Showing posts with label microsoft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label microsoft. Show all posts

Friday, 31 July 2015

Firebrand embraces Microsoft’s cloud first ethos


Speaking from a meeting room that previously held Firebrand’s sever rack, we caught up with Bevan Miller, our Head of IT, to discuss Firebrand’s recent migration to Microsoft Azure and Office 365.

Firebrand now in the cloud

Over the past year, Firebrand’s forward-thinking IT team have been migrating business critical systems to Microsoft’s public cloud platform – Azure.

A modern business requires countless services and software to run, and Firebrand has been working hard at getting them into the cloud. Our recent Office 365 migration means that users can now login to the Firebrand business applications and authenticate through Azure and Federation Services.

Firebrand employees can access their critical apps across public networks – BYOD and working from home has never been simpler.

But that’s not all – OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online, SharePoint, Yammer, Skype for Business, File Services, legacy CRM, database services, finance systems, RemoteApp, Directory Services and Windows Deployment Services are now all running in Azure.



Cloud migration – not just a buzzword

Full cloud migration can be a daunting task but the benefits are massive. Firebrand staff now experience full BYOD and working from home flexibility – when they connect to the corporate network, regardless of their connection, they’ll find their apps are already installed alongside their personal settings.

The IT team have also cut their operational time by enabling the cloud to manage their server load. Real time scaling support that efficiently adapts to business demands is now maintained by Dot Net Solutions, a managed services and solutions partner.



Dot Net Solutions manages all of Firebrand’s third line support – using System Centre Operations Manager for security and update patches, monitor, maintain and triage system issues before they impact business applications.

The result: Bevan and his team get more time to focus on business solutions and streamlining technologies.

With our server stack sitting securely in the cloud, little to no operational time is being dedicated to regular hardware maintenance tasks. There’s now no need to add to the server stack when the company expands, Azure flexibly responds to any increase or decrease in our business demands.

Firebrand can now easily deploy additional security features through Azure’s Multi Factor Authentication giving us real time security monitoring and enabling fast action on alerts.

Risk to critical files is minimised too - if our server room experiences any disasters, our critical servers and data will be spared as they are now backed-up multiple times across Azure's geo-redundant virtual machines.

We now also use Microsoft Data Protection manager in conjunction with Azure Data Backup Vaults as well as a full Virtual Machine through the Azure Backup Service.

Those training with us will also get to see Azure in action - Firebrand’s cloud courses are now powered by Azure. Plus, Bevan’s team can now utilise Azure to set up Firebrand’s classrooms, cutting 6-7 days of setup time to a mere ten minutes


How we converted our server rack space into a meeting room

Cloud migration means saying ‘Goodbye’ to the majority of your server racks and when we said our farewells, we suddenly came into possession of a whole new workspace.

Previously stuffed with whirring servers and their backups, we quickly made use of the space by converting it into a new meeting room.

Our absence of physical servers and specialised AC means that the Firebrand London office has more than halved power consumption, server estate footprint and redundant power requirement – cutting electricity bills and contributing to Firebrand's green commitment.


Why Firebrand migrated with Azure

As Microsoft are also the Operating System vendor, they are able to closely integrate the hosting platform with the desktop. For example, Operating System stack integrated to back-end infrastructure makes it easy for personal devices to securely and quickly access corporate resources through Azure Rights Management Service.



And despite launching later than other cloud services, Azure has learnt from its competitors – taking advantage of their successes and avoiding their failures.

Azure isn’t the only public cloud service available, but with over $15billion invested into Azure – it’s clear that Microsoft is committed to their advancing cloud service.


Putting themselves out of a job?

As more and more of Firebrand’s IT services become automated and self-sufficient – Bevan’s team is leaving behind the traditional IT support role.

It may sound like Firebrand’s IT team are putting themselves out of a job, but the fact is, when conventional support becomes automated, IT departments are able to apply their skills to business enhancing projects - like making Firebrand's business files more accessible by migrating them to Microsoft OneDrive.

Bevan and his staff now have more time to ensure Firebrand continues to be a cutting edge business with the best tools available.


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. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

How the launch of Windows 10 affects your business


Microsoft’s highly anticipated Windows 10 was released yesterday. The new multi-platform operating system is intended to bridge the gap between Microsoft devices and merges the eccentric Windows 8, with more traditional components of Windows that users are familiar with.

Whilst achieving these things, the intention is to advance Microsoft’s operating system, giving businesses a platform for the long-term future of computing.

Also, for the first year, it is free to anyone with Windows 7 or 8 currently installed. Find out how to upgrade here.

