August 7, 2011 8:06 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CGIET promotes IT governance skills and knowledge
, use CGEIT to establish soft skills in IT governance
If you’ve been around the cert world for any length of time you’ve already heard about ISACA. ISACA used to be an acronym for Information Systems Audit and Control Association, but they forwent the underlying expansion and switched their name to the acronym a few years back. ISACA is best known for its Certified Information Systems Audit (CISA) and its Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) credentials, but has somewhat recently come out with a couple more credentials: the Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT: 2007) and the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC: 2010).
I’ll write about the CRISC (pronounced “see-risk”) some other time; today, my subject is the CGEIT (I don’t see a preferred pronunciation for this credential, but I’m in favor of “see-gite” where gite rhymes with kite). This credential is like the CRISC and the PMP in that it stresses skills that more senior IT professionals are likely to find useful in their jobs, particularly in lead technical or managment positions where an understanding of governance, risk management, and project management are ALL likely to come into play at one time or another.
A closer look at the CGEIT shows it to be squarely aimed at IT governance topics, and is a joint effort between ISACA and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI). There’s a pretty comprehensive list of study materials available online, that show a profound preference for ITGI, ValIT, and COBIT framework literature and materials. Thus, to some extent, the CGEIT can be veiwed as an alternative to similar certifications available from the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). In both arenas, the emphasis is to understand and use prevailing best practices and modules for IT operations and governance, with particular emphasis on how to align IT with an organization’s business objectives or explicit charter. This includes a determination to rationalize and manage investments in and use of IT to achieve the best return on investment (ROI), to minimize risk and exposure, and to establishing an environment where continuous improvement on processes and policies guides all planning and activity.
For those who plan to work in IT over the long haul, particularly for those inclined to climb either a technical or a mangement job ladder in IT, the CGEIT (or something like it in the ITIL space) is an excellent “soft skills” credential that can augment and extend a person’s knowledge and skills outside inherently technical, or platform- or technology-specific domains. It’s definitely worth looking into, and perhaps even pursuing for those who find its subject matter interesting enough to justify at least three months’ of study and preparation and a $375-475 exam.
August 5, 2011 4:08 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
markets continue their slide despite modest jobs uptick
, Modest job creation for July 2011 with minimal unemployment drop
Headline for July 2011 Employment Situation Summary
As I was listening to NPR yesterday, one of the news staff indicated that best-guess forecasts for today’s latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics was likely to report 85,000 new jobs added and employment to hold steady at 9.2 percent. But when that report went public at 8:00 AM Eastern this morning, the July numbers were higher at 117,000 for jobs added, and lower at 9.1 percent employment overall.
How I wish that the prediction that higher-than-expected numbers would boost stock markets proved to be warranted. As I write this blog, the markets have been open for almost three hours and the Dow is trading down 155 points or so (about -1.37 percent from today’s open). The S&P 500 is down -1.88%, the NASDAQ is down -2.82%, and major overseas and foreign markets are all down, down, down. We’re “testing the bottom of the markets” as the old stock traders’ saying goes — and where she stops, nobody knows, either!
For July, the Information sector (as reported in Table B-1) is down by 1,000 jobs overall. This is only minimal movement, so it’s not unfair to say that things are pretty much unchanged since last month over the whole information sector. The biggest loss is in telecommunications which shed 2,700 jobs, mostly offset by a gain of 1,900 jobs in the “Other information services” grab-bag in this category.
It’s funny that even though things are better than expected, with overall unemployment down just a tad, that markets continue to tank. Could it be that all the pent-up concern that built up while the world held its breath to see if the US would default on its debt, has now been released in the form of a big sell-off? Maybe so. But my old mantra comes back to bug me: “Stay put. Keep calm. Hope for improvement.” It look like that last item is going to take a while to materialize… Let’s just hope the ride doesn’t get too rocky in the meantime!
August 3, 2011 1:41 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CCNP CCSP accredited by CNSS for 4013 training standards
, Cisco professional security certs meet important US Govt criteria for training mtrls
Although the government standard to which the CCNP Security (and its predecessor, the CCSP) complies was released in March 2004 (CNSS Instruction 4013: National Information Assurance Training Standard for System Administrators) it wasn’t until yesterday that Cisco announced its compliance with said standard in its Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP Security) and Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) credentials.
When I saw an early draft of this material under embargo from Cisco, tht draft only mentioned the CCSP and didn’t include the new CCNP Security credential introduced in October, 2010. This led me to speculate that Cisco had decided to keep the CCSP alive while also introducing a successor certification — namely, the CCNP Security credential. It does take time to get over the hurdles necessary for a credential to achieve the necessary recognition from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) to assert that courseware meets a training standard. I had guessed that CCSP would stick around long enough for the CCNP Security to be recognized. But with CCNP Security now part of the mix from the get-go, I have to guess that Cisco will retire CCSP sooner rather than later, to help it keep its sizable certification portfolio under control.
