September 23, 2013 2:34 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Last Thursday (9/19/2013) Rackspace announced a new, On-Demand training class for the OpenStack cloud computing environment (the classroom version runs 4 days and costs $2,500, so it will be interesting to see how much the online version goes for). The title of the course is “OpenStack Fundamentals,” and I didn’t find any mention of payment in the pre-registration form I just filled out (if I hear anything more about charges in the automated e-mail response that’s sure to follow, I’ll update this blog post to reflect my improved understanding of the circumstances involved). According to that sign-up page, the course “covers the history and components of OpenStack and teaches students how to build and maintain an OpenStack environment.” Even more interesting is the following sentence: “And unlike typical online courses, RackSpace’s online course includes virtual labs and a virtual workstation for students to use with courses activities.” Some knowledge of Linux and its CLI (command-line interface) is recommended for anyone who wishes to participate in the training, however.
Tony Campbell lets you know the on-demand class “OpenStack Fundamentals” will go live in October in a cheery video.
But that’s not all there is to the OpenStack announcement from Rackspace, either. The company is adding four new courses to its classroom-based training offerings above and beyond its OpenStack certification program. Here’s what the press release has to say about these new courses, where I include duration and cost in square brackets after the quoted text elements, and provide links to each course home page as well:
- OpenStack Networking – Neutron – Students learn how to use Neutron to provide a virtual Networking-as-a-Service between interface devices and allows the student to utilize an API to build and configure networking infrastructure [3 days $3,500]
- Building Cloudy Apps – Students learn how to build applications that are “cloud aware,” using Python to explore the concept of horizontal scaling, advantages of APIs and the skills needed to benefit a DevOps organization [3 days $2,750]
- Security in the Cloud – Students learn how to develop and apply security safeguards to each virtual layer of an OpenStack environment [2 days, $2,000]
- Hadoop on OpenStack – Introduces students to the big data processing platform, Apache Hadoop, its components and deployments in an OpenStack cloud [2 days $2,750]
All this looks very interesting, and tells me there’s a better-than-even chance that it’s just a matter of time before Rackspace starts building out its OpenStack certification program beyond the single technician-level credential that’s currently available, all by its lonesome.
September 20, 2013 2:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
According to a news item in the latest GoCertify.com newsletter (Certification Watch 9/19/2013), CompTIA plans to launch both of its new mobility-related IT certifications in October of this year. The two certs in question include both the Mobility+ and Mobile App Security+, where the former seeks to identify IT professionals with skills and knowledge pertaining to deploying, provisioning, and managing mobile devices, and the latter seeks to ensure that programmers understand how to design, build, and test mobile apps to make sure they’re safe and secure (and thus fit for business use).
Look out, world! CompTIA plans to unleash 2 new mobile certs in October 2013.
These two credentials already have their own exam pages up and available, where you can grab exam objectives, exam info, and other information relevant to each of them. To learn more, be sure to check out these home pages:
- CompTIA Mobility+: relates to job titles Mobility engineer, Network administrator, Mobility architect, Security administrator
- CompTIA Mobile App Security+: relates to job titles Mobile Application Developer, Software Developer, Application Development Manager, Network Security Developer
September 18, 2013 2:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
It’s the strangest thing: my son wants to learn to program a computer, so I’m helping out at his school library every Wednesday morning, where intrepid members of the Round Rock ISD IT staff volunteer to teach a class on Microsoft’s free SmallBasic . We start at the ungodly hour of 6:30, and help 31 students learn how to use this small but powerful IDE for building programs. Robert Eckstein is the lead instructor (he works for the central IT service group for the whole school system), ably assisted by Robert Heard (he’s the IT guy at Cactus Ranch Elementary, where the class actually meets). What’s strange and wonderful about the class is how excited the students are to make a computer do something, how quick they are to pick up on the language and its capabilities, and how intensely interested they are in digging ever deeper into what the toolset enables them to accomplish.
The MS Small Basic environment is easy to install, understand, and use, and features a very friendly autocomplete style of command/reserved word/variable substitution as students hack out bits of code.
