May 11, 2011 8:42 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco updates data center specialist certs
, new Cisco Data Center specialist certs for Unified Computing and Network Infrastructure
Nowhere is IT technology changing more quickly or thoroughly than in data centers around the world, particularly those that play host to a growing collection of cloud-based applications and services, including SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a service), or even cloud-based storage services. That explains why Cisco has just revamped many of its various Data Center Specialist certifications, as it announced yesterday (see Updates to Data Center Training and Certifications Announced).
Header from the Data Center Specialist certs page
By no small coincidence, the items of particular interest relate to these credentials:
[Note: Cisco specialist credentials generally map to job roles, so the Design elements cover the often more senior design- and planning-related people who perform such work, where the Support elements cover those who play an operational or deploy/maintain role.]
As far as I can tell, the Unified Computing system (UCS B and C, plus Cisco UCS Manager 1.3, to be specific) maps into the SaaS (or at least, a Web-based applications services) entry, where the Networking Infrastructure piece (with a focus on Nexus Series devices) maps into IaaS in similar fashion. The Cisco staff told me that they’d already updated their storage elements for Data Centers recently, and there doesn’t seem to be a platform play, per se, in the current collection of Cisco Data Center offerings (and thus, neither are there PaaS elements in the Cisco Learning catalog).
For more information, please visit the newly-updated Data Center Specialist Certifications page at The Cisco Learning Network site. Exams will begin to be available beginning June 15, 2011 through Pearson VUE, and training courses are available now through the Cisco Learning Network Store.
May 8, 2011 9:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
free training materials from MS Learning for Spring 2011
, raft of topics covered from MS Learning shelves
, Spring Cleaning assembles free MS Learning materials
A traditional activity turns up unexpected dividends at MS Learning
Thanks to Julie Lary’s posting on the MS Born to Learn Blog last week (it’s entitled “Announcing Spring Cleaning“) you can gain easy access to a whole slew of free e-Learning offerings from Microsoft Learning. Visit the Spring Cleaning list to get access to free e-books, online training, exam coaching sessions, and other helpful resources to teach you about Microsoft technologies, and help you prepare for related certification exams. Here’s a partial list of topics covered:
- Microsoft Exchange Server
- Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2
- Microsoft Virtualization
- Microsoft SharePoint Server
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Visual Studio
- Windows 7
You’ll find complete e-books, excerpts and sample chapters from other titles, videos of exam coaching sessions, code samples, and more amongst these many offerings — all of them absolutely free. Definitely worth checking out soon (spring cleaning can’t last too far into summer). Enjoy!
May 6, 2011 9:28 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
April 2011 Employment Situation Summary
, Good news for IT at long last in April 2011 employment numbers
, solid signs of growth in many key IT related areas for April 2011
Earlier this week, the markets made history when the major stock indexes (Dow, S&P500, and so forth) and commodity prices both went down at the same time, and for the same reason: prospects of slowing employment in the US. Today, the markets and commodities both rebounded when the US Bureau of Labor Statistics pushed its Employment Situation Summary for April 2011 out the door and reported substantially higher numbers than had been expected. Consensus guesstimates in advance of the report put employment gains at about 140-150,000; the actual number reported this morning was a much healthier 244,000, with gains across all industries and sectors reporting.
April 2011 Employment Situation
Perhaps not to be outdone by the recent double-dip in markets and commodities, this report also features an unusual combination of number swings: at the same time that the employment number jumped to a respectable value, unemployment also edged up from 8.8 to 9.0 percent. This doesn’t happen very often, and analysts are quick to point out that employment gains and the total unemployment numbers come from different surveys and thus are not bound to agree.
And for the first time I can remember since the downturn of 2008, the Information sector is up across most of the board (see Table B-1 for details) for April. Overall, Information is up 2K jobs for the month, and only telecommunications (-1K) and data processing, hosting, and related services (-400) are down, and not by terribly much. Publishing (not including Internet) is up 1.9K jobs, and other sectors vary from 300 (motion picture and sound recording) to 800 (other information services). Computer systems design and related services is up 7.9K jobs (a very good harbinger of coming growth in IT, I believe), and management and technical consulting services are likewise up 11.3K jobs (another good sign for IT). Professional and technical services are up a whopping 33K jobs, which is a good overall indicator of real, solid growth.
