April 12, 2013 2:45 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
I came across a very interesting new post on the Microsoft Learning Born to Learn blog this morning. Entitled “New Microsoft Office Specialist Exams Offer Real World Testing,” it explains how the latest generation of Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams has been extensively reworked to more effectively plumb the depth and breadth of an exam-taker’s knowledge of the related Office Applications being tested. For what I’m about to explain, that applies only to MS Office and MS Excel for the time being, but it’s a very interesting and potentially telling change to the exam approach that has ruled until these exams were rolled out recently.
Aside: The Power of the Bottom of the Pyramid
Unlike most other Microsoft certs, however, the MOS program — and the primary MS entry-level technical certs known as the Microsoft Technology Associate, or MTA — is not directly under Microsoft’s control. The company has delegated these programs (which significantly outnumber the remaining credentials under direct MS control) to Certiport, a Pearson VUE company. Their MOS page indicates that “…more than 1 million MOS exams are taken every year in over 140 countries…” and I suspect the number of MTA exams is probably in the one-quarter to one-half million range yearly as well, and growing quickly now that these credentials have been opened up to the general public through Prometric (another Pearson VUE arm). In fact, Certiport shines at the bottom of many certification ladders (which are really best thought of as pyramids or ziggurats, since those solid shapes effectively represent the notion that the higher you climb, the fewer exams are taken and certifications conferred) and also offers entry-level HP, Adobe, Autodesk, Intuit, IC3, and even CompTIA fundamentals credentials.
There’s always lots of exam action at the bottom of the pyramid.
So What’s New with the Word and Excel 2013 Exams?
In a word: coherence. MOS exams have long been action oriented where test takers are presented with formatted chunks of text and asked to create the same thing inside an input window, with all the usual menus and keyboard controls associated with the application(s) being tested at their disposal. This time around, that principal informs the entire exam, as this longish quote from the afore-cited Born to Learn blog post indicates:
“…the new format for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams is a complete departure from anything that’s been used before. You are given a blank document, and shown a picture of sample document, and must reproduce that document exactly (and I mean exactly) using the program being tested (only Word and Excel are available right now). You get 50 minutes. If you produce the document exactly, you pass; if not, you fail. They don’t care how you arrive at the results; it’s the results that count.”
The idea is to present exam-takers with something challenging but also something that represents a typical workaday task for those who make these productivity tools stand up and bark for a living. And of course, that also means the curriculum and training materials to prepare candidates for these exams have adapted to follow suit. Professor James G. Lengel of Hunter College (the author of the blog post, and an early trainer for the new-format exams) explains these changes as follows:
“If we want our curriculum to mesh well with the approach taken in the exams, we’ll have to provide more real-world, from scratch, problem solving tasks, and we’ll have to provide plenty of practice in reproducing sample documents exactly. And focus on the new tools available in Office 2013 — if you try to build the document in the exam the old way, you’ll never have time to complete it.”
This is a great way to help motivate students to really learn these applications, and to tackle and master the many powerful tools that they make available to their users. Like Dr. Lengel, I see this change to the MOS approach as very positive and ultimately, as empowering for those who acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to pass such exams. Not only will they be ready to use these tools in the workplace, they will have gained some true-to-life experience in performing the kinds of tasks that the workplace will demand of them, day in and day out.
April 9, 2013 8:05 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
As the economic situation continues to improve slowly, by fits and starts, I’m starting to hear a growing chorus of doom and gloom from various pundits and gurus. Their basic point may be well-taken, and could indeed ultimately turn out to be correct, but it boils down to something like “So things are improving a little bit. So what? Soon, the bottom will fall out.” I tend to treat such analyses as a variation on the old Chicken Little theme (“The Sky Is Falling!”), but that doesn’t mean there can’t be at least a germ of truth in such gleefully dire predictions.
- Hussman shows what happens when QE gets injected into the US economy.
Let me offer two recent examples for your consideration:
1. Matt Clinch, CNBC, “Why US Jobs Market Is Going to Get a Lot Worse,” April 8, 2013.
2. Henry Blodget, Business Insider, “HUSSMAN: Wake Up, People — The Economy’s Lousy and Earnings Are Going to Tank,” April 8, 2013.
To what extent this genre of alarmism is simply calculated to attract eyeballs on the Web, I leave as an exercise to the reader. But both stories make some valid points, particularly when it comes to pointing out that the Fed’s policy of “quantitative easing” may be pumping lots of money into the markets, but that this doesn’t necessarily affect important fundamentals such as consumer and business confidence, which leads to more spending on the demand side and a greater willingness to hire more employees to help keep with the resulting increases in demand for their goods and services.
