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 March 2015

Pass the Professional Scrum Master Certification exam with these 5 tips


By Sarah Morgan


Get on track for a career as a Certified Scrum Master where average advertised salaries range from £42,000 to £70,000.

But first you’ll need to pass the Professional Scrum Master Certification exam (PSM I). And before you hand over the £100 ($150) exam fee, you need a comprehensive base of Scrum knowledge to stand any chance of passing.

To become a Certified Scrum Master you’ll need to answer 68 of the 80 questions correctly in 60 minutes. That’s a passing score of 85% or more.

So, to pass the Professional Scrum Master Certification exam first time – take a look at these 5 tips:


1. Read "Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers, and Leave Competitors in the Dust"

Written by two of the biggest names in the industry - Ken Schwaber (founder of Scrum.org and Scrum co-creator) and Jeff Sutherland (Scrum co-creator) – this book is a concise and authoritative introduction to Agile and Scrum software development. It’s rated highly too – with 4.5 of 5 stars (28 Amazon Reviews) on Amazon.com

Managers and senior management short on time will find this an especially rewarding read due to its minimalistic and to-the-point style.

It’s also ideal for beginners as terminology is clearly defined and numerous examples are provided detailing how companies have used Scrum to cut software development overrun.

In fact we like this book so much at Firebrand we included it for free on our 2 day Scrum Master course!

Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers, and Leave Competitors in the Dust Paperback – 27 Apr 2012 - ISBN - 9781118206669


For even more reading, take a look at the Official Scrum Guide (another great free resource from Ken Scwaber and Jeff Sutherland).


2. Make the most of the Scrum Open assessment

You’ll find an incredibly useful testing resource on Scrum.org entitled the – “Scrum Open assessment”.

The Scrum open assessment is an official Scrum.org tool for validating your knowledge (before you commit to the real exam). This practice assessment consists of 30 questions, randomly selected from a larger pool, in which you have an hour to complete.

Before you take the Professional Scrum Master Certification exam, we recommend you repeat the open assessment until you feel comfortable completing it in under twenty minutes.

Remember – the real PSM I assessment has 80 questions, and only 60 minutes in which to answer them. Don’t attempt the PSM I exam just because you can pass the Open assessment, you’ll still need to do your background reading.

Several Scrum professionals even note that some questions found on the open assessment actually appear within the PSM I exam.

The Scrum open assessment completely free but you’ll need to register on Scrum.org first.


3. Did you forget about burndown charts?

Burndown charts display the remaining effort for a given period of time and are used in Scrum to track product development.

But it can be all too easy to neglect burndown charts as they no longer appear on the official Scrum Guide. Despite this, those taking the Professional Scrum Master Certification still report encountering questions related to this elusive subject.

Neglect this topic at your own risk - you could still find questions relating to it on your Professional Scrum Master exam.

For a comprehensive introduction to Scrum burndown charts, take a look at this article.


4. You can use Google in the exam, but it would be a mistake

Use a search engine during this online exam at your own peril. If you find yourself searching for answers online whilst you’re taking your Scrum Master Certification exam you clearly haven’t revised enough!

It’s also highly unlikely you’ll find answers to your questions, let alone reliable ones. Plus, with only 45 seconds to answer each of the 80 questions in the PSM I exam, you just don’t have the time to waste.



You need the knowledge to be able to answer the questions quickly, without stalling and especially without trawling the internet for clues to the correct answer.


5. Participate in the Scrum.org forums

The Scrum.org forums are great to browse over a cup of coffee or on a break from your Scrum revision. You’ll find hundreds of fellow Scrum students and certified professionals alike discussing Scrum and agile methodologies.

Forums are a great way to ask questions too specific for Google (but remember to validate the information you get!) and a brilliant place to network for both certified and uncertified Scrum Masters.

You don’t need to sign up to read the forums, but to participate you’ll need to create a free account. Get on the forums now!

The Scrum.org forums




Self-study not working for you?

Effective self-study doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re one of the professionals that needs the Scrum Master Certification quickly, without the commitment to self-study, take a look at Firebrand’s 2 day accelerated Professional Scrum Master (Agile) course.


