Yes, that’s right, Cisco is plugging the A+ and Network+ sequence as a natural precursor to the CCENT and CCNA certifications. In light of their recent announcement of the CCT program (see my 8/24/2011 blog on this subject for more information) I have to wonder if this changes anything.
But for now, here’s what Cisco says about the Network+ credential:
Network+ provides a solid foundation for networking professionals to pursue vendor-specific certifications such as the Cisco CCNA or CCENT. In fact:
* Most Network+ certified professionals move on to a Cisco exam within 6 months
* Network+ certified professionals have a higher CCNA exam pass rate
Shoot! There’s even a CompTIA IT Certification Roadmap on this page, too. What does it all mean? For one thing, it means that Cisco thinks CompTIA is doing its job to prep IT workers for entry-level skills and knowledge and building the kind of informed certification candidates it likes to see. For another thing, it means that both organizations find synergy between their respective programs and offerings. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing going on in the IT certification space, and I can’t help but think that we will.]]>
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It’s a treat to see this familiar ITIL diagram on the Cisco site, along with a very good explanation of the various ITIL certifications available to IT professionals, and what they cover. They even include pointers to key ITIL organizations, and a pointer to itSM Solutions for ITIL training online. There’s also a link to a 2009-vintage presentation on Cisco and ITIL that talks about its formal adoption, regular use, and future within Cisco itself. Good stuff!]]>
The new exam goes live on Monday, August 29, and the old VCP 4 exam will be phased out by the end of 2011. VCP 4 holders who take and pass the VCP 5 exam on or before February 29, 2012 can skip taking the update course to qualify for a cert upgrade to VCP 5 status (VMware vSphere: What’s New [V5.0]) and save $1,500! For more information on the new VCP 5 credential, requirements, and so forth see my PearsonITCertification.com blog from August 3, 2001 entitled “New VCP5 Exam Spurs Special Offer for VCP4 Certified VMware Pros.”]]>
After listening to the folks at Cisco Learning explain to me why they decided that the CCT was necessary, I had to let go of my inclination to view this latest member of the Cisco cert portofolio as either a case of
No, it seems that a big driver for this program came from big companies like NCR, RescueCom, Dimension Data, and so forth, that need to dispatch qualified service technicians to onsite customer locations. These technicians have to be able to run basic troubleshooting maneuvers, diagnostics, and so forth, and must know how to swap out switch and router modules (CCT Routing and Switching), work with Cisco Unified Computing Systems components and servers, accessories, cabling, and interfaces (CCT Data Center), or do likewise with Cisco TelePresence models, accessories, cabling, and interfaces (CCT TelePresence). In other words, this is a hands-on program that’s designed to make sure CCTs who go onsite know what they’ll be working with, what kinds of things to test and check to identify problems, and what kinds of devices, modules, cables, and so forth to swap out to fix such problems.
I see this as a good thing for serveral reasons. First, because the CCT feeds into the CCNA, it will help to ensure that CCTs seeking CCNA certification will have some hands-on knowledge and experience with Cisco gear as it’s used in the field. Second, it includes a built-in guarantee of experience and brings both theory and practice together in helpful ways. Third, it teaches solid well-understood maintenance and troubleshooting procedures, which make a great foundation for working in and around networks and networking technologies.
I also had a chance to look through the CCT online training modules for the CCT Routing and Switching courseware ($299 for one year of online access through the Cisco Store: courseware link). Cisco Learning has done a bang-up job of putting a great set of training materials together, and of making them available as a sequence of relatively short (under 15 minutes per module) elements that should work well to train folks who are constantly on the move and who can’t turn off the world to sit in a classroom for days at a time to learn this subject matter.
Overall, the CCT looks pretty interesting, and should give the new entry level Cisco cert candidates a great opportunity to mix hands-on interaction with theory, and to put both learning elements to work on the job.]]>
Here are Harkins’ 10 points with my own reactions to them, which I’ll follow with additional input and advice to those who may be pondering the leap from working for “the man” to working for themselves:
1. Freelancers make the big bucks: You may occasionally make more per hour freelancing than you make on salary, but you will often make a lot less. When you’re self-employed the paying work has to fund your overhead, and most people have at least one day of overhead time per working week.
2. Freelancers can specialize: Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that you’ll always tend to take on work you know how to do properly and well; no, in the sense that any work is better than no work when you’re trying to keep the cashflow going.