This class consists of 4th and 5th graders, most of whom are just learning how to cut and paste, and starting to understand what keyboard shortcuts are, and how to use them. Seeing how excited and enthusiastic they are to be learning (and using) something new, I am reminded that even for old greybeards like myself, learning (and using) something new helps to bring interest and excitement to one’s working life. That’s why I encourage anyone who’s active in IT to create opportunities to study, learn, and play with things that interest them. Sure, there’s always the notion that time spent learning can — and often does — help to enhance or develop one’s career and often offers opportunities to advance or make changes that might otherwise not come along. But shoot, there’s also the sheer joy of learning and expanding one’s horizons, skills, and abilities. Seeing the shining eyes and glowing faces of the younger generation learning how to code, it’s a great opportunity to offer that same set of feelings and motivation to anyone who’s in need of a shot in the arm, career- or work-wise.
Go ahead: learn something! You won’t be sorry you did.
September 16, 2013 1:58 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Found a great story through the NPR program “All Tech Considered” this morning. Entitled “Army Looks to Schools to Find the Next Cyberwarriors” (dated 9/11/2013, by Dan Carsen), it recounts a budding partnership between Grissom High School (part of the Huntsville City Schools system) and the US Army Cyber Command (which has a presence in the Huntsville area, thanks to the numerous DoD installations in and around the Redstone Arsenal in Madison County). This program is an attempt to feed what Carsen calls “the cybersecurity career pipeline” by developing cybersecurity skills and knowledge from the ground up. Ultimately, the idea is to start providing information and exposure to public school attendees about cybersecurity issues in middle school, when more serious computer training generally gets underway for the overall student population.
Bright young minds are needed to meet growing needs for qualified cybersecurity professionals for the foreseeable future.
[Image Credit: NPR/JStockphoto.com]
Because serious cybersecurity careers often involve security clearances, cultivating interest in the field can also have positive lifestyle impact on public school students. Issues with crime or drugs will make candidates ineligible for such clearances. This means early information and exposure can help steer kids clear of potential temptations or indiscretions that might otherwise prevent them from establishing careers in the information security sector, where demand for skilled professionals looks bright for the foreseeable future.
The conclusion of Carsen’s story helps underscore this point, so I’ll reproduce it verbatim here:
Army and Huntsville leaders hope their curriculum will eventually spread across the country. At the end of the class, an enthusiastic junior admits he skipped his advanced-placement history class to sit in on the session. [The contractor who taught the class around which the story was based is named Rodney Visser, who ordinarily works as a "threat provider" and penetration tester for DoD networks.] “I think you made the right choice,” Visser says, half-joking.
Thanks to GoCertify.com, whose tweet entitled “Uncle Sam seeks high school cyberwarriors” brought this story to my attention.
September 13, 2013 3:30 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
A new and rapidly growing collection of cloud certifications is becoming available from an industry group known as the Cloud Credential Council, or CCC. They already offer a Cloud Technology Associate cert, and plan to introduce half-a-dozen new and more advanced professional level cloud certifications by the middle of 2014. Planned and already announced credentials include Cloud Administrator, Cloud Developer, Cloud Security and Governance, Cloud Service Manager, and a Cloud Architect. These should all be up and running by mid next year. According to Marcel Heilijgers, executive director of the CCC, with whom I spoke by telephone last week, they also plan to offer a Cloud Forensics credential as well, probably in the second half of 2014. It’s an ambitious program, and along with Arcitura Education’s CloudSchool.com, represents the most comprehensive and well-elaborated set of cloud computing certification credentials available today.
With lots of professional level certs coming sooner and later, the CCC Associate establishes the gateway for all of them!