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, 23 March 2015

Win Free Training for Life with Firebrand


 Free Training for Life

Firebrand is again giving one person free accelerated training for the rest of their life. This time it could be you.

The prize is worth more than £1million - considering the value of our all-inclusive courses and your potential future earnings.


Which courses are covered?


Join previous winners Mario Henkel and Joseph Guthrie who can now take every Firebrand course for free. You’ll get all of our Microsoft courses; from MCSA to MCSE, and Windows Server to Dynamics and SQL. Our other partners, including Cisco, Oracle and CompTIA, are covered too.

Project manager? PRINCE2 and PMP could be yours for free. Or if you're responsible for IT security, you could take any of our EC-Council and (ISC)2 courses.


How to win Free Training For Life


The competition is a raffle. One person will be picked at random, and they'll win Free Training For Life. It takes just two seconds to enter online.


 Win Free Training for Life

Increase your chance of winning. After entering you'll get a unique URL, which you can share with your colleagues and anyone else who’d be interested in Free Training For Life. Each extra entry via your unique URL counts as another 10 for you in the draw.

What it's like to win Free Training for Life


Listen to Joseph Guthrie, as he talks about what it was like to win Free Training for Life and his future aspirations.




Full terms and conditions can be found at: www.firebrandtraining.co.uk/ftfl

Author Profile

As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 3 years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint, Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Top 10 PMP resources 2015


By Sarah Morgan


Get ready to take on your PMP exam with these top PMP resources 2015. It’s a waste of your time and money to attempt an exam you’re not prepared for. Instead, get ready to pass first time by studying the best material available.

These top PMP resources range from study guides to practice exam simulators and even interactive games.

1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK 5 Guide)

This is an essential resource for PMP students and a crucial revision tool. Every PMP aspirant should study this official guide as it covers the most recent PMBOK in its entirety and provides the international standard upon which PMP is based.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMB Guide) - 5th Edition

Amazon.co.uk

2. Head First PMP Paperback – December 29, 2013

Learn the latest objectives and topics in the PMBOK5 with this bestselling PMP guide (with over 100 reviews and a four star average on Amazon.com). This intelligent book covers PMP’s underlying concepts as well as a thorough exam preparation guide with hundreds of practice questions and strategies.

Head First PMP Paperback – 29 Dec 2013

Amazon.co.uk


3. How to Manage a Camel

Take some time out of your revision to browse Arras People’s ‘How to Manage a Camel.’ This great project management blog covers all aspects of project management, including PMP and PRINCE2.

You’ll get a better appreciation of project management as a career and a more comprehensive base of knowledge. Plus, there are some great PMP specific articles to read as part of your revision process.


4. PMP ITTO Mind Map

This is a great PMP revision tool for visual learners. Developed by Kim Synder and based on the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, this mind map visualises 10 project management knowledge areas found in PMP.

Get the pdf here.

One page in the comprehensive 10 page mind map






5. PM Zilla forum

PM Zilla is one of the most popular PMP specific forums. There are over 10,000 threads covering topics from PMP exam questions to applying PMP in real world situations. Got a tricky PMP question that Google can’t answer? Ask in the forum

Forums are a great way to learn regardless of which certification you are studying for. Interacting with other students, discussing the curriculum and asking questions is one of the best ways of both learning and putting your knowledge into practice. However, make sure you verify your information, as there’s no real way of gauging it’s quality otherwise (it could be incorrect!).

And don’t forget – forums are participatory and at their most rewarding when you aren’t just asking questions, but answering them too.


6. Techexams.net PMP Forum

One forum is never enough – here’s a second great project management forum from techexams.net. You’ll find some great user-created revision guides and active threads. As always – make sure to double (and triple) check the information you read.

Bear in mind, though most posts relate to PMP, this forum is dedicated to project management certifications as a whole.


7. Rita’s process game

One skilled PMP student has even developed a game to help others understand the correct sequence of all project management processes and planning processes.

Find it here.