3. Freelancers are their own bosses: Again, yes and no. Sure you may run the firm of me, myself, and I, but I agree wholeheartedly with Harkins that every customer is your boss when you’re a freelancer, and that you should bend over backwards to keep all of those bosses happy.
4. Freelancers accomplish more: Here, too, Harkins point that freelancers get more done because they spend more time working is right on the money. In good times, you work to meet deadlines and get the job done; in bad times, when you’re not working for whatever income you can generate thereby, you’re out hustling for new work.
5. Freelancers are happier because they’re doing what they love: I’m not entirely in Harkins’ boat on this point, but it is true that freelancing involves doing what you’re good at and what pays. As you get better at it (and better known), however, you will have more opportunities to be choosy about what work you take on.
6. Freelancers work in their pajamas: They can if they want to but most of us don’t. FWIW, it’s not an option to me because I don’t wear pajamas…ever!
7. Freelancers have more freedom: Yes and no: you can decide when and if you want to work, but you must work or you won’t get paid. For most of use this means most waking hours during the week are spent working, even if we do get to decide when those hours might occur.
8. Freelancers have less stress: I don’t buy into Harkins’ thought that “people with real jobs get unemployment benefits, and freelancers don’t” because unemployment benefits are largely terrible, and because everybody who works deals with stress as part of the job (and then, of course, there’s the rest of your life, which comes with its own stresses, too). We all cope as best we can, whether employed full-time, freelancing, or doing something else.
9. You need a Web site: Harkins opines one really isn’t necessary because hers hasn’t brought in any new business. Like most Internet phenomena, this is clearly a case of YMMV (your mileage may vary). Mine has brought me plenty of business, but only at odd intervals. If you want to create a personal brand, or are thinking about starting a company, building a Web site will teach you stuff that will come in handy someday, if not right away. Your call!
10. Freelancers can sleep in: Only if they make up for getting up late by working late. But if you work with customers (and who else is gonna pay you), you’ll work when your customers work because that’s when they’re going to want to work with you.
Other thoughts I had while chewing on this material included the idea that you shouldn’t go freelance without at least 3 months worth of cash flow available to you. It always takes a while to fill up your pipeline, and for that pipeline to start pouring cash into your bank account. Be sure you can cover your costs while you’re waiting for invoice payments to start appearing (and in these times, if your terms are net 30, adding 30-45 days to this is a good idea because many customers will be slow to pay). You should also be sure you’ve got some initial business lined up before you take the freelance plunge, because while it’s always a good idea to keep marketing and actively soliciting work, if you have none and can find none, your brilliant freelance career can’t last very long!
And finally, here’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my 17-plus years of freelancing: if you have to choose between sitting idle and taking on work that’s going to lose you money, keep sitting. If you’re going to lose money anyway, why not do it looking for new work, instead of knocking yourself out working on something that’s going to bring you financial losses when all is said and done. This is a tough lesson, though: I have to relearn this one myself at about 5-7 year intervals when the work flow slows to a crawl. I hope I don’t have to learn it again, ever!]]>
This turns out to be a little trickier than it might appear upon first consideration. To some extent, this stems from the different interests of the three different constituencies involved in looking for and pondering IT certification information. As far as we can tell EVERYBODY wants to know the following:
Beyond that interests diverge pretty widely and wildly. IT professionals (and prospective certification holders) want to know lots of nuts and bolts details about each credential, including:
Hiring managers, on the other hand, are more interested in answers to the following questions:
And finally, technical recruiters (and in house placement and HR professionals) have their own specific interests, too:
I am sure there are lots of other questions of interest to these constituencies, too, but I’m scratching my head and trying to come up with them. If you have ideas or suggestions to share, please post a comment to this blog, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to flesh this list out more fully, in large part to help Anne how to add to and grow her already terrific database of IT certification programs and credentials, and to help her better contextualize that information.]]>
Notice the new recert requirement language at the bottom of this table!
Here’s what the fine print at the bottom says, verbatim, for those who may not be able to parse the preceding screenshot: “*Note that candidates who earn the MCPD: Windows Phone Developer certification will be required to show continued competence in this technology area by completing a recertification exam every two years.”