There’s a growing and uneasy consensus that recent manipulations of the capital markets over the past 5 or so years has removed too much of the natural elasticity in the economy, preventing it from going through its normal ups and downs. Of course, that happened because high-level economists and politicians decided they didn’t want to risk the results of a prolonged free-fall to plumb uncharted market lows when the market was headed into the Stygian depths of depression. But now that things are approaching something we can all recognize as more or less normal, artificial manipulation of the money supply and the markets is becoming increasingly vexing and troublesome (I’m voicing what I perceive as the underlying beliefs behind such sentiments, not acting as a spokesmodel for or even representing myself as an adherent to same).
Alas, I think we’re just dealing with the peripatetic nature of market and employment movements. A little bit up, a little bit down, some occasional sideways moves, and a lot of action on a small scale adds up to larger trends. My own personal belief is that confidence — both on the consumer and business side — is an important control over markets and the overall economy. Bring confidence up, and everything goes along with it; knock confidence down, and everything recedes apace.
Right now, our employment and economic indicators include a rich and confusing mixture of contrary and even contradictory signals. Some things are up, others are down, and nobody has a clear sense of direction be it either positive or negative. I have to believe this indicates a pattern typical of slow growth and slow decline where people and the markets can’t yet decide which way things are going. Do I see this as cause for concern: Yes, but only moderate concern. Do I see this as a harbinger for the Apocalypse? By no means! And remember, there’s always time to panic later, when the bottom really does fall out. For now, I remain convinced that we’re in an extended holding pattern, as confidence seeks to determine which way its arrow is pointing most strongly: up or down? Thus, sideways for the moment is the best any of us can foretell…
April 6, 2013 7:51 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Before I dig into this interesting – and free – offering available from TrainSignal, I must disclose that I have worked for them in the past, on a lengthy white paper devoted to best practices for IT Cert Preparation. However, I went to work for them because I respect and admire what they do, and so I can submit the free materials on offer here as additional proof that my evaluation of the company is entirely justified. But professional ethics require me to share my past history with them, so now you know!
Sample illustration from first foundations module (originally from VMware).
TrainSignal hired noted virtualization expert David Davis (who holds both CCIE and vExpert certifications from Cisco and VMware, respectively) to compile and deliver this 8-part series of videos on the general subject of Desktop Virtualization and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). These videos are collectively entitled Intro To Desktop Virtualization, and all are available on YouTube. Here are links to, and information about each of the 8 lessons:
Lesson 1. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (basic overview of current IT desktop set-up and maintenance, primary motivation for use of VDI)
Lesson 2. What is Desktop Virtualization and VDI? (basic definitions, concepts, and technology for VDI)
Lesson 3: Desktop Virtualization vs. Terminal Services (compare and contrast terminal services to desktop virtualization, based on MS RDP versus common VDI approaches)
Lesson 4: Remote Desktop Services (RSD) in Windows Server 2008 R2 (Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, RDS, not to be confused with RDP, is based on Windows Server 2008 R2)
Lesson 5: Citrix’s XenDesktop (covers Citrix XenDesktop virtualization environment works with XenServer, Hyper-V, and vSphere).
Lesson 6: VMware’s View 5 (VMware view works on with vSphere, but offers interesting, powerful capabilities)
Lesson 7: Desktop Virtualization Certifiications (about Desktop Virtualization Certifications from VMware, Citrix, and MS)
Lesson 8: Installing Citrix VDI-in-a-Box (try-it link provides free access to a standalone VDI for vSphere, Hyper-V, and XenServer)
Though the material is a little bit dated (for example, it references VCP 4 rather than VCP 5-DV, the most current VMware Certified Professional credential), there’s still a lot of good content here. It’s a great entry point for those looking to understand the basics of today’s technical and commercial VDI landscape in IT. Highly recommended, and the price is right, too!
April 5, 2013 1:46 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Today’s the day that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment numbers for the preceding month. And despite more bullish forecasts from numerous economists of jobs in the 150,000-180,000 range for March, 2013, it looks like ADP’s earlier data, which suggested something under 100,000 were correct this time. The official number for March is 88,000 with overall unemployment still at 7.6 percent. The interesting remark in this most recent report reads: “Employment grew in professional and business services and in health care but declined in retail trade.” (For links to the report and tables see the Note at the end of this blog post, please.)
