February 22, 2012 2:44 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA Storage+ replaces SNIA SCNP
The full name of the new CompTIA Storage+ exam and credential is Storage+ Powered by SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association, a non-profit devoted to storage networking and related technologies, teamed up with CompTIA to develop this credential). Thus, when the Storage+ went live on January 18, 2012, the SNIA’s own entry-level credential known as the SNIA Certified Networking Professional, or SCNP, was retired. In every conceivable way, SNIA and CompTIA want prospective storage professionals to pursue the Storage+ as their first stepping stone into storage networking certification.
- The CompTIA Storage+ logo page header
Beyond the entry-level Storage+, however, SNIA still has a lot to offer:
- The SNIA Certified Storage Engineer (SCSE) is for those who “…provide day-to-day management of a storage network environment.”
- The SNIA Certified Storage Architect (SCSA) is for whose who assess, plan, and design storage networks.
- The SNIA Certified Storage Networking Expert (SCSE) requires digging earning the SCSA, then digging into a variety of third-party exams from the likes of NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, Cisco, EMC, HP, or Brocade to demonstrate competency with vendor-specific systems and environments.
In addition to the third parties already mentioned under the SCSE entry above, companies such as Dell, IBM, VMWare, Oracle, Red Hat, and others also offer IT certifications that focus on or provide substantial coverage of storage networking technologies. For more information see also my Tom’s IT Pro article “Top 5 Storage Certifications.”
[Update added 2/22/2012 8:53 AM: Our annual certification rating and ranking gets its update on PearsonITCertification.com. Be sure to check it out!]
February 18, 2012 8:41 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA Survey says schools owe impendiung grads employment info & help
In casting about for a blog topic this weekend, I came across an interesting press release amongst recent CompTIA offerings in that genre. It’s entitled “Poor Information on Career Opportunities is Costing Students Jobs.” If I understand it correctly it reports on a recent CompTIA survey that indicates that “respondents … want schools and universities to do a lot more to help them understand career options…” including
- “… information integrated into school lessons about what careers different subjects can lead to”
- “… information about careers other than those directly related to their field of study”
- “… better careers advice at school or university”
Please note that this PR ditty was posted in London, so you are seeing some Britishisms in the copy, which I reproduce verbatim in the preceding quotes.
This actually raises an interesting issue–namely, to what extent an educational institution should be responsible for informing students about career opitions and even helping those students find their way into gainful employment. I always thought academia was called “the ivory tower” in part because it remained indifferent to and unsullied by such concerns, and also because its interests were very often elsewhere: pure research, advancing the general body of knowledge, imparting learning skills and knowledge to students, and so forth.
Certainly, I think the educational institutions should be mindful of real-world and employment consequences for their students, but I don’t believe it’s entirely fair to shackle them with outright responsibility for steering them into the workforce and helping them find jobs. But certainly, some kinds of institutions — particularly community colleges and trade schools — are chartered with a role in workforce preparation for their students and these players probably should take a more active role in laying out employment consequences and real-world options and choices. Many of them already do.
But I don’t think it’s fair to hold education responsible for this kind of thing. Rather, I think it is reasonable to ask educators to pay attention to these issues and to address them to some extent in their teaching, but it shouldn’t be a primary focus in that work (that belongs to the subject matter at hand, and in making sure students understand them, and know how to apply their knowledge to real-world situations).
As I think back on my own path through higher education, and look at how friends and family in my parent’s generation, my generation, and my children’s generation have worked themselves from school into work, I see a lot of forces at work. Certainly, those who pay for education — family and the person receiving the education — shoulder the biggest responsibilities in making sure an investment in learning delivers appropriate opportunities and a reasonable payoff. Students also choose particular individuals as examples or mentors, and will often turn to them for advice about what to study, what kind of work to pursue, and where and how to find a job.
I do believe it would be helpful for educational institutions to be mindful that a productive working life should be part of the post-graduate payoff for their students, and to do their part in helping them attain this reasonable and laudable goal. But there are a lot more players in this game than the schools, and it’s a mistake to put too much of the information delivery and responsibility into their hands.
February 17, 2012 3:59 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
a little good jobs news
, need for programmers may signal IT upturn
Well, I don’t think we’re quite ready for what Alan Greenspan described as “irrational exuberance” back during the dotcom boom just yet, but things do seem to be looking up for the economy as a whole, and for IT employment in particular. According to the Wall Street Journal yesterday “Jobless Claims Hit Lowest level Since 2008” with an additional reduction of 13,000 first-time unemployment claims to a total of 348,000 last week. In fact, this is the first time since the financial meltdown of 2008 that claims have been lower than they were before the meltdown occurred (levels now match those from early March of that year, before the meltdown really got underway).
On the employment front, my local NPR affiliate ( KUT.org ) reported this morning that “It’s a Seller’s Market for Tech Workers in Austin.” The gist of this story is that demand for programming talent in my home area is so high that even with numerous local colleges and universities to provide graduates, recruiters and hiring managers are busily involved in a nationwide hunt for programming talent. UT Austin, St. Edwards, Concordia College, and Austin Community College, among others in Central Texas, all report record enrollment and graduation rates for coders for their two- and four-year degrees, and where applicable, in graduate programs as well. Even so, recruiters report that they can’t satisfy demand purely from local supply.
