September 28, 2011 1:59 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Brocade accredited and certified credentials
, lots to like in and about the Brocade certification program
It’s always gratifying to hear from readers of this and other blogs, doubly so when what I hear comes from other players in the industry. That’s why I was very gratified and interested to hear from Joe Cannata last month: he’s a Senior Manager for Business Development at Brocade (more formally, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.) a company best known for its high-end networking solutions. Although Joe’s title doesn’t mention “certification” anywhere, he’s the guy who runs the company’s many and varied certification programs.
Last Monday (9/26/2011) it was my pleasure to speak with Joe to discuss Brocade’s past, present, and future certification plans. I was very interested to learn that nearly 12,000 individuals hold some form of Brocade accreditation (not all of their credentials are formally identified as “certifications”) and that nearly 20,000 such credentials have been granted since their program kicked off nearly 10 years ago. Here’s a screen cap from the company’s certification overview brochure (PDF):
3 Tracks, and 3 Levels for Brocade Certification
I had to reduce this image significantly to get it to fit the blog window width, but you can grab the afore-linked PDF and consult page 4 to see the full-size original. The important things to notice are three tracks and three levels for a 9-cell matrix, which I’ll reproduce in a table:
|Brocade Certification Program Overview
||Certified Professional FICON Track 2010
||Brocade Certified Professional Data Center Track 2012
||Brocade Certified Professional Internetworking Track 2010
|Elite Level (Advanced)
||Brocade Certified Architect for FICON
Brocade Certified Fabric Professional
|Brocade Certified Fabric Designer
||Brocade Certified Network Professional
Brocade Certified Layer 4-7 Professional
|Premiere Level (Intermediate)
||Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator
||Brocade Certified SAN Manager
Brocade Certified Fabric Professional
Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator
|Brocade Certified Network Engineer
Brocade Certified Layer 4-7 Engineer
|Select Level (Beginner)
||Brocade Accredited FICON Specialist
Brocade Accredited Data Center Specialist
|Brocade Accredited Data Center Specialist
Brocade Accredited Server Connectivity Specialist
|Brocade Accredited Internetworking Specialist
As you can see, actual certifications don’t kick in until you get to the Intermediate level and into administrator, professional, manager, and engineer job roles. All the entry-level items are designated as “accredited specialist” credentials instead. Brocade’s technology focus areas include SAN and high speed networking with an emphasis on both IP and Fibre Channel based storage networking technologies. This is very interesting stuff, and I’ll keep digging into it monthly for the foreseeable future. Please stay tuned for additional posts on the program and its contents, or visit the main Brocade certification page for more information.
September 26, 2011 4:00 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
another version of our CISSP book is again in the offing
, CISSP exam objectives due for significant update for 2012
Wow! We are really cycling through some changes on the CISSP exam. If you take a look at this blog from the exam development team at Transcender (a well-known and widely respected purveyor of premium-priced IT certification practice exams, and now also a part of Kaplan, Inc.) you’ll get a pretty good sense of what’s in the offing for half of the domains in the Common Body of Knowledge (aka CBK) for the CISSP exam. Check it out at “The Transcender Team Explains the Coming CISSP Update – Part 1 of 2.”
Headline for recent update blog on CISSP objectives
This will be the third revision upcoming for our CISSP Study Guide (currently in its 5th edition) in as many years. Looks like the continued popularity of this certification is spurring significant attention to its timeliness and coverage, with concomitant impact on the amount of change to the exam’s content. Here we go again! Shon Harris and Microsoft will rev their book just after and just before New Year’s, respectively, and Mike Chapple, Michael Stewart, and I will be huffing and puffing to keep up.
September 23, 2011 1:29 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel's first IT cert article goes live on TomsITPro.com
, TomsITPro goes live with Ed Tittel IT cert coverage
I’ve been writing for various Tom’s Hardware Websites (Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s Guide, to be more specific) since the turn of the millennium, having started with translating articles for them from German into English. That’s because the “Tom” in the Website names is “Dr. Tomas Pabst, MD” and the site’s technical and professional nexus still remains seated in the Munich area in the Federal Republic of Germany, along with a strong international presence throughout Europe, North America, and the rest of the globe.
