June 16, 2012 3:41 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Austin Texas and Ohio may suggest ways to lower unemployment
, do bright employment spots suggest relief for high unemployment?
In the hoopla surrounding the duelling candidates’ visits to Ohio yesterday I was struck by repeated reports that with unemployment below 7% in Ohio, it’s a tough sell for the Republican candidate to promote doom, gloom, and dismal employment to such an audience. Then this morning, I saw a blurb in the Business section of the Austin American Statesman that indicated even though unemployment has jumped recently in the area, the starting point is 5.5 percent and the ending point only 5.8 percent.
I guess that puts my metro area ahead of Ohio, which may be good for local pride, but that’s not the real point of this blog. My musings today are to try to understand what’s brought unemployment down in these areas to see if there’s anything in there for the rest of our country, which is now subject to overall unemployment levels of 8.2 percent as per the latest US Bureau of Labor Statistics report for May, 2012. And actually, the REAL number is probably over 10 percent when you factor in those workers who have been unemployed long enough not to register on the official count any more (the so-called “discouraged workers” who are believed to be no longer looking for work, and whose numbers are probably two or three times the 830,000 that the US BLS estimates in the May report).
In chewing over what’s going on, I see several interesting things at work:
- a resurgence in manufacturing, mostly for newer and greener industries (this one attaches more to Ohio than to the Austin area)
- a surprisingly young general demographic (median age in Austin 31, in Texas overall 40.8; median age in Ohio 36.2, in USA overall 36.9) Admittedly, Austin has the youth edge, but we’re smaller and our reputation is hipper than Ohio. But cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati are undergoing amazing renaissances that put them much more on par with “The Live Music Capital of the World” than many people think.
- high-tech, high-tech, high-tech: both areas are benefiting from lots of interest and activity in technology focused industries and development work, particularly for information technology.
Youth, technology, and making things happen. This tells me there’s hope for the future, but also that older workers left stranded in the recent downturn are going to have to lean more forward into what’s ahead, rather than trying to recapture what’s been left behind, to make their way back into the workforce. And of course, a general economic upturn wouldn’t hurt things, either. But if we do decide to invest in our infrastructure to stimulate employment, I want to see high-tech infrastructure and more technology education right up there at the top of the list!
And maybe, just maybe, The Pretenders are going to have to change the meaning of “Way to go Ohio” from My City Was Gone to be more congratulatory than sarcastic…
June 13, 2012 1:24 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Brocade updates BCNE and BCNP exams and training
, new versions of BCNP and BCNE for July 2012
Brocade is getting ready to update the exams and training materials for its Brocade Certified Network Engineer (BCNE) and Brocade Certified Network Professional (BCNP) certifications on July 6 (BCNE) and July 13 (BCNP). New versions of the relevant classes — CNE 200 and CNP 300 — will hit training centers some time this month, and typical official online items like the Brocade knowledge assessments and Nutshell exam study guides will be posted on or before the exams are released (same dates as above, if not sooner than that).
Candidates should use their MyBrocade login (then go the the “My Education” tab) to access new exam objectives and information, and to check in for study materials as and when they become available. New content for the Engineer exam includes various link and monitoring protocols (such as UDLD, FDP, and RFN), PoE and MCT overviews, ACLs, and more. Some of the training modules are now available in self-study formats, too. On the Professional side, there’s coverage of QoS, along with web-based training (WBT) modules on PoE, IS-IS, and various Brocade hardware items, but otherwise most coverage is the same.
For more information, check out the Brocade University FAQ entitled “New BCNE & BCNP Training and Exams.”
June 9, 2012 9:31 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
first MCSD covers Metro style apps
, new MCSA and MCSE credentials anticipate Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8
Between an e-mail from Shanti Barnes (MS Learning PR person extraordinaire) last Tuesday, June 5, and the June 7 MCP Weekly Flash that hit my inbox two days later, the IT certification landscape has been rockin’ with lots of major new outcroppings in its Microsoft parts.
The Tuesday e-mail introduced me to the first credential in the MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) category. As you’d expect, it’s something Windows 8 related, given the immanent release of that new operating system — or more specifically, its new Metro user interface and development direction.
- Makes sense that they use Metro-style tiles for the new MS certs!
As the tile tells the name of this new credential is MCSD: Windows Metro Style Apps. It requires 3 exams to earn:
FWIW, a friend of mine has been writing a book recently (like she’s probably doing that as I write this very blog) and tells me that the MS HTML5 stuff still isn’t completely baked yet with markup and interfaces still changing on a near-daily basis. Those interested in this credential might think the exams won’t be out for a bit yet, but according to Ms. Barnes (by private e-mail), they are being introduced this week at Tech-Ed, and should now be available to the general public. Interesting start to the new MCSD, no doubt!
