May 4, 2010 1:45 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
back to normal blogging schedule
Those of you who notice such things will recognize that my blogging frequency decreased dramatically over the past 5 months, culminating with my lightest month ever in April. It’s for the best reasons: I’ve been insanely busy with a big consulting project and also appeared as an expert witness in a trial that took place in Tyler, TX, at the US Fifth Circuit Court last week. The case is now over, and my consulting project is winding down (and ends on May 21) so I’m announcing that as of today, I’m back on my usual schedule of three times a week from here on out (and back up to 12 blogs monthly).
To those of you who missed me: “Thanks!” To those of you who didn’t, “Thanks, anyway!” And to those of you who could possibly care less: “Please keep up the good work!” I’ll be returning to my normal coverage of certification programs, promotions, and offerings, the IT employment situation, and IT career advice, information, and resources. If anybody’s got any burning questions, post them here, or look up my email on my Website at www.edtittel.com and drop me a line.
In my plans for the next few weeks:
- The short-lived MS Architect level certification is being phased out, in favor of an industry-wide, standards-based credential (and it’s not from MS, either). I’ll visit with the foks behind the program and report on my findings later this week.
- Information Security remains an evergreen area for certification and career development. I’ll be reporting on some new programs and activities in this arena, including several programs that target some new US Government backed or mandated elements.
- Looks at some IT career areas where opportunities abound, with attending information about training, experience, and certification (where applicable).
To one and all: “Thanks! It’s great to be back to a more normal (and I hope less hectic) schedule.”
April 19, 2010 9:23 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft Certified Technology Associate (MCTA)
, Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
, new entry-level MS credential
, new MS certification
Get ready for a new Microsoft certification program, aimed to sit between various single- or dual-exam CompTIA credentials and more advanced Microsoft credentials like the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP). The program is going to be called the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) or perhaps the Microsoft Certified Technology Associate (MCTA, but I’m sticking to MTA for the time being) and so far, several exams designed to bring CompTIA certified people with Server+, Network+, Security+ are in the works, along with some entry level developer stuff.
In the past couple of months, I’ve had some confidential sources inside the publishing industry fill me in on this, but didn’t feel comfortable sharing what I know until I ran across a brief piece from Emmett Dulaney at CertCities.com dated 3/24/2010 and entitled “Microsoft Creates New Certification” to let me know that enough info has leaked out for me to say the program exists. In addition to the credentials that Emmett calls out in his story, my information is that .NET development, project management, and other topics will also fall under the MTA umbrella.
Here’s a list of Microsoft exams that will relate to individual credentials under the MTA umbrella, lifted straight from the MS Learning Exam Index:
98-361: Software Development Fundamentals
98-362: Windows® Development Fundamentals
98-365: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
98-366: Windows Server Networking Fundamentals
98-367: Windows Server Security Fundamentals
Note that these new exams all fall inside 98-3xx exam numbering, and that four of these five items already have links into the Microsoft Learning exam descriptions (links are provided). I don’t know when Microsoft plans to issue a formal announcement of the program, but the official available date is on or around June 1, so it’s going to have to be sometime soon. Look for more information here when and as that happens — I’ve already launched a formal “when can you tell me more about this?” query with the folks who handle PR for Microsoft Learning.
April 16, 2010 1:27 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
MS IT certification trends
, MS Learning
, MS proffers signs of IT upturn
At the invitation of Microsoft Learning, I spent about forty minutes on the phone Wednesday with Chris Pirie, General Manager, Worldwide Sales and Marketing for that division within the company. We talked on a number of topics, most of which were centered around career start and career development, and I learned numerous interesting things that I’d like to share with you here.
Although IT may not yet have turned the corner (it’s one of only three sectors to continue losing jobs in the US as of the latest US BLS Employment Situation Summary, for example), Microsoft Learning sees ample indicators of an upturn ahead. Windows 7 is among a handful of key tools and technologies (also including Microsoft Exchange and Windows Server 2008) that is providing learning and skills development opportunities that should in turn lead to improved employment prospects for IT professionals, as well as career advancement or other positive job changes.
