Thursday, 18 May 2017

Discover 7 new Microsoft MCSA and MCSE certifications

Microsoft have announced the launch of 6 new MCSA certifications and 1 new MCSE certification. This demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to a growing Azure, Big Data, Business Intelligence (BI) and Dynamics community.

These new certifications and courses will support Microsoft partners looking to upskill and validate knowledge in these technologies.  

Following the huge changes announced in September, these new launches will simplify your path to certification. They'll minimise the number of steps required to earn a certification, while allowing you to align your skills to industry-recognised areas of competence.

This blog will outline the new certifications Microsoft have announced, focusing on the technologies, skills and job roles they align to. 

So what's new?


MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365

This MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 certification is one of three Dynamics 365 certifications launched. It demonstrates your expertise in upgrading, configuring and customising the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.

There are currently no MOCs aligned to this certification. We have developed our own Firebrand material that will prepare you for the following two exams needed to achieve this certification:
  • MB2-715: Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer engagement Online Deployment
  • MB2-716: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configuration 
This certification will validate you have the skills for a position as a Dynamics 365 developer, implementation consultant, technical support engineer or system administrator.

This certification is a prerequisite for the MCSE: Business Applications. 

MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations

The second of these three Dynamics 365 certs is the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. Here, you’ll get the skills to manage a Microsoft SQL Server database and customise Microsoft Dynamics 365.

On this course, you’ll cover the following MOC:
  • 20764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure 
The second part of this course, of which there is currently no MOC, will cover Firebrand's own material. 

To achieve this certification you’ll need to pass the following exams:
  • 70-764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure
  • MB6-890: Microsoft Development AX Development Introduction 
Earning this cert proves you have the technical competence for positions such as Dynamics 365 developer, solutions architect or implementer.  

Just like the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365, this certification is also a prerequisite to the new MCSE: Business Applications certification. 

MCSE: Business Applications

Earning an MCSE certification validates a more advanced level of knowledge. The MCSE: Business Applications certification proves an expert-level competence in installing, operating and managing Microsoft Dynamics 365 technologies in an enterprise environment.

In order to achieve this certification you’ll be required to pass either the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 or the MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. You’ll also be required to choose one of the following electives to demonstrate expertise on a business-specific area:
  • MB2-717: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales
  • MB2-718: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service
  • MB6-892: Microsoft Dynamics AX - Distribution and Trade
  • MB6-893: Microsoft Dynamics AX - Financials  
Earning your MCSE: Business Applications certification will qualify you for the roles such as Dynamics 365 developer, implementation consultant, technical support engineer, or system administrator.

MCSA: Big Data Engineering

This MCSA: Big Data Engineering certification demonstrates you have the skills to design and implement big data engineering workflows with the Microsoft cloud ecosystem and Microsoft HD Insight to extract strategic value from your data.

On this course you’ll cover the following MOCs:
  • 20775A: Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft HDInsight – expected 28/6/2017
  • 20776A: Engineering Data with Microsoft Cloud Services – expected 08/2017
And take the following exams:
  • 70-775: Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft HD Insight – available now in beta
  • 70-776: Engineering Data with Microsoft Cloud Services – expected Q1 2018
This course is aimed at data engineers, data architects, data scientists and data developers.

Earning this MCSA acts as a prerequisite, and your first step, to achieving the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential.

MCSA: BI Reporting

This MCSA: BI Reporting certification proves your understanding of data analysis using Power BI. You’ll learn the skills to create and manage enterprise business intelligence solutions.

The MOCs you’ll cover on this course include:
  • 20778A: Analyzing Data with Power BI
  • 20768B: Developing SQL Data Models 
In order to achieve the certification, you’ll take the following exams:
  • 70-778: Analyzing Data with Power BI - expected Q1 2018
  • 70-768: Developing SQL Data Models 
This certification is aimed at database professionals needing to create enterprise BI solutions and present data using alternative methods.

This certification is a prerequisite for the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential. 