Folks, we’ve been waiting for a hint of good news for IT for some time now. April, 2011, shows some real signs of improvement. Now, let’s hop it’s a trend and not a momentary glitch or hiccup!
May 4, 2011 2:39 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco mobile learning pushes cert prep on to leading smartphones
, M-Learning is Cisco's moniker for smartphone-based cert study modules
You can really tell that smartphones are taking up an ever-more critical and sizable role in techies’ everyday activities when you stumble across something like this:
The caption says it all
Here’s the blurb further down the Cisco M-Learning page that explains how things work:
Cisco Mobile Learning covers all major mobile platforms
If you’ve got an iPhone (or iPad or Wi-Fi enabled iPod), a BlackBerry, or a handset or tablet running Android, you’re good to go. Lots of modules are available and cost from $4.99 to $6.99 (here’s the catalog page). If you’re studying for a Cisco cert and you own a device that falls under any of the previous covered platforms/OSes, you owe it to yourself to check this out. Way cool, and way handy, too!
May 2, 2011 1:54 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Brocade swiches to all-digital certification paperwork
, PDF-only certificates save money and energy and get paperwork to certified professionals faster
Last month, Anne Martinez posted a guest blog from data center and storage networking vendor Brocade entitled “Brocade Moves to PDF-only Certificates.” Basically, this puts certified Brocade professionals in the position of being able to access and download PDF files for their certificates of accomplishment shortly after they earn a new credential (see their Certification Program page for a complete listing of the company’s current credentials).
Brocade uses a typical pyramid model to depict its cert hierarchies
I have to applaud this move from several perspectives. It saves on time and energy involved in ordering, printing, and mailing paper from the cert sponsor to the certified professional. It enables certified IT professionals ready access to their paperwork, and lets them print certificates for framing as and when they want to. I wish all certification sponsors would quickly follow suit and get some of the red tape and delay out of the post-certification follow-up while helping the environment at the same time (and probably saving on expenses that can be invested in other, more productive improvements and enhancements to various certification programs). Bravo, Brocade!
April 29, 2011 3:58 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Emmett Dulaney Visual Guide to Social Engineering
, illustrated guide to common social engineering techniques
In what has to be one of his coolest articles in a long time — profusely illustrated, too, no less — Emmett Dulaney strikes gold over at CertCities.com with “A Visual Guide to Social Engineering.” He mentions this stuff in the context of the upcoming revision to the CompTIA Security+ exam due out next month, but anybody who has any kind of background in information security recognizes social engineering as a catch-all term for various forms of personal behavior and crafty manipulation of others that enables attackers to crack security of all kinds and gain access to (or even steal) information, credentials, and sometimes even hardware or money.
CertCities.com headline for another Dulaney masterpiece
Dulaney’s article focuses on overt physical behaviors as well as illicit online activity with photos to illustrate how these forms of social engineering work. You’ll find information on tailgating, shoulder surfing, dumpster diving, phishing, and hoaxes, all humorously illustrated and explained to make them approachable and easily understood. Emmett wouldn’t have to stretch too far to turn this article into an excellent primer for ISAT, aka “Internet Security Awareness Training.”
You definitely want to check this one out!
April 27, 2011 1:33 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, HP puts ExpertONE label on its cert programs; HP ExpertONE tracks include converged infrastructure
Among my many and various jobs (the life of a freelancer is often about changing hats frequently, which means keeping up with a large hat-rack and regular rotation of chapeaux), I moderate discussion groups on several forums at the HP Learning Center. Yesterday, I got a little bit blind-sided on the site when one of the online students asked about an HP certification program called ONEexpert. I dutifully poked around in my favorite search engines (Google and Bing) and couldn’t turn up anything, which I likewise reported to my interlocutor.
What I didn’t do then, but did do this morning, was to visit the HP Certification pages. What I immediately discovered was that HP has renamed its entire certification programs to “HP ExpertONE” as the following screen snip proclaims quite explicitly:
There it is in blue-on-black: HP ExpertONE
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that the student inverted the order of the names in asking about the HP program: there’s really not much difference between ONEexpert and ExpertOne — except to a search engine, which is why I initially missed the boat on his query. But it looks like HP rebranded its cert programs around October 20, 2010 (see this overview article “HP ExpertONE Certifications Announced” for more information on the details).
Among the many interesting features of this program are the following:
- HP will recognize existing certs from other vendors as credit applicable to their credentials. Thus, for example, a valid CCNP on wireless networks exempts candidates from sitting for the AIS exam on that same topic. Likewise, various MCTS and/or MCITP certs get candidates out of lower-level HP exams as well.
