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March 1, 2013  3:37 PM

An Overview of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

In a global marketplace increasingly dominated by technology, it is now more important than ever to consider the principle of enterprise architecture. In the modern day, nearly every company, public entity and even government department now requires a strong online presence. This can range from company websites and blogs to organisation pages on social media, and that is just the beginning. Remote working using Cloud computing and VPNs are the beginning of a trend that links all business via computer systems and the Internet.

Gartner, the world’s leading IT Research and Advisory company defines enterprise architecture as:

a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes. EA delivers value by presenting business and IT leaders with signature-ready recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve target business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions. EA is used to steer decision making toward the evolution of the future state architecture.”

Enterprise Architecture Framework

Enterprise Architecture Framework is an agreed set of standards, rules and tools used in implementing enterprise architecture.

There are three parts to architecture frameworks:

Views: these refer to the way information is communicated within the architecture, particularly regarding interactions and relationships.

Methods: the methods are formulae for ensuring that all the necessary information is gathered and used, ensuring that all contingencies and basics are covered. This helps to make certain that the architecture is completely accurate, comprehensive and have integrity.

Training and Experience: These ensure familiarity with the standards, standardised tools and structures of enterprise architecture, ensuring seamless compatibility between different systems and infrastructures.

Left unchecked, enterprise architecture could potentially become an unmanageable field, with development sprouting wildly in all directions. Architecture framework contains the development and channels it into manageable and expandable directions. Think of a climbing plant with no frame; it will grow over the ground, mingling and interfering with the growth of grass or other bedding plants, whereas with a trellis to climb up, and even be tied to if necessary the plant can reach up to the sunlight and no longer has to compete with other flora. The architecture framework acts as the ‘trellis’, guiding enterprise architecture along desirable and profitable lines, yet keeping it within a manageable structure.

Types of Architecture Framework

There are five basic types of architecture framework available at present, and this number is growing with demand. The five types are; defense industry frameworks; government frameworks; consortia based frameworks, those set up by groups and affiliations of concerned parties; open source frameworks, worked on by interested parties who share code and programming skills to achieve the finished product; and proprietary frameworks. Some examples of the five types follow:

Government: FEAF and TEAF, the Federal and Treasury Enterprise Architecture Frameworks, respectively; NORA, used by the Dutch government and GEA, used by the Queensland government

Defense Industry: MODAF and DODAF perform the same task for the British Ministry of Defense and the United States Department of Defense, the French have AGATE and the Canadians use DNDAF.

Consortia-based: TOGAF, from The Open Group is the most famous of the consortia frameworks, arguably the best known of all the frameworks. There is also EABOK, GERAM, and the IDEAS Group, the latter of whom caters to networks rather than individual entities. RA-ODP and ARCON are also the brainchildren of consortia. ‘Good enough architectural methodology’ is a system based on real-life needs and processes found in the business world, a practical solution for pragmatists.   Open-source Frameworks: SABSA, Praxeme, TRAK and MEGAF are all open source frameworks, as is the cheekily-named GOD.

Proprietary Frameworks: Information Framework, OBASHI, IAF and there are many more proprietary frameworks, some fairly small scale having been designed specifically to fulfil a certain criteria. One proprietary framework that deserves a special mention is the Zachman Framework, the oldest architecture framework – dating to conception in 1982 and fruition in 1987, the dark ages of computing! Zachman, along with TOGAF, offers a broad architecture framework, allowing for complete analysis and planning for an enterprise.

Certification for Enterprise Architects

Enterprise architects often need certification in any one of the many architecture frameworks, in order to attract job offers from the biggest companies. IT managers may have a lot of experience working with and setting in place architecture, and may find themselves needing to adhere to a framework, simply to stay on top of their job. It is for this reason that many employers looking for IT managers will ask for some kind of enterprise architecture accreditation.

Architects find it easier to work within a framework, as clear guidelines, standard tools and a clear united vocabulary mean that every aspect of the work is clearly understood.

Should you be considering a career in Enterprise Architecture, the TOGAF certification offered by the Open Group is a solid investment. TOGAF is the most widely used of Enterprise Artchitecture frameworks and so opens you to the greatest number of opportunities. If you are looking to embark on a career sooner rather than later, why not check out the 3 day TOGAF certification by Firebrand.

