Last October, my good buddy and Citrix maven, Jeff Rohrer, blogged to report that Citrix Education announced some new credentials as part of its looming lineup. In that discussion he introduces the CCIA, or Citrix Certified Integration Architect for Virtualization, a six course/exam sequence that builds on the other cert in this picture, the CCEE, or Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer for Virtualization that requires 5 of the six items required for the CCIA. Thus another way to look at this picture is: CCEE + 1 course/exam = CCIA. The CCEE aims to recognize IT professionals “…who plan and integrate end-to-end virtualization solutions” according to a quote fomr Julieann Scalisi, managing director of worldwide education at Citrix in a recent Certmag story by Deanna Hartley.
The CCIA won’t be avaialable until Q409 at which point the sixth exam required to upgrade the CCEE to a CCIA becomes available. CCIAs will be charged with “…analyzing and designing Citrix solutions at the enterprise level for application and desktop delivery,” says Scalisi in the same story cited above, and its “…target audience…is consultants, architects, and engineers.”
For more information, visit the Citrix Certification page, select XenApp in the Product pull-down under Search for Certifications, and select your credentials of interest from the pull-down for Type in the same search tool (screen shot follows);
This adds to virtualization certs already available from VMWare and Microsoft. Looks like this hot area is increasing its ambient temperature. Check it out!
I’ll kick off this blog with a snippet of self-disclosure. I was on the masthead at Certification Magazine from 1999 until 2007 as a contributing editor and then as technology editor. During the glory days from 1999 to 2003 or so, the magazine was often as thick as PC Magazine or PC World (in the world of print magazine, a “thicker book” equates to more advertising sold, which means more revenue, and is a much-desired state of affairs). Alas, I ended my association in 2007 when it became apparent that the 2008 freelance budget couldn’t even match the per-word rate for what I received for my first-ever published magazine story back in 1986. Simply put, they either couldn’t afford me any more, or I wasn’t willing to work that cheaply. That’s when we parted ways, but with good feelings on both sides.
I still drop in on CertMag from time to time, and continue to find it a useful source of information, news, and human interest stories for IT professionals interested in adult or continuing education, career development, and especially IT certification. That’s why I read Deanna Hartley’s June 2006 story “Academic Background Trumps All at Minnesota IT Agency” with great interest in seeking out grist for today’s blog.
As I field questions from prospective and active IT works, one of the most frequently recurring queries might be paraphrased as any one of the following, with countless variations on these themes:
- What’s better: a degree or an IT certification?
- What’s better: IT certification or solid on-the-job experience?
- What’s better: a degree or on-the-job experience?
My usual answer to the two-factor version of this question is “Both,” or “All” for the three-factor version. Let’s face it: most employers want well-rounded candidates with the best possible combination of all positive factors. They don’t play the “If I had to choose one…” game either happily or willingly.
Hartley’s June story in CertMag tells an interesting take on this tale. She interviews Christopher Buse, who’s the Chief Security Officer in the Office of Enterprise Technology for the State of Minnesota, who opines in no uncertain terms that a strong academic background sets the foundation for an equally strong career in information technology. He believes a degree in computer science or MIS is a great place to start, and that some experience in accounting or finance brings a real-world understanding of how financial systems and budgeting play into making most effective use of information technology. He also stresses the importance of key soft skills, such as writing and communication ability, to helping entry-level workers advance up the career ladder. He also looks for key certifications, and for individuals who are active in professional IT societies who give something of themselves back to the profession.
It’s a fascinating read, full of useful information, and well worth checking out. It’s as good an answer as I’ve ever seen anywhere to some of the most evergreen and important career advice questions around. Enjoy!
Ask any security-savvy software developer how best to make code secure, and he or she will quickly tell you something like “To make code secure, you must design it to be secure, then test the heck out of it to make sure the implementation lives up to that design goal.” And in fact, a growing body of knowledge in the software development community focuses on design tools and techniques to help make sure that what gets built is indeed as secure as possible, augmented by a growing number of automated tests designed to check such work from the security perspective.
This is a very good thing. No less a security eminence than Bruce Schneier believes that security testing is not only important, but also something that must be part and parcel of the development process starting from initial design all the way through post-release maintenance and updates —throughout th entire software lifecycle as it were. For some fascinating reading on this and just about any other security topic that might interest you, check out his blog “Schneier on Security” for some eye-opening and thought-provoking material.
