January 31, 2013 9:48 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
I couldn’t help but notice on Google+ yesterday that Mirek Burnejko over at ITCertificationMaster.com has updated his reasonably comprehensive compendium of cloud-oriented certifications: prosaically enough, it’s entitled “List of Cloud Certifications.” Since he last compiled this list 6 months ago, the number of sponsors has stayed fixed at an even dozen, but the total number of credentials has jumped from 29 to 48 (a 65% jump in the overall count).
Curiously enough, in my Top 5 IT Cloud Certs article for Tom’s IT Pro (published more than 6 months ago, on April 17, 2012) I included at least one credential — namely, the Licensed ZapThink Architect – that didn’t show up on Burnejko’s radar, and allude to a few others that likewise didn’t appear in his story, such as the Cisco CCDE which is starting to include ever more cloud emphasis in its coverage and content, and coverage for the CA AppLogic “Cloud Platform” (PDF document) that includes Certified Cloud Operator and Certified Cloud Architect credentials among its offerings.
Insubtantial and amorphous though it may be, for IT pros the cloud’s the place to be!
[Image Credit: Shutterstock 110633486]
This all makes me wonder what else might be out there in cloud certification land, so I’m probably going to have to wander out and see what else I can find sometime in the relatively near future. It also looks like I should contact the editorial staff at Tom’s IT Pro, and ask them if they’d like me to update the Top 5 piece from last year.
Burnejko recommends the CompTIA Cloud Essentials, MCSE: Private Cloud, the Oracle Certified Professional Database Cloud Administrator, and the VMware Certified Professional – Cloud (aka VCP-Cloud) as his top picks, where I drop the Oracle and VMware items in favor of an HP Cloud Architect cert, a raft of IBM and CloudSchool offerings, and the Licensed ZapThink Architect cert. I’m completely in agreement that the new MCSE: Private Cloud has a place in the Top 5, as does the VCP-Cloud, and need to do more research to see who gets the remaining 5th place among all the other possible contenders for this kind of survey. Should be interesting to poke around, and figure it all out!
January 30, 2013 3:29 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Last week, Microsoft announced the introduction of a new MCSD credential that focuses on application lifecycle management, often abbreviated as ALM. Earning the new MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management certification requires passing three exams:
The supporting materials on the cert page also include an ALM virtual machine and hands-on labs for free download. In fact, there are 21 such hands-on labs, which combine to take a scripted approach to learning the content for the MCSD: ALM certification. It’s almost the same as a free, in-depth training class to help candidates get ready for the various exams. Very cool: check it out!
January 28, 2013 5:34 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Steer clear of double-talk in professional resumes and cover letters.
Image credit: Shutterstock 110459915
There’s a fascinating article in the latest online issue of Certification Magazine, entitled “Do’s and Don’ts of Resume Writing.” It not only makes the valid point that vague and amorphous terminology is not a good thing in a professional resume (or cover letter, either, for that matter), it also steers resume writers clear of some particularly content-free phrases hiring managers and HR professionals have learned to wince upon seeing in job applications and surrounding materials. Here’s their list of responses to the question “What is the most overused or meaningless phrase you see on resumes?” in alphabetical order:
- Flexible: If you are able to adapt quickly and effectively to new circumstances and situations, it’s better to describe how you’ve done so — perhaps by explaining how you responded to major changes at work, or dealt with unpredictable elements in your working day — than to simply label yourself as “flexible.”
- Hard Worker: Everybody loves a hard worker, but what does this really mean? When you wish to reflect your work ethic, it’s better to explain why, when, and how you went above and beyond normal working requirements or output, and what resulted from your extra efforts.
- Highly qualified: Of course, you embody this characteristic, but it’s much more productive to explain what your qualifications are, how you established them, how you keep them sharp and fresh, and what kinds of things you’ve learned and done that bring value to your working life. This is also where you’ll want to go into your IT certifications, when they were earned (and last renewed, if applicable), how you use them, and what they bring to your collection of skills and knowledge.
- People person: If you want to stress your ability to communicate and interact well with others, you’re much better off explaining how you’ve done these things in recent project, how you’ve been able to win over unhappy or unfriendly colleagues or customers, or even to turn grumpy or curmudgeonly types into motivated tech reviewers or beta testers (a favorite gambit of mine, upon learning that incredibly persnickety individuals make great beta users of new tools, technologies, and documentation).
- Problem solver: Generalities are all well and good, but if you’ve solved problems — especially serious or difficult ones — you can count on your audience to draw this conclusion about your skills and abilities much better by describing what you did, why and when you did it, and what resulted from tacking (and solving) particular problems.