Pirie reported that Microsoft Learning had its best month in 8 years in July 2009, when they witnessed a huge increase in uptake of courses, exams, and other revenue-generating activities within the division. Since then, demand has tempered somewhat, but Microsoft Learning is still ahead for the current fiscal year (Microsoft’s FY runs from July 1 of Year-minus-One to June 30 of Year, so the current one started on July 1, 2009 and will end on June 30, 2010) and they expect it to be a very good one for their operations and activity levels, as well as for their bottom line.
In describing why this would ultimately be good for IT and IT jobs, Pirie alluded to an IDC report dated July 2009 entitled “The Economic Impact of Microsoft’s Windows 7, Worldwide.” As with any analyst report commissioned by the vendor whose products reported on, it’s probably worth treating this treatise with a bit of well-informed skepticism, if not the proverbial grain of salt. Nevertheless, this piece makes some interesting observations and arguments about the impact of Windows 7 on the entire IT economy (or the “Microsoft ecosystem” that this report uses as its term to describe that portion of IT most likely to be affected by Windows 7’s introduction and adoption). Some interesting numbers emerge from this piece, including support for as many as 7 million IT jobs worldwide and some staggering revenue numbers ($17.2 B in direct revenue to MS by the end of the 2010 calendar year, along with another $300-plus B in revenue for directly-related products and services).
Of course, the percentage of new jobs in this mix is not addressed, so we have no way of knowing what kind of dent it might make in the 12 percent unemployment in IT in the US, and the probably somewhat higher global number for IT unemployment that goes with it. But that’s where some other elements of my conversation with Pirie do shed some interesting light. Microsoft’s huge numbers for the current FY show the biggest growth vectors outside Europe, North America and the developed countries of the Pacific Rim. In fact, said Pirie, fully 25% of their 2009 numbers came from India (that is, one quarter of all the individuals who earned some kind of MS certification in 2009 were Indian). Other big growth areas include Africa, the Middle East, and South America, where IT is finally starting to assume the kind of role and importance it has long enjoyed in other more developed economies.
I ask Pirie: “What does all this mean to IT professionals?” and he comes out with some interesting answers. He sees leading edge technologies, including Windows 7, virtualization, and cloud-based development and services as what he calls “the sharp and pointy edge of things.” This is where learning and skills development will do IT pros the most good, and the topics from which they can reap the biggest rewards. He also believes it’s time for IT professionals to “step up their game” and pursue advanced training to position themselves for future trends and economic improvement. Although I know his ultimate aim is to sell training courses and certification exams (all of which also benefit from this exhortation) I have to agree that staying ahead of the curve is the right place for IT professionals in search of improved employment opportunities and enhanced job security as well. There is some gold in these remarks and reports, and it’s probably wise to give his exhortations some credence along with some genuine attention and consideration.
April 7, 2010 5:31 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
MS Desktop Player
, MS Desktop Player delivers easy access to training and information items
, new Silverlight Web application: MS Desktop Player
Microsoft has a pretty slick new Silverlight based education aggregation tool available, called the Microsoft Desktop Player. Just for grins I set up a query that specified me as an IT Pro, looking for resources on Win 7, in my role as an Enterprise Administrator focusing on Development/Pilot activities.
Entry screen for the MS Desktop player, with sample query
Here’s what pops up in response:
In response you get pointers to Webcasts, Podcasts, White Papers, and more
To the left of the control pane depicted in the preceding screenshots, you’ll find a playback area where the items you select will appear on your screen. I first tried it out on Firefox, only to learn that the player requires IE 6.0 or newer. In IE 8.0 it worked like a champ. It’s not a bad way to go spelunking through various MS Information offerings on technical topics, so why not give it a try?
April 2, 2010 7:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
April 2010 employment situation summary
, BLS April 2010 situation summary
, overall employment goes a little positive for April 2010
Today’s the first Friday in a new month, so the US Bureau of Labor Statistics regales us with the previous month’s “Employment Situation Summary.” Once again, the big numbers show little sign of advance or retreat–gross unemployment continues to hold steady at 9.7 percent–but I see other signs of improvement and encouragement, even though the IT sector lost 12,000 jobs in March.