Last month’s new jobs show a drop of over 150,000 vs. February numbers.
A quick dive into the numbers for the Information category in Table A-14 shows that unemployment in one of IT’s home sectors continues trending downward: whereas total unemployment in March 2012 for this sector stood at 8 percent (232,000 unemployed total), for March 2013 that rate had declined to 5.2 percent (145,000 unemployed total). But in another core area for IT professionals (mostly those working in consulting or services companies) — namely, Professional and Business services — unemployment still remains above the national average. It was 9.7 percent in March 2012 (1.5 million unemployed total), and 8.9 percent in March 2013 (just under 1.4 million unemployed total). And finally, the self-employed niche shows a slight uptick, up from 5.5 percent (543,000 unemployed total) in March 2012, versus 5.6 percent (537,000 unemployed total, a number that reflects some departures of workers from this sector) in March 2013.
What does this all tell us about the state of employment in the USA, and coming prospects for IT workers? First and foremost, it maintains the ongoing observation that our economy is growing, but not only slowly overall, but also by fits and starts. Last month’s big numbers of 236,000 buoyed enthusiasm — and the markets — with a perception that recovery might be accelerating; this month’s much smaller numbers (just under 38 percent of last month’s) show that the recovery is not on a steady trajectory. I’m sure the markets will react negatively to this understanding. It may also dampen some of the optimism that led forecasters to predict accelerating growth in IT jobs for the second half of 2013 as well. One thing’s for sure: it still remains a guessing game to decide when the economy has “gotten better,” and when employment has returned to a normal footing. In the meantime my constant mantra for IT workers remains “Be calm. Stay put. Wait it out.”
[Important note: For the current month -- March, 2013, in this case -- the US BLS always uses the same link for its most recent Employment Situation Summary. Until the next report is released in early May, this link remains valid. After that you must turn to their archives to find the report for March, 2013, instead.]
April 4, 2013 2:07 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Earlier this week, I read an article from a long-time friend and colleague, Cheryl Conner, at Forbes magazine. It’s entitled “‘I Quit!’ How to Handle a Resignation With Class.” The story recounts an interesting experience that a professional recruiter had when she decided she’d had enough of what Conner called “…a terrible company culture” and not only announced her departure, but also accompanied it with what Conner delicately refers to as “…unvarnished feedback in a letter she shared with me and the rest of the world.” This article is eminently worth reading, and I encourage you to check it out, if you want to read more about how an apparently talented and motivated person managed to make a graceful exit and also unburden herself of some important observations and information, however unwelcome it might have been to her soon-to-be-former employers.
If and when you leave a job, be careful about the feedback you provide as you exit.
[Image credit: Shutterstock 53544523]
After you’ve been in the workforce for a decade or longer, even if you’ve been with the same employer the whole time, there will have been at least one or two occasions on which the thought of leaving — be it for greener pastures, less stress, different circumstances, a better boss or whatever — will no doubt have crossed your mind. When making an exit, the temptation to start singing the old Johnny Paycheck country standard, “Take this job and shove it” has been known to crop up in more cases than any of us would probably admit, with additional lyrics to embroider the circumstances for each individual departure from that scene.
However satisfying it might be to unburden yourself of all your perceived slights, wrongs, mistreatment, under-appreciation, and so on and so forth, here are some important things to consider as you ponder the bracing scent of burning bridges:
1. You’re going to have to include that position, and identify that employer as part of your work history. As you hit the job trail again (unless you’re lucky enough to already have an offer in hand when you quit), that position will be at the very top of the “Prior Work Experience” section in your resume. Count on this, then: that prospective employers will be checking in with this company to see what they can learn about you, your skills and knowledge, your work ethic, and whatever else they can find out. Sure: most companies’ official policy is simply to confirm position and dates of employment, but personal networks can make it possible for deeper connections to elicit additional information “off the record.” Are you really willing to take the chance that this might come back and bite you?
2. Is it really about sharing important feedback and useful observations, or about venting your spleen at the way you’ve been (mis)treated? If it’s the former — as it was for the subject of Conner’s story in Forbes — then it may indeed be worthwhile to go public with your feedback. Otherwise, you may be telling more about yourself and your psyche than about your soon-to-be-former employer. Nobody likes whiners, cry-babies, or spoilsports. If you can’t stop yourself from taking this route, don’t do it publicly until you’ve done it privately with close friends and mentors, and received their blessing to go ahead.