How the new features can help your business

Being multi-platform, Windows 10 will increase interactivity across the workplace and when working from home. Transitioning between a PC and tablet has never been easier. The majority of Microsoft Office programs are now Universal apps, which means they are available across all Windows 10 platforms.

Operating features like the new start menu, Action center and Quick Access area will increase productivity, making day-to-day usage quicker and easier. Also, Microsoft’s new, faster browser Microsoft Edge, allows you to annotate, save and share web pages easily between colleagues.

Your business’s data will be more protected with the new Windows Passport. This removes the need to use passwords, which can be hacked, instead using fingerprint readers and eventually face and iris readers to gain access to data. This is vital for protecting sensitive data.



The range of platforms on which Windows 10 can operate



What else is new?

  • Security enhancements, including Windows Passport
  • Device Guard - ensures a device only runs apps authorised by your business
  • Device management features – allows you to lock down a device to for a function, for example a portable device for drivers to check their route, to manage multiple users who have Azure AD accounts and to manage VPN configuration
  • Enterprise Data Protection - preventing accidental data disclosure through apps and services outside of your control like e-mail, social media and the cloud
  • Provisioning packages – come with simple instructions so it is quick and easy to configure multiple devices in your business and without mobile device management infrastructure
  • Task view - makes switching between apps and windows easier giving you multiple desktops, allowing you to separate different areas of your work


How you can master Windows 10 first

Because Windows 10 is such a large scale release, expect it to affect many certifications. As referred to in our previous blog post, at WPC 2015, Microsoft unveiled six new MOCs relevant to Windows 10. As well as these, we expect Microsoft to announce a new curriculum for Microsoft MCSA: Windows 10 towards the end of 2015.


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, 17 July 2015

Microsoft unveil new MOCs at WPC 2015

This year the 2015 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was held in Orlando, from the 12th July until the 16th. Whilst we were expecting news on SQL Server 2016, Windows Server 2016 and SharePoint 2016, Microsoft also unveiled new MOC titles.

In this blog we’ve compiled a list of the newly announced MOC’s, including discussion and speculation. Microsoft has not yet stated which certification, if any, each MOC is relevant to.



Windows 10

Windows 10, Microsoft’s new multi-platform operating system, is planned for release on 29th July. Microsoft revealed new MOC titles to accompany the launch of Windows 10, which should align to MCSA, MCSE and MCSD certifications.

Expected to be released around September this year, Microsoft revealed these new MOC titles:

  • Installing and configuring Windows 10
  •  Deploying and Managing Windows 10 in the Enterprise
  •  Partner Applied Workshop: What’s new in Windows 10
  • Supporting and Troubleshooting Windows 10 in the Enterprise
  • Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications
  • Administering System Center Configuration Manager and Intune

As Windows 10 is an upgrade for Windows 8.1, one would assume that certifications like MCSA: Windows 8.1 would be updated too. The first two MOCs in the above list are similar to those in MCSA: Windows 8.1 titled “Configuring Windows 8.1” and “Supporting Windows 8.1”. This supports the thinking that these new MOCs are direct upgrades.

Plus, the “Supporting and Troubleshooting Windows 10 in the Enterprise” could be an addition to the MCSA: Windows 10, whilst the “Partner Applied Workshop: What’s new in Windows 10” MOC appears completely new.

The current version of “Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications” is included in MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps certification. It looks likely that we will now see an update of this certification that includes these new MOCs.








Windows Server/System Center

These MOCs apply to another new release for Microsoft, Windows Server 2016, as well as System Center:

  • Fundamentals of a Windows Server Infrastructure 
  • Fundamentals of Windows Server Storage and Virtualisation 
  • Configuring and Managing Windows 10 Devices (ecm) 
  • Planning and Implementing a Microsoft Infrastructure 
  • Planning and Implementing an Advanced Microsoft Infrastructure 
  • Planning and Implementing an Enterprise Windows Infrastructure 
  • Managing and Maintaining a Windows Cloud Infrastructure 
  • Upgrading your MCSA/MCSE to Windows Server Vnext

We can only assume that the first three courses in the list apply to the new MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 course because the current MOC titles are worded slightly differently; “Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services” and “Administering Windows Server 2012” for example.

The new Windows Server 2016 (WS2016) is expected September/October and the new MOCS normally arrive 3-6 months after the technology, so expect these in 2016. These could possibly be upgrades to the curriculum for “MCSA Windows Server 2012 R2”, “MCSE:Server Infrastructure”, “MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure” and “MCSE: Private Cloud”. However the names are so far removed, it is hard to tell what Microsoft has planned.

