Monday, 9 February 2015

Security Impact of People-centric IT

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder

When I first ran across the phrase people-centric IT, it sounded like just another industry buzzword that some marketing department had come up with. Technology companies seem to suffer from a compulsion to rename everything every couple of years. Heck, we’ve even renamed renaming; now it’s called rebranding.

Sometimes the motivation behind the change is clear: If a product or service doesn’t catch on, maybe labeling it with a catchier moniker will make it popular. It worked for the service formerly known as ASP, and then SaaS, which suddenly caught on when it became “cloud.” Other times, there’s a legal impetus; thus the transformations of Metro into Modern UI and SkyDrive into OneDrive. Other times, there seems to be no rhyme or reason. Microsoft changed the name of ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server, its firewall that was gradually gaining a loyal following, to TMG (Threat Management Gateway) and then, a few years later, killed it.


People-centric IT is the new BYOD


So I was skeptical when I heard that BYOD was out and “people-centric IT” was in. Sure, it sounds friendlier, but what does it really mean? As I delved into it a little deeper and really thought about it, though, I realized that not only do these two names not mean the same thing – they can be construed as basically opposite in meaning. And the move to substitute the latter name just might signal a big philosophical transformation in our approach to IT.


photo by Joyce Hostyn, licensed under Creative Commons

BYOD = Bring Your Own Device. The focus is on the device, and that’s nothing new. The focus of IT has been on the computers since the beginning of business networking. And the focus of security has been about hardening our operating systems, tightening our perimeter controls, locking down our devices. Oh, we’ve given lip service to the users’ role in security, with mandatory security awareness programs and the like – but even there, it’s been more about how the users should configure their computers and devices than about the people themselves.


It's all about the User


Today, though, the hardware is becoming irrelevant. With cloud computing, in a mobile world, we can access our applications, web sites and data with any old device – company machines, personally owned desktops and laptops, tablets, smart phones, public computers – and it doesn’t really matter. The experience is converging into one and the same. Even the software matters less and less. We can do most of the same things on an Android phone or an iPad that we do on a Windows PC.
photo by Jeremy Keith, licensed under Creative Commons

This trend shows no sign of slowing down in the future. A security strategy that’s focused on the system or the OS will become increasingly difficult to manage, as more and more different brands and models running different versions of different software come into use in our “bring your own” world. And the old ways of implementing security aren’t going to work anymore in a business model where keeping end users happy (and thus more productive) take precedence over bending to the IT department’s wishes.


Security focus must change


Once upon a time, IT could hand down mandates and (most) users accepted them. That was then and this is now. A new generation of users grew up with keyboards at their fingertips and screens in front of their faces. They’re digital natives, and they aren’t willing to blindly accept the dictates of IT about how to use their devices – especially when they’re paying for those devices out of their own pockets. BYOD saves companies a good deal of money on the capital expenditures end, but it can cost a lot in security if you don’t seriously assess the implications of this new world order and adjust your security plan to adapt to it.

Technological controls are still possible and useful in a BYOD world, but they have to be implemented with more diplomacy, and perhaps with a certain amount of compromise. IT isn’t going to gain back the ironclad control that we once had; that horse is out of the barn. We can’t control people in the same way we controlled devices in the old days; we can’t treat them as company property. Today and for the foreseeable future, IT is all about the people – and ultimately, after all, protecting the people is what security is all about, too.

To find out more about mobile device security go here to read more about security in the cloud go to the  Security Section on CloudComputingAdmin.om



Author Profile

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

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






Friday, 6 February 2015

10 great benefits of Scrum Master certification


By Sarah Morgan



Created for software development projects (though applicable to every project), Scrum’s Agile framework improves teamwork, communications and speed.

A study of more than 5,400 IT projects found that the average overspend of the starting budget can top 45% due to project overrun (amongst other factors). Learn about Scrum and you’ll avoid these deficits by improving the chance of completing projects successfully and on time.


 Agile Product Ownership Processes - Firebrand Training



Scrum courses and certifications are available but the benefits may not be immediately obvious. Whether you’re new to Scrum, or are already a Scrum Master – what are the real benefits of getting certified?