Why do I say this? Let me share some other numbers with you–namely job gains and (losses) for March on a sector-by-sector basis. Only three sectors were down in March (IT among them, alas) while all nine other sectors were at least slightly up for the month. With a strong majority of employment sectors finally showing job growth (though plenty of individual numbers are still in the red, as Table B-1: Employees on nonfarm payrolls by industry sector and selected industry detail will attest), it appears that we are finally turning a corner on the overall employment situation.
Here’s a quick summary of those numbers (positive numbers are unadorned, negative numbers are in parentheses):
|Mining & Logging
||Professional & Business Svcs
|Education & Health Svcs
||Leisure & Hospitality
Although none of the numbers even begins to put a dent into our overall unemployment, it’s a welcome novelty to see so many of them in positive territory. It’s not enough to move the overall unemployment figure by even one-tenth of a percent (which translates into 157,000 people or so), but it’s still nice anyway.
March 26, 2010 3:17 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, Microsoft Learning Catalog
, Microsoft Learning Catalog reworked
, new Microsoft Learning catalog
Thanks to a warning e-mail from Wag-Ed flack Heather Vaughan (and I’m not using that term in a perjorative sense, she’s great to work with and very pro-active) I just took a look at the new and improved Microsoft Learning site, which now revolves around a re-imagined Learning Catalog. A quick look at my catalog reveals the new organization:
The new layout breaks content into various categories
Things look cleaner than they used to, and the catalog is set up to permit easy browsing by type of content as intimated by the preceding screenshot, and by subject as well: there’s a search button labeled “By Product/Technology” outside the frame of the screencap, off to the top left of the Web page.
After remembering which Microsoft Live ID to use to access my personal training catalog (a must if you want to see what you’ve got in your hopper, so to speak) I was surprised to see how many courses I’m still on the hook for. I was also pleased to see that the Windows 7 offerings are now pretty darn complete with over 40 items on offer under that heading. Be sure to give it a visit, and check things out!
March 23, 2010 9:43 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
, project management for IT professionals
, Project Management Institute Project Management Professional
In looking at any number of recent reports on IT certification and salaries, it’s become pretty noteworthy that the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMI PMP) is emerging as a “must-have” credential for IT professionals interested in developing their career potential — especially for those interested in assuming team or project lead positions, if not making the transition from individual contributor to technical management. The same Global Knowledge report that I’ve mentioned in recent blogs has been picked up and reported on all over the place, including GoCertify.com, ZDnet.com, and so forth, with a particular emphasis on the top 5 spots in those results.
With the PMP now enshrined at the top of this heap, I’m inclined to grant kudos and praise where it’s obviously due. I’ll do so, however, in a non-obvious way — namely, by explaining how project management helped me turn my book-writing skills into a hoppin’ and poppin’ business. For those who don’t know my background, a little history: as I was studying for MS cert exams in the 1996-1997 time frame (following the release of Windows NT 4.0 and all the certs that went with it) I discovered that the only study guides available at the time were great, big, hefty encylopediac tomes that work as well as doorstops as they do at delivering the goods. I developed a series of books called “Exam Cram” that sought to tell knowledgable professionals only the barest minimum of information they needed to know to prep for such tests. With the series still going strong today, and with titles for all the major IT certifications (and numerous other fields besides), the idea has some continuing legs and remains the second most popular computer books series around, second only to …For Dummies. From 1998 until 2004, in fact, my small team of 6 full-time staffers produced 45-55 certification titles yearly over that entire period.
What does this have to do with project management? I’ll tell you: we had to crank these books out so quickly, and then as new topics and versions kept popping up, so often, that the only way to make the normal publishing process work was to build each title around a project manager. That person became responsible for all phases of each book’s design, development, writing, editing, and finally, production. At several points in time, my staff and I had as many as 20 books going at the same time. With that kind of work volume (and workload) we simply couldn’t have kept up if not for rigorous, well-planned and closely tracked project management people keeping track of progress, solving problems, and making sure work got finished on time and at or under budget.