Here’s what the press release on this accreditation says on the subject:
This recognition of CCNP Security complements the existing CNSS 4013 designation for CCSP. It also is the progression of CNSS 4011, a feature of the CCNA Security curriculum.
I have to assume that Cisco will keep the CCSP alive long enough for candidates in the pipeline to get certified, and commitments to training providers to certify staff for government agency or contractor jobs in this area to be met. After that, I’d expect to see a migration/upgrade path for CCSPs to switch over to the newer CCNP credential, probably by taking some kind of exam after the refresh interval (two years) for the CCSP elapses.
August 1, 2011 2:53 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
GoCertify.com is my go-to source for cert info; GoCertify.com is THE BEST online resource for current cert program and credential info
Given that an important part of my professional life is focused on IT certification, I regularly spend time digging into and researching available programs and credentials, and keeping up with changes in th overall certification landscape. As I work on such things, my go-to information resource has been and remains Anne Martinez’ terrific GoCertify Website.
Banner area from GoCertify.com
For example, this weekend I found myself responding to a request for a list of IT certification training companies and providers for them to target for upcoming advertising. Because the list of cert programs and credentials at GoCertify is so complete and comprehensive, I was able to compile a targeted list of top offerings, and to easily zero in on the best training providers for that collection of credentials.
But that’s just the tip of the huge berg of information available at GoCertify. You can use it locate certifications by topical area, level of expertise involved, and distinguish vendor-neutral from vendor-specific certs. You can also read current cert news and cert-related articles, check out the GoCertify blog, find links to quizzes, practice tests, books, and training providers, and a whole lot more.
I simply don’t know of any better general clearinghouse for IT Cert information, and I think you should know about it, too. If you don’t already visit GoCertify.com regularly, check it out! But be prepared to lose some time as you explore its many treasures and information troves.
July 29, 2011 2:34 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician certificate appears well-suited to growing market needs
, CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician certificate represents a well-crafted attempt to meet market demands for IT
As I jumped up to the CompTIA Web site this morning and checked their latest press releases for signs of new programs and activities, I came across an item entitled “CompTIA Introduces Healthcare IT Technician Certificate.” In addition to prompting a “Hmm…that’s interesting” response from me, it also got me to thinking about other programs I’ve seen CompTIA introduce over the past decade and more. Some of these have gone on to anywhere from modest (Linux+, RFID+, Project+) to major success (Security+), while others have come and then gone as well (HTI+ or Home Technology Integrator+, DHTI+ or Digital Home Technology Integrator+, e-Biz+, i-Net+, and Convergence+).
Other than proving an assertion that not all CompTIA certs go on to fame and glory, what else does this tell us about the CompTIA certification selection and creation process, and any given new cert’s chances of success? For one thing, it’s important to remember that CompTIA is the Computing Technology Industry Association, a consortium of computing industry vendors, players, resellers and retailers, and representatives from leading research, academic, government, and public interests. Certifications are driven by requests from the membership, with surveys and measurements to determine levels of interest and support, then launched to meet perceived and stated needs for individuals who possess certain knowledge and specific skills sets that match up to well-researched job role investigations, job task analyses, and so forth and so on.
What the membership wants is to sell computing technology, and then to make sure the human and technical infrastructure is in place to make it succeed in the marketplace. But not all desires to sell translate into actual market uptake, or into genuine, long-term business or consumer needs. The HTI+/DHTI+ is an excellent case in point: there is an amazing amount of really cool technology available for computing-enhanced homes with alarm systems, media centers and home theaters, home networks, and so on. But it’s still the case that only high-end builders offer options for such things during home construction — and then usually only as high-dollar add-ons to basic home plans and build-out options — and that this kind of home remains the exception rather than the rule. And what with a moribund if not occasionally tanking economy of late, it’s proved hard to grow the critical mass necessary to sustain such a certification in the face of home buyers (and remodelers) who, above all, are keeping a very tight grip on their pocketbooks.
What does this mean for the Healthcare IT Technician certificate? I think it means two things: one, it’s a clear sign that CompTIA will never stop looking for areas of technical IT expertise to capture and distill into various certifications; and two, it reflects what I’ll call a “slam dunk” mentality for the kinds of new credentials the organization is most likely to back and foment going forward. Nobody can deny that healthcare is a huge sector of our economy, and one that an aging baby boomer population (of which I am a member) is likely to swell much further over the next 30 years and beyond. There is already a need for more qualified IT staff to work in the healthcare sector, and careful reading of this certificate program shows that it aims as much at clinics and smaller medical practices where technology is still taking root, as at larger clinics, hospitals, and mega-corporations that target the healthcare sector.