About two months ago, I was contacted by James Alan Miller, the site editor for a new Tom’s Website, called Tom’sITPro(short for Tom’s IT Professional) a new branded site for the Tom’s empire (now owned by French media company BestofMedia, and with sites in many languages around the world (French, English, German, Spanish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, Turkish, Italian, Mandarin, and perhaps more, because it’s hard to tell how many languages are supported in toto). After a quick and happy agreement that I would serve as their “certification guy” — in much the same way that I write and blog regularly on certification topics for PearsonITCertification.com, and also blog on certification right here — I embarked on a series of nearly two dozen articles on a wide range of certification topics for the site.
Today, I’m very pleased to announce that my first Tom’sITPro article posted early this morning, entitled “Training Options for IT Pros.” Check it out to find my coverage of various IT training companies that cover the whole certification spectrum, or those that specialize in various subject areas (vendor-specific programs, information security, computer forensics, and more). I hope you’ll also tune into this great new site, and add it to your favorites as you search for general business IT news, information, reviews, and, of course, certification coverage from yours truly.
September 22, 2011 5:46 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
follow-up discussion with Don Field about MS Learning recertification plans and thinking
, MS Learning shares recertification survey results
On August 17, 2011, I posted a blog entitled “MS Recerts Are Coming” to follow up on my original July 27 item “Microsoft Seeks Recert Feedback.” In those posting I reported on Microsoft’s survey to ask certified professionals about their thinking on recertification and related requirements (the 7/27 item) and then to report that the Windows Phone Developer MCPD (and since then, the Azure Developer MCPD) have gained recertification requirements. On Monday, I had a nice conversation with Don Field, Senior Director of Microsoft Certification Programs at Microsoft learning to discuss the results of their recertification survey. He also posted a short item on Born To Learn on Tuesday, 9/20/2011, entitled “Recertification survey: Results are in!” that discuss the company’s findings on that survey.
Here are the high-level results, lifted straight from Don’s blog:
Most respondents (84%) were neutral or positive about requiring candidates to demonstrate continued competence. 65% of respondents were either positive or very positive.
When we asked how often someone should need to recertify, most people recommended between 2 and 3 years.
Requiring an individual to pass an exam specific to that certification was rated the most preferred and most relevant activity for demonstrating continued competence.
The vast majority of respondents (93%) answered that recertification would have either no impact or a positive impact on the value of the program. 75% of respondents felt that it would have a positive or very positive impact.
My own follow up conversation with Don also included some further interesting highlights as well. First and foremost, this introduction of recerts for the two credentials already mentioned (MCPD on Winodws Phone Developer and Azure Developer) do not necessarily indicate that any and all MS credentials will become subject to automatic expiration dates and mandatory renewals in the immediate future. It’s certainly a possibility that some will become subject to renewal, but there’s a lot of thinking, research, and planning that will be necessary before any dominoes start falling over. Second, MS hasn’t ruled out continuing education in lieu of re-examination for any certs, though re-certification examinations certainly do have a lot in common with earlier upgrade examinations for the MCSE and MCSA credentials. Third, it’s very important to understand that most respondents to the survey, and most employers, all agree that recertification adds value to existing credentials, and will probably boost the standing and value of the newer Microsoft certifications as well.
I think this is a very positive development myself, and that it shows the continuing maturation and evolution of the Microsoft certification program and its growing portfolio of credentials. And with CompTIA just having switched over to regular recertification for its credentials as well that means that the Top 3 programs –namely, Cisco, Microsoft, and CompTIA—all make recertification part of their standard way of doing business. I have to think this is all to the good for IT professionals, the companies that hire them, and the recruiters or headhunters who seek out qualified IT talent for placement in IT positions.
September 19, 2011 2:56 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Only small changes in the offing for Q4-11 IT hiring
, Robert Half seeks silver lining in lackluster IT hiring plans
I found a recent story at the Certification Magazine Website entitled “CIOs Talk IT Hiring in Q4” that appears to provide a glimmer of good news on the IT hiring front, for what would be a decidedly welcome change. This report is based on the most recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report for Q4 2011.
Here are some highlights, straight from the Robert Half press release on this latest report:
- The net 6 percent increase in anticipated IT hiring activity is up two points from a net 4 percent increase in hiring activity projected last quarter.