Right now, their entry-level and gateway credential is called the CCC Associate: Cloud Technology. Interestingly, the credential covers both cloud and virtualization topics, and accepts the CompTIA Cloud Essentials in lieu of its own cloud essentials course and exam. There’s also a Virtualization Essentials course and exam involved as well, to make sure that candidates understand clouds from both sides (delivery and data center) to establish a firm and useful foundation for more advanced cloud topics. While you’re waiting for the rest of the CCC cert collection to become available, pursuing CompTIA Cloud Essentials and then CCC Associate: Cloud Technology offers a great way to find a pathway into the cloud.
September 11, 2013 1:49 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
I’ve been blogging a lot about cloud certifications lately, and in researching an upcoming Cloud Cert Survey story for Tom’s IT Pro, have also uncovered a number of new credentials that will be going live over the next 6-9 months (at least 15 of them, in fact). In just over three weeks, in fact, CompTIA will be launching its second cloud certification (the first is CompTIA Cloud Essentials) — namely, CompTIA Cloud+.
This time, when CompTIA says “Coming Soon” they really mean it — Cloud+ goes live on 10/1/2013.
Where the Cloud Essentials credential is an entry-level, foundational certification, Cloud+ aims at IT practitioners who work in and around cloud computing environments, and who are tasked with implementing and maintaining cloud infrastructures. Thus, CompTIA recommends that candidates should possess a minimum of two to three years’ experience in IT networking, storage, or data center administration. They should also be familiar with “any major technologies for server virtualization,” such as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM Server, Citrix XenServer, IBM PowerVM, Linux KVM, and so forth.
Exam objectives are already available from CompTIA’s Cloud+ page for download (registration required). The exam will run for two hours, and include 120 questions. A passing score is 750 on a scale of 100-900 (~81%). The exam code for Cloud+ is CV0-001, and exam vouchers are already available for purchase from CompTIA.
September 9, 2013 2:04 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
On August 30, I posted a blog here entitled “Cloud Certification is an Area of Huge Ferment for IT Pros” wherein I observed that there’s an amazing amount of action on the certification front. This weekend, I finally finished the story for Tom’s IT Pro that should appear on its pages some time in the next week to ten days. In that previous blog post, I reported the following progression of counts, based on two sets of numbers from Miroslaw Burnejko’s ITCertificationMaster.com, and my own in-process counts at the time. Here’s where I correct my counts to reflect how the story actually turned out (I’ll post a link to that story, along with its title, at the end of this blog post as and when that story goes live). Here’s a table that summarizes these findings along with some dates to tie them to a timeline:
|Table 1: Cloud Certs: The Closer You Look, the More You Find!
||Nov 29, 2012
||May 17, 2013
||Aug 30, 2013
||Sep 8, 2013
Here’s a little explanation of what you find in Table 1:
- It’s clear that the number of sponsors and the number of individual credentials is growing rapidly.
- My first August 30 counts didn’t distinguish between certs that are currently available and those that will be available within the next eight months, where both are lumped together in my count of 68.
- By the time I finished up yesterday (September 8, 2013) I distinguished presently available credentials (66) from those announced, but not yet publicly available (I found 15 that should be released by mid-2014, of which more than half are scheduled for public release by the end of 2013). I also discovered four more organizations sponsoring cloud-related certifications in the interim, several of which were newly-announced in the period between August 30 and September 8.
- I also discovered partner-only credentials with cloud coverage from a number of companies that I didn’t include in my survey (because they’re not available to the general public). But at least three companies — namely, Dell, Cisco, and SalesLogix — all offer one or more cloud certifications to partners in their sales channels that I was unable to access or document sufficiently to include in this survey. I’m sure there are more of these out there, too!
Keeping up with cloud certification looks to be a challenging task, and will probably require me to check in on the state of current and planned credentials monthly going forward, with more diligent searches for new items every two or three months. Now that the Tom’s IT Pro article has posted (“Cloud Certifications in 2013” 9/12/2013), if you know of anything I’ve missed, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get with this ever-changing topic area! Feel free to email me at ed at edtittel dot com with your suggestions or input, or do likewise by posting a comment here. Thanks!
