Last Monday (9/26/2011) it was my pleasure to speak with Joe to discuss Brocade’s past, present, and future certification plans. I was very interested to learn that nearly 12,000 individuals hold some form of Brocade accreditation (not all of their credentials are formally identified as “certifications”) and that nearly 20,000 such credentials have been granted since their program kicked off nearly 10 years ago. Here’s a screen cap from the company’s certification overview brochure (PDF):
I had to reduce this image significantly to get it to fit the blog window width, but you can grab the afore-linked PDF and consult page 4 to see the full-size original. The important things to notice are three tracks and three levels for a 9-cell matrix, which I’ll reproduce in a table:
|Brocade Certification Program Overview|
|Level||Certified Professional FICON Track 2010||Brocade Certified Professional Data Center Track 2012||Brocade Certified Professional Internetworking Track 2010|
|Elite Level (Advanced)||Brocade Certified Architect for FICON
Brocade Certified Fabric Professional
|Brocade Certified Fabric Designer||Brocade Certified Network Professional
Brocade Certified Layer 4-7 Professional
|Premiere Level (Intermediate)||Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator||Brocade Certified SAN Manager
Brocade Certified Fabric Professional
Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator
|Brocade Certified Network Engineer
Brocade Certified Layer 4-7 Engineer
|Select Level (Beginner)||Brocade Accredited FICON Specialist
Brocade Accredited Data Center Specialist
|Brocade Accredited Data Center Specialist
Brocade Accredited Server Connectivity Specialist
|Brocade Accredited Internetworking Specialist|
As you can see, actual certifications don’t kick in until you get to the Intermediate level and into administrator, professional, manager, and engineer job roles. All the entry-level items are designated as “accredited specialist” credentials instead. Brocade’s technology focus areas include SAN and high speed networking with an emphasis on both IP and Fibre Channel based storage networking technologies. This is very interesting stuff, and I’ll keep digging into it monthly for the foreseeable future. Please stay tuned for additional posts on the program and its contents, or visit the main Brocade certification page for more information.]]>
This will be the third revision upcoming for our CISSP Study Guide (currently in its 5th edition) in as many years. Looks like the continued popularity of this certification is spurring significant attention to its timeliness and coverage, with concomitant impact on the amount of change to the exam’s content. Here we go again! Shon Harris and Microsoft will rev their book just after and just before New Year’s, respectively, and Mike Chapple, Michael Stewart, and I will be huffing and puffing to keep up.]]>
About two months ago, I was contacted by James Alan Miller, the site editor for a new Tom’s Website, called Tom’sITPro(short for Tom’s IT Professional) a new branded site for the Tom’s empire (now owned by French media company BestofMedia, and with sites in many languages around the world (French, English, German, Spanish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, Italian, Mandarin, and perhaps more, because it’s hard to tell how many languages are supported in toto). After a quick and happy agreement that I would serve as their “certification guy” — in much the same way that I write and blog regularly on certification topics for PearsonITCertification.com, and also blog on certification right here — I embarked on a series of nearly two dozen articles on a wide range of certification topics for the site.
Today, I’m very pleased to announce that my first Tom’sITPro article posted early this morning, entitled “Training Options for IT Pros.” Check it out to find my coverage of various IT training companies that cover the whole certification spectrum, or those that specialize in various subject areas (vendor-specific programs, information security, computer forensics, and more). I hope you’ll also tune into this great new site, and add it to your favorites as you search for general business IT news, information, reviews, and, of course, certification coverage from yours truly.]]>
Here are the high-level results, lifted straight from Don’s blog:
- Most respondents (84%) were neutral or positive about requiring candidates to demonstrate continued competence. 65% of respondents were either positive or very positive.
- When we asked how often someone should need to recertify, most people recommended between 2 and 3 years.
- Requiring an individual to pass an exam specific to that certification was rated the most preferred and most relevant activity for demonstrating continued competence.
- The vast majority of respondents (93%) answered that recertification would have either no impact or a positive impact on the value of the program. 75% of respondents felt that it would have a positive or very positive impact.