8. Firebrand Learn

Firebrand Learn is a free platform for self study. We’ve added a massive amount of PMP content to it - you’ll get:
  • Course material taught on Firebrand’s official PMP course
  • Exercises
  • Free practice test questions and answers 
  • A collection of third party resources

Combine A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK 5 Guide) with the resources on Firebrand Learn and you’ll be well on your way to passing the PMP exam.


Firebrand Learn's of practice exam questions


We’ve had some great feedback about Firebrand Learn. Take a look at what Michael Greer of bestfreetraining.net said about it:



Start revising PMP right now on Firebrand Learn– you won’t need to pay or register.


9. PMP Exam Self-Assessment Test - Oliver Lehmann

From this site you’ll get access to 75 free sample questions with a simulated 90 minute time to mimic the exam. Click ‘Solve Sample Test’ once you’re done to see an instant percentage score.

You’ll also get access to an additional 175 PMP sample questions in pdf form. Unlike the interactive online questions, this document is intended to be printed and completed by hand.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re score is lower than you expected, as Cornelius Fitchner of The Project Management Podcast states, “Hands down, this web site has the toughest questions around. If you are able to answer more than 50% correctly, then hats off to you.”


10. PM Exam Simulator

As the name suggests, this tool simulates the PMP exam and provides 175 free sample questions. You’ll answer questions of the same style and difficulty that you can expect to find on the real exam and will get access to three different modes of:

  • Real exam mode: a simulation of the real PMP exam experience
  • Timed mode: you’ll receive hints and answers but will still be timed
  • Learning mode: get hints and answers with no time limit.

Unfortunately, you’ll only get the above for three days with the free trial account. The full service will set you back $99.


How to know if you’re ready for the PMP exam

We recommend you read, re-read and read again to absorb the knowledge you need. Next, tackle the PMP mock exams and sample questions until you can consistently score 75% or above. Once you can do this – you should be ready.

However, if you don’t have the time available to dedicate to self-study – there are others ways to get certified, take a look at our official accelerated four day PMP course.


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, 18 March 2015

How to test your Azure Traffic Manager settings

   By Debra Littlejohn Shinder



The more traffic you have, the more important traffic management becomes. When motor vehicles first appeared on the roads, they were few and far between and little management was necessary. Yet today traffic control devices are essential to prevent accidents and traffic jams. Likewise, today’s oft-overburdened networks carry data packets from hundreds or thousands of endpoints across routers and switches and through gateways, making traffic management a necessity to ensure performance and reliability.

Microsoft Azure Traffic Manager is a tool designed to work with Microsoft’s cloud operating system to enable you to control the way traffic is distributed to Azure cloud services, web sites and other endpoints that you specify by applying policies to DNS queries. This can result in significant improvement to availability, performance and responsiveness – all of which can be concerns when working with cloud services over an Internet connection, especially for those who are used to the high speed of today’s local networks.

Traffic Manager is deployed in association with an Azure subscription, after which you can add your endpoints, select a monitoring configuration and load balancing method, then create a profile and configure the settings. You can configure Traffic Manager settings in the Management Portal, by using REST APIs or using PowerShell. You can also create nested profiles, which refers to a setup where you have another Traffic Manager profile as an endpoint.

For more information about how to control network traffic distribution with Azure Traffic Manager, be sure to check out Richard Hicks’ article over on CloudComputingAdmin.com.

Before you get that far, though, you might want to test your Traffic Manager settings after configuring them. To do that, first make sure that you set DNS TTL to a low value, such as 30 seconds, so that the changes you make will be quickly propagated and you won’t have to wait to see the results.

You can check your Traffic Manager profile using the common nslookup utility:

  1. Open an administrative command prompt window.
  2. Enter ipconfig /flushdns to flush the DNS resolver cache.
  3. Enter nslookup <Traffic Manager domain name>

Examine the results returned from this command. This should show the DNS name and IP address of the DNS server that you’re using to resolve the domain name. It will also show the Traffic Manager domain along with the IP address to which it resolves. The second IP address shown should be a public virtual IP (VIP) address that is assigned to one of the cloud services or web sites you’ve configured as an endpoint in Traffic Manager.