“Upgrading your MCSA/MCSE to Windows Server Vnext” is an upgrade path from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2016. If you have an existing MCSA or MCSE relating to Windows Server 2016 (could also be related to Windows Server 2008), this will be the course for upgrading your certification.

Data Platform

SQL Server 2016 is scheduled for released in September or October this year. This means certifications like MCSA: SQL Server, MCSE:Business Intelligence (SQL Server) and MCSE: Data Platform (SQL Server) will be updated. The newly unveiled MOC titles are:

  • Updating your MCSD to SQL Server 2016 (this is an upgrade path) 
  • Install and Configure SQL Databases 
  • Query Data with Transact-SQL 
  • Analyze and Visualize Data with Power BI 
  • Developing SQL Databases 
  • Developing Data Clients with MVC and LINQ 
  • Performance Tuning and Optimizing SQL Databases 
  • Developing Non-Relational Databases 
  • Provisioning a SQL Database Infrastructure 
  • Operating a SQL Database Infrastructure 
  • Implementing SQL Server High Availability 
  • Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse 
  • Implementing Data Models and Reports 
  • Delivering Dashboards and Self-Service BI

Again, we are likely to see the new MOCs arrive in early 2016, 3-6 months after SQL Server 2016’s release. Many of these titles are similar to those in current SQL Server certifications -  e.g. “Querying Microsoft SQL Server” and “Implementing Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server” in the MCSA: SQL Server certification.

Expect some to be added to other certifications, but it is difficult to predict exactly how and where. In addition, “Updating your MCSD to SQL Server 2016” is clearly an upgrade path for the new technology.

Messaging

Lync Server began the transition to Skype for Business Server on April 14th 2015. Businesses now benefit from a familiar Skype interface, a more global reach and continuity from existing Lync features. At WPC Microsoft revealed these new Messaging MOCs:

  • Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
  • Managing Office 365 Identities and Services
  • Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
  • Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 (no exam)
  • Core solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
  • Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016 (no exam)

In line with this, the MCSE: Communication certification will be updated, probably with “Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015.”

The second MOC on the list, “Managing Office 365 Identities and Services” is included within the current MCSA: Office 365 certification. It’s safe to assume that there is a direct update on the way for this certification.

“Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016” and “Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2016”, are directly linked to the MOCs within the existing MCSE: Messaging. Finally, the last two MOCs are part of the MCSE: SharePoint course. We can be confident that this is a direct curriculum update for the existing MCSE SharePoint certification.

It’s worth noting that currently, both the “Advanced Solutions” of Microsoft Exchange/SharePoint Server MOCs, align to an exam. Whereas, the versions revealed at WPC the 2016 technologies do not align to an exam. Perhaps this will become clearer when Microsoft Exchange Server is released around September or October.

We’ll keep you updated with anymore MOC news coming out of WPC and beyond.  As always, expect accelerated Firebrand courses for Microsoft’s newest technologies.


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, 16 July 2015

Microsoft certification and competency announcements from WPC 2015


By Tobin Chapman


Thursday 16th marked the final day of the Microsoft Worldwide Partnership Conference. Alongside some major technology reveals, Microsoft also announced certification and competency updates that could affect you.



Demand for cloud and mobile services is increasing rapidly. In line with this, Microsoft has introduced two new competencies. A competency represents capability, expertise and commitment to a specific Microsoft solution area. Competencies are available in Silver and Gold, with Silver being the standard competency and Gold only available to businesses that demonstrate best-in-class capability within their chosen area.

Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) competency

EMS is the final addition to the group of cloud competencies that Microsoft has launched in the last year. On top of the core benefits to any Microsoft competency, partners will also benefit from unlimited signature cloud support, eligibility to participate in Enterprise Mobility (EM) deployment offers, eligibility to participate in Deployment Planning Services and Marketplace / Pinpoint Prioritisation. The requirements for either Gold or Silver awards are not yet available.

Windows and Devices competency

Partners interested in building customer offers around Windows 10 will now have a dedicated learning path. This comes in the form of a new Windows and Devices competency. Partners will also be able to access additional Windows 10 software and key resources like Windows Accelerate.

Windows Accelerate provides finance and resources from Microsoft to support partners in demonstrating the value of Windows 10. The program is designed to help you to develop prototypes for Windows 10 apps and designs, tailored to the needs of your customers.

Requirements for Gold and Silver are not available yet for the Windows and Devices competency.



Sales Assessments are gone!