Does this mean I think the the Healthcare IT Technician certificate program is likely to succeed? I can’t say for sure, but it certainly seems to target an area where continued growth and activity is likely for the foreseeable future. That’s not to say CompTIA can’t get it wrong, but in areas where its membership has strong interests and expertise (which they do) and where the market rises up to meet them (as it must, for healthcare) I would have to say the odds are certainly in their favor.
July 27, 2011 6:59 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft surveys cert holders and hiring managers to understand recert parameters
, take a survey to give MS feedback on recert for advanced credentials such as MCITP or MCPD
Just saw this post on the MS Learning Born to Learn blog: “We need your feedback about recertification.” It’s from Krista Wall who I’ve dealt with over the past few years in connection with all kinds of credentials, and cert-related programs and activities. The post kick-off includes this statement
…to maintain the value of your certifications, we need to ensure that Microsoft Certifications keep pace with changing technologies and remain a meaningful indicator of a candidate’s continued competence
Then she brings up the notion that technologies keep changing even for current products as new service packs, revisions, and product versions get released. No kidding! The seemingly interminable lifespan of Windows XP throws this into stark relief, with a life cycle of 9 years and still counting in many corporate offices and business locations. She also adds the observation that recertification provides a way to update “…an advanced-level certification…” so that holders can validate skills on newer stuff than their original cert included, without having to retake an entire certification’s exams (this only matters for certs that require more than one exam, and matters progressively more as the total number of exams involved goes up).
Born to Learn Seeks Recert Feedback!
MS is conducting a survey aimed at cert holders and hiring managers for recertification on advanced certs, and specifically mentions MCPD and MCITP as examples for this kind of thing. They would like to understand how often recertification makes sense (2 or 3 years is my best guess), what kinds of activities “count” toward such a goal, and if an exam of some kind should be involved. If this sounds interesting to you, you can take the survey yourself. As for myself, I’ll be very interested in mulling over the survey data and analysis as soon as it becomes available!
July 25, 2011 4:49 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
MCTS Forefront Identity Manager exam in beta thru August 4
, sign up now to take free beta exams for Forefront Identity Manager 2010
When MS cert exams are in beta they are number 71-xxx instead of 72-xxx. The Microsoft Forefront Identity Manaer 2010 exam will be in beta until the end of next week, and is thus currently numbered 71-158. The full moniker for this exam is 71-158 TS: Forefront Identity Manager, Configuring and it already has a prep guide available which, interestingly enough, lists the exam number as 70-158.
Header blurb for beta Forefront ID Mgr Exam
For those not already in the know, Forefront Identity Manager 2010 is an enterprise tool designed for environments with 5,000 or more identities to manage throughout their entire lifecycles. Deployments are often greographically dispersed, and cover multiple organizational units. Sometimes, implementors must also take compliance with regulatory frameworks or requirements into account when creating and managing user identities, and multiple applications consuming identities, and multiple disjoint data sources (each requiring separate authentication) may also be involved.
Candidates for this exam must demonstrate mastery over a broad array of tools, technologies, and skill sets including Active Directory (and other directory services, where applicable), PowerShell, security policies and procedures, sufficient familiarity with Microsoft SQL Server to write basic queries, experience with email and messaging platforms, and 2-3 years of experience working with Forefront Identity Manager, including provisioning, deprovisioning, use management, and password management. There’s a pretty hefty diagnosis and troubleshooting component as well, including analyzing root causes via tools and statistics, such as Event Log, Preview, Stack traces, statistics values, the Service Trace Log, portal request logs, MPR explorer, and the Management Pack.
The good news is: If you sign up for, take, and pass the beta exam by August 4, you don’t have to pay and you’ll be awarded the TS certification that goes with production exam 72-158. If you’re interested, you’ll want to sign up right away. With exactly two weeks left to run, seats have to be filling up fast!
July 22, 2011 2:50 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Indeed.com reports on top IT skills in demand
, social media and mobile computing top up key IT skills for new jobs
The folks at Indeed.com make a business out of consolidating online job ads for North America and making them searchable. While they’re at it, they’re not bashful about mining the results of their labors, either. ZDNet blogger Joe McKendrick pulled out some interesting data from a recent Indeed report to provide a top 10 list of the skills that appear most frequently in online job postings. Here they are, in numerical order:
2. Mobile app
7. Social Media
9. Cloud Computing
If anybody needs validation for my previous blog post (“Social Media Gains IT Career Boost Status“) I’d have to say these results speak loudly, eloquently, and even forcefully directly to my assertion that social media skills can be good for an IT career, or provide added career growth options for IT professionals. It’s also incredibly interesting to me that 8 of the 10 items on the list are directly related to mobile computing or social media (which tend to travel together more often than they fly solo) and that the other two items (in positions 9 and 10) play mostly supporting roles to enabled widespread use of social media and mobile computing (among lots of other things, to be sure).