With a TOGAF certification behind you, you will be well on the way to a career as an Enterprise Architect. And with certified architects enjoying an average salary of £65,000 (*source – IT Jobs Watch), you can add a spring in your step.

February 22, 2013  11:16 AM

How to use the Windows 8 Start Screen and Charms Bar

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Author Bio: Phil Chapman has 23 Years RAF/MoD experience as a Chief Technician. Phil has 5 years experience as a Microsoft Certified Trainer delivering Microsoft and CompTia training courses. Phil is a Lead Instructor for Windows 8 Training with Firebrand.

The advent of a new Windows operating system is always heralded with pomp and ceremony. And normally from those of us who are tasked with deploying and administering the new beast – some trepidation.  Microsoft Windows 8 was no different – with plenty of media hype, secrecy and intrigue over the final interface.  Combine this with the new hardware of course, and we had the usual fear of the unknown!

For those of us that were keeping a close eye on the development of the system, the fear was mostly around how they were going to improve upon Windows 7.  If operating systems were Olympic athletes, I’d hand-out gold medals to Windows XP (a marathon stint, at the top of its game) and Windows 7 (for taking the baton from Vista and crossing the line in style). Though Windows Vista would pick-up a bronze, just because it’s the closest colour to brown!

Vista aside, Windows 8 has a hard act to follow – but comes from a good pedigree. Windows 7 gave us everything and more on the network, inherited from the ageing XP. And although most of us choose to ignore or ridicule Vista – it was a victim of poor timing more than poor design.

Change is inevitable in IT. Though Microsoft has chosen not to try to totally reinvent the wheel, and it seems to have found the happy balance between keeping the legacy of Windows 7, while creating a desktop interface that has never been seen before.  The biggest hurdle is finding where everything is!

Windows 8 Start Screen

Where to Start?

When you first install Windows 8, you’re given the option to select a Windows Live (online) ID. This ties-in all online applications, and immediately allows for the personalisation of the interface to suit you. If Windows ID is not for you, a ‘normal’ local user account is available with profile to match.

Once you’ve launched the new-look GUI interface, your ‘live tiles’ leap into action; making the experience as personal and interactive as you like.  You can add new application tiles, increase and decrease their size, and de-activate the live aspects to suit.  One downside to this is the impact that this has on resources, if you inadvertently leave your application in live play and switch to the desktop.

It is likely that none of this will affect the Enterprise user, as applications will continue to be deployed to the desktop or virtualized as before.  However, advancements have been made in supporting the client when working with Cloud-based resources, Remote Desktop Services and VPN.  Not least, the more ‘streamlined’ and infrastructure friendly approach to Direct Access.

Let’s cut some corners

The corners of the screen are the key to discovery with Windows 8:   • Click bottom left – allows you to toggle between Desktop and Start Screen • Right-click bottom left of the Desktop – opens up administrative features, including the run command and search • Click top left of the Start Screen – allows you to see and toggle between most recently used applications (including those still running in the background). • Top right / bottom right – opens up the Charms Bar, which allows you to configure several settings. All explained below.

What’s the Charms Bar?

Search – allows for fast searching across files, applications and settings

Share – allows you to share links with email and social media sites.  Some applications also allow for the sharing of data (such as translation tools etc.)

Start – toggles between Desktop and Start Screen

Devices – allows for the quick connection between connected devices, such as second screens or external displays

Settings – allows for the control of display settings, a direct link to the Control Panel, power options (yes, this is where you power down or restart a Windows 8 machine!), personalisation settings and a quick link for simple PC configuration changes.

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February 1, 2013  10:06 AM

Microsoft Technology Posters – The Xboxercist

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Welcome to part three of our Microsoft Movie Posters series. Today’s iconic poster adaptation is of a slightly darker nature, today we cover demonic possession, rotating head’s spewing vomit and the exorcism of demons from ones children. You guessed it…..The Xboxercist! I myself am filled with a sense of dread as I look upon this poster with the eerie green light flooding the street outlining the silhouette of our Reverend.