MCSA: Cloud Database Development 

This MCSA: Cloud Database Development certification will prove you have the skills to build and implement NoSQL solutions with DocumentDB and Azure Search for the Azure data platform

This certification covers the following MOCs:
  • 40441: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
  • 20777: Implementing NoSQL Solutions with DocumentDB and Azure Search – expected in August 2017 
In order to achieve the certification, you'll have to pass the following exams: 
  • 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
  • 70-777: Implementing NoSQL Solutions with DocumentDB and Azure Search – expected in Q1 2018
This course is aimed at specialist professionals looking to validate their skills and knowledge of developing NoSQL solutions for the Azure data platform. 

This certification is also a prerequisite certification to the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics credential. 

MCSA: Data Science

This course will teach you the skills in operationalising Microsoft Azure machine learning and Big Data with R Server and SQL R Services. You'll learn to process and analyse large data sets using R and use Azure cloud services to build and deploy intelligent solutions.

This certification covers the following MOCs:
  • 20773A: Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R – in development, expected May 2017
  • 20774A: Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning – in development, expected June 2017
To achieve this certification you’ll be required to pass the following exams:
  • 70-773: Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R – available now in beta
  • 70-774: Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning – available now in beta 
This certification, which is your first step to the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics cert is best suited to data science or data analyst job roles. 


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Free cyber security training for the NHS

Yesterday's ransomware attack that infected so many trusts within the NHS was avoidable. There are complexities within that environment relating to updating software which I understand. Having said that though users are the first line of defence, as well as better filtering of emails before they arrive at users devices. I'm confident the patient data in the back end systems is safe. More can and should be done to prevent future attacks. Firebrand of course wants to help, training people quickly is the only reason we get out of bed in the morning.

Firebrand's cyber security portfolio of courses spans protection and detection as well as end user training. We are also unique in offering accelerated cyber security apprenticeships. As you probably know public organisations including the NHS need to have 2.3% of their staff on apprenticeship programs by 2020. A great way to spend their Apprenticeship Levy.

Firebrand would of course relish the opportunity of talking to any NHS trusts about cyber security training and apprenticeships. I appreciate this might seem like we're trying to profit from this situation. However I'm extremely proud of what Firebrand does. We've trained 65,000 people over 16 years. We've given them skills that make them better at their jobs or further their careers. I know what we teach on our courses makes businesses or government departments more secure, better prepared.

So I'm not going to apologise for this offer! We will give up to 10 NHS trusts one free cyber security course each in exchange for a meeting with a senior member of staff to discuss training and apprenticeships. We can bring a security expert with us if needed and we can explain the range of courses we offer and help you plan where you need skills. During the meeting we will figure out which free course you'll benefit most from. No strings other than agreeing to the meeting.

If you work for an NHS trust feel free to contact me via LinkedIn. The first 10 NHS trusts to contact me get the courses.

For background here's the video of my interview with BBC London News yesterday talking about what has happened at the NHS.




Friday, 12 May 2017

5 things you need to do after the NHS hack

NHS hospitals across England have been hit by a large scale cyber attack. A pop-up message demanding ransom in exchange for access to the infected machines.

NHS Digital said: “A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack which is affecting a number of different organisations".



Whilst it’s too late to stop the current hack, this is a wake-up call for all. In this post, we will identify the steps needed to secure your own information now and in the future.

This is what you need to do
Be wary of emails from the NHS:
 Now is the perfect time for cyber criminals to strike through a phishing attack. Avoid downloading or clicking links in any emails coming from NHS. Almost all malware is installed unknowingly by the victims themselves.

Change your passwords and security questions: Even if you haven't been hacked, change your password and security questions immediately. This is especially important if your email is connected in any way to your bank or a PayPal account.

Additionally, you should look to change the passwords in any other account that uses the same or similar security information. This ensures hackers cannot access other accounts through NHS information. It is also sensible to check your password recovery settings and ensure they have not been changed to a third party.

Avoid contacting your GP practice: Avoid contacting your GP practice unless absolutely necessary, your local pharmacy can provide free and fast advice for non-urgent conditions.

Update your security settings and run a security scan: This the time to make sure your computer is secure. Make sure you run a virus scan and have the most recent security updates on your operating system. If you don't have an anti-virus application, invest in a high-quality one like McAfee or Norton Antivirus. This is something you should be doing as best practice regardless of the issue.


Report it to the police: If you believe you have been hacked and are now the victim of identity theft or fraud, file a report with Action Fraud.