At least one academic compares the recent Austin hiring frenzy to the go-go days of the late 90s
They’re finding high demand for programming staff all over the country, which is why I’m talking about a local news item to a national and international audience. To my astonishment, the story also cited starting salaries for recent grads as $70K per year or higher, with some salaries reaching into the low six figures. Now that’s what I call “economic improvement!” Let’s hope that this phenomenon bleeds over into other areas of IT, and that we’ll see a rising tide for the whole field as 2012 wears on.
February 15, 2012 2:50 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
MS Private Cloud Cert attracts huge response
, second free Private Cloud cert prep class scheduled
On January 23, I posted a blog about the free two-day online prep class that Microsoft was offering to help candidates prepare for its new Private Cloud certification, scheduled for next week (February 21-22). The sign-up was so ferocious — over 4,000 interested IT professionals took advantage of the offer! — that another free session covering the same curriculum and material is now on offer for April 3-4, 2012.
Free Private Cloud Cert Training, Episode 2
Given the incredible demand for this material, I don’t think it’s over-reaching to believe that Microsoft has a runaway success on its hands, certification-wise. Of course, with anything and everything cloud-related so very white-hot right now, that’s not a huge stretch anyway.
Read the details in the “Register Now!” post on the Born to Learn blog, or simply register right now! I just did myself.
Registration receipt shows zero charge
February 13, 2012 3:01 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Every now and then, I run across a networking teaching tool that’s either extremely helpful or amazingly innovative. Even more rarely, there’s an element of fun involved. You’ll find all this, and more in the Cisco Learning Center with “The Subnet game.”
The subnet game takes you to Area 51 where you have to set up networks and foil hackers
As you play your way through the game, you advance in levels, and you are presented with increasingly interesting and more challenging problems. It’s a great way to practice IP addressing and subnetting skills, and pretty good fun into the bargain. And beyond the need to register with this site, it’s free!
You can also use this as a tool to assess your “inner nerd.” If you can’t stop playing, and suddently find “real work” a distraction from playing The Subnet Game, guess what? Your IN index is pretty high!
February 10, 2012 6:18 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
next MCCC occurs March 14-15 2012; Ed Tittel and Jeff Johnson to present at March 2012 Microsoft Career Certification Conference
Another iteration of the Microsoft Certified Career Conference (aka MCCC) — that two-day, free-wheeling, multi-tracked educational and career tuneup online extravaganza — is back on! It will be held online for two half-days (12 hour-long segments, that is) on March 14 and 15, 2012. Check out the MCCC home page for details, where you’ll also find a link to register for this free event.
- Another free, two-day career and certification MS event online
I don’t know yet what time that Wednesday (March 14, that is) that Jeff and I will be presenting, but that’s the day that both of us are available, and we should be finding out soon. Jeff is the Academic Area Lead for MS Learning’s IT Academy in North America, and has also taught at the college level (as have I, as an adjunct faculty member for Austin Community College) as well.
The last time we did this, we talked about how various academic IT programs (including Information Technology, Computer Science, Management Information Systems, and other certificate and degree plans) have started to include and incorporate IT certification materials and coverage into their curricula. This time, we’ll do more of the same, but feature more and different schools and programs. We also plan to expland our coverage of community college-based offerings, because that is where the biggest population of prospective IT workers can find affordable training and certification coverage nowadays.
All in all, it promises to be an interesting session, and I hope you’ll not only join us when we present (stay tuned for details) but will also tune in on the whole MCCC as well. I’ve helped out with three of them now, and they’ve always been informative, interesting, and a lot of fun.
February 8, 2012 6:03 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Layer 8 is where the IT action is
, Layer 8 requires marrying human or business goals and objectives to technology's tools and abilities
I was cruising the Cisco Learning Network this morning when I came across a blog post entitled “Ever heard of Layer 8?” there. As a guy who’s been writing about and teaching this model since 1988, my immediate response was “Of course I’ve heard of Layer 8: it’s all about politics and religion, and other subjects on which there are lots of opinions and attitudes and precious little agreement.”
Here’s how poster Jared (an anonymous Cisco Designated VIP) describes Layer 8 in this post (n the context of the Cisco Certified Design Associate, or CCDA credential):
… to make a good design you need to know what the business and technological requirements are and you have to live within the business and technological constraints. Think about that for a minute. You have to design a network to deliver who knows what and you have to do it with certain constraints, usually a limited time line or budget. Have you ever found yourself in a meeting where a customer wants what is technologically impossible, against their company policy or so expens[iv]e that not even all the money in the world could afford what they want? I have… often. To make matters worse the customer may have multiple people present the business and technological constraints and goals and they may conflict with another person’s goals and constraints within the same organization. Then comes the process of debating, negotiating, hashing out the details to find some kind of compromise and to find a solution that will meet all of the goals and be achievable within the constraints that exist. It is this process that I refer to as the Layer 8.