When attempting to complete a competency, partners previously had to pass a sales assessment that proved they meet certain technical requirements. This has now been removed to allow partners to reallocate time from admin towards learning. Technical requirements can now be met by those that have the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) qualification.

New Application Certification Platform

This makes it easier for partners to certify their applications for competency requirements. It will enable cloud ISVs and App builders to qualify for Cloud Competencies using only their certified cloud applications.

About the Author:        
Tobin possesses a passion for IT and regularly writes for Firebrand Training on certification, training and IT industry news.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Get ISACA CSX Practitioner, VMware VCP6-DCV and Microsoft certified twice as fast on these new Firebrand courses


By Sarah Morgan


Firebrand continues to accelerate traditional IT training! This week we’re proud to announce the release of four new Firebrand courses.

ISACA Certified Cybersecurity Practitioner CSX – only 9 days

ISACA’s brand new accelerated CSX Practitioner course is here, and with Firebrand it’s 33% faster. In only nine days you’ll get an introduction to crucial cybersecurity skills like:

  • Vulnerability analysis
  • Network evaluation 
  • Malware detection
  • Safeguard implementation

50% of this accelerated course is made up of hands-on lab exercises, conducted in a virtual cyber lab. Find out more about ISACA’s new cybersecurity course now.


VMware® vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [6] – only 5 days

Get the knowledge and skills you need to operate VMware vSphere 6, and take your VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Exam. On this accelerated course you’ll be VCP6-DCV certified in just five days.

As well as also hands-on lab training, covering VMware ESXi™ 6 and VMware vCenter Server™ 6, you’ll also learn how to:

  • Deploy an ESxi host and create virtual machines
  • Configure virtual networks with vSphere standard switches
  • Use vCenter Server to manage host storage
  • Manage virtual templates, machines, clones and snapshots
  • Create a vApp

Plus, this certification is the foundation for other VMware software-defined data centre technologies. Get VCP6-DCV certified in just five days with Firebrand!


Microsoft MTA Windows Operating System Fundamentals – only 2 days

Jump-start your IT career in database technology with Microsoft MTA Windows Operating System Fundamentals and get certified 33% faster than traditional training.

On this accelerated two day course, you’ll build an understanding of operating system configuration and maintenance. After completing this MTA course you’ll be able to:

  • Understand operating system configurations and maintenance
  • Install and upgrade client systems
  • Manage applications, files, folders and devices

Study Microsoft Official Curriculum and get certified in just two days on this accelerated Microsoft course.


Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 Developer – only 6 days

Streamline your business processes and learn how to use Dynamics NAV 2015 to manage your finance, manufacturing, sales, project management and more.

On this accelerated six day course, you’ll get the skills you need to develop and modify Dynamics NAV 2015 – twice as fast as traditional training.

You’ll study:

  • MS Dynamics NAV Standard Data
  • Process Model
  • New Database Schema Synchronization
  • Microsoft Word in order to define report layout

Plus, on this accelerated course you’ll have access to Microsoft Official Curriculum.


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, 27 May 2015

Yammer is down! How will you procrastinate now?


By Sarah Morgan


Microsoft’s integral project management software, and lunchtime procrastination tool, Yammer, is currently down.

According to status.yammer.com – “The investigation determined that a networking issue is causing the service to be unavailable. Currently, engineers are moving database infrastructure away from the affected network environment.”

You won’t currently be able to connect to Yammer. As well as stopping your important projects in their tracks, you’ll also have to find another outlet to impress your colleagues with semi-work appropriate witticisms.

Update #1: Yammer is back!




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, 10 April 2015

Why Microsoft and The Government support IT apprenticeships


By Sarah Morgan


National Apprenticeship Week has been and gone, but many businesses still don’t realise that you can access £10,000s of training for your staff or that you can use apprenticeships to bring new talent and skills into your organisation.


Find out about the benefits of IT apprenticeships from employers and apprentices, and hear from Microsoft, The Government and BCS. That was the agenda of Firebrand’s NAW2015 event, but if you couldn’t make it - here are the highlights.


What’s in it for employers?

Government Apprenticeships Ambassador, Andrew Jones MP kicked off the event with some startling statistics. A record 2 million people from across the UK have become apprentices over the past five years but only 15% of companies have offered apprenticeships.

Andrew Jones MP takes the stage at our event


That is in some ways a bad figure, and in some ways a good figure. If we have made huge progress but only 15% of companies have been engaged - we have an enormous opportunity…we still therefore have to get the message across – ‘Why companies should engage.’” Andrews Jones MP

Andrew Jones is clear; we are succeeding in attracting young people to apprenticeships, but with only 15% of organisations engaged, there is a massive opportunity to get more business on-board.