Quite an interesting collection of informaiton in a very compact Top 10 list, no matter how you slice it. It seems that the rush is on, and it is affecting IT across the board, and probably defining more of all of our futures than might have appeared likely or even possible. Veeeeeeeeeeeeeery interesting…
July 20, 2011 3:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Dell makes incredibly effective use of social media
, social media interest can create new job opportunities for IT professionals
, social media savvy IT pros can write their own tickets on the job
Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of attending Dell’s second annual Customer Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting, as a replacement for my long-time colleague and friend David Strom on behalf of his employer’s Website ReadWriteWeb.com (aka RWW; see “Dave Strom Note” at the end of this blog for more info).
Members of CAP at Westin Hotel (7/19/2011, © Creative Commons; photo by Dell staff)
While one of the purposes of the Dell CAP meetings is to solicit input and feedback from the customer perspective, the name of the event omits another one of its primary foci — namely, it’s exclusive focus on social media, especially blogging, twitter, facebook, and so forth. Most of yesterday’s discussion focused on how Dell is using, measuring, and working with social media to provide better service and support for its customers, and to offer a faster and better channel for information dissemination as well as communication between Dell’s staff (of which there are now roughly 25,000) and its millions of customers.
I’m going to be writing an article about the details of that encounter for Dave at RWW later today, but that’s not why I’m writing this blog. I’m writing this blog because yesterday’s encounter also forcefully showed me that social media activity and savvy can be good for an IT career, or help IT professionals with a yen to get into higher levels of service, support, marketing, or communications, a great bridge from a purely technical position into something that combines technical savvy and skills with a communications and spokesperson role.
How might this happen? I’ll tell you how:
- Dell has created a social media support organization that started with 10 people in 2010 supporting English-language-only communications, and today involves 70 full-time staff supporting communications in 11 different languages around the world.
- Dell has invested millions of dollars in an astounding monitoring/measurement/dashboard environment called Radian 6 that provides detailed metrics on posts, tweets, Facebook wall activity, and so forth, associates them with key search terms, various product and service categories, and ranks such information and provides informative visual displays and dashboards. We visited Dell’s Social Media Operations Center yesterday: with its 6 huge screens’ worth of display and ongoing status updates it’s as impressive as any of the corporate NOCs (network operations centers) I’ve visited over the years at companies like EDS, IBM/Tivoli, or Computer Associates.
- Dell has created dozens of positions that essentially require employees to interact with users via twitter, Facebook, and so forth, or to create and maintain a regular blog presence with ongoing comment and chat support. These are generally technically and experienced IT professionals who also have the ability to communicate and interact well with customers. Several of them told us yesterday that they have never enjoyed any of their other jobs, at Dell or elsewhere, as much as they enjoy their current gigs. And FWIW, at least one of the social media team members told us yesterday that this is the first job she’s ever had where it continually comes as a surprise to her that it’s 5 PM or later, and already time to go home. At work, on the job, it seldom gets better than that!
What all of this tells me is that it’s crystal clear that social media have become an important conduit for companies to interact with customers (and partners, and even internally). That means that IT professionals with an interest in social media, and the ability to use it well, can carve out interesting and potentially more lucrative job positions and paths than might otherwise have been available to them. And it’s a win-win situation, in that effective use of social media is proving to be a great way to improve the customer experience, and burnish a company’s or organization’s perceived value or worth in the eyes of those customers.
Dave Strom Note
I knew of David as the founder and first Editor-in-Chief at Network Computing magazine when I met him in 1993 when I joined the Program Committee for Interop as Novell’s representative. When I left Novell in May 1994, I was delighted to be asked to stay on the Program Committee, so Dave and I worked together in that capacity until I left that group in 2002. Over the years, I’ve also worked for Dave at numerous publications including Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s Guide, Digital Landing, and on various corporate projects of one kind or another. Now, I’m working for him again at RWW. In all fairness, I should also observe that I’ve hired Dave to work on projects with me from time to time, so that relationship is not all one-way, either. But Dave is a passionate and well-informed user and observer of information technology, and a long-time source of insight and information about the tools and industries that support IT. Check out his blog, his video product reviews, and learn more about his speaking business, if you like.