The Xboxercist

In today’s technology centric society it’s not hard to imagine requiring the services of a Priest, some Holy Water and the power of God to separate children from their most prized technological possession, such as the Xbox 360. I myself partake in the use of this system and often feel possessed by some unsavoury force as I rain down death and destruction upon my foes in the latest version of “Call of Duty”.  I often return to my sense’s in haze unaware of the time I have spent on the console, which brings me on to my next point…time. In March 2012, Head of Marketing Strategy for Xbox, Yusuf Mehdi was quoted in the LA Times stating that the average Xbox user spends 84 hours online per month!

But before you raid your closet to unearth that wooden cross or the good book, spare a moment to read “An Education Revolution: Automate and Humanize” by Daniel Burrus, a Technology Futurist. Perhaps their is method in the madness…..perhaps the children aren’t possessed but achieving a higher state of focus and learning. Burrus addresses the interesting dynamic that the often complex and engaging nature of today’s games teaches children a range of skills. These games require children to memorize elaborate scenarios and develop sophisticated strategies  to complete a range of goals. These games tune the child’s focus, putting them in situations where the must prioritise and make complex decisions in pressurised time sensitive situation. They do all of the above whilst plugged into a head set coordinating with team mates half way round the world….when’s the last time you multi-tasked like that? I’m struggling to sip my coffee and type!

I digress, check back tomorrow for the fourth and penultimate poster.

January 31, 2013  10:19 AM

Microsoft Technology Posters – Bill and Ted’s Excel Adventure

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

In the esteemed words of Bill S. Preston and Ted “Theodore” Logan, I welcome you to a most excellent second instalment of Microsoft Technology Posters. For those who missed yesterdays “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Server” edition, step into our fantastical time machine and travel back to yesteryear (yesterday) to check out our first instalment of Microsoft Technology Posters.

This poster was made possible thanks to a “totally bodacious dude” who goes by the Twitter handle @TheTerinator.

As we gaze upon this magnificent masterpiece, one can only imagine what kind of adventures Bill and Ted would have gotten up to back in 1989, as they poured through spreadsheets packed full of data  on Excel 2.2 (according to Wikipedia, whatever that website is), revealing hidden trends and insights lodged within the cells.

As I let your minds wonder on the numerous possibilities enjoy the Movie Poster Parody below. Perhaps you have a Microsoft Technology Poster Parody you wish to share with us, tweet us at @beafirebrand.

Bill and Ted’s Excel Adventure

January 30, 2013  9:59 AM

Microsoft Technology Posters – Rise of the Silver Server

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Here at Firebrand, we love 2 things – Microsoft Technology and Movies. So on a not so sunny Thursday afternoon back in August, we came up with the idea of trying to merge the 2.

We set forth with grandiose offers of Amazon vouchers and worldwide acclaim (via our blog) for the best movie parody using a Microsoft technology submitted by our readers via Twitter. By Friday afternoon we had an inbox full of fantastic/terrible suggestions from “SharePoint Blank” to “Windows M.E, myself and Irene”. Pleased with our responses we doled out the goodies and planned to rest on our laurels for a job well done, that’s when someone muttered 3 words that would change my life forever/the next few weeks……”Microsoft Movie Posters”.

Our excitement barely contained, we enlisted the services of a designer and poured over the submissions. Finally we selected the top 5 submissions we felt came accompanied by Iconic Movie posters and set to work… now the results….

First and possibly my least favourite:

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Server

This parody is based on the awful second version of Fantastic 4 and Microsoft’s Windows Server OS. Interestingly enough “Rise of the Silver” is a good link, back in August 2012 Microsoft launched the latest rendition of Windows Server. Dubbed the first “cloud OS”, since it’s release there has been a positive reaction from the industry. This is very much reflected in our recent survey which suggests 85% of companies plan to integrate Windows Server 2012 into their Network. You can see the infographic in our previous post.

Now without further adiue….

Check back tomorrow for the next instalment…I promise they get better.

January 11, 2013  11:45 AM

NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 – Infographic

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As we move into 2013, it is with increasing certainty we embrace the notion that “the Cloud” is the next logical step in the evolutionary IT process. We have moved safely past the dreaded “betamax” and “minidisc” phase and must now look forward and prepare for an increasingly cloud-y future.