Here’s why employers should get involved:
  • 88% of businesses report increased employee satisfaction
  • 5 million consumers more likely to make a purchase from an apprentice employer
  • 80% of companies who have taken on an apprentice report a lower staff turnover
  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Employers benefit by £6000 after the first year of the apprenticeship program
  • 75% of business report gaining highly committed new staff (Microsoft)

And that’s without considering IT apprenticeship funding worth up to £27,000.


What is Microsoft doing for apprenticeships?

Microsoft’s 30,000 partners have faced challenges in hiring new staff, especially without paying £10,000’s in recruitment fees, states Dominic Gill, Microsoft Apprenticeship Lead. ‘Existing routes weren’t working,’ and businesses need to look for alternative options to bring in new talent.

There has been a significant decline in computer science graduates since 2006 – the UK suffering most with a 63% reduction in graduates. Dominic Gill knows apprenticeships are integral in solving the skills shortage, and Microsoft’s Get On initiative is evidence of their commitment.

The success of Microsoft Apprenticeships is astonishing with over 7000 young people starting their careers with apprenticeships since 2010.

And that’s not all. As Dominic concludes – “[Microsoft] are actually looking to start 3,500 new apprenticeships this year.”


Hear from the employers & apprentices themselves

Attendees got the opportunity to learn about IT apprenticeships from the apprentices and employers themselves. Microsoft Apprenticeships Lead Dominic Gill chaired a panel discussion with guests including:

  • Brett Raynes – founder of Cloud Direct and Firebrand apprentice employer
  • Simon Wade – HR manager at 5G communications and Firebrand apprentice employer
  • Richard Smith – apprentice at 5G communications and Firebrand apprentice
  • Kimberley Bolton – Pythagoras Communication and First female Apprentice of the Year Winner, Microsoft Apprentice Ambassador and Firebrand Apprentice


Dom Gill: What made you first start recruiting an apprentice rather than a graduate?


Brett Raynes: I think fundamentally we realised that success was not about whether you had a degree or not it was all about talent and attitude - the usual stuff that would make a success of any recruit you would bring into the company.


Dom Gill: What role did the training provider initially play in the decision process?

Brett Raynes – Firebrand were the inspiration to do it; they helped with the selection…and support for the apprentices when they joined the company…they were absolutely critical to the whole process.


Simon Wade – [Our Technical Manager] was at Firebrand on a training course and he saw all these people scribbling away in a room doing lots and lots of work…and this was about half past six/ seven o clock at night…and he said to someone, ‘who are they?’ and they said, ‘they’re apprentices.’ He came back to work and he said, ‘We’re getting some apprentices.’


Dom Gill: [Towards the apprentices] What do you do day-to-day?


Richard Smith: Myself and the other apprentice sit down and build the solutions for the field engineers…then once we’ve built the solution, the kits brought in and we then program-up the kit for the customers’ requirements...we test in house and we then ship it out to the customer…that’s what we do on a daily basis.


Dom Gill: What would you say would be the most interesting project you’ve worked on?


Kimberley Bolton: Being an Apprenticeships Ambassador with Microsoft…my main thing is trying to get more women into IT…so a chance to be here and be able to speak out and say it can be done, that to me is my best project.

Kimberley Bolton talks IT apprenticeshipsduring the panel discussion



Dom Gill: Any thoughts on how we could attract more women in IT?


Kimberley Bolton: Personally I think it’s about publicity…I don’t think the problem is with the companies, because when I’m at these events and I talk to the companies they want females - It’s not about them worrying that ‘[Women] aren’t going to be as good.’


Meet the apprentices themselves, including Firebrand Apprentice Kimberley Bolton, in the video below:



Keep a look out for the next event!

Make sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and don’t miss the next employer-focused apprenticeships event!

Employer? Apprentice? Find out more about Firebrand’s IT apprenticeships now.


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, 27 March 2015

Better Business Cases, VMware VCP6-DT & more – Firebrand’s new courses


By Sarah Morgan


We are excited to announce the addition of five new accelerated courses to the Firebrand portfolio.

You can now experience Firebrand’s accelerated and distraction free, all-inclusive training on these brand new courses:


VMware® Mirage [V5.0] and Horizon with View [V6.0]: Fast Track - Only 5 Days

Get the latest version of the massively popular VCP5-DT on this five day course you’ll get your VMware Certified Professional 6 – Desktop (VCP6-DT) certification. Learn how to install, configure and manage VMware Horizon and get access to 24-hour labs and the same hardware you’d find in a real data centre.