- Ninety-two percent of CIOs are confident in their companies’ growth prospects in the next three months, up five-points from last quarter.
- Eighty-eight percent of technology executives rated the confidence of their firms investing in IT projects in the fourth quarter a 3 or higher on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the most optimistic.
- IT security and networking professionals are in greatest demand right now, according to survey respondents.
- Two-thirds (66 percent) of CIOs said it’s challenging to find skilled professionals today, up eighteen points from the previous quarter.
Hmmm: very interesting! Here’s what I take away from this information: First, IT hiring plans are ever so slightly on the upswing. Second, even though growth projections are decidedly optimistic, hiring plans are not very aggressive at all. Third, a lack of bullishness also shows in the middle-of-the road rating for confidence in upcoming IT investment for the current quarter. Fourth, security and networking are as important as ever (something that’s unlikely to change for the foreseeable future). Fifth, as the old saw goes “Good help is hard to find.” Maybe this is more a case of “no bad news is good news” though it’s not unwarranted to say “no big change means no big news,” either.
While both CertMag and Robert Half seem ebullient about this report, I’m not so sure it tells us to expect any significant changes in the IT hiring and activity climate through the end of 2011 (and probably, well into 2012 as well). I find myself repeating my old mantra “Hunker down. Stay put. Things have gotta get better sometime…” But when?
September 16, 2011 2:07 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
great offer for free MS exam preparation from MS and New Horizons
, MS and New Horizons team up for pre-exam mentoring sessions
In a rare and unusual display of industry wide cert candidate support, Microsoft and New Horizons have teamed up to offer free mentoring sessions to students who have recently taken a certification training class but not yet taken the corresponding exam. The “rare and unusual” part of this offer comes from its extension to any and all cert candidates. In other words, you needn’t have taken a class from Microsoft nor New Horizons to qualify for this offer (see this Born to Learn blog post from 9/6/2011 for more details “Certification Mentoring Partnership Launches“).
- Born to Learn covers MS Learning Topics
Here’s a key snippet from that blog post that explains a bit more about what’s available and how it works:
What it is:
Delivered by Microsoft Certified Trainers
Sessions are delivered as webcasts
Reviews the top technical issues that correspond to the questions that are most often missed on the certification exams
What it is not:
Current Mentoring Topics:
Windows 7 Developers
See the New Horizons Web page entitled “Confidence Before You Sit for the Exam” for more information, details, and program sign-up (registration required). Obviously, New Horizons thinks you’re going to like this offer so much you’ll come see them for a future course some time. My advice: take advantage of this while it lasts, if you’re taking any of the related MS exams. It’s almost too good to be true!
September 14, 2011 12:20 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA should put its money where its mouth is on jobs plan
, why not offer training and exam discounts to help the unemployed get back to work
Check out this 9/12/2011 press release from CompTIA “CompTIA Supports Innovative Approaches to Putting People Back to Work, Streamlining Regulations for Small Business.” Therein, CompTIA President and CEO Todd Thibodeaux manages to endorse elements of President Obama’s jobs plan without coming right out and endorsing the plan in its entirety or granting much, if any, kudos to our Commander in Chief for his recent speech and related jobs plan efforts.
Specifically, CompTIA endorses continuation of the halving of the Social Security payroll tax and write-offs for investments in computing equipment. As you’d expect, Mr. Thibodeaux also praises “… innovative ways to put people back to work, and advance training and education…” And likewise, it doesn’t take a rocket scientists to determine that CompTIA has something substantial to offer by way of certification, job preparation, and high-tech learning.
Mr. Thibodeaux also cites a need to fill 450,000 positions in high-tech right now, and an untold number of technology jobs in the future, then goes on to mention CompTIA’s discounts and special offers for returning US military veterans seeking to re-enter the civilian work force.
What I’d like to see is a plan for retraining the unemployed where the US Government helps propel them into high-tech training to help them re-enter the civilian work force, too. And while we’re at it, I’d like to see CompTIA offer the government a substantial (say 50%) discount on the costs of the exams those retrainees will need to get certified, and beat on their training partners to do likewise for training classes to help prepare them for those exams. And what the heck, why not give CompTIA and the training companies tax credits for those charitable contributions to getting unemployed Americans back to work.