1. Get a solid base of Scrum knowledge

If you don’t know much about Scrum, achieving the certification will teach you everything you need to apply it effectively. Take a Scrum course and you’ll develop a strong base of knowledge and learn the subject from an experienced teacher.

Achieving a certification will also fill any gaps you might have in your Scrum knowledge. You’ll need to study every aspect of Scrum to pass the certification exam. The scrum certification will also give you the motivation and the tools to get the rounded knowledge you need.



2. Change your mindset

Scrum is an Agile methodology and to use it effectively you’ll need to get into an Agile mindset. The most important ingredient of a self-sustaining and successful Agile approach is people with this Agile mindset.

Training and certification helps to ingrain this mindset for yourself and your colleagues. As a team you’ll be able to think in an Agile way, leading to less disagreements, better team cohesion and more successful projects.



3. Stay relevant and marketable

Certifications are both a brilliant way of marketing yourself to employers and proving to colleagues that you fully understand a given field.

A Scrum certification will expand your career opportunities across all industry sectors that adopt and use Agile practices. A Scrum Master certification shows that you have an Agile mind set and a wealth of Agile knowledge – relevant to every organisation or industry that uses these practices.


4. Scrum certification benefits your organisation

It’s a big decision for organisations to adopt a new methodology because it affects every aspect of the business: people, processes, clients and management.

Because of this, it’s important for everyone that you can achieve some real and tangible benefits quickly. With predictable & repeatable release schedules, self-managing teams, Scrum really shines in this respect.

However, a lack of Scrum knowledge may not yield the promising results that management will be pushing for. Without certification and the requisite knowledge you’ll gain, you might miss that crucial window to get Scrum off the ground within your organisation.


5. Influence your organisation to adopt an Agile methodology

Management will feel more comfortable investing in an Agile methodology if there are proven Agile professionals amongst them. A certification shows management that you’re ready to implement an Agile methodology.


6. Work better alongside your peers

Training and certification will have a positive effect when it comes to working with your colleagues. Get certified with those you work with and together you’ll build and reinforce the same vocabulary and base understanding of scrum.

Even if you don’t attend the same Scrum course as your colleagues, you’ll still benefit. Every Scrum instructor will vary in their style of teaching and what you learn will differ. You may have focused on aspects of Scrum that your peers didn’t. In the end, you’ll be able to pool your knowledge for a more varied understanding of Scrum and Agile methodology.


7. Prove your core Scrum knowledge to peers

Scrum Master Certification proves to your peers that you’ve put in the effort, studied Scrum and learnt to apply it within your organisation. There’s no need to waste time convincing colleagues you know your stuff – you have the certification to prove it.


8. Join a community of scrum experts

Become a certified Scrum Master and you’ll join a community of recognised Scrum experts committed to continuous improvement and the Agile methodology.

Scrum.org features a global network of Scrum practitioners and trainers. This active community serves as a library of knowledge, a way to find live events and a place find (and provide) guidance.


9. Win projects with qualified employees

If you compete to win projects, a team of certified Scrum Masters is a huge bonus. Your potential clients will recognise the value of a team that can both work together and apply Scrum in an effective way.


10. A badge of honour

Certification is a badge of honour that should be worn with pride. Plus, if you’re in management, getting your employees trained and certified proves your investment and commitment to their learning. You’ll get more knowledgeable staff eager to apply their new skills.


Time to get certified

To find out more about the global Scrum community and for more details on the Agile methodology, head over to scrum.org.


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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. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Frequently Asked Questions about MCSA: SQL Server


By Sarah Morgan


Microsoft’s SQL Server is one of the top database management systems in the world – even surpassing IBM’s second place market share in 2013.

With the MCSA: SQL Server cert you’ll get the skills needed to maintain a SQL Server database. You’ll learn how to use a broad range of tools and add-ons for business intelligence, data-driven applications and data warehousing.

It’s a pervasive technology, commonplace in organisations that use Microsoft’s Visual Studio environment for software development.

And to demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to SQL Server, you’ll also find database-related certifications at each level of Microsoft’s certification program – from MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) to MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert).