Now, to test your failover load balancing method, follow these steps:

  1. With the endpoints up, using a single client, use the nslookup tool to request DNS name resolution of your company domain name. The resolved endpoint should be for your primary endpoint.
  2. Either take down your primary endpoint or remove the monitoring file (this will make it appear to be down to Traffic Manager).
  3. Wait now for the DNS TTL plus two minutes to pass.
  4. Now flush the DNS client cache as described above.
  5. Request DNS resolution again. This time the IP address returned should be for your secondary endpoint.
  6. Take down the secondary endpoint and repeat the process for each of the endpoints. The key here is to be sure that the DNS resolution request comes back each time with the IP address of the next endpoint on your list.

If you’re using the round robin load balancing method, the steps to test are a little different. The first step is the same, but the endpoints won’t be in order. Make sure you get back the IP address of one of the endpoints on your list, then flush the DNS cache and repeat to get a different address from your list, and so forth, until the IP addresses for all of your endpoints have been returned.


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.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Top 5 stories of National Apprenticeship Week 2015 so far


By Sarah Morgan


National Apprenticeship Week is upon us and there’s never been a better time to discover the benefits of IT apprenticeships for you and your business.

Firebrand has been following this week closely – here are the top 5 stories so far:


1. Government unveils cyber security initiatives for National Apprenticeship Week

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, today unveiled a selection of initiatives to encourage young people to pursue a career in cyber security.

The Government’s National Cyber Security Programme will be offering IT apprenticeships to boost the number of civil service cyber specialists. Cyber security training in further and higher education will also be provided.

Cyber Specialist apprenticeships from The Tech Partnership will train young people to become professional Cyber Intrusion analysts to work in Security Operations Centres.

Plus, from September 2016, cyber security will now feature in all computing and digital further education at level three and four. This means all 16-19 year olds will receive an introduction to cyber security if they choose these subjects.

Find out more about the Government’s new cyber security IT apprenticeships here.



2. UK businesses could get £18bn additional revenue from apprenticeships

A report from the Centre of Economics and Business Research reveals that consumers prefer to buy from businesses employing apprentices.

Marking the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2015, the report explained how UK businesses could be missing out on £18billion a year in consumer spending.

“One in four consumers say they would go as far as even paying more for goods and services offered by companies that employ apprentices”

The Benefits of Apprenticeships to Businesses study also found that businesses offering apprenticeships were perceived by 66% of the public as contributing to society, with five million consumers more likely to make a purchase from an apprentice employer.

Read more about the Benefits of Apprenticeships study here.


3. The average apprentice delivers £10,000 in productivity gains every year

The same study also found that the average apprentice can deliver up to £13,824 per annum for your business.

The research demonstrates that even before an apprentice is fully qualified, many businesses will experience the economic benefits of offering apprenticeships. Find out more here.


4. Nick Clegg’s apprenticeship message

Nick Clegg marked National Apprenticeship Week with a video message. The Deputy Prime Minister called on more young people to boost their skills and get involved in apprenticeship schemes across all industries.

“Whatever your sector, there’s a hard-working, dedicated apprentice out there ready to help your organisation thrive… So, if you want a good career or a boost to your businesses’ bottom line – get an apprenticeship.”

He also spoke about research showing that “gaining a higher-level apprenticeship can boost your lifetime earnings by £150,000.”

Watch Nick Clegg’s message yourself below. Or visit the Government website.


5. BT plans to create 1,000 new apprenticeship and graduate jobs

BT recently announced a major job-creation scheme to launch 700 new apprenticeships, and 300 graduate positions, across the UK.

The 700 new apprentices will work in IT, software development and a variety of other roles across BT’s UK organisation.

“The UK’s future as a technology leader hinges on young people getting the skills, support and training they need to create successful careers in science, engineering and IT,” BT’s chief executive Gavin Patterson stated.

Read BT’s press release here.


Get involved in National Apprenticeship Week

To stay up to date, follow #NAW2015 on Twitter, or for key facts, resources tools and templates – take a look at the National Apprenticeship Week website.

Sign up now and find out 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.