Find out how to get VCP6-DT certified in just five days on this official all-inclusive VMware course.


Microsoft MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps - Only 6 Days

This brand new accelerated six day course is 50% faster than traditional training! Get MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps certified and you’ll learn the skills you need to manage devices in a modern bring-your-own-device BYOD enterprise.

Firebrand is also a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner - that means you'll get access to Microsoft Official Curriculum. Find out why this Microsoft MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps course is 50% faster than traditional training now.


Better Business Cases: Foundation and Practitioner - Only 3 Days

Learn how to use The Five Case Model, the UK Government’s best practice approach to planning public sector spending proposals. This model is recommended by the HM Treasury for use in Government departments and Government bodies.

Production of business cases is a mandatory part of planning a public sector spending proposal. If you’re responsible for spending public money, this certification that cannot be overlooked.

Learn how to develop an effective business case on this accelerated 3 day course.


Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Trade & Logistics / Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 Financials

Get training in line with the newest version of Microsoft’s Dynamics AX 2012 R3 on these courses:


On these accelerated Microsoft Dynamics AX courses, you’ll study the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) and get access to exclusive Firebrand R3 material. You'll also sit your exam onsite at the end of your course.


Over 180 courses and counting

Firebrand is committed to developing accelerated courses in line with new technology. To keep up to date with our newest and most cutting edge accelerated courses, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn.

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

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. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sitting a Microsoft exam this year? These changes affect you


By Sarah Morgan


Whether you’re preparing or planning to take a Microsoft exam this year, you need to be aware of these widespread changes.

New exam times

Microsoft is now standardising exam times based on the “type” of exam with the aim of making it easier for students to plan how much time they will need to sit their exam.
The new exam and seat times are below:


Exam time*
Seat time*
MTA exams delivered by Certiport
45 minutes
50 minutes
MTA exams delivered by Pearson VUE
45 minutes
75 minutes
MBS/Dynamics exams
90 minutes
120 minutes
MCSA exams and exams not specified elsewhere
120 minutes
150 minutes
MCSE exams, exams with case studies and upgrade exams
150 minutes
180 minutes
Recertification exams
140 minutes
170 minutes


*Exam time: the amount of time you have to sit the exam

*Seat time: the total amount of time you should allocate for the exam sitting. This includes the time needed to review your instructions, read and sign the NDA, complete the exam questions and provide comments after completion (if you choose to do so).

Big changes for upgrade exams

Across all upgrade exams you will now be able to spend as much time as you want on each component exam, and no time will be lost once a component is completed.

Upgrade exams are formed of several component exams. Before this update, students were given a set amount of time to complete each component. Microsoft initially introduced this to help direct students to spend an equal amount of time on each component. 

For example, the Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012 exam is composed of three component exams (70-410, 70-411 and 70-412) and must be completed in 150 minutes. Previously candidates were given a non-negotiable 50 minutes to complete each section and nothing would be gained by finishing one component early.

Candidates are now allowed to use the total 150 minutes as they wish. They could, for example, spend 60 minutes on 70-410, 20 minutes on 70-411 and 60 minutes on 70-412.  

Watch Microsoft’s ACE NewsByte for more information on these changes or take a look at Microsoft’s Born to Learn blog.





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, 19 February 2015

Your chance to talk IT apprenticeships with Microsoft, BCS & The Government


By Sarah Morgan


What do you know about IT apprenticeships? Do you know how to access £10,000s of training, funded by the Government? Or how apprenticeships can up-skill your current employees

You might have heard good things about apprenticeships, but don't know where to start?

This is your opportunity to get your questions answered. Join Firebrand Training and the British Computer Society (BCS) at this free event during National Apprenticeships Week, as we explain how IT Apprenticeships work.

Get your questions answered by leaders in IT and Government, and network with industry experts over lunch. The line-up includes:

Why the Government is backing apprenticeships - Andrew Jones MP

Hear from the Government Apprenticeships Ambassador and find out why the Government has committed £1,000,000s of apprenticeship funding to UK businesses, and how this is being used to help those businesses grow.

What’s it like hiring an apprentice? - Microsoft Apprenticeships

Apprenticeship Lead Dominic Gill will chair a panel discussion with employers and their apprentices, including Microsoft Apprentice Ambassadors. Learn from their experiences, and ask any questions about the programmes and processes.

