April 30, 2012 3:36 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco launches 6 new service provider certs for design and operations at CCNA CCNP and CCIE levels
In the last couple of weeks, Cisco has changed its cert program to retire some credentials primarily aimed at individuals who work (or want to work) for service providers, while introducing new credentials to round out this part of their program and to take their place. Thus on April 18, the company announced the retirement of the Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP), while at the same time announcing the launch of Service Provider and Service Provider Operations versions of its primary credentials, including CCNA SP, CCNP SP, and CCIE SP, plus CCNA SP Ops, CCNP SP Ops, and CCIE SP Operations.
A whole new raft of certs for service provider job roles
The CCIP will no longer be available as of October 29, 2012, so individuals who wish to earn this credential had best get a move on to get the exams taken and passed in the 6 months that remain as I post this blog. For those already in pursuit of CCIP who’d like to switch over to CCNA SP, there’s a Migration Tool that explains what exams you can count toward the new credential, and what other exams you’ll need to take to qualify as well.
As far as I can tell, the primary distinction between plain-vanilla “Service Provider” and “Service Provider Operations” (aka “SP Ops”) credentials in the three major Cisco certs (CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE) deals with designing, implementing, installing, and optimizing carrier-grade IP next-generation networks (plain vanilla) versus day-to-day operations issues on such networks, including isolating network performance issues, implementing proactive fault measures using ops management techniques, and working with network management and monitoring on service provider networks (service provider operations).
Should be interesting to see how all this pans out. There must be a lot of work available to help run service provider networks and backbones, because Cisco’s going all in on these new credentials!
April 27, 2012 5:17 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
2012 salary and skills survey shows modest signs of improvement
, IT spending for 2012 to grow fastest in developing countries
A recent training and certification vendor survey from Global Knowledge (with Website TechRepublic) and a Gartner survey on IT spending both dispense some rays of welcome sunshine on an otherwise cloudy economic landcape for the industry. I’m talking about these items:
Taken together, we can construe these surveys to represent good news for IT workers, both at home and abroad. Please read on for some highlights … and for my speculations as to why you can read these reports in somewhat less rosy terms if you like!
2012 IT Skills and Salary
High points from the survey include a jump of 17 percent in job satisfaction among survey participants, up from 43 percent in 2011 and 40 percent in 2010. Interestingly, the survey also showed that those who trained in 2010 made 8.6 percent more in 2011 than those who did not, where over half (65 percent) of respondents also reported earning some kind of certification in the past 5 years. And half of all managers reported that “their staff was more effective or significantly more effective on the job after receiving a certification” up from 35 percent in 2011.
Pay news is trending up but with some interesting wrinkles. 63 percent of survey respondents report receiving a raise in 2011, but the probablility of getting a raise decreases with salary, so that lower-paid professionals were less likely to get a bump in their paychecks than higher-paid ones, with a $60,000 salary marking the line between those two pay categories. I read this as less than great news, though not exactly bad, because it indicates that roughly 2 out of 5 IT workers got no raises in 2011, and because of the income distributions also reported, most of them probably didn’t make that much to begin with!
IT Spending Around The World
The headline from this Gartner story that caught my eye was “Emerging markets will generate $1.22 Trillion in IT spending in 2012…” This includes emerging economies in Asia/Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe, leaving out Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. The so-called BRIMC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, and China) will represent half of that outlay, with the rest ranging from a high of $496 billion in emerging Asia/Pacific countries, to a low of $158 billion in Eastern and Central Europe (a much smaller, less populous geographical region, to be sure).
However rosy this kind of spending outlook might be, Gartner also leavened these enormous numbers with some cautionary prose: “IT spending caution will be a constant in 2012, suggesting IT sales will be more challening than in 2012″ said Luis Anavitarte, Research VP and head of emerging markets at Gartner. But IT budget increases are expected in this sector of the world economy, whereas IT spending in the developed world is likely to remain flat.
Before hungry IT job-seekers start making plans to relocate, ponder the relative standards of living between the developed and developing world, and the much lower salaries common in these relatively booming sectors. If entry-level folks in the USA are not getting raises as much or as often as their more highly-paid colleagues, at least their base pay is significantly higher, even than it would be in the BRIMC countries.