This applies to all kinds of areas of work, especially in the IT domain. If you’re interested in becoming a player in the field, and like to be in the middle of the action, I’d urge you to look into and if you are interested to earn the PMP certification. It will change your life and career, and help you grow your personal and professional skills and knowledge more than you might think. Check out the PMP at the www.pmi.org Website: you can find classroom and online courses, study guides, practice exams, and all kinds of ways and means to prepare for and earn this valuable credential. Highly recommended…and yes, there’s an Exam Cram for this credential, too!
March 16, 2010 4:03 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
2010 Top IT Certs
, TechRepublic and Global Knowledge 2010 Salary and Cert survey
, VCP takes up residence in a top certs list
In the latest “Between the Lines” for ZDNet, TechRepublic guest blogger Bill Detwiler reports on the “Top five technical certifications by salary.” Based on an IT salary survey conducted in tandem between Global Knowledge and TechRepublic (the third year in an ongoing series–see their joint 2010 IT Skills and Salary Report for more details), their “Top 5″ list includes some old familiars as well as a relative newcomer that’s been attracting strong interest for some time now.
Here’s Detweiler’s list, followed by some commentary from yours truly:
1. $99,928 – CISSP (Cert. Info. Sys. Security Professional)
2. $93,953 – CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate)
3. $91,271 – VMware Certified Professional
4. $89,864 – CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)
5. $86,454 – MCSE (MS Certified Systems Engineer)
I’m a little surprised to see the relatively junior Cisco CCDA certification showing up in the number two position, and very interested to see the relative newcomer VCP showing up in the number three slot. of course the CISSP is no surprise at all in number one (where it’s been in multiple salary surveys many, many times before). I’m very interested to see that the Windows Server 2003 (and older) based MCSE is still so close to the top of the charts, and also glad to see a solid professional-level credential like the CCNP filling the number four position.
If you want to see the full report, you’ll need to join the TechRepublic site (if you’re not already a member). The survey contains lots of interesting information and is probably worth a look, even if you just want to see how your personal situation and salary stack up against the pool of respondents (all 19,500 of them).
March 11, 2010 5:12 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
does employment history predice the employment future
, economist's interpretation of unemployment decline
, February 2010 employment situation
Sandy Leeds is a senior lecturer for the prestigious MBA program at the University of Texas. Even though he doesn’t have a PhD (he has all kinds of other degrees though, including a BA, an MBA, and a law degree) he’s an award winning faculty member nevertheless. Check out his blog which is called “Leeds on Finance.”
In his blog for today, he makes an interesting observation that has me thinking about — and maybe even rethinking — my own previous blog right here (entitled “Employment still going sideways“). First his observation, then my thoughts:
Unemployment has peaked? One economist said that we’ve never seen unemployment drop 0.4% and then go on and hit new highs. In other words, he argued that since unemployment has come down from 10.1% to 9.7%, unemployment has peaked. (Citation)
It’s inarguable that employment has come down just a teeny bit (0.4% is how much unemployment dropped from December 2009 to January 2010, and February held that same line more or less intact), but it’s also interesting to ponder the economist’s observation that Mr. Leeds cites in his own blog. I guess that means it’s not the size of the downward swing that’s so interesting about this decline, but rather, that following that kind of retrenchment, the unemployment situation has not swung back the other way as far as the historical record can tell us.
Ultimately, the assessment of this apparently paltry improvement depends on whether or not you believe that just because something has never happened before, it’s not going to happen this time around, either. On the one hand, with a depression and a half-dozen or more recessions to look back to and analyze, that’s an encouraging observation to make. On the other hand, these kinds of predictors might better be interpreted as “it’s highly unlikely that unemployment will increase again” rather than “ain’t gonna happen.”
Although this is more encouraging than I had thought when looking at the February numbers, I still don’t think it’s time to break out the champagne and the party hats. There are still too many people looking for work, or feeling stuck in their current jobs, for euphoria to kick in. And while we’re at it, I’d still like to see more tangible signs of improvement for the IT sector rather than “we’re not losing as many jobs as fast as we were in 2008/2009.” ‘Nuff said.