Get support from the Tech Partnership - John Pritchard

See how the Tech Partnership is helping tech businesses like Capgemini and Visa grow through IT apprenticeships. Plus, find out how the Government’s Trailblazers initiative helps you train and / or hire staff, and build your own apprenticeship programme.

How IT Apprenticeships really work - Firebrand IT Apprenticeships

What will your apprentice learn? How do you access £10,000s in Government funding? What do future programmes look like - such as cyber security and Microsoft Dynamics? Firebrand Apprenticeships Operations Manager, Adrian Davies explains all.


There's limited seating at this free event, running Thursday 12th March. Food and refreshments will be provided. Sign-up now or fill out the form below and find out first-hand how apprenticeships will grow your business.




About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Get £500 towards training from the Tech Partnership Training Fund


By Sarah Morgan


The Tech Partnership Training Fund provides funding for employers to invest in IT training. This means you can get a contribution of up to £500 off your Firebrand Training course – or up to £1,000 off an apprenticeship.

The Tech Partnership is a network of employers, collaborating to create the skills to accelerate the growth of the IT industry. The fund has been made available from the Government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot.


£500 towards hundreds of accelerated Firebrand courses

Now not only will you save time on your Firebrand training course, you can also get a £500 contribution via the fund.

We offer courses in all the key areas that the Tech Partnership Fund is actively investing in, meaning you can apply for funding on most Firebrand courses, including : EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server and VMware vSphere 5.5 Fast Track.

Tech Partnership Funding is available across a range of key IT areas. Use the links below to find the training you need, or take a look at hundreds of other accelerated courses:



Show this to your boss

Funding is available per course, per delegate. This could mean massive cost-savings across your business.

Show this to your boss and take advantage of this government-backed scheme: get you and your colleagues trained and certified at twice the speed – while saving £500 each.


Self Employed?

If you're self employed or a contractor, you can still get the £500 funding per course.


How to apply

To get the funding, your business must have an office in England, and the training must be taken at a Firebrand UK training centre.

This is all you need to do:

  1. Once you’ve chosen your Firebrand course, complete the funding application form for short course funding or apprenticeship funding
  2. You’ll then get a letter to confirm if you've been approved (most applications are), which you need to sign and return, along with details of the learner(s)

It’s as simple as that!

You can see samples of the application forms here:
To find out more about the Tech Partnership Training Fund – or for help with the application form - call us on 080 80 800 888.

Note: There are a handful of Firebrand courses that don’t qualify for the funding. Call us now to check that your course is covered.


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, 16 January 2015

Microsoft ends mainstream support for Windows 7


By Sarah Morgan


Mainstream support for Windows 7, the world’s most popular operating system, ended on Tuesday.

Windows 7 is now entering an extended support phase that will continue until at least January 14 2020. After this January date it will take its place aside the now unsupported Windows XP operating system.




What is Extended Support? 

On the 13 January 2015, Windows 7 entered Extended Support. That means support for users will now consist solely of security updates. 

Users will now miss out on free incident support, warranty claims, fixes for non-security bugs, design changes and feature requests. Users will also no longer receive new features or be able to call Microsoft for free tech support regarding issues with the OS.

Essentially, Windows 7 will not be receiving any more significant updates, though security vulnerabilities will still be dealt with. There’s nothing to worry about, so long as you regularly run Windows Update

You can also take a look at the Windows Lifecycle page for additional upcoming sale and support dates covering Microsoft’s desktop operating systems. 


The world’s most popular operating system 

In October 2014 Microsoft ceased shipping Windows 7 to retailers. But despite the operating system now only being available to consumers whilst stocks last, it remains the world’s most popular operating system with over 50% market share. The release of Windows 8 didn’t do much to damage this market share but that’s set to change with the release of Windows 10.

If you’re sticking to an older Windows OS, 2015 is set to be the year to upgrade. Windows 10 is around the corner and with it comes the return of the start menu, as well as a host of other improvements. And if you are running Windows 8, you’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free





Find out more about what to expect from Windows 10 here.


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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, 7 January 2015

How to stay ahead: IT skills you'll need in 2015


By Sarah Morgan
When Microsoft Evangelists Ed Baker, Andrew Fryer and Susan Smith began their TechED presentation, they asked a simple question – ‘Are you still doing the same thing at work as you were 5 years ago?’ Attendees replied with an overwhelming No

And undoubtedly, if they asked that question in another 5 years to the same audience of IT professionals, the answer would again be a resounding No

The IT Industry is changing rapidly. Consumers, clients and businesses all expect IT to do more and more. Fail to keep up with new technology and you might find you’re hard earned skills have suddenly become obsolete. 

