Shot is redeemable for every different exam you take.

To schedule your retake, sign in with your Microsoft account, select your exam from this list and select ‘Schedule now for free.’


Frequently asked questions


Q. Which exams qualify for Second Shot? 

A. Second shot applies to every exam in the MCSA, MCSE, MCSD, Microsoft Specialist and Microsoft Dynamics courses.

However, it does not apply to the MTA and MOS exams as these do not qualify you for the MCP certification. 


Q. How many exams can I take with the offer?

A. You’ll get one free retake for every exam that you do not pass first time. However, the retake must be the same exam as the one you didn’t pass.


Q. Will my free retake expire?

The Second Shot offer is only valid for 30 days from the date of your first exam.


Q. I’m a government employee, can I participate?

A. Due to government gift and ethics laws, government employees (including military and public education employees) are not eligible to participate.


Q. Can I schedule my first attempt and retake at the same time? 

A. No, you will not be able to register for your exam retake until you have taken (and failed) the initial exam.


Q. I missed my initial exam appointment. Can I use Second Shot to schedule a new appointment free of charge?

A. Nope. The free retake offer will only be useable if you do not pass your initial exam (you must attend the exam).

However, if you provide 24 hours notice you will be able to reschedule your first exam. The same applies to your retake (providing your newly scheduled exam is taken prior to Second Shot’s 30 day expiration).


Q. Can I combine Second Shot with other offers?

A. Yes, Second Shot can be combined with other Microsoft offers. Find out more about Microsoft’s current IT training and certification offers here. Or find out more about software assurance training vouchers here.

You can also combine Second Shot with Firebrand offers.


Q. I’m a student eligible for academic exam pricing. Does this offer apply to me too?

A. Yes.


Q. Can I redeem Second Shot for cash or credits?

A. No.


Q. Can I redeem my Second Shot in a different region to the one where I purchased the initial exam?

A. No, Second Shot exams can only be retaken in the same region they were initially purchased.


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, 17 December 2014

Best IT certifications for 2015


By Sarah Morgan


Getting certified is a brilliant way to prove that you are as skilled as you say you are. But a certification doesn’t stand alone – if you can’t apply it, what’s the point? Now that 2014 draws to an end, let’s take a look at some of the best IT certifications for 2015 that will advance you to the next stage in your career.

The need for qualified IT professionals is now massively outpacing the supply – it’s estimated that Britain alone will need 500,000 new IT professionals over the next five years. And with the widespread uptake of technologies, like Cloud and virtualisation, getting certified in 2015 really will make all the difference.

2014 saw a barrage of cyber-attacks inflicted upon businesses around the world. In fact, more organisations fell victim to cybercriminals in 2014 than 2013, the US State of Cybercrime revealed. And reports are already predicting an increase in cybercrime for 2015.

So from security to cloud and project management qualifications - getting certified for 2015 could be one of the best decisions you make next year. Here's our list of the best IT certifications for 2015.


1. Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 

Support for Windows Server 2003 ends July 14th, 2015. Using the system after end of support could cost you up to £120,000 a year in custom support. You will also lose the ability to process online transactions via Visa & Mastercard as Windows Server 2003 will fail to adhere to PCI compliance.

Despite warnings from Microsoft, estimates from HP suggest 11 million systems are still running Windows Server 2003. This could be a cripple your business, come 2015, considering the estimated 3 to 18 months it takes to migrate a datacentre of 100+ servers.

Thousands of businesses will now be migrating to Windows Server 2012, making the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification a valuable asset. Get this cert and you’ll reduce the hassle of migration and be able to make the most of your new server software faster.

Start planning your migration today (if you haven’t already) and make it a smooth process for your organisation by taking the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 course.


2. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker

There was a 50% chance you were a victim of cybercrime in 2014, data from Microsoft revealed. The same is true for one-in-five small and medium businesses.

Certifications like EC-Council’s CEH are now becoming increasingly sought after for businesses of all sizes. After all, nobody wants to face a crippling security breach like Sony’s recent attack.

Protect your business from cyber attacks like this (image from Sony's recent breach)



























Take on the CEH in 2015 and you’ll get comprehensive ethical hacking and networking security training. On this course you’ll learn how to conduct penetration tests against your own systems. With the knowledge of a hacker at your disposal, you’ll identify and close security holes that a cybercriminal could otherwise exploit.

The CEH certification also qualifies you for a wide range of roles within IT security from Forensics Analyst to Application Security architect.


3. (ISC)2 CISSP

In the past year alone, cyber security vacancies have doubled with demand now overwhelming supply, according to data from Technojobs.

The CISSP is a global standard and widely recognised as the information and cybsersecurity benchmark cert. Achieve it and you’ll display solid proof of your rounded IT security experience as well as a common baseline and standardisation of knowledge.