3. Why not let bygones be bygones? If you can learn from your own experiences, and take that improved knowledge and understanding with you to your next job, could that possibly be enough to sustain you going forward? In this day and age the old adages about “You are your own brand” and “You work for yourself, no matter who signs your paycheck” are worth balancing against the satisfaction that you might gain from spilling the beans about a bad time working for Company X.
In researching her Forbes piece, Conner talked to other placement professionals about the pros and cons of providing feedback to an employer as part of the job exit process, and shared some interesting recommendations. First, it makes sense to share feedback with the employer, but will probably have the best effect — assuming that a change to a “terrible corporate culture” is the aim of providing such feedback in the first place — if delivered in private to a trusted boss, executive, or HR professional with whom the departing employee has some kind of ongoing personal relationship that will help to offset the difficulties in fielding strong and negative feedback with a perception of the integrity and worth of the person who’s providing that feedback. Second, numerous pros observed that this kind of thing — especially when aired publicly — has the potential to rebound on the person who provides negative feedback in a negative fashion. Remarks like “a red flag to any potential employer” and concerns about perception of anger or a lack of self-control were all voiced by some pretty senior placement people. Third, if you want your feedback to make an impact, it’s essential to keep things factual, unemotional, and to be as tactful (rather than blunt or painfully direct) in stating feedback as possible.
In short, if you have to unburden yourself as part of what it takes to maintain your sense of self (and self-worth) and to provide a stimulus to make positive changes for those your leave behind, it’s a good idea to share your feedback on your way out. But you should do so in a way that will maximize the chances of making a difference in the wake of your departure: be tactful, find a high-level champion for your ideas, remain positive and professional, and deliver the message through appropriate channels even if you also go public with same. On the other hand, there should be extremely compelling reasons for you to take such an extraordinary and possible career-limiting move. Otherwise, it probably is best to let bygones be just that, and to use what you learned to steer clear of such situations in the future.
March 31, 2013 9:32 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
In this case BTL stands for Born to Learn, the many-voiced and very active blog over at Microsoft Learning. Just last week (March 26), regular poster and MS Learning employee Veronica Sopher published a guest post from MCP community member Steven R. McEvoy, whose claim to fame is to have taken 31 Microsoft exams since 2007 (plus another 6 CompTIA and also 3 Apple exams). His post is entitled “6 Reasons Why I Certify” and is worth reading in its entirety, especially if my brief summary here excites further interest or curiosity.
A veritable spectrum of IT certs adds interest and value to your career and its prospects.
Image credit: Shutterstock 105579221
His six reasons are both short and compelling, a rare and beautiful combination in a world of overblown rhetoric and omnipresent hype:
1. I love to learn.
2. To stay current.
3. Because of new responsibilities at work.
4. Because of new technologies I manage.
5. Because if I do not plan on writing the exam I won’t get around to it.
6. For fun.
As I look this list over, I don’t see much missing from his list of “reasons why.” About the only other items I can think of in fact could include only a few items, such as “Curiosity,” “My job requires me to earn this certification,” “My employer pays for IT certifications,” “I need to develop related skills and knowledge,” or “To help research a possible new technology direction.” Simply, put McEvoy’s list does a great and fairly complete job of covering the majority of good reasons why IT professionals might decide to pursue and earn a technical certification of some kind. And if his list isn’t complete enough for you, I hope my additions will indeed round them out fully and fairly.
And of course, there’s always the career development angle to consider as well. Countless salary and job satisfaction surveys for IT professional seek to demonstrate increases in pay and responsibility, improved prospects for promotion or new jobs, and enhanced job satisfaction for those who obtain a nice portfolio of IT certifications, and then do the necessary to keep them up-to-date. I just thought it might be nice to step back from the rat race that so often comes with pursuit of IT certification and learning, and to reflect on the reasons why we jump into the meat grinder, and to consider that the trials and tribulations might eventually end in some rewards.
March 29, 2013 9:00 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
When I first got into the IT certification game back in the mid-1990s, there were a handful of online properties that really ruled that world. In the past decade, however, the old guard has been slowly crumbling into oblivion, and falling out of the game. I was on the masthead of one of those properties — namely Certification Magazine – from 1996 until perhaps 2005 or 2006, so that kept me from getting too involved with another of them — namely CertCities.com. CertMag is still shuffling along gamely, but they’re down to one or two articles a month, with not much traffic or traction anymore, either.
For a long time, CertCities.com was a major IT cert news and info outlet. No more.