In August 2012, Microsoft released Windows Server 2012, dubbed the first “cloud ready” server operating system. The system was designed so that whether you were a small business setting up a single server or a major organisation architecting a new datacenter environment, Windows Server 2012 would allow you to cloud-optimize your IT.

In this brave new world increasingly dominated by mass virtualization and cloud ready server operating systems, the requirement for a high speed, highly available network has never been more important. Windows Server 2012 was designed to help you achieve this. In previous versions Windows Server made the teaming of Network Interface Cards (NICs) a notoriously tricky and time consuming process, hours would be spent downloading third-party drivers and tinkering with technical configurations for certain NICs

Not so in Windows Server 2012, follow our Windows Server 2012 How-to guide for teaming NIC’s to create and maintain a high speed, highly available network.

This infographic designed by Firebrand. The content is from our Windows Server instructor Ed Baker, and the original guide can be found on Server Watch.

Infographic – How to Team your Network Cards in Windows Server 2012 by FirebrandTraining

November 15, 2012  9:58 AM

The History of Microsoft Technology

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In the past 30 years Microsoft have developed Technologies that influence just about everything we do both in the work place and the comfort of our own home.

Most well known is the Windows Operating System; synonymous with the PC; which according to a recent Operating System Market Share Survey by Hitslink , maintains a 91.73% share. Outside of the Windows Operating System, Microsoft have produced a range of innovative and hugely successful software products including, Powerpoint, Windows Server, SQL Server and .NET to name but a few.

And as we move towards the end of 2012 we will again see a flurry of new products as Microsoft transition into the next stage of Technologies. We will see the roll out of the Surface Tablet, Windows 8 and the latest instalments of Windows and SQL Server. So as we look to the future lets take a quick journey through their past.


The History of Microsoft Technology

The History of Microsoft Technology by Firebrand Training

November 2, 2012  2:28 PM

Windows Server 2012 in 85% of businesses by 2014

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Are you planning to integrate Windows Server 2012 into your network?

With Windows Server 2012 securely off the production line and readily available to the Technology Industry, here at Firebrand Training we surveyed over 1000 technology companies to gauge the mood of the consumer market.

We went for the kill and asked the big questions that would determine the success of Windows Server 2012:

  • When are you planning to integrate Windows Server 2012 into your Network?
  • Why are you planning to integrate Windows Server 2012 into your Network?
  • Why are you not planning to integrate Windows Server 2012 into your Network?

After incentivising our respondents with £500 worth of goodies, we collated all the data and were faced with some exciting and interesting insights. Suffice to say if our sample of data transcends to industry behaviour this could be Microsoft’s most successful Windows Server Operating System to date.

So here are all the results in a nice shiny infographic, some of the findings may surprise you.


October 22, 2012  11:04 AM

How to use Fine-Grained Passwords in Windows Server 2012

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Windows Server 2012 has hit the shelves, and already businesses around the globe have begun to adopt the latest version of the Server Operating system. Today we take a look at one of the core features in the new operating system, Fine-Grained Passwords.

IT security has been a huge feature in the media in 2012, so its no surprise this latest instalment of Windows Server is packed with new Security features. If you missed the big headlines, 2012 endured the Flame Virus touted as “the most complex virus ever created”, 6.5 million LinkedIn Passwords Leaked by a Russian Hacker and now the US prepares for Cyber Attacks that could “do more physical damage than 11 September 2001 attack.”

So to lighten the mood and seeing as it’s Monday, we thought we’d add a twist to the way we deliver this rather technical ‘How to’.

Without further ado, check out our Star Wars Fine-Grained Passwords Prezi…

September 25, 2012  8:48 AM

The New Features in Windows Server 2012

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On September 4th we reached another monumental milestone in the History of Microsoft Technology, the release of Windows Server 2012.

This product underpins the shift occurring  across the entire IT world….transition of technology towards the cloud. Windows Server 2012 is truely a reflection of this shift, heralded as a new operating system for the cloud.

As the dust begins to settle, here at Firebrand HQ our Windows Server Instructor Mike Brown decided to take a look at all the new features in Windows Server 2012 and lay them bare.

After creating a beautifully written article we decided to pull it apart and turn it into a Prezi presentation. Take a look below.

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