Certifications like the CISSP are in demand (2014 saw a 10% growth in the average salary for cyber security professionals) as they are frequently required for the majority of senior roles within cyber security.


Protect your organisation from IT security threats of all kinds - find out how to become a CISSP.


4. Microsoft MCSA: Office 365

Take the Microsoft MCSA: Office 365 and position yourself to take advantage of Microsoft’s new Cloud focus. This is also your first step to achieving Microsoft’s new Cloud Productivity competency for your business.


Achieve this certification and you’ll use the power of the cloud to save time, money and free up your business’s resources. You’ll get the skills required to set up an Office 365 tenant, including federation with existing user identities. If you evaluate, deploy and maintain Office 365 services, or plan to in the future – this is the course for you.



5. VMware® vSphere 5.5 

Businesses continue to embrace virtualisation technology as a way to reduce cost and complexity of critical applications. ‘The always-on-business will become the norm across the globe’ writes Don Williams, Vice president at Veeam Software.

Users want continuous access and to keep up, businesses have turned to virtualisation technologies to provide this. Products like VMware’s vSphere enable businesses to virtualise their server resources and aggregate them into logical pools for use across the entire business.

vSphere 5.5 is the fix for costly infrastructure sprawl as it allows your business to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer. Gone are the days of having multiple servers running at sub-optimal capacity - virtualisation technology gives increased productivity by reducing physical servers and ensuring each is running at full capacity.

Learn how to apply virtualisation technology within your organisation in 2015, with VMware’s official vSphere 5.5 certification. Find out more here, but bear in mind, this certification may change with the release of vSphere 6 sometime in 2015.


6. Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions 

Cloud technology is growing and demand for Cloud qualified professionals is growing with it. In 2014, 56% of IT departments couldn’t find qualified staff to support their cloud projects and demand for ‘cloud-ready’ IT professionals is also set to grow by 26% in 2015, IDC reports.

Microsoft's Public Cloud offering, Microsoft Azure, continues to grow with more than 1000 new customers joining everyday. After investing $15 billion in building and maintaining the global datacentres that power the Azure platform, it’s clear Microsoft have big plans in the Public Cloud space for 2015. You can tap into the demand for cloud skilled professionals by looking at the newly released Microsoft Specialist certifications focusing on the Azure platform.



If you’re a developer, the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification is a brilliant way to gain a greater understanding of the Azure platform in 2015. This specialist course, built for developers, teaches you how to establish your own Azure virtual network environment, construct Azure Virtual Machines, host azure websites and design resilient cloud applications.

If you already hold the MCSD: Web Applications cert, this qualification is a brilliant way for you to get a rounded understanding of the Azure platform for 2015.

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


7. Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

This is the second of Microsoft’s new specialist Azure certifications. With it, you’ll learn how to migrate your on-premise infrastructure to Azure. You’ll also learn how to:
  • Plan and implement data services based on SQL
  • Deploy and configure websites
  • Publish content through CDNs
  • Integrate on premise Windows AD with Azure AD
To achieve the certification you’ll have to pass the Microsoft Exam: 70-533.


8. AXELOS PRINCE2 Foundation and Practictioner

PRINCE2 is the de-facto standard for project management in the UK and is held by 63% of all project management professionals. With over a million exams taken globally, it’s already recognised as the world’s most popular project management methodology.

This qualification covers the management, control and organisation of a project. It embodies years of project management best-practice and provides a flexible and adaptable framework that suits different projects.

The PRINCE2 remains a sought-after certification for 2015 as employers continue to demand this qualification for their project management roles.


9. Microsoft MCSE: Private Cloud

The MCSE: Private Cloud certification focuses on the skills to combine Windows Server and System Centre 2012 to build a private cloud for your business. This certification requires the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 as a prerequisite. 

To boost the uptake of this already popular cert, Microsoft have launched various initiatives to help IT professionals get the prerequisites for this in-demand cloud certification.

To find out more about how to get the MCSE: Private Cloud certification, check out Microsoft Evangelist, Keith Mayer’s step-by-step guide. Or, if self-study isn’t for you, take a look at this accelerated course.


10. CompTIA A+

Many an IT professional’s career has been built upon the solid foundations of the CompTIA A+ certification. In fact, over 1,000,000 people have achieved the A+ in the past 20 years.

Major brands - like Dell, HP and Lenovo – require that their technicians are A+ certified in order to service their products. It’s even supported by government branches like the US Department of Defence.

The skills you’ll get from this certification are vendor neutral, meaning they’ll remain universally applicable across your entire IT career.

If you’re new to IT then this cert is one of the best ways to break into the industry. Take the CompTIA A+ and set yourself up with a comprehensive base of IT knowledge for 2015.


If we missed any great certifications you’re planning on taking in the New Year, please comment below!

We supported our best IT certifications for 2015 with a lot of our popular blogs from 2014, take a look at them below:



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.