There are some who argue, in fact, that Layer 8 is the most important of all the layers not only because of the reasons that Jared so convincingly lays out in the preceding discussion, but also because it’s where all the real work happens and energy gets expended. In fact, Jared goes on to describe this as a “political process” — entirely in keeping with the way I learned about it for the first time myself, circa 1987, as the level of the protocol stack where local influences come heavily into play: needs, wants, wishes, dislikes, biases, misconceptions, misperceptions, and so forth.
But there’s another way to think about that puts things into a more reasonable perspective: Layers 1 through 7 are out of the end user’s control, with the exception of minor configuration tweaks and communications options. The vast bulk of the architecture, the protocols, and the communications are set by design to make information exchange achievable. It’s only when you start getting into how networking will be used, what tasks and services it must support, and how it enables workers to work, business to be conducted, and other useful stuff to occur that things start get really interesting.
The TC201 Wiki OSI Network Reference Model diagram
Though Layer 8 may be outside the scope of the OSI network reference model, it should never be far from the minds of IT professionals. This is where they earn their keep, and harness tools and technology in the interests of productivity and perhaps even profit. Layer 8 is indeed a province of opinion, emotion, and less precise understandings and statements of business goals and objectives. But it’s also where the rubber meets the road, and where IT must demonstrate a return on investment. Forget, ignore, or wish away this fundamental principle at your peril!
February 6, 2012 4:53 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Bradley Graham blog journals a full-time IT worker's spare time CCNA preparation
, great CCNA exam prep resource blog
For those readers either thinking about or already involved in pursuing the Cisco Certified Networking Associate, or CCNA, credential I can offer a half-whimsical and more than halfway helpful resource from Bradley Graham. He currently works for Cisco as an Education Specialist and a Test Engineer, and has over 15 years’ industry experience under his belt. Nevertheless, he’s not only decided to tackle the CCNA exam (for recertification purposes), but is also reporting about it in a weekly blog entitled “My Journey Back to CCNA.”
Bradley must also go in for Star Wars re-enactements
He’s been posting regularly since mid-December 2011 and has covered lots of interesting aspects of CCNA preparation, including the intersection between work, life, family, and cert prep work. Here’s an example of his calculus for determining how much time he can spend on exam preparation expressed in hilarious pictorial form (see his verbatim explanation after the figure to better understand what makes it funny):
BG has a sense of humor that makes his blog great fun
Here’s his explanation of the visual formula just depicted:
This formula roughly translates to English Bulldog over English Bulldog multiplied by expected first child plus EMS over job at Cisco = time remaining for study. Mathematically accurate? Maybe not, but you get the general idea.
If you’re getting ready for this exam, or even just thinking about it, you’ll get a real slice of life view of what’s it’s like to prepare for the CCNA while holding a full time job, handling regular volunteer work, and getting ready for a first child. I find it fun for it’s own sake as well, and I hope you will check it out, if only for grins.
February 3, 2012 3:12 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
January 2012 employment situation shows modest improvements without huge growth
, January 2012 employment sitution shows IT still in a holding pattern
The latest unemployment stats show ongoing but modest improvement
It’s the first Friday of February, so the unemployment numbers for January are out. These numbers are modest but encouraging and indicate that our slow recovery from recession remains slow but continues on an upward trend. This is of course both cause for relief because of the improvement in both overall unemployment (down from 8.5 to 8.2 percent) and jobs added (243,000 for January, a nice bump up from the 200K jobs added in December, 2011), and cause for frustration because the pace of recovery continues slowly if also surely.
The data in Table A-14 “Unemployed persons by industry…” helps us zero in on IT. But there, alas, the picture is both more interesting and somewhat grimmer as we get closer to home base for likely readers of this blog. It shows the number of unemployed in this sector relatively unchanged for the past year (228K in January 2011 versus 227K in January 2012). More troubling, it shows unemployment rates up by 0.6 percent during that same period (7.3% for January 2011 versus 7.9% for January 2012). This is troubling because it indicates that overall employment in the information sector has declined in the past year, because that’s the only way that the number of unemployed persons can stay roughly the same with an increased unemployment rate for that population (there’s a 0.44% negative difference between the unemployed count over the interval, but a 0.6% positive difference in the unemployment rate).
On a brighter note, the other sector that many IT workers occupy — professional and business services, home to those IT workers who contract or consult with organizations, rather than working full-time as employees for them–shows an 0.7 percent reduction in the employment rate, and an increase of 70,000 jobs over the past year. Could this be a situation where contractors and freelancers in IT may be doing better than rank-and-file permanent employees? Perhaps so!
At any rate, given the glacial rate of improvement in IT’s core sector, my long-running mantra of “Hunker down, stay put, keep an eye out for trouble” sadly remains as relevant today for IT professionals as it has been for the past three years and more. By now, that’s pretty much the status quo.