Other new credentials that have emerged of late include the following:
In the brave new parlance of Microsoft desktops and certifications that’s “a whole lotta new tiles!” Looks like the outlines of the new and hopefully improved MS Cert program are really starting to emerge. I don’t think this is anywhere near the end of this parade, but at least I’m starting to get a sense of where they’re going with all of this. Hopefully, you are too!
June 6, 2012 3:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
great boost in access and convenience for ISC-squared exams
, ISC-squared converts entirely to computer-based testing at Pearson VUE
OK! Hey, hey! The days of six-hour, paper-based exams in which you filled out page after page of mark sense dots with Number 2 pencils are finally over. The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium — better known as (ISC)2 or “ISC squared” — has completed its transition to the Pearson VUE testing network. An amusing graphic on the (ISC)2 site memorializes this long-overdue transition:
Testing now means pushing buttons, not pencils
Exams covered by the new arrangement include all of the best-known and important ones that (ISC)2 offers — namely:
- CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
- SSCP: Systems Security Certified Practitioner
- CAP: Certified Authorization Professional
Plus these CISSP Concentrations/add-on credentials which take the CISSP as a pre-requisite:
- ISSAP: formally, the CISSP-ISSAP, where the latter stands for Information Systems Security Architecture Professional
- ISSEP, formally, the CISSP-ISSEP, where it’s Information Systems Security Engineering Professional
- ISSMP, formally, the CISSP-ISSMP, where it’s Information Systems Security Management Professional
Why is this a good thing for aspiring or career-savvy information security professionals? Because there are lots more Pearson Testing centers than there ever were locations for scheduled, human proctored exams under the paper-and-pencil regime. Because you can schedule the exams at Pearson VUE at your convenience, rather than having to travel to a handful of “central locations” offered perhaps once every month or two around the country. And because it’s much easier to concentrate on the exam (and get an accurate score) when you don’t have to spend time filling in mark-sense forms with a pencil!
June 4, 2012 2:21 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
job growth falters and revisions paint a gloomier picture than anticipated
, more grim stats from the May 2012 unemployment situation
Gosh! I was out of the office all day Friday, and thus missed my chance to jump on the May 2012 Employment Situation summary report as soon as it issued forth from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 EDT that morning. Of course, by now everybody now knows those numbers were shockingly bad (only 69,000 jobs added in May 2012, less than half of the 150,000 that economists had forecast before the official report went public). And when combined with the current Euro zone crisis, this news caused markets to take a big tumble, and pretty much erased all the gains in some major indices for 2012 (the Dow is down 0.8 percent from the start of the year, and the S&P 500 is up a mere 1.6 percent, while the NASDAQ is up a healthier 5.4 percent, according to the Associated Press). Not only that but job growth numbers for March and April were also revised downward, at a more modest -12,000 for March, and a more substantial -38,000 for April (which was none too great to start with).
What’s going on, apparently, is that enough businesses are still sitting out on the sidelines waiting for more sustained and substantial signs of improvement, to pull the trigger on converting their increasing piles of cash into headcount. I view their concerns as driven by the fear that there’s not enough demand in the markets to soak up the extra costs of adding people to increase output and productivity. And, thanks to the current global financial situation (extremely slow growth in the US, recession in Europe, and a cooling-off for the hot economies in China, India, Brazil, and Russia, and so forth) there doesn’t appear to be any incentive for businesses to get off the fence and start risking their savings or cash reserves on prospects for rising demand for their goods, products, or services. All I can say is “Ouch!”
Economists are quick to observe that the current revised growth rates suffice only to absorb population growth (or, in job terms, match the number of new entrants to the work force with the number of new jobs being created). This tends to leave out of the work force the current difference between our prevailing unemployment rate of 8.2 percent and the “normal” or “healthy” unemployment rate that usually falls somewhere between 5 and 6 percent.
Thus, we’ve got somewhere between 2.2 and 3.2 percent of the workforce facing long-term unemployment. Given US unemployment between 13 and 16 million (depending on who’s counting, and how their counts are compiled) that translates into roughly 3.5 to 6.25 million Americans of working age facing indefinite suspensions to their working lives. Again: “Ouch!”
Economists are talking about remedies that Republicans and fiscal conservatives are sure to despise. For one thing, it’s thought that the Fed could create some more liquidity through another round of “quantitative easing” though it’s hard to believe that adding more cash to the economy will help much, or that keeping US Treasury rates at historic lows will help much, either (though appetite for our debt seems unabated despite our deficit spending, as one of the few truly “safe havens” for money still around). For another, the President and the Democrats are in favor of some public works spending to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, to repair our highway system, and add to our ability to grow in the future.