- Self-starter: In environments where supervision is intermittent at best, IT professionals need to be able to work with management to set goals, report on progress, and get things done without too much (or any) babysitting required. Here again, if you explain how you’ve managed yourself well, and made progress an important part of your work ethic, you can count on interviewers and hiring professionals to draw this conclusion on their own without explicitly labeling yourself.
- Team player: In today’s informal, ad-hoc organizations it’s essential for anybody looking for work to describe how they cultivate successful cooperation and collaboration. A couple of good examples will make this point for you, too. Explain how you’ve contributed to group efforts, and your team skills will announce themselves.
This quote from OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking is a masterpiece of understatement: “A resume full of cliches but short on specifics won’t be memorable to hiring managers. Employers want concrete examples of professional achievements as well as descriptions of any transferable skills that can be applied to the open position.” This is a case where it’s clearly preferable to blind your interlocutors with science than it is to baffle ‘em with BS. You’ve been warned.
January 25, 2013 9:53 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
As the company once added voice to the networking mix, here comes video!
Last Wednesday, Cisco announced a pair of new video networking oriented cert credentials for its lineup — namely, a CCNA Video credential, along with a Cisco Video Network Specialist certification. These offerings are built in part around a series of two new courses, entitled:
- Implementing Cisco Video Network Devices, Part 1 (VIVND1) v1.0
- Implementing Cisco Video Network Devices, Part 2 (VIVND2) v.10
Both exams culminate in the 200-001 VIVND Implementing Cisco Video Network Devices examination, which is enough by itself to qualify individuals for the Cisco Video Network Specialist credential. The CCNA Video candidates must also pass this same exam, along with the 640-061 ICOMM Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration exam. Thus, it seems to me that these new offerings are properly regarded as a video counterpart to existing voice credentials that Cisco already offers, such as CCNA Voice and the many Cisco Specialist credentials already available under the company’s Collaboration heading.
What’s driving this new technical focus at Cisco? Amazing leaps in the overall amount of video traffic on the Internet (and within and between enterprises). Cisco projects that in three more years — 2016, that is — over half of all consumer traffic (55% in fact) on the Internet will be video-based or -related. This led them to the CCNA Video, which intends to identify IT Professionals who can deploy video endpoints, set up new users, and take care of networked voice and video needs such as configuring voice and video single-screen endpoint devices, supporting video and telephony applications of all kinds, and troubleshooting networks with significant voice and video traffic components. The specialist cert concentrates more on set-up and deployment, and less on overall networking and troubleshooting skills.
It should be interesting to see how these new offerings impact the marketplace, and how much interest and demand they will generate. I’m curious to see if Cisco’s projections on video traffic vis-a-vis the whole network mix are correct. If so, these video-oriented credentials should become extremely popular pretty fast.
January 23, 2013 2:37 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
There’s an old saying in the high-tech industry that goes like this “Here, we eat our own dog food.” Cryptic or unappetizing though it may sound (except to dogs, no doubt) this refers to a level of commitment to the technology that an organization adopts, espouses, and usually also sells to the point where they themselves use the same tools, technologies, or platforms that they’re trying to sell to their customers. I saw a very interesting example of that in a recent press release posted to Anne Martinez’s GoCertify.com entitled “Overture Technical Support Achieves MEF Professional Certification.”
The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) certifies equipment, services, and people.
Understanding what this really means requires some explanation:
- Metro Ethernet is a technology that permits communications carriers to use Ethernet Layer 1 and 2 protocols to make networking connections across their infrastructures. In turn, this makes providing fast (up to 1 GB or higher) external network connections to the Internet and local infrastructures easy, and also integrates well with typical Ethernet-based in-house networking infrastructures. Metro Ethernet is a specific implementation of what is also known as Carrier Ethernet (which takes normal Ethernet and adds carrier-grade reliability, resilience, and recovery capabilities to its already impressive arsenal of technical characteristics. For more information on this fascinating and fast-growing technology area see my book Carrier Ethernet For Dummies (free PDF download from Ciena Corp requires registration to obtain an e-mail link).
- Overture is a company that specializes in “Carrier Ethernet edge and aggregation partner[ing] to hundreds of service providers and network operators worldwide.” That is, their primary business focus is Metro Ethernet/Carrier Ethernet. Thus, their announcement that they are “…moving toward full MEF professional certification for all customer-facing employees…” makes pretty good sense, and explains why the company started by getting its entire tech support team certified, along with some of the company’s field service engineers, “…with full compliance expected within the coming year.” In fact, Overture “…is one of only five companies with ten or more MEF Certified Carrier Ethernet Certified Professionals…” worldwide, and also counts product managers, plus system and product development engineers among its MEF-certified staff members.