- HP has reorganized its offerings into “Certification Portfolios” around the topics of converged infrastructure (media, telephony, and conventional networking), basic networking (switches, routers, and so forth), and storage topics.
- HP is no longer taking a vendor-exclusive approach to certifications, and freely admits and covers third-party hardware and software elements in its various programs and offerings these days (though not as much as they cover their own gear and software, as you’d expect from a vendor-sponsored certification program).
All in all, HP seems to be continuing its long-standing tendency to certify individuals who’ve mastered basic IT technologies and infrastructure elements — which also explains their catholic outlook on accepting credentials from other sources as part of the feed-in to their own certs — and seems well-positioned to help IT professionals who work with its switches, servers, and storage systems to maximize their learning and earnings potential. Check it out!
April 25, 2011 5:08 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
buy MCP exams from Prometric now to save $25 each on exams over the next year
, MCP exam prices going up on July 1 2011
, MS to increase MCP exam prices on 7/1/2011
For the first time in nearly a decade — nine-plus years, anyway — Microsoft is raising its certification exam prices. As of July 1, 2011, the cost of an MCP exam (which applies to all Microsoft certifications except for Microsoft Office Specialist topics, and high end exams like those for the Microsoft Certified Architect and Microsoft Certified Master credentials) will jump by 20% from $125 to $150 in the USA. There’s a pricing tool to let people from all over the world assess the price increase in their local (or an acceptable payment) currency, as the following screen cap shows:
Prices are substantially lower in Uganda than in the USA, even after the increase
What will cert candidates get in exchange for the price uptick? Here’s what the FAQ on this topic says in partial answer to the question “What are the reasons for the price increase?”
The new fee structure enables Microsoft to improve the Microsoft Certification program. Examples of proposed improvements include new Microsoft Certifications, new question types, frequent updates to certification exams, improved exam security, and driving adoption of Microsoft Certification by accrediting bodies across the world.
Student discounts will remain available (and “substantial” according to the FAQ), and I would still expect to see promotions and discounts available through various outlets even after prices go up. But one thing’s for sure: with the date of a price increase known, and payment good for up to one year from exam purchase, if you’re planning to take an MCP exam any time in the next year, you might want to go ahead and visit Prometric online to pony up your $125 per exam now. Do it before prices go up, instead of waiting and paying an extra $25 on or after July 1.
April 18, 2011 2:45 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
free job interview session through MS Career Factor and Microsoft Certified Career Conference
, join Wendy Hill online April 19 for free job interview bootcamp online
Tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (-08:00) Microsoft will host a live job interview bootcamp through its “Career Factor” online reality show, hosted by Microsoft Staffing consultant Wendy Hill. Her sessions at the Microsoft Certified Career Conference on this topic have always been off the charts, and this one should be no different.
Agenda entry at MCCC site for job interview bootcamp 4/19/2011
Here are the steps on how to register for this event, ripped straight from Microsoft Learning’s “Born to Learn” blog:
1. If you have attended a Microsoft Certified Career Conference event (including this week’s résumé workshop), then you already have a username and password for the event website. Skip to step 4.
2. If you have not attended a Microsoft Certified Career Conference, then you will need to create a username and password. Go to www.msregistration.com/msl and create a profile. (You’ll be able to use this profile to access future live events and recorded sessions.) We recommend that you create your profile at least a few hours before the event just in case there are technical difficulties.
3. Follow the steps on the screen to register for “Microsoft Certified Career Conference OnDemand.” (Don’t be misled by the shopping cart–this event is free!) Once you’ve created your username and password, complete the registration process, verify that you’ve read the Cancellation Policy, and check out.
4. Sign in to www.mscareerconference.com and go to your Agenda (on the left side of the homepage). From this page you can add the event to your Outlook calendar so you get a reminder!
The session will be presented via the Live Meeting client, so please install it ahead of time. The link to join the session will be posted to www.mscareerconference.com 10 minutes before the session. If you return at this time and don’t see the link, refresh the page or check the Agenda page.
My advice is to jump right up and do this immediately, so you can tune in tomorrow and catch the action. Such items are usually recorded and then stored to the recordings library on the MS Certified Career Conference site, so you may even be able to drop by at another later time to view the recording after the fact!