For the past two or three years, Emmett Dulaney has provided the only regular signs of life at CertCities, and kept on posting articles monthly long after all other signs of activity ceased. I just paid a visit to CertCities for the first time since January, 2013, and noticed that his end-of-month post there has not been followed up since. It’s been years since they’ve done any IT Pro certification wishlists, top paying certification surveys, or awards for best programs, providers, writers, and so forth. Perhaps it’s an excess of nostalgia, or just some kind of scheduling conflict on his part, but I can’t help but see the final winding down of this once market-leading certification portal in Dulaney’s failure to post either last month or this one.
Given the undeniable notion that “nothing lasts forever” and the well-known principle of “Internet years” (which, if I understand them correctly, are more like dog years than human ones), the patient is at least comatose, if not moribund outright. So long, CertCities: I remember your heyday, and I’m sorry to see you go. Even if Becky Waring and her crew would never let me into the fold, even after I bailed on Cert Magazine (after they tried to cut my compensation rate below what they first paid in 1996 or 1997), I still miss their content and coverage. Of the old guard from those days, only Anne Martinez (at GoCertify.com) and myself are still working the trenches every week, if not every day.
March 26, 2013 5:15 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Starting today, there are no longer two classes of Cisco Certified Network Associates around. Why do I say this? Because until today’s announcement, parties interested in earning some CCNA flavors — such as Security and Wireless, for example — actually first had to earn a plain-vanilla CCNA, and then follow it up with another exam to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in a technology area other than routing and switching. As of this morning, March 26, 2013, that is no longer the case.
Today, this is what the CCNA program looks like:
- The old plain vanilla CCNA is being relabeled as CCNA Routing and Switching.
- The requirements for CCNA Voice, CCNA Security, CCNA Wireless, CCNA SP Operations, and CCDA will be changed to — as Cisco states in its press release — “better align with industry job roles of today and in the future.”
- For CCNA Routing and Switching and the predecessor cert, CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician), the training curriculum and exam content for the ICND1, ICND2, and CCNA Composite exams has been altered to put more emphasis on IPv6, updated Cisco IOS software versions, and on troubleshooting topics, tools, and techniques.
The simplest way to explain the change is to observe that all Associate Cisco credentials will henceforth require taking only two exams to meet requirements (no more extra exam for those who’d like to jump straight into specialty areas; this had already been foreshadowed with the CCNA Data Center, which has required two independent exams since its introduction late last year). The CCDA change going forward is to make the CCENT (which requires exam ICND1) a pre-requisite for that credential.
Except for the CCDA (which imposes the CCENT pre-requisite requirement effective October 13, 2013) the changes to the CCNA credentials are available today for those who wish to take the new or revised exams instead of the prior curriculum and exam elements. Three self-study products are already available in the online Cisco Learning Network Store for the revised Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification: Cisco Learning Labs for ICND1 v2.0, Cisco Certification Practice Exam for ICND1 (100-101), and Cisco E-Learning for ICND1 v2.0. Also, labs, practice exams and e-learning for ICND2 v2.0 are expected to be released at the Cisco Learning Network Store some time late in May, 2013. Check the CCNA page at Cisco Learning for all the details, which indicates that the old CCNA exams will no longer be available after September 30, 2013, and provides exam IDs for new versions of CCNA composite (200-120), ICND1 (100-101), and ICND2 (200-101).
Here’s what the new exam slate looks like, plucked straight from the slide deck Cisco used to pre-brief me on these changes last week:
New slate for two-exam-only CCNA versions.
This also explains why Cisco found it necessary to re-work the ICND1 and ICND2 exams: some important content from ICND2 had to make its way into ICND1, so that CCNAs in Security, Voice, and Wireless would still get the topical coverage on base technologies relevant to their workaday routine without having to take ICND2 any longer. Injection of IPv6 content and coverage of new IOS versions simply reflect ongoing changes to workplace networking that will likewise affect everyone who toils in this area. Individuals who already hold these certifications don’t have to worry about the new requirements until their three-year renewal cycle comes up. Then, those switching to the new curriculum for the first time will have the option of retaking the ICND1 or their specialty exam to re-up; after that it’s far more likely they’ll be asked to re-take the specialty exam instead (or meet continuing education requirements as another possible alternative).