April 25, 2012 2:23 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft supports IT cert and training scholarships for winners in 13 countries
, MSL DPE scholarship program
Last month, Microsoft announced recipients of 13 scholarship awards from a global collection of countries as part of its Twenty Years of Learning and Certification extravaganza, which runs for all of 2012. Lutz Ziob, General Manager of MS Learning (abbreviated MSL) teamed his organization up with the Microsoft Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) organization to get behind awards to students from 13 different countries: Canada, China, Columbia, France, Germany, India, Latvia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Scholarship blog explains the program and introduces the scholarship recipients
You can read all about this program and its beneficiaries in Microsoft’s DPE MSL Scholarship blog (and you can benefit from my legwork to understand that MSL means Microsoft Learning and DPE means Developer and Platform Evangelism organization, both of which acronyms had me initially scratching my head). The scholarship recipients in the various countries were chosen by a committee of representatives from DPE and MSL, and were selected based on a combination of need, circumstances, and ability from a pool of candidates nominated from global Gold Certified Learning Partners over a five week nomination period (most likely some time in 2011, based on the awards made). Reading over the stories about scholarship recipients from the various countries represented, you get a strong sense that all of these men and women overcame some serious adversity to find their way into Microsoft training and certification, and that their selection is going to have a major impact on their future lives and careers.
So what exactly did Microsoft contribute to grant these scholarships? I posed that question to Lorna White, who works for Microsoft Learning with the press and industry analysts. She informed me that every sponsoring Learning Partner received $5,000 to apply toward each winner’s formal course plan of training and certification elements, along with a $1,500 per-person hardware fund to purchase computing gear for every winner as well. The money came from Microsoft as a cash grant to help each winner achieve his or her training goals and objectives.
I think this is a great program, and have to applaud MS for the over $70K they put into funding it. Of course, it would be even better if more funding were available so that more deserving and financially disadvantaged students could benefit from their largesse. I’m sure that for every candidate chosen to win, there must have been numerous other equally deserving individuals who could also have used some help of this kind. Hopefully, this program will continue, and others will be able to partake of its support in the future.
April 23, 2012 1:39 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
the formative impact of the twenties on life career and family
, twenty-somethings can establish lifelong learning habits to maximize their IT career potential
I heard a fascinating story on NPR yesterday morning while showering after my every-other-day stint on the stationary bike. It’s based on a recent book by University of Virginia clinical psychologist Meg Jay entitled The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now. I haven’t read the book, but the interview with Dr. Jay is covered in an NPR story entitled “Our Roaring 20s: ‘The Defining Decade’” that captures most of the content of the interview I auditioned by radio that morning.
Jay’s point is that the decade from age 20 to age 29 is an important formative time during a person’s life, when all kinds of significant things happen and when the direction and content of life becomes more firmly established. She made some statements, in fact, that I found pretty surprising (I list them as numbered items, but the content is quoted from the NPR article verbatim):
1. 70 percent of lifetime wage growth happens in the first 10 years of a career
2. more than half of Americans are married or living with or dating their future partner by 30
3. our personalities change more in our 20s than any other time
4. the things that we do and the things that we don’t do are going to have an enormous effect across years and even generations
What with most Americans also leaving school in their twenties, and taking up full-time employment as well, these have to be some of the most important years of life for establishing work and life habits as well. That’s why I use this platform to urge my readers in their 20s who work (or want to work) in IT to take up the habits of lifelong learning and technical self-improvement. I don’t care if you decide to pursue IT certifications or not — though they are a simple, relatively straightforward and affordable way to collect a series of “merit badges” that attest to continuing and current technical skills and knowledge — but I do think it’s worth making plans to pursue and attain regular technical training milestones as part of a healthy and growing career.
It might also be a good idea to read Jay’s book, and to ponder the questions she suggests to people of this certain (and sometimes uncertain) age: “What is it that you want?” “Where would you like to be in five or 10 years?” and “What do you want your job to be?” These are very important questions, among others about marriage and family, that twenty-somethings can only answer for themselves, and should therefore ponder carefully.
I wish these readers clear heads, unusual prescience, and suggest that they cultivate a sense of adventure and wonder to offset any possible dread or trepidation future prospects can arouse. Though my twenties are long behind me (I’ll be 60 this August) I still remember those times as the most interesting and exciting of my life. May your plans be well-crafted and your results stellar. And also: Best Wishes from another “Old IT Guy!”
April 20, 2012 6:49 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
evaluating pros and cons of ILT classroom cert training
, how to decide if expensive classroom training makes sense for your cert credential
A wise man once told me that the answer to any good question always begins with the same two words — namely “That depends…” In this case the good question has been popping up in numerous e-mails and blog post comments. It comes in a variety of forms, of course, but I’ll simply summarize them like this:
“Should I spend the money on high-dollar, instructor-led, classroom training for my certification, or should I look for some cheaper alternative?”
So, then, what does the answer to that question depend on? Here goes a list of possible alternatives, many of which are questions that the reader must answer for him- or herself:
1. Who’s paying? If you get financial assistance or an outright grant of some kind, there’s no doubt that students who take instructor led classroom training report the best overall learning experience. And important corollary to this topic is that it’s seldom worth incurring major debt to earn a certification, unless you’re already in a job that generates enough disposable income to make those loan payments good.