There’s a lot to know about this popular MCSA cert, and a lot of frequently asked questions - let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones…


Q. Why should you get the MCSA: SQL Server certification?

A. SQL Server training gives you an edge in a career as a database administrator, developer or analyst. You’ll not only have a broad range of SQL Server knowledge, you’ll also be able to prove it with a recognised certification.

If you’re aiming for positions like database developer or database analyst (or the previously mentioned careers) this certification is ideal.


Q. Am I ready for the MCSA: SQL Server?

A. Whilst there aren’t any solid prerequisites for this MCSA cert, you will be expected to have a basic knowledge of Microsoft’s Windows operating system and a working knowledge of relational databases is preferred.

However, it can still be rewarding to take an MCSA: SQL Server course without previous experience with SQL Server. You’ll still get a wealth of useful SQL knowledge as well as the tools to start using SQL Server for yourself. Ultimately, you’ll get the information to make gaining the certification more achievable.

If you’re new to technology we recommend you start with Microsoft’s entry level MTA: Database Fundamentals course. You’ll learn the basics of relational databases, data security concepts and database administration. With this solid base of knowledge, you’ll then be able to move on to the more advanced MCSA.



You'll need to pass these three exams





Q. What options are available for me to study MCSA: SQL Server?

A. When it comes to taking on your certification exams, there are two primary paths to follow: self-study & instructor-led / classroom training.

Self-study consists of research, reading and independent practice before arranging and taking the related exam(s). This approach will often save you money in the short term – training materials will cost less than time in the classroom but it can take you much longer to source and learn the right material.

You can also self-study through the use of virtual classrooms and virtual courses. These hybrid products provide a flexible way to learn – you’ll be able to learn when you want and get guided through a set curriculum of revision resources. Some good providers will even allow you to speak one-on-one to instructors online.

Classroom study provides you with the material you need to know and a good environment to learn it. Plus, with good training providers you’ll also get access to hands-on labs where you’ll be able to practice your SQL as soon as you’re taught it. You can set-up your own labs, but it will take an investment of time and effort.

Plus, it’s hard to put a value on the ‘instructor’ of instructor-led training. Nothing beats speaking to somebody in person about a tricky SQL Server query or learning first-hand from a master of the technology.

Whichever path you choose you’ll find brilliant support for both. Your choice should depend on how you prefer to learn, how quickly you need to get certified, how much time you can commit to studying and your/your organisations budget.


Q. I want to prepare myself for MCSA: SQL Server – where’s a good place to start revising?

A. If you want to build your knowledge before taking on a course, or are ready to dive into self-study, you should first take a look at the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Here you’ll find some great, free e-learning resources. Our Firebrand SQL Server instructor has singled out these MVA resources as particularly useful:

1. Database Fundamentals – a great introduction to database terminology, concepts and skills for beginners

2. Administering SQL Server 2012 Jump Start – This Jump Start video will help you prepare for exam 70-462, one of the three you’ll need to pass for the MCSA: SQL Server cert.

3. Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Jump Start – If you’re already familiar with database fundamentals and working with SQL server, this is a great advanced resource for you. An equally useful resource if you’re preparing for exam 70-461.


Microsoft also offer paid revision materials. ‘Training Kits’ include lessons, practical exercises and online practice tests for each exam (70-461, 70-462 and 70-463)


Q. What about the new SQL Server 2014 product, does this affect my MCSA SQL Server certification?

A. In April 2014, Microsoft updated the MCSE SQL Server exams to include SQL Server 2014 topics.

However, the three MCSA exams are still focused on SQL Server 2012 and as a result haven’t been changed. The new SQL Server 2014 features (performance tuning and high availability) are best suited for the advanced MCSE level certs and can only be found in the relevant MCSE exams.

For a more detailed description of the new changes, take a look at this blog post.


Q. I’ve finished my MCSA, but I still want to expand my skills – what else can I do?

This MCSA is your first step toward the advanced MCSE: Data Platform and MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications.

Achieve these certs and you’ll gain specialised knowledge of Microsoft SQL Server, singling you out as a proven expert in this popular technology.

Take a look at these pages for more information on the MCSE: Data Platform and the MCSE: Business Intelligence certs.


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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.