This is big news, because it lets IT professionals interested in specializing in security, wireless, and Voice obtain their CCNA certifications without first having to earn a plain-vanilla CCNA, and then take one or two additional exams in their specialty area. It puts them on the same footing as those who already sought to specialize in Data Center (and Data Center Operation) and Video, because they’ve always had to take and pass only two exams to earn their credentials. I think this change is very much for the better, and should make it easier for more junior level IT professionals to start moving into their chosen areas of technical specialization more quickly, easily, and cheaply. Employers can’t help but like the shortened training and learning cycle this offers as well — with reduced time to certification and training/exam costs along the way, for those who subsidize employee certification and training.
March 24, 2013 8:42 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
The old saw tells us that the best things in life are free. By that metric, IT certification is generally excluded from consideration, as the vast majority of such credentials require spending money on a certification exam of some kind, as well as study materials. In some cases, certification sponsors even require candidates to pony up for mandatory classroom training just to qualify to take some certification exam or another. While it is very much the exception and not at all the rule, there are some free certifications available. In a recent article for his excellent Website ITCertificationMaster.com, Miroslaw Burnejko hits pay dirt with a story entitled “3 The Best FREE Online Courses with Certificates.” In this story, he points to the following three certifications as not just free but worth pursuing anyway (and don’t forget that your time and effort are worth something, even if you don’t have to expend any hard, cold cash):
Hurricane Electric offers an interesting, detailed, multi-level IPv6 cert ladder.
1. Hurricane Electric’s IPv6 Certification Program:
HE is a leading North American (and Global) ISP, and one of a handful that offers companies a variety of technologies (including a very nice IPv6 Tunnel Broker, that lets you manage a native IPv6 connection to HE through another ISP, even if they themselves support only IPv4) to permit them to establish a native IPv6 presence on the Internet. Though Burnejko points specifically to the pinnacle cert in the HE program — the IPv6 Sage — their offerings come in six levels, where earning each one requires reading and experimentation, and then passing an increasingly complex and challenging series of labs exams to climb to the next rung on their certification ladder. Everyone starts out as a Newbie, then individuals climb to Explorer, Enthusiast, Administrator, Professional, and Guru, before ascending to the Sage level). I blogged about this program back in 2011 (“Hurricane Electric Free IPv6 Certification“) as I was researching the next edition of our college textbook Guide to TCP/IP (4th edition).
Backup Academy teaches how to back up VMs in various hypervisors.
2. Backup Academy‘s Free Online Cert (Sponsor: Veeam)
Backup Academy offers a collection of 16 videos on a broad range of topics, all centered around the general subject of backing up virtual machines, and protecting the data and capabilities of virtualized environments and infrastructures. These efforts include some pretty big names in the field, such as Greg Shields, Brien Posey, Rick Vanover, Eric Siebert, Elias Khasner, and Andrea Mauro, among others. Veeam also offers a helpful glossary of technical terms, plus copies of the slide decks used to create the videos (with podcast versions also available for auditioning on mobile devices). When they’re ready candidates can take a certification exam, and those who score 75% or higher will earn a “Virtual Backup Expert” certificate. Good stuff!
Complete 10 Lessons, Take a Test, Get a Free Certificate!
3. CloudU: Free Cloud Computing Coverage from Rackspace
Back in 2012, RackSpace recruited cloud computing legend Ben Kepes to assemble a free training program to teach interested IT professionals about cloud computing. The 10 video lessons he assembled cover everything from the basics of cloud computing, to their economics, how the cloud computing stack is assembled using the standard building blocks of software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service, IaaS), and more. He also covers topics related to the migration of data centers into the cloud, cloud security, planning a move to the cloud, running a business in the cloud, and various ways to approach cloud delivery mechanisms, open versus closed clouds, and how to decide which applications (and data) to keep in house and which to migrate into the cloud. After viewing each lesson, candidates must take a quiz on what they’ve seen and heard in the video and on the related whitepaper for the current topic; after completing all 10 lessons and quizzes, candidate must then earn a minimum score of 80% on a 50-question exam drawn from the end-of-lesson quizzes. The final exam may be taken repeatedly to earn a passing score, after which candidates earn a CloudU Certificate.
I’ve got to hand it to Burnejko for pulling such a nice slate of freebies together. I certainly can’t think of any better free IT cert offerings available right now, and I’ve been racking my brains to come up with others. The only possible competition comes when established cert sponsors — such as Microsoft or Cisco — invite those who register with them as subject matter experts to take free beta exams. Those who pass them will get a leg up on related certifications, but it’s kind of an exclusive club, and is certainly not available to the general public. The items covered here, however, are free to one and all, and worth pursuing for those with professional interests in the various topics and technologies they touch.