There’s a jobs plan that I can relate to, and have to believe might actually do some good. Is anybody listening out there? What do you think?
September 9, 2011 9:50 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, Obama's jobs plan lacks ambition and chutzpah
Last night, President Obama addressed the US Congress, and proposed a new jobs-focused economic stimulus that would broaden the current Social Security tax cut for workers, and extend similar payroll tax cuts to small businesses. It would cut Social Security taxes by more than half for individuals (from 6.65 to 3.1 percent) and by about half for small businesses with payrolls of $5M or less (which means 98% of American businesses).
Another aspect to the President’s plan: a tax break of $4,000 for companies that hire individuals who have been unemployed for more than 6 months (according to the latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this means 43 percent of the unemployed population, which currently tops 15 million people). Other spending would extend existing unemployment benefits, boost support for public works, and provide aid to state and local governments to head off teacher layoffs. Total costs for all these suggested outlays: $447 B.
Economists are reacting positively to this plan with predictions for resulting new job creation ranging from one to two million new jobs as a result of the tax break. But predictably, Republicans are averse to any plans that involve additional spending without also providing offsetting sources of revenue. Given the current political climate, I give this plan a snowball’s chance in hell of being enacted as legislation. And even if the predictions prove true, reducing unemployment by 8-16% (from 9.1 to 8.4 or 7.7 percent) doesn’t strike me as a bold enough stroke.
If the President wants to dream big — and I think he should — I’d like to see more ambitious public works projects, more money (and work) for the chronic unemployed and underemployed minority populations in major metro areas, and some kind of “Newer Deal” for American citizens. If the Republicans are going to shoot it all down anyway, why not go for something really ambitious and meaningful instead of what economist Menzie Chin (University of Wisconsin) calls something that “merely makes up for the expiration of the president’s earlier $862 billion economic stimulus plan” (Chicago Sun Times, 9/8/2011).
September 5, 2011 8:40 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CEH candidates who wish to take the exam but not an official course must pay a $100 application fee
, CEH exam fees double
My eyebrows went up a bit as I read this headline in Anne Martinez’ latest Certification Watch newsletter (Volume 14#11, 9/1/2011, 2nd headline from the top): “Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Exam to Double in Price, Independent Prep Costs Extra.” Here are some details:
- As of September 30, 2011, the cost of the CEH exam goes up from $250 to $500
- Those who don’t purchase a CEH class from an authorized training partner must also pay a non-refundable $100 “application fee” to challenge the exam directly, and skip the class.
Martinez goes on to observe that the $100 fee is already in effect right now, but that the new CEHv7 exam won’t actually go live until October 1. If you’re already prepping for this exam, you can save quite a bit by accelerating your schedule to beat the deadline, but you’ll want to act fast: with such a powerful impetus, seats at Prometric or VUE testing centers for this exam in advance of that date are bound to fill up fast.
As for me, I’m not sure I like this maneuver on the EC-Council’s part. Though they do state that they “regret the inconvenience” of these changes on their CEH Web pages, they offer only the information that the course materials have been reworked and that they have invested “thousands of hours researching the latest trends and uncovering the cover techniques used by the underground community” (CEH Brochure, p. 2) to indirectly explain the price increase. When prices go up a little inflation and overhead are easy to invoke to explain such jumps; when costs double and new fees are levied, some form of direct acknowledgement and explanation seems to be in order. I don’t see anything like that from the EC-Council. I can only hope somebody in the organization will see this blog, and step forward to provide some more information. Without it, the move seems like nothing more than an outright profit grab, as does the $100 application fee.
Snippet from Application form cover page
What does this change tell you about the CEH? Its sponsoring organization (known as the EC-Council) obviously thinks a great deal of this exam. It also obviously wants to steer candidates into official training classes (most with price tags of $2,500 or higher) as evidenced by its $100 add-on application fee for those who want to challenge the exam directly. I’d urge such folks to meet and probably exceed the organization’s requirement for two or more years of information security related experience and to read over the Exam Eligibility Application Form carefully to make sure they can provide all of the requested information, and count on whomever the proffer as an employer reference to back up their assertions that they meet the organization’s background and experience requirements.