I say “Bring the public works!” Let’s put running high-quality fiber EVERYWHERE at the top of the list. The USA has fallen to fifteenth place in the list of the world’s top Internet economies — and we invented the protocols and technologies involved — so why not do what it takes to make us number one in that arena again? It will not only create unimaginable opportunities for future growth, it will also create LOTS more jobs in information technology, and help put many more Americans back to work in an area that’s near and dear to the hearts of those like me (and probably also you, dear Reader).
June 1, 2012 10:43 AM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
As of mid-April, MS doesn’t call the next Windows Server release “Windows Server 8″ any more. It’s now officially known as “Windows Server 2012,” and it’s expected to ship in October, 2012, along with Windows 8 for the desktop. Late last week Microsoft Learning announced its first two-day Jump Start course for the new server OS, scheduled for June 21 and 22, 2012, with ace instructors Rick Claus (Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist) and Corey Hynes (Microsoft Partner, full-time infrastructure consultant, and regular TechEd presenter) at the helm.
The registration page offers considerably more detail on course and coverage
The two-day course breaks into half days on “Beyond Virtualization” and “Manageability” (Day 1), and then “Storage” and “Remote Users” (Day 2). Looks like lots of interesting topics and discussion will be part and parcel of this presentation. Noteworthy keywords for the content include virtualization, Hyper-V, PowerShell, storage, vdi, cluster, and networking. Lots of detail is promised in the course description, which you can find in the blog post entitled “New Jump Start! Windows Server 2012! Who’s Ready? REGISTER NOW!”
If you’d rather cut to the chase, however, just go straight to the Server 2012 Jump Start Registration page. The course is free, the content looks strong (though there’s no overt certification tie-in just yet, there undoubtedly will be once the product ships), so why not go for it?
May 27, 2012 6:04 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
interesting challenges in the world of technology and vocational education training
, MS launches global TVET initiative
Among my many regular stops for input to this blog is Microsoft’s excellent but incredibly varied and mutable Born To Learn blog. That’s why I really didn’t know what to expect when I dived into a post from my old friend and colleague, Lutz Ziob this morning (Lutz is presently the General Manager of MS Learning, but also an old Novell colleague and long-time industry colleague and friend). This blog is entitled “Reflections from the UNESCO TVET Conference” and it is just chock-full of interesting and amazing insights into the future of technology learning and IT certification. It probably helps to understand that TVET stands for “Technology and Vocational Education and Training,” and was the focus for a third UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) International Congress on TVET held in Shanghai, China, last week.
According to Lutz, the topic for this year’s conference was “Transforming TVET.” As he himself points out, this has broader implications than how TVET might grow and change itself. It also casts bright light onto the notion that technology is changing everything about the kinds of jobs people fill, and the way that we must develop current and future members of the workforce to fill such positions. It’s very much the case that technology is taking a bigger role in every kind of work, and moving to center stage for those already in the workforce, and for those who must be prepared to pick up their skills and implements to join the workforce sooner or later.
Lutz quotes IDC to state that “the percentage of all jobs requiring some technology skills will grow from 50% today to 77% in the next decade” and “that 60% of the jobs that will exist in 10 years do not even exist today.” These are amazing statistics, and point to the need for a refashioning of our education and training systems in fundamental ways. Education has to invent ways to train those in school from elementary thru post-graduate education to be ready to learn new skills, tools, and technologies as they take shape, and make their way into the workplace. He then goes onto to illustrate how much things are changing with stories about the kinds of software and tools that support modern “smart lights” that light the way ahead for automobiles, how 3-D printing technology is used in his dentist’s office to build dental crowns in minutes, and how traditional trades like plumbing, pipefitting, and HVAC are becoming increasingly dominated by computer-aided design, diagnosis, and repair.
I have to agree with Lutz’s conclusion that all this means that the OECD’s conclusion that “skills are the key to the prosperity of nations and to better lives for individuals in the 21st century” is both absolutely correct and completely inarguable. It’s all about providing the appropriate skills and knowledge to let individuals use the best of what tools and technology have to offer, not only by boosting productivity and creating substantial new areas of work and commerce, but also by teaching people how to adapt to and adopt new technologies and ways of working with the tools, systems, and methods they bring in their wake (this last sentence is a rough paraphrase of the paragraph from Lutz’s blog that includes the link to the “Towards an OECD Skills Strategy” document that resulted from the OECD 2011 conference to which he refers — it’s definitely worth a quick once-over, too).