- The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) is an industry association for Carrier Ethernet equipment, services, and professionals. Its self-professed charter is to accelerate “…the adoption of Carrier Ethernet.” Founded by one of Ethernet’s inventors, Dr. Bob Metcalfe, the organization has been active for a decade. Today it represents a $25B annual market for equipment and services, with market size anticipated to reach $47B by 2015. A very big business, in other words. The MEF is also “the defining body for Carrier Ethernet” and also “develops Carrier Ethernet technical specifications and implementation agreements to promote interoperability and deployment of Carrier Ethernet worldwide.” This positions them ideally to offer the various types of programs they provide to certify equipment, services, and people. Currently the organization offers a single personnel cert called the MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP), as the first in a planned series of MEF professional credentials.
The whole-company (or “whole technical staff”) approach to professional certification approach still remains pretty rare. But it’s something I expect to see more of, as increasingly large sectors in high-tech (and IT) fall under various specific and well-defined certification umbrellas.
January 21, 2013 3:57 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
My eight-year old son, Gregory, is in his first year in competitive gymnastics. Yesterday, we all attended our first-ever gymnastics meet, with my wife and myself in the stands, and the boy making the “olympic rotation” around the events in this order: floor, pommel, rings, vault, parallel bars, and high bar. His team’s slot in the rotation started on pommel, so he and his crew finished up on floor, following the standard sequence one step ahead of the default order. It was one of the fastest four hour periods I’ve ever experienced, where Gregory’s five minutes of activity was interspersed with lots of other young gymnasts doing likewise on all events running in parallel.
If you put in serious time and effort, you can obtain serious results.
Image credit: Shutterstock 1013903
We all walked away from that event realizing how much time and effort the best gymnasts put into their training and learning. We saw numerous 6 and 7 year-olds do things that most of us can’t even fathom, and saw some of them execute them with perfection and considerable grace. In those same events, I also saw plenty of young people going through the motions (at this level, there’s little or no improvisation, where most competitors simply learn a set routine, then execute it to the best of their ability). The difference between some performances was striking: the best competitors took the routines and executed them with flair and joy but also enough control to bring all the pieces together into a cohesive whole, while those with lesser skill (or, I have to believe, less effort, time, dedication and discipline) made the very same motions but without inhabiting them fully, or executing them without flaws and mistakes.
As I think about what this all means, I’m struck by the incredible power of time invested, and serious effort expended, in learning how to do something, and then taking the necessary time and energy to learn how to do it really well. I walked away from the meet thinking that even for us IT folks, the willingness to invest time and effort in learning new skills and knowledge, and then taking the additional steps to become highly proficient in using them, lets ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.
As you approach your own career planning and development, remember that you’re going to have to put in some time and really put yourself out, if you want to accomplish something more than going through the motions. Those of us who are lucky and focused enough to be able to do this, should also remember that anything worth doing is also worth doing as well as one possibly can. If you can pull this off, you will come out of that exercise with something genuine and valuable to show for your time and effort. This has to be the real payoff to help offset the financial outlays or “opportunity costs” involved in investing in oneself and in developing one’s skills and knowledge. Anything else, as the old saying goes, is simply unacceptable!
January 18, 2013 3:02 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
In the past year, I’ve discovered Mirek Burnejko’s excellent Website “Everything About IT Certifications” at www.itcertificationmaster.com. Over that interval, he’s produced a remarkable number of interesting and excellent articles and interviews that have given me plenty of opportunities to pause and reflect on the meaning and value of IT certification, along with substantial market information and intelligence about the current and future state of certification in the IT profession. This morning, I read one of his recent stories, entitled “14 Actionable Steps to Use Certifications and Find Your Dream Job,” with enough interest and delight that I felt compared to share some high points with you, dear readers (along with the preceding link to the complete story which is most assuredly worth reading, for those who find this teaser in any way informative, if not spell-binding).
Yes Virginia (and all the other states), certification can help you reach this exit!
[Image credit: Shutterstock 101244412]
What you’ll find in this story, goes something like this:
- Create a professional e-mail account you use only for job search related activity.
- Build yourself a superior resume (with links to a nice guide on this subject).
- Get on Linked In, which Burnejko says is “a number one place to receive a job offer.”
- Optimize your Linked In profile to move yourself ahead in its search engine results for certification searches, with links to another guide.
- Connect with head hunters and HR professionals (they’re the ones who most often come up with jobs — at least, on Linked In.
- Join Linked In groups “connected with your certifications and your skills.”
- Login to Branchout (a new career network on Facebook) and repeat the preceding three steps.
