Thursday, 29 January 2015

5 things you need to know to pass your TOGAF exam


By Sarah Morgan


TOGAF is the most reliable enterprise architecture standard, utilised by the world’s leading organisations. By using TOGAF in your organisation, you’ll be able to develop an EA that’s flexible, consistent and employs best practices.


To prove you know how to implement the TOGAF EA, you’ll need the certification. And to get it, you’ll have to pass both Level 1 & Level 2 TOGAF exams. You’re going to need to put in the work and know the material - there’s no shortcut around this. Fail one of the exams and you won’t achieve an overall pass result (but you can retake the one you failed).

So, to help get you on the way to that £72,500 Architect role, here are 5 tips to prepare you for your TOGAF 9.1 certification exam success.


1. You'll have to pace yourself in the exam

You have a fixed amount of time to complete the questions in your TOGAF exams. Once the clock starts, there’s no stopping it. To make the most of your time, you need know what you’re up against and how much time you’ve got.

Level 1: 60 minutes and 40 multiple choice questions
Level 2: 90 minutes and 8 scenario questions

You’ll need to keep an eye on the clock to make sure you stay on track. In the Level 1 exam you only have an average of 90 seconds per question to make your decision. If one tough question is slowing your progress, you could end up rushing (or even missing) the others as a result.

If you do get through Level 1 with time to spare, there’s no point in rushing to Level 2. You won’t get more time for the Level 2 section and you won’t be able to return to Level 1 to make any last minute eureka changes.



2. Don’t waste time on questions you can’t answer

There’s no point spending extra time on the trickier questions if there are easier ones you could be answering (they’re all worth the same mark!).

Avoid this by first answering the questions that you know as this will leave you more time for the trickier ones. Mark those you can’t answer quickly (if you absolutely cannot answer it, make your best guess) and after the last question you’ll be able revisit them from the summary page.

Again, only return to the questions you know you’ll be able to answer. You shouldn’t be spending time on hard questions when there are still easier ones waiting.

The pass mark for Level 1 is 55%. That means you’ll only need to answer 22 of the 40 multiple choice questions correctly.



3. How to conquer Level 2 scenarios

Unlike Level 1, the Level 2 exam is open book – you’ll have access to an electronic copy of the specification, built into the Prometric test software.

The Level 2 exam consists of just 8 scenarios, each with 4 possible multiple choice answers. These answers are graded: 5 points for the correct answer, 3 for the next closest, 1 for the next and 0 for the furthest.

Answer every scenario question with the most correct answer and you’ll get 40 points. That’s a full 100%, but with a pass rate of 60% you’ll only need to get 24 points.

To conquer these scenarios you’ll need to take your time to analyse and understand them. Consider which phases of the Architecture Development Method (ADM) cycle are relevant as well as the concerns of the stakeholders.

Image courtesy of  The Open Group blog


Before you make your choice, eliminate the wrong answers and work your way backwards to the most logical and correct answer. If you can eliminate just one wrong answer, you’ll still be earning points for that question.

Lastly, you’ll have access to the TOGAF PDF documentation during level 2. Don’t get too side-tracked in this document as you’ll still have to be smart with your time. It’s a great tool that should be used as a source of reference to assess your own judgement, rather than as a guide.



4. Personal experience isn’t always correct

This one’s for experienced architects. TOGAF is the most widely adopted enterprise architecture, curated by thousands of experts, but it can be tempting to refer to your personal experience when taking the exam. However to pass, you’re going to need to take the word of TOGAF as law.

There’s no room for interpretation here, what matters is the correct implementation of the TOGAF Framework – not what worked for you.



5. You don’t have to pay for great exam resources

Great exam resources don’t have to lighten your wallet. From exam simulators to enterprising eBooks, there’s a massive range of material available online.

We’ve compiled some of our favourites – take a look at this blog for the Top 10 TOGAF resources you don’t have to pay for.



All that’s left for you to do is put in the hard work and ace the exam. Good luck!


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. 

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, 23 January 2015

CompTIA's Network+ is changing!


By Sarah Morgan


CompTIA’s internationally recognised Network+ certification is getting an update this February.

The IT landscape is always changing. And to make sure the Network+ remains a validation of your networking knowledge, it’s changing too.