Microsoft is a part of the corporate world that seeks to rise to this challenge. Given high global levels of youth unemployment, Lutz correctly observes that the need to transform TVET and get it out there is probably more important than it might ordinarily be (which I have to submit is pretty darn vital in any set of circumstances). He also indicates that the company is partnering with various UN and other international organizations “to help bring cutting-edge technology to education and training, helping to make it more effective and scalable, more widely available, less costly, more student-centric and engaging.” I can only hope the whole corporate world gets onto this bus, and helps us drive it to the young people of the world in dire need of such information and support.
It should be very interesting to see what kinds of results these kinds of efforts produce. I can hardly wait to understand the offerings and training materials and content that are sure to result, and to try them out for myself (and my 8-year-old son, who already shows significant appetites for science, math, and computing).
May 25, 2012 7:23 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
only one in three companies permits BYOD use
, Robert Half study on BYOD
BYOD stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” and is a constant source of prose and discussion for IT technology vendors and consultants. The “bring your own device” phrase refers to employees who bring their smartphones and tablets to work, and who wish to use corporate networks to get to the Internet — and sometimes, even to use their personal devices to access corporate resources. In the past quarter I’ve heard vendors who offer network management and security platforms and services bang this message out in strident tones, urging their customers to buy solutions to help them deal with this onslaught.
BYOD brings all kinds of devices into the workplace
That’s why I read a recent survey from placement and services firm Robert Half with great interest this morning. It’s entitled “NO ALL-ACCESS PASS:…Only One in Three Firms Allows Employees to Access Company Networks Using Personal Smartphones or Other Devices.” Published on May 8, the results stem from 1,400 phone calls placed to randomly selected companies with 100 or more employees, and targeted those organizations’ CIOs to pose the question “Do you allow employees access to your corporate networks via personal laptops, smartphones, or tablets?” Only one in three (33%) of respondents answered in the affirmative, the other two of three said “No.”
I find myself wondering if a follow-up question might not have also made sense — namely, “Do you provide employees with guest, DMZ, or other segregated Internet access at work so they can use their personal laptops, smartphones, or tablets to access the Internet outside your corporate network boundaries?” As an occasional consultant and expert witness, I visit regularly with major corporations and law firms, and I have yet to find a single one of them that doesn’t make some kind of Internet access available to me on their premises.
It’s not hard to understand why CIOs don’t want unvetted devices roaming their networks. My guess, however, is that BYOD is too formidable to be stopped and that many firms will provide internal VMs that employees can access through secured channels from their own devices, even though they may not permit those devices to access their networks directly. This lets firms secure those VMs and impose policy constraints on what users can transfer from their own devices across the network boundary (or vice-versa).
If the Half study had included businesses with less than 100 employees, I also have to imagine they would have found the ratio reversed — namely, two thirds of them permit employees to use personal devices, and only one-third do not. Many of the smaller concerns I’ve visited in the last two years have proudly showed me how they use mobile apps to interact with employees, customers, and partners. At others, I’ve seen executives using their personal iPads as their primary workstations in the office, and their main computing platforms away from the office.
My gut feel is that virtualization and security technologies — including VPNs, virus screens, content and URL filters, and so forth — will be able to provide access to users who wish to work on their own devices. It’s just that those devices will essentially act like carefully sandboxed thin clients whose only job is to ferry input from user to a virtual machine or terminal server somewhere, and to display screen updates that result from such input. Everything else will stay inside the corporate network boundary, and only transient information will pass through personal devices for viewing and immediate use, rather than residing outside the confines of the corporate security perimeter.
May 23, 2012 6:55 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
August 1 update for LPIC-2 exams
, July 2 update for LPIC-1 exams
, LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 exams to be revised
The Linux Professional Institute’s entry and mid level certifications will get makeovers in July (1) and August (2), respectively. So says a recent Emmett Dulaney article “LPIC-1, LPIC-2 Exams Get a Refresh” over at CertCities.com. In particular, newer protocols, features and utilities will come in, and older stuff will go. Here’s a summary of what’s new and interesting for each credential:
LPIC-1 Logo from LPI.org
Basic understanding (feature knowledge) for IPv6 and LVM
Basic understanding (feature knowledge) for
systemd and Upstart
Explicit coverage for basic configuration of GRUB 2
Explicit knowledge of rhte ext4 file system
No more LILO coverage
LPIC-2 logo from LPI.org
Basic understanding (feature knowledge) for encrypted file systems
Basic understanding (feature knowledge) for
Explicit knowledge of IPv6 protocols, services, and configuration
Explicit knowledge of the ext4 filesystem
Explicit knowledge of the Linux 3.0 kernel
No changes for the senior-level LPI-3 certification, however. To get new detailed objectives and information, check out the LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 certification pages at the LPI’s Website, but also the LPI Wiki pages for LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 as well (that’s where you’ll find the most detailed objectives listings, and addenda to clarify what new material is being added, and what old material is being removed).