And there you have the first concrete and irrefutable evidence that a new era for MS certification is dawning. I’m contacting folks in MS Learning to get such information as they may be willing to divulge about how this will fold into the MCTS, MCITP, MCM, and other Microsoft certifications over time. Very interesting!]]>
I just took a peek at your edtittel.com site and read your latest blog post, and I have to say I am right there with you. I think IT certification is ripe for a comeback. In fact I approached several certification program managers about that a few months ago (my 2011 certification vendor initiative), got extremely positive feedback, followed by no movement. I think the politics are stifling things substantially. Plus, people are just overworked like crazy and the big picture is getting lost in that.
You know I have always believed in the value of IT certification, and I still do. Recently I am hot on the trail of some fresh ideas and projects and doing whatever I can to bust IT certification back into common vision again and earn some $ in the process while helping people succeed with IT careers. Of course I am overworked and understaffed like everyone else, but anyway, I just want to share with you that I agree with your sentiment as you expressed in that 8/7 posting.
To me this moment can be a turning point for IT certification – or it can be a missed opportunity. Which do you think it will be?
Martinez makes some good points in her e-mail (reproduced with her permission, in exchange for an answer that you will find posted on her Website in the near future). For one thing, I’m glad to hear my own personal experience that things are picking up in the Certification Game vindicated from somebody else who’s even more plugged into that world than I am. For another, I share her trepidation that this could possibly be a cusp when certification could take a bounce going further, but I also recognize the possibility that things might subside into somnolescence once again, with no genuine bounce in the offing. And alas, in the wake of the recent market shenanigans and the S&P downgrade of US Government credit after a less-than-stellar political process to stave off default, her remarks about politics getting in the way are too true to be good.
I’m inclined to be optimistic and to see things brightening up. I’ve seen evidence from CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, and even VMware that new certifications keep popping up, while old familiar programs keep getting spiffed up and polished to keep pace with current tools and technologies. Let’s hope the publishers, practice test vendors, and other elements of the aftermarket will soon feel this swell of activity and confidence, and that IT will once again start to rise. It’s sometime to wish upon a star for, anyway…]]>
Data Center Unified Computing
Data Center Networking Infrastructure
Data Center Application Services
Data Center Storage Networking
If you burrow down deeper into these credentials (all the preceding links are live, because I cut’n'pasted that copy directly from the aforecited Cisco Web page), you’ll find these credentials to be much more open to third party presence, tools, and technologies than some of the more mainline credentials (CCNA, CCNP, and so forth) might initially appear to the untutored eye. But such an impression is not only incorrect, it does Cisco the injustice of thinking them one-sided, partisan, or blind to other players in the marketplace.
Thus, for example, the Unified Computing credentials put strong emphasis on VMware for virtualization, to the point of requiring candidates to earn the VCP (VMware Certified Professional) 3 or 4 (with 5 surely to be added soon, as the VCP 5 exam goes live on August 29, 2011). Other of these specialists certs may not require third-party credentials to play on their learning field, but they certainly all expect candidates to be aware that there’s plenty more than Cisco gear in most modern data centers, and to be ready, willing, and able to work with everything they find there.
Given the rise of the cloud to a pinnacle of important in the IT world, and need to interact with (or even work in) data centers as part and parcel of everyday IT practice, I’m glad to see more credentials emerging that focus on these buzzing hives of Internet and computing activity. These Cisco specialist certs are a good way to dive into this area, especially for those corporations and organizations with big investments in Cisco infrastructure components and technologies.]]>
NPR Headline for AP Story on Flash Mobe Robberies
More disturbingly, the AP story includes this statement: “The National Retail Federation said 10 percent of 106 companies it surveyed reported being targeted in the last year by groups of thieves using flash mob tactics.” In the paragraph you can also read this snippet “…the federation…advises retailers to monitor social media networks and report planned heists to the police.”
Wow! That’s a pretty tall order, and not at all something that most retail operators have hitherto included in their budgeting or risk analyses. My guess is that this will be a case where technology can come to the rescue to some extent, by scanning Facebook, Twitter, and so forth (though what this could do for the Blackberry communications favored in some of the recent UK riots is not completely clear to me) to look for occurrence and higher frequencies of specific store mentions. We may have to get used to spontaneous store closings or restricted access to retail outlets as and when untoward social media activities alert retailers and law enforcement of impending flash mob robberies. I guess this is just another unforeseen and (this time) unpleasant side effect of instant communication and ubiquitous networking!]]>