2. How well do you know the material? Somebody who’s prepping for an exam on a topic they know well may find it faster, easier, and much cheaper to take the self-study route to take and pass an exam, than to shell out the money and take 3 or more days away from the office to go through a classroom training adventure.
3. How important is the certification? I know people who’ve first tried the self-study route only to fail and fail again on the cert exam. But because they were required to possess a current credential of some kind, they had no choice but to keep trying until they passed the exam or exams in question and earned the necessary “piece of paper” to stay in their jobs. This is one case where cost becomes a secondary factor, and doing whatever is necessary to remain in the job comes first. That makes ILT classroom training almost a must (though many such folks still try the self-study route first in the name of economy) because the ability to interact with a knowledgeable and well-qualified instructor can make the difference between success and failure on the next try.
4. How big is your budget? Whether you’re paying yourself, have some or full support, the sky is seldom the limit for training outlays, especially in today’s tight budgetary climate. Though you can turn to a global, national, or boutique training company for your next ILT adventure, don’t forget you can also get good, high-quality instruction and lab access at a fraction of the cost from your local community college for most common cert topics and credentials (for more exotic or advanced topics, however, YMMV “your mileage may vary”, as they say on the Internet). While you can pay $1,000 -$1,500 a day for 8-9 hours of classroom training at a top-flight ILT establishment, you can often find the same kind of classes at community colleges for under $100 an hour, sometimes even under $60 an hour. Community college classes do take 9-12 weeks to complete and involve a longer-term time commitment, but if you can stand the schedule, it may offer a better way to invest scarce training dollars than on an intense 3-5 day class at a commercial training center somewhere.
5. What does the cert program require? Many certs recommend or suggest training, giving you the option to take the self-study route if you so choose. A fair number of programs — including those from VMware, Oracle, SANS, and others — include mandatory training requirements for some, if not all, of their credentials. Sometimes, you have to spring for ILT classroom or online training because that’s what earning the credential requires. In that case you’ll want to shop around for the best combination of cost and instructor credentials (remember, a cheap course from a bad instructor is nowhere near as useful or valuable as an expensive course from a good one).
As you answer the various preceding questions, it should become much easier to decide if you need to spring for ILT training, and what kind of ILT makes most sense for your needs — if any. Whatever you decide, good luck with your ongoing training and certification efforts.
More reading from Tom’s IT Pro
Training Options for IT Pros: a look at 37 global, topical, and boutique training companies and offerings
The Best Value for Your IT Training Dollars: a more in-depth look at community college cert training
April 16, 2012 3:47 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA makes social media and mobility training available to the IT channel
, CompTIA puts seal of approval on mobility and social media
You know that technology and communication trends are becoming accepted and entrenched when CompTIA picks them up and starts running with them. I don’t mean this as a criticism: the organization can’t afford to get too far ahead of the curve, or it risks leading the rank and file of its membership into cul-de-sacs or blind alleys. But I always find it an interesting form of validation and vindication when CompTIA picks up various technology trends that have been blazing brightly for some time, perhaps as a sign that a trend is “for real” or that the organization risks leaving its membership out in the cold if it doesn’t make training and information available to them.
What the IT channel really needs is ... social media and more mobility
That’s how I interpreted this press release from the 2012 CompTIA Annual Member Meeting, entitled “CompTIA Expands IT Channel Training Program.” Therein, CompTIA touts the availability of new IT channel training programs and materials “…designed to help IT channel companies diversify, grow and strengthen their business by identifying actions and strategies for embracing new technology solutions or entering new markets…” (from Kelly Ricker, CompTIA SVP for Events and Education) with a special emphasis on “… two of the hottest and fastest-growing areasa of corporate IT — mobility and social business.”
Offerings include a mobility channel training course “Maximizing your Mobile Management Solutions,” plus “Crafting a Mobility Offering,” along with a 10-week “Guide to Mobility” (please note that most offerings, as well as market intelligence information, are available only to CompTIA members and not the general public). At present only a single Social Media for Marketingoffering (from Autotask) is available through CompTIA’s Channel Training Calendar.
But hey, it’s now official that mobility and social media are out there and worth taking up, if you haven’t done so already, thanks to this confirmation and validation for the CompTIA rank and file!
April 13, 2012 2:35 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
15 days since last Building Windows 8 blog
, current lag since last Building Windows 8 blog is more than double media gap and almost triple the average
Hmm… Interesting! I’m looking at the Building Windows 8 (BW8) blog right now and doing some rough-n-ready frequency analysis. It’s been 15 days since the last post to the blog (“Touch Hardware and Windows 8“), but in the 10 prior posts before that no gap between postings is more than 8 days, with 2 on the same day one time (February 29, release day for the Customer Preview), and 1 each gaps of 1, 2, 4 and 6 days, with three each gaps of 7 and 8 days. That puts the average gap between posts around 5.3 days (let’s say 6 in round numbers), with something of a skew to higher posting frequencies than that. 15 days is quite a gap indeed after that kind of record, almost triple the average…
Is this the end for BW8 posting?