September 6, 2013 2:01 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
With today’s August update to the 2013 employment figures out, some economists had expected the Fed to announce it would soon ease up on buying mortgages. But those expectations may have been based on “average job growth” numbers for August. Working back from recent numbers, this means new jobs added in the 175-185,000 range. But this morning, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported job growth for August at 169,000 with a minimal dip in the unemployment rate from 7.4 percent in July to 7.3 percent in August.
Nothing terribly surprising or inspiring in the August 2013 employment situation summary.
In earlier postings on these reports, I’ve characterized the US recovery as “slow growth mode.” Like it or not, that characterization appears to remain on-target for August, and very likely through the end of this year into 2014. Because improvements are very gradual on the one hand, yet fairly steady and in a range that is fairly narrow and thus also pretty predictable on the other, it will be interesting to see if the Fed governors let caution over-rule expectations (and keep on buying mortgages at the current $85B/month level) or vice-versa (and start easing up on the quantitative easing they’ve been conducting since November, 2008, when the initial round of quantitative easing got underway, probably dropping to $65B/month as Bernanke indicated in a report to Congress last month).
A quick peek at Table A-14 “Unemployed persons by industry and class of worker…” indicates that the total count of the unemployed in the Information sector increased from 172,000 in July to 192,000 in August, up almost 12 percent. Because these numbers change not only because of job losses in the sector but also as discouraged or sidelined workers resume their job hunts (both of which increase the total number of unemployed persons reported), it’s hard to say if IT lost jobs in August or if recent improvements are encouraging those who’ve been out of work for some time to start looking for work once again. But it’s inarguable that, like the overall economy, IT has been improving only by fits and starts, with some months showing improvements (like July) and others showing mostly modest setbacks (like August). Using the figures reported to calculate the sizes of the populations on which they’re based (that is, dividing the number of unemployed persons by the corresponding unemployment rates), the total population of IT workers did indeed grow from 2.89 million in August 2012 to almost 2.91 million in August 2013, indicating an increase of 19,000 in the intervening year. Thus, it also looks like the sector did experience a small job loss going from July into August, 2013 (under 10,000 jobs, I would guess).
It doesn’t look like there’s any reason to change my ongoing mantra for those looking for work in IT, or thinking about changing jobs in the field: “Don’t panic. Hunker down. Stay put (or keep looking).” Methinks this may be owing to inertia, but is also unlikely to change anytime soon, either.
September 4, 2013 4:13 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Ask any savvy online shopper how to find the best deals, and he or she will invariably tell you something like “Use a promo code!”, “Get a coupon.”, or perhaps “Dig for discounts.” The same thing is true, of course, for IT certification exams, except that you can’t rely on sites like RetailMeNot and so forth to help you unearth the deals and promotions that might (or might not) be available. The last “Second Shot” promotion from Microsoft timed out for exam registrations on or before May 31, 2013. But with this latest announcement (undated, alas, but of pretty recent origin and vintage) anyone taking a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exam, or any other Microsoft exam whose ID begins with 070 (production exams) or 071 (beta exams, usually) can exercise this free retake offer through May 31, 2014.
Two exam attempts for the price of one, for those who don’t pass on the first try.
Here’s what you must do, to take advantage of this offer:
1. Register for a Microsoft certification exam, and request a Second Shot voucher for a technical exam or an MTA exam (you must follow those links to access Second Shot registration tools, to obtain that voucher)
2. Use the voucher code when you schedule and pay for your exam at Prometric
3. Take the exam as scheduled
4. If you don’t pass on the first take, use your Second Shot voucher for a free retake.
As usual, some restrictions also apply. The offer applies only to one exam at a time, so you can’t register for a second exam until you take (and re-take) the first one. Only MTA exams purchased through Prometric are eligible for a Second Shot; such exams purchased through CertiPort (their biggest purveyor) are not. Those who fail a beta (071 prefix) exam using a Second Shot voucher are eligible for an added retake of the production (070 prefix) exam: Prometric will mail live exam voucher (070 prefix) within one week of when you receive beta exam results; applies only to regular-price individual technical exams, NOT to discounted multi-exam packs.