The new Network+ (N10-006) is set to launch in February 2015 (estimated). You’ll still be able to take the existing Network+ product (N10-005) until 30 August 2015.

What’s new?

CompTIA’s Network+ N10-005 is being phased out and replaced by Network+ N10-006. The N10-006 will be different in three key areas:


1. Updated terms and technologies

CompTIA will be modernising the Network+, making it more in line with modern IT networking.

As a result of this, the Network+ exam will now also prove you possess a ‘basic understanding of emerging technologies including unified communications, mobile, cloud and virtualisation technologies.’


2. An emphasis on hands-on activities

Take the new Network+ and you’ll experience more hands on activities within the following topics: installing, configuring, implementing, managing and troubleshooting.

An example of this hands-on emphasis can be seen in this example of the updated objectives:

Current: N10-005 - Categorise standard media types and associated properties.

New: N10-006 - Install and properly terminate various cable types using appropriate tools.


3. Three new topics

Given the importance of security in modern networking, especially in light high profile attacks this year, the three new topics in the N10-006 all relate to security:
  • 3.4 Compare and contrast physical security controls
  • 3.7 Summaries basic forensic concepts
  • 5.6 Summarise safety practices

The addition of these new topics has also impacted the five Network+ domains and their weighting in the exam (see below).


The Network+ domains are changing.






Are the prerequisites changing?

If you’re ready for the N10-005, you’re ready for the N10-006 too. That’s because CompTIA’s recommended prerequisites are not changing.

Here’s a reminder of what you’ll be expected to possess:

  • CompTIA A+ certification or equivalent knowledge (CompTIA A+ certification is not required)
  • Minimum of nine months’ work experience in IT networking. 

Find out more about how you can get CompTIA Network+ certified here.

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. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Catch Cisco's TechHuddle in a city near you


By Sarah Morgan


Find out how to transform your IT infrastructure with Fast IT when Cisco’s TechHuddle road show returns in February 2015.


What is the Cisco TechHuddle?

TechHuddle is Cisco’s quarterly technical update, including live events and webinars from across the UK and Ireland. You’ll experience an interactive mix of essential Cisco tech updates and live demos.

These events, specially curated for technologists, are focused on discussion. You’ll be able to share your own experiences, opinions and challenges with like-minded professionals and Cisco experts.






This quarter the TechHuddle is focusing on Fast IT Orchestration with Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and UCS Director.

Fast IT allows IT departments to shift resources from providing basic services, to focus on innovation. You’ll be able to reduce IT complexity without sacrificing agility and security, addressing the concerns of IT decision-makers.

Instead of focusing on ‘keeping the lights on,’ IT departments can focus on orchestrating strategic outcomes on behalf of the business.



Agenda:

09.30 - Arrival and Coffee

10.00 - Opening and Introduction

10.15 - Fast It - The policy defined Datacentre

We see IT departments having to focus on innovation, shifting resources from “keeping the lights on” to delivering more strategic outcomes for the business. Transitions such as Agile development practices, the rise of the DevOps movement, Software Defined Networking are changing the way we deliver, manage and operate the infrastructure that underpins the businesses IT capability.

10.45 - Making Fast IT a reality

This session will look at the latest Cisco technologies that can be used to make Fast IT a reality. We will look at the components that can be used, how application, networking, security and server teams can use different tools, techniques and technologies to deliver dynamic DataCentre solutions.

11.30 - Break and chat with Cisco Experts

12.00 - Order and provision a 3-tier app

This session will cover the Fast IT concepts needed in building a three-tier web application. It will demonstrate the steps to provide a self-service portal, enabling users to order services and have them automatically delivered and billed. Using ACI and UCS Director, all system, network, security and application configuration is delivered in-line with enterprise policy.

13.15 - Wrap up and final Q&A

13.30 - Lunch and chat with Cisco Experts

14.00 - Close


Catch Cisco at a city near you

Discover the full potential of an agile Cisco environment when the road show makes its way across the UK:

  • Reading - 5th February, 2015 
  • Dublin - 10th February, 2015 
  • London - 10th February, 2015 
  • Glasgow - 11th February, 2015 
  • Manchester - 12th February, 2015 

Specific locations are available on Cisco’s TechHuddle site. Register now to secure your place at this quarter’s TechHuddle roadshow.

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.


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, 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.