- Do likewise for Telent.me.
- Follow head hunters and placement professionals on Twitter.
- Use ResumeRabbit to upload your resume all over the place.
- Use Indeed for job search (I heartily endorse this suggestion, and use the site myself to compile salary information related to various IT certifications for several of my regular cert survey articles).
- Use Topsy to search Social Media for certifications you hold (Burnejko says it makes an outstanding tool “to search Twitter for new job offers”).
- Get your Google results in order. Burnejko explains how to manage and massage your Google search results to create what one might call a completely professional-looking first page of results when searching on your name. He also recommends creating a page on About.me, obtaining a Quora account, and keeping your Linked In account up to date. All good advice!
- Networking: quite rightly, he urges people to build and work their interpersonal networks hard to keep up with job opportunities, and to get the word out about your interests and proclivities.
It’s a very nice piece of work, and he estimates that a time investment of between 6 and 10 hours will be required to make all of this happen — except for item 14, about which he is absolutely correct in stating “[Time needed: Whole Life].” The strategy is sound, and the tips, resources, and advice involved are all right on target. So why not dig in, and chunk your way through this outstanding “bucket list” for improving your professional visibility and job prospects?
January 16, 2013 7:44 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
This morning, Cisco Systems announced that four of its certification credentials have attained ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 Accreditation, under the ANSI Personnel certification program. The 17024 standard ensures that certification programs meet a variety of best practices and transparency requirements for their content and coverage, and that these programs decouple training from certification (so that self-study is an option for earning any and all of these credentials), along with their various requirements for education, total years of work experience, and direct work-related tasks and duties performed as may sometimes be the case. The following Cisco certifications have earned this accreditation as of today:
CCNA Routing & Switching
CCNP Routing & Switching
What makes this a big deal is that as the ANSI Benefits of Accreditation page states: “ANSI accreditation is generally recognized as the highest standard in personnel certification accreditation.” ANSI’s involvement in this process, in fact, “…is important to facilitate government recognition” as that same page goes on to state further, because ANSI adheres rigorously the ISO/IEC 17011 Conformity Assessment standards, and because the organization “…has a historical track record of successfully coordinating accreditation of certification programs” from a variety of sponsoring organizations that include professional societies and institutes, large multinational corporations (like Cisco), and government agencies. Furthermore, the following US government agencies (along with numerous organizations from several of the 50 states and dozen-plus territories in the US) rely on “…ANSI accreditation for verification of quality of certification programs…” (US Govt Recognition page): FDA, DoD, and OSHA. Of these, the DoD (Department of Defense) is especially important because its FITSP regulations require agencies and contractors to meet specific information security certification requirements, where those credentials all comply with ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation.
That’s why, as you examine this table of IT cert-related organizations that have attained ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 Accreditation, straight from the Accreditation Services Directory on the ANSI Website, you will see a strong and clear preponderance of information security credentials among these offerings (most of the non-infosec credentials, in fact, are also important to the DoD as well):
|ANSI/ISO/IEC Accredited IT Certifications
(click for links & full cert names)
||CPP, PSP, PCI
||CCNA R&S, CCNP R&S, CCNA Security,
||A+, CASP, Network+, Security+, Storage+
||GCFA, GCIH, GCIA, GSEC, GSLC
||CTS, CTS-D, CTS-I
||CGEIT, CISM, CISA
||CAP, CISSP, CSSLP, ISSAP, ISSEP, ISSMP, SSCP
January 14, 2013 5:20 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
In all of my own surveys of IT certification, and in others from many third parties, virtualization always shows up at or near the top of attempts to describe what’s hot, in high demand, interesting to both employers and employees, where the jobs are, what pays well, and so forth.
Virtualization is affecting the shape and dynamics for all aspects of IT.
Image credit: Shutterstock 93273742
To my way of thinking, this makes the virtualization cert landscape particularly compelling and appealing for IT professionals looking for new skills and knowledge worth acquisition and mastery. Last year, I wrote two survey stories for Tom’s IT Pro in the areas of Cloud Computing and Virtualization; because both areas depend heavily on virtualization I decided to revisit them and see if I could add anything to that mix. To my astonishment and delight the items I singled out for coverage at the top of their respective areas are still chugging away quite nicely (check out the full stories for more details on other offerings in both areas, please), as shown in the following table.
For anybody interested in virtualization, there’s something to dig into right away, and probably to plan for longer term, for those further interested in more senior and responsible positions in the field. At present, the VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft (Private Cloud) credentials seem to be generating the most traction, but there are plenty of other platforms and providers of virtualization tools and technology to choose from further up the food chain. Enjoy!