I certainly hope it isn’t the end but perhaps just a hiatus. I’ve grown fond of the regular information made available through this communication channel, and I have to believe there will still a lot of things to report about Windows 8, as more features and functions get locked down for the upcoming OEM release in July, and more and more Metro style applications begin to make their appearances.
Cross your fingers and hope for the best! It will be sad if MS decides to stop the regular updates and information that BW8 supplied so regularly, and so well…
April 13, 2012 1:57 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
economic jitters show weak improvement
, recent economic and hiring numbers fail to encourage or enthuse
In pondering recent economic and employment news, especially hiring and unemployment filing trends, I find myself wondering which of the three little pigs built the house in which our current economy lives. I’m quite sure it’s not made of brick, so it’s pretty much up to sticks and straw. Zounds! I think we better hope the Big Bad Wolf doesn’t come around to huff, and puff, and … well, you know the rest!
Our only construction choices seem to be rickety or ramshackle!
Thanks to Miss Mary’s Preschool Ideas Website for the photo!
I’m talking about China trying to keep its property bubble from bursting and deliberately steering growth downward. I’m talking about first-time unemployment claims increasing for this last reporting period (through the end of last week, reported yesterday) vis-a-vis the past 5 or 6 reports which have all trended downward. I’m talking about March job increases, which were half of those for the preceding 5 months or so. I’m talking about the European debt crisis, which seems stuck in reverse.
In short, I’m getting a shaky feeling about such growth and improvement as has been mustered over the last little while. In fact, if the little pigs had been granted access to as many decks of playing cards as had been needed for construction of one of their little houses, and one of those pigs a three-card Monte shark, I think it would have nailed the current situation down completely!
April 11, 2012 2:04 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
combining technical knowledge with communication skills delivers lots of interesting potential payoffs
, IT jobs that are hard to fill suggest useful areas for personal learning and development
An interesting story appeared on TechRepublic last week (April 6): entitled “10 IT job roles that are hardest to fill,” it recites a list of IT jobs that employers often have difficulty finding people for. As you look over the list, the reasons why this might be vary but given the situation (and the value of IT certifications that support some of them) it’s not hard to understand why these jobs often go begging for fulfillment. Here’s the list:
1. IT Trainer (I just wrote an article about IT Training Certifications for Tom’s IT Pro curiously enough; IT trainers have to know their stuff better than anybody else and be people-oriented at the same time: a rare combination, and such people are incredibly valuable and often quite expensive)
2. Project Manager (the Project Management Professional, or PMP, certification remains something of a “ticket to ride” in IT, which probably reflects increasing needs and short supplies for such professionals)
3. CIO/CTO/Director of IT/… (what can I say about this except “It’s lonely at the top, and hard to get there?”)
4. Help Desk Staff (I just wrote an article about this for Tom’s IT Pro, too, but it’s still in the editing process; the author’s comments on this position are interesting, given that pressure for entry-level folks and recent graduates to find jobs is pushing them into help desk positions in record numbers)
5. Specialized programmer (indeed, the more rarified or in demand a skill set might be, the harder such positions must be to fill, simply because of supply and demand)
6. Pre-sales engineer (feedstock for IT training skills and work, this is another job that requires a heady mix of technical skills and savvy with the ability to communicate and convey interest and excitement to prospective purchasers)
7. Technical writer (again, something that mixes communication skills with technical savvy, and requires the ability to understand, organize, and clearly convey often complex information and instructions)
8. Product Evangelist (there’s a common thread clearly emerging in that this is another position like IT Trainer, pre-sales engineer, and technical writer where deep technical skills and knowledge come in tandem with people and communication skills)
9. IT Author (keep this one in the same league as the other stuff just mentioned, and you have the write…errr…right idea)
10. Maintenance/legacy programmer (somebody’s got to keep the old systems running, incorporate necessary security updates and fixes, accommodate changes in climate — both technical and regulatory — and possess the right kind of programming skills and knowledge to make sense of yesteryear’s “spaghetti code.” Ouch!)
Certainly, all of these positions — except perhaps the CIO/CTO/etc. item — interesting and possibly rewarding areas from which both aspiring and active IT professionals might benefit from digging into. As for myself, I’m bemused that I’ve held and worked in 5 of these positions, all of which share the common thread of understanding technology and then conveying that understanding to others with varying degrees of breathless enthusiasm or hard-boiled “tell the truth” delivery: IT Trainer, Pre-sales engineer, technical writer, product evangelist, and IT author. This also suggests that if you venture into this part of the IT industry, you’ll have lots of potential sources of work among which you can choose. That’s certainly been the case for me, and for many of my peers and colleagues.