IT job roles are always changing 
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)

The challenge you continue to face in 2015 is this: how will you develop your career and stay 
relevant in a job market that is always changing?

Perhaps the best way is to hear from some of the pioneers themselves, specifically the three Microsoft Evangelists who spoke at 2014’s TechED on the panel titled: ‘Career Development: Next roles, Next skills and Staying Relevant in an evolving IT World’ 

What did Ed Baker, Andrew Fryer and Susan Smith have to say? What cutting-edge technologies do they have their eye on? Here's how to stay ahead with the IT skills you'll need in 2015.

Data Science 


Andrew Fryer, Microsoft Technical Evangelist UK, spoke about Data Science, dubbed 2015’s hottest profession.

Tech firms like Google, Amazon and Netflix are already using data science. But now non-tech companies, like Wal-Mart and Gap, are beginning to awaken to the benefits of data scientists.

But how would it help out your organisation? Well, you’ve likely backed up data, made logs of your website and recorded how your servers are running. And now it’s just sitting there, gathering dust. A data scientist would sift through this to find a previously hidden insight into what’s going on inside your business.

Data Scientists use a number of tools like Real Time Analytics, Big Data, Data Mining, Open Source and Machine Learning technologies to achieve their goals.

How do data scientists achieve their goals?
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)
To become a data scientist, explains Andrew, you’ll need skills in business knowledge, maths and statistics. On top of this, you’ll need to be infinitely curious.

‘This is all about experimentation and play…working out what might work and then rigorously testing it. That technique works really well if you have knowledge of business and maths.’


What you'll need to succeed as a data scientist 
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)



Andrew highlights Microsoft Azure machine learning (computers acting without being explicitly programmed) as a particularly good tool for taking raw data and making accurate predictions (take a look at his demo at 13:44).

Andrew has spent 15 years working in the business intelligence field and describes data science as ‘a big market for everybody.’ Data Scientists are now massively in-demand and make a good living. As Andrew simply puts it – ‘[he] gets nice holidays.’



Enterprise Mobility


Enterprise mobility describes the shift in work habits where more employees now work out of the office, using mobile and cloud services to perform their business tasks.

As the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) culture continues to take hold of the workplace and with the rise of wearable technology, more IT professionals are needed to keep these devices secure.

‘Mobility has been around for a long time, and security issues have always been present’ states Ed Baker, Microsoft UK Technical Evangelist.

‘All devices have massive amounts of data that we need to secure…and manage.’ So, argues Ed, the methods we implement to control this valuable data need to be managed.

But how will you manage (and secure) this new environment of enterprise mobility?

To begin with, states Ed, you’ll need security skills: ‘If you lose your data as an organisation, not only are you going out of business but you’re probably going to get fined, jailed or both, depending on what type of data…What we need is total control over our data.’

And to be able to do this, states Ed, we need to enable some form of Device Management through hybrid or cloud only technology. But to do this, IT pros will also need to develop their networking skills to implement group policies and maintain the security of your data.

Enterprise mobility skills 
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)





Take a look at 29:31 for Ed’s Enterprise Mobility from the user perspective demo.



DevOps


Necessitated by the IT industries rapid release cycles, DevOps is a ‘collaboration where Developers and Operations work together for continuous improvement.’

So collaboration is key, but how do you achieve it? According to Susan, Dev Ops is more than just application lifecycle management: it’s about maintaining and supporting your application after it’s been deployed.

But what do DevOps job specifications desire? As Susan revealed during her presentation, the current DevOp job postings are looking for skills in:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Scripting (Linux, Windows etc)
  • Infrastructure as Code – being able to automate your application environment
  • Collaboration
  • Security - to create compliant apps

Key skills you'll need to succeed as a DevOp
(image courtesy of Microsoft TechED)





Don’t feel put out if you don’t have every skill listed. What’s really important, according to Susan, is a broad knowledge of both Developer and Operations roles.

However, actions speak louder than words and Susan recommends that you become active within the DevOps community. Speaking at events, attending meet-ups and becoming prominent in the DevOps space will be a massive bonus to anybody seeking this kind of role.

To get DevOps moving in your organisation, take a look at this useful article from ZDnet.


Will your role change?

There you have it, three IT skills to keep an eye on in 2015, straight from the pioneers themselves.

Will your role in 2015 be affected by data science, enterprise mobility or DevOps? If so we’d love to hear from you, and if not – how else will your role be changing in the new year?


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.