My own follow up conversation with Don also included some further interesting highlights as well. First and foremost, this introduction of recerts for the two credentials already mentioned (MCPD on Winodws Phone Developer and Azure Developer) do not necessarily indicate that any and all MS credentials will become subject to automatic expiration dates and mandatory renewals in the immediate future. It’s certainly a possibility that some will become subject to renewal, but there’s a lot of thinking, research, and planning that will be necessary before any dominoes start falling over. Second, MS hasn’t ruled out continuing education in lieu of re-examination for any certs, though re-certification examinations certainly do have a lot in common with earlier upgrade examinations for the MCSE and MCSA credentials. Third, it’s very important to understand that most respondents to the survey, and most employers, all agree that recertification adds value to existing credentials, and will probably boost the standing and value of the newer Microsoft certifications as well.
I think this is a very positive development myself, and that it shows the continuing maturation and evolution of the Microsoft certification program and its growing portfolio of credentials. And with CompTIA just having switched over to regular recertification for its credentials as well that means that the Top 3 programs –namely, Cisco, Microsoft, and CompTIA—all make recertification part of their standard way of doing business. I have to think this is all to the good for IT professionals, the companies that hire them, and the recruiters or headhunters who seek out qualified IT talent for placement in IT positions.]]>
Here are some highlights, straight from the Robert Half press release on this latest report:
- The net 6 percent increase in anticipated IT hiring activity is up two points from a net 4 percent increase in hiring activity projected last quarter.
- Ninety-two percent of CIOs are confident in their companies’ growth prospects in the next three months, up five-points from last quarter.
- Eighty-eight percent of technology executives rated the confidence of their firms investing in IT projects in the fourth quarter a 3 or higher on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the most optimistic.
- IT security and networking professionals are in greatest demand right now, according to survey respondents.
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of CIOs said it’s challenging to find skilled professionals today, up eighteen points from the previous quarter.
Hmmm: very interesting! Here’s what I take away from this information: First, IT hiring plans are ever so slightly on the upswing. Second, even though growth projections are decidedly optimistic, hiring plans are not very aggressive at all. Third, a lack of bullishness also shows in the middle-of-the road rating for confidence in upcoming IT investment for the current quarter. Fourth, security and networking are as important as ever (something that’s unlikely to change for the foreseeable future). Fifth, as the old saw goes “Good help is hard to find.” Maybe this is more a case of “no bad news is good news” though it’s not unwarranted to say “no big change means no big news,” either.
While both CertMag and Robert Half seem ebullient about this report, I’m not so sure it tells us to expect any significant changes in the IT hiring and activity climate through the end of 2011 (and probably, well into 2012 as well). I find myself repeating my old mantra “Hunker down. Stay put. Things have gotta get better sometime…” But when?]]>
Here’s a key snippet from that blog post that explains a bit more about what’s available and how it works:
What it is:
- Delivered by Microsoft Certified Trainers
- Sessions are delivered as webcasts
- Reviews the top technical issues that correspond to the questions that are most often missed on the certification exams
What it is not:
- This is not a free training class, but an opportunity for students who have already taken training, and want to make sure they are prepared to pass the certification exam.
Current Mentoring Topics:
- Azure Developers
- Exchange Server
- Lync Server
- Server Administrator
- SharePoint Server
- Web Developers
- Windows 7
- Windows 7 Developers
See the New Horizons Web page entitled “Confidence Before You Sit for the Exam” for more information, details, and program sign-up (registration required). Obviously, New Horizons thinks you’re going to like this offer so much you’ll come see them for a future course some time. My advice: take advantage of this while it lasts, if you’re taking any of the related MS exams. It’s almost too good to be true!]]>
Specifically, CompTIA endorses continuation of the halving of the Social Security payroll tax and write-offs for investments in computing equipment. As you’d expect, Mr. Thibodeaux also praises “… innovative ways to put people back to work, and advance training and education…” And likewise, it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to determine that CompTIA has something substantial to offer by way of certification, job preparation, and high-tech learning.
Mr. Thibodeaux also cites a need to fill 450,000 positions in high-tech right now, and an untold number of technology jobs in the future, then goes on to mention CompTIA’s discounts and special offers for returning US military veterans seeking to re-enter the civilian work force.
What I’d like to see is a plan for retraining the unemployed where the US Government helps propel them into high-tech training to help them re-enter the civilian work force, too. And while we’re at it, I’d like to see CompTIA offer the government a substantial (say 50%) discount on the costs of the exams those retrainees will need to get certified, and beat on their training partners to do likewise for training classes to help prepare them for those exams. And what the heck, why not give CompTIA and the training companies tax credits for those charitable contributions to getting unemployed Americans back to work.
