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. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How to revise Cisco CCNA for free


By Sarah Morgan


Studying quality revision resources is crucial – when preparing for your CCNA exams. You can’t afford to waste time trawling the web for revision material.

It can be hard to find quality resources that you don’t have to pay for. We’ve previously discussed our top 5 paid CCNA revision books – now it’s time for our top free resources.


Free CCNA video tutorials & guides


High quality video content is an invaluable tool during self-study. Written revision resources are great, but things can get dull (especially after your third cup of coffee!). Video content can provide a welcome respite – you’ll still be learning about CCNA, but in a more passive way.

Plus, you’ll find variety CCNA topics easier to memorise better when accompanied by screen captures and live demonstrations.

There are plenty of quality free guides, how-to’s and tutorials available online. Here’s our pick of the bunch:


Dans Courses 

Dan Alberghetti has been teaching CCNA certification courses through the Cisco Academy for the past 11 years and it shows. You’ll find an abundance of quality video content on Dan’s YouTube channel – just make sure you check the upload date, some videos are now up to five years old! And remember, the new CCNA exam was introduced in 2014 – take a look at most recent updates.





NetworKing 

Though not as comprehensive as Dans Courses, NetworKing provides a series of compelling introductory CCNA videos. You’ll be guided through ten 20 minute videos by the concise and affable Imran Rafal – covering topics from Network fundamentals to Real World Switching.

This is a great resource. However, as many have pointed out, these videos should only be used as a supplementary resource. Relying on just these videos will not give you the breadth of knowledge you need to pass.





ShrikeCast with Andrew Crouthamel

This mammoth series of 84 videos is another brilliant resource for anyone embarking on CCNA self-study. The videos range in length from 5 – 25 minutes and provide an introduction to networking and the CCNA syllabus.






Free CCNA study guides


To supplement your revision, you should be regularly referring to a variety of study guides. By using these you’ll start to build the base of knowledge you need to take on the CCNA exams. These study guides are typically large and unexciting, but provide an invaluable source of information.


Free CCNA Study Guide

This massive online directory covers topics found within both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams. Each in-depth chapter covers a huge range of CCNA topics with accompanying diagrams and illustrations. Despite not yet being updated for IPv6, Free CCNA Study Guide remains a fantastic revision resource.

Access it here.


Omnisecu

Omnisecu provides a staggering 159 well-illustrated CCNA lessons. These lessons cover a massive breadth of topics (including IPv6) that can be studied in sequence. It’s simple, informative and robust.  

Plus, Omnisecu also covers Basic Networking and TCP/IP – topics you’ll be expected to understand before you start revising the CCNA.


CCNA Help – CCNA eBook

This eBook covers almost all important topics found within the CCNA exams and also includes some sample questions & answers.

Despite being visually unappealing, with a noticeable lack of diagrams, this resource retains its place as a useful source of quality CCNA information.  Find it here.


Free Cisco Routing Simulators


Routing simulators are invaluable tools for anyone studying networking. Applying the knowledge and skills you’ve been learning should be an integral part of your CCNA study. To help you do just that we recommend you take a look at NetSimK, LammleSim and GNS3.


Free Practice exams


The penultimate test – can you achieve a passing score on a practice exam? There’s only one way to find out. The below practice exams and questions will help you gauge you readiness for the real thing.


Test Clues

You’ll have to submit your email to sign up to Test Clues, but it’s well worth the effort. Inside you’ll find fully functional exams for both ICND1 and ICND2. Sign up here.



Go Certify

A minimalistic set of CCNA exam questions provided hosted on Go Certify and provided by ccprep. Find it here.


Are you ready for the CCNA exam?

This short 10 question quiz tests your knowledge on a variety of Cisco exam topics. Questions and detailed answers are taken from the book CCNA Exam Cram, Second Edition. Take the quiz.


Cert Exams

Certexams.com features a series of practice questions as well as a free downloadable exam simulator that includes testlets, simlets and router simulations. Take a look at the practice exam questions and download the exam simulator.


MeasureUp

The demo version of MeasureUp still provides some great practice exam experience. You’ll find shortened versions of both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams, though you’ll need to reach for your wallet to access the full tests.



Bonuses include two distinct testing modes - Study mode and Certification mode – as well as extensive customisable test options.


Firebrand Learn

We’ve uploaded our ICND1 & ICND2 lab guides to Firebrand Learn.  Get started on these two comprehensive lab guides right away – they’re totally free and there’s no need to sign up.

Found any hidden gems during your CCNA revision? Comment below and we’ll add them to the guide.


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, 13 February 2015

CISSP domain changes incoming


By Sarah Morgan


As the modern information security landscape changes, the CISSP exam has to change with it. Effective April 15 2015, the CISSP will be based on a new exam blueprint and feature updated domains.

Refreshed content has been added to the Official CISSP CBK to reflect the most current topics in the information security industry. As a result, the updated CISSP exam will continue to accurately reflect the technical and managerial competence required by information security professionals.




Those familiar with (ISC)2 will not be surprised by their latest domain refresh. As (ISC)2 themselves state – “We conduct this process on a regular basis to ensure that the examinations and subsequent training and continuing professional education requirements encompass the topic areas relevant to the roles and responsibilities of today’s practicing information security professionals.”

What’s changing?

Effective 15 April, 2015 the CISSP domains will look like this (find the current domains here):

  1. Security and Risk Management (Security, Risk, Compliance, Law, Regulations, Business Continuity) 
  2. Asset Security (Protecting Security of Assets)
  3. Security Engineering (Engineering and Management of Security) 
  4. Communications and Network Security (Designing and Protecting Network Security) 
  5. Identity and Access Management (Controlling Access and Managing Identity) 
  6. Security Assessment and Testing (Designing, Performing, and Analyzing Security Testing) 
  7. Security Operations (Foundational Concepts, Investigations, Incident Management, Disaster Recovery) 
  8. Software Development Security (Understanding, Applying, and Enforcing Software Security) 

The keen eyed will notice that the domain refresh reduces the number of domains from ten to eight. However, (ISC)2 stress that the CBK remains as comprehensive as ever. Content has been ‘refreshed and reorganised to include the most current information and best practices relevant to the global security industry.’


FAQ


Q. How does the refresh affect the CISSP prerequisites?

A. The prerequisites will not change. You will still be required to possess a minimum of five years of cumulative paid full-time work experience in two out of the eight domains.

Q. I already hold the CISSP – how will these changes affect my CPE submissions?

A. Starting April 15, 2015 all CISSPs will be required to submit their continuing professional education credits in accordance with the refreshed CISSP domains.

Q. Will the new domains affect the number of exam questions, or duration of the exam?

A. No – your CISSP exam will still have the same number of questions and the time you are allotted will not be affected.

Q. Will there be new training materials for the CISSP?

The content within (ISC)2 training materials will be updated to align with the new CISSP domains. See the below table to find the launch dates for these new training products.

Q. Where can I find more information?

A. Refer to (ISC)2’s official FAQ or blog post for more information regarding the CISSP domain refresh.


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, 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.


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.