There’s a jobs plan that I can relate to, and have to believe might actually do some good. Is anybody listening out there? What do you think?]]>
Another aspect to the President’s plan: a tax break of $4,000 for companies that hire individuals who have been unemployed for more than 6 months (according to the latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this means 43 percent of the unemployed population, which currently tops 15 million people). Other spending would extend existing unemployment benefits, boost support for public works, and provide aid to state and local governments to head off teacher layoffs. Total costs for all these suggested outlays: $447 B.
Economists are reacting positively to this plan with predictions for resulting new job creation ranging from one to two million new jobs as a result of the tax break. But predictably, Republicans are averse to any plans that involve additional spending without also providing offsetting sources of revenue. Given the current political climate, I give this plan a snowball’s chance in hell of being enacted as legislation. And even if the predictions prove true, reducing unemployment by 8-16% (from 9.1 to 8.4 or 7.7 percent) doesn’t strike me as a bold enough stroke.
If the President wants to dream big — and I think he should — I’d like to see more ambitious public works projects, more money (and work) for the chronic unemployed and underemployed minority populations in major metro areas, and some kind of “Newer Deal” for American citizens. If the Republicans are going to shoot it all down anyway, why not go for something really ambitious and meaningful instead of what economist Menzie Chin (University of Wisconsin) calls something that “merely makes up for the expiration of the president’s earlier $862 billion economic stimulus plan” (Chicago Sun Times, 9/8/2011).]]>
Martinez goes on to observe that the $100 fee is already in effect right now, but that the new CEHv7 exam won’t actually go live until October 1. If you’re already prepping for this exam, you can save quite a bit by accelerating your schedule to beat the deadline, but you’ll want to act fast: with such a powerful impetus, seats at Prometric or VUE testing centers for this exam in advance of that date are bound to fill up fast.
As for me, I’m not sure I like this maneuver on the EC-Council’s part. Though they do state that they “regret the inconvenience” of these changes on their CEH Web pages, they offer only the information that the course materials have been reworked and that they have invested “thousands of hours researching the latest trends and uncovering the cover techniques used by the underground community” (CEH Brochure, p. 2) to indirectly explain the price increase. When prices go up a little inflation and overhead are easy to invoke to explain such jumps; when costs double and new fees are levied, some form of direct acknowledgement and explanation seems to be in order. I don’t see anything like that from the EC-Council. I can only hope somebody in the organization will see this blog, and step forward to provide some more information. Without it, the move seems like nothing more than an outright profit grab, as does the $100 application fee.
What does this change tell you about the CEH? Its sponsoring organization (known as the EC-Council) obviously thinks a great deal of this exam. It also obviously wants to steer candidates into official training classes (most with price tags of $2,500 or higher) as evidenced by its $100 add-on application fee for those who want to challenge the exam directly. I’d urge such folks to meet and probably exceed the organization’s requirement for two or more years of information security related experience and to read over the Exam Eligibility Application Form carefully to make sure they can provide all of the requested information, and count on whomever the proffer as an employer reference to back up their assertions that they meet the organization’s background and experience requirements.]]>
So, what happened, you may ask? A whole lotta nothin’ as it turns out. Jobs created for the month were a big fat goose egg (zero, that is) with gains in healthcare and mining offset by losses in the information sector thanks to the huge group of Verizon workers who went out on a two-week strike in August. But lack of evidence of growth translates into a stagnant economy, one that’s right on the brink of shrinking, and thus falling back into a recession once again. Yes, that’s right: the dread “double-dip recession” now looks increasingly likely. Hence the expression of discontent and dissastisfaction in the stock markets round the world.
Against this backdrop, President Obama’s speech about jobs and the economy to the congress next Thursday, September 8, takes on added significance. Given the declining state of our infrastructure, especially our highways and bridges, I say let’s go ahead and spend some more money to improve those failing assets and put more people back to work.
And for us IT professionals, my mantra cannot (and apparently will not) change: “Hunker down. Be calm. Stay put. Wait for things to get better.” At least, after three years of more of the same, I can’t claim this isn’t a familair refrain. Sigh again.]]>