The new credential is called the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) and aims to bring better knowledge and tools to bear on software design, development, and maintenance. The primary subject areas figure into the CSSLP:
- Secure Software Concepts: security implications that touch on software development
- Secure Software Requirements: representing security needs and concerns during the requirements gathering phase of development
- Secure Software Design: translating security requirements into application design elements and specifications
- Secure Software Implementation/Coding: unit testing for security functionality and resistance to attack, developing secure code, including incident-handling and mitigation techniques
- Secure Software Testing: QA testing that integrates tests for security functionality and resistance to attack
- Software Acceptance: Security analysis and investigation during software acceptance
- Software Deployment, Operations, Maintenance, and Disposal: ensuring security during steady state operations and when managing software
Anybody who’s familiar with the software lifecycle model for development will recognize that this new cert simply integrates security throughout its current phases and activities. This is a great way to make common sense and a growing body of thought and expertise more explicit and better recognized. If you’re a developer with a security bent, this could be just as potent a credential for coders as the CISSP is for system and network administrators and “security policy wonks.” Check it out on the CSSLP Home page.
I remember the days of “paper CNEs” and “paper MCSEs” in the late 1990s. This was an era when those often-vaunted credentials were purportedly so easy to earn that they became somewhat debased. That explains why I was so sorely tempted to see a recent e-mail from Microsoft as a backlash long in coming (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) as a long-overdue response to that former phenomenon. More seriously, the notion here is to make certificates available in digital form so that they don’t absolutely have to printed and mailed to be received.
Microsoft talks about reducing carbon output and making a “notable” environmental impact because of this change. I supposed that’s true, and indeed green initiatives of all kinds are quite the rage these days. But it’s also pretty convenient and much faster than waiting for somebody to print, package, and mail certificates after taking an exam. Transcripts have always been available electronically so this may include some elements of turning a necessity into a virtue but I’m completely OK with that. The downside is that if you do need to order a paper certificate from MS, you’ll have to pay for such service after July 15th.
But the real benefits are self-service, immediate access to digital MCP certificates, and the ability to access any and all certificates earned. Access is available through the MCP site which is accessible via www.microsoft.com/mcp/ (but redirects elsewhere and requires valid registration and a valid MS Passport).
Remember: less paper is good!
Anne Martinez is the brains and voice behind one of my favorite IT certification Web sites. It’s called GoCertify, and you’ll find that it’s home to regular certification news and information. Better yet, it includes a peachy certification database called Certification Quick Find where you can search for, slice, and dice IT certification to your heart’s content, or until the cows come home — whichever comes first. There’s another entry point into this same data available at SearchCertify as well.
Just recently, Anne started to blog at GoCertify, and approached me to do an occasional guest slot for her. Never one to skip a quid pro quo, I replied to her “I’ll blog for you, if you’ll blog for me!” Thus, if all goes as planned, you’ll get a chance to hear her opinions and information right here in this blog from time to time, as well as to see me expostulate and pontificate on her blog as well. Check out my recent comment there to a recruiter looking for an infosec analyst in the Nashville, TN area, for example.
But if you have certification questions, comments, or issues, I hope you’ll also share them here with me as well. I’m always answering queries on the IT Knowledge Exchange “Ask the Expert” message boards, and I get plenty of fodder for this blog from those interactions as well as from your comments here. Please keep ‘em coming!
To try to get a sense of who’s still letting people go in IT, I turned to the Employment Spectator’s IT news items and to an old favorite, the TechCrunch Layoff Tracker. Although as I heard it said on NPR yesterday things aren’t getting as bad right now as quickly as they had been, we’re not exactly on easy street just yet. Keep that in mind as you look at these May 2009 layoff listings.
Admittedly, this is not as dire as Q4 of 2008, or even Q1 of this year, but it’s not yet cause for dancing in the streets. With some big, well-known names in the list–especially HP. Autodesk, CA, and Perot Systems–it’s clear that some savvy corporate forecasters are still prognosticating rough waters ahead. In the meantime, please stay buckled up!
This morning’s NPR news coverage included a Larry Abramson story entitled “Job Training Makes Difference for High School Grads.” His basic point was that if the job market is tough in general for all workers, it’s particularly difficult for those who lack a college education, after which he goes on to point out that “…the best bet for high school students in the long run is to get some college experience,” and that “…teens can dramatically improve their shot at a job by getting training in high school.” It all boils down to education, where those at the bottom of the “education acquired” scale are not only at the bottom of most pay scales, but also occupy unskilled positions that are getting phased out of our post-industrial economy.
So what should teens do, besides keep college as an option on their future planning lists? Abramson cites studies that show teens who participate in quality vocational programs “…have a much better chance of finding work.” Although technical schools may sometimes be viewed as institutions designed for or targeted at individuals who aren’t necessarily college-bound, the best programs still require their students to earn a regular diploma and emphasize traditional education alongside craft or vocational training. A principal at a vocational high schools interviewed for the story even goes on to observe that she’s “…met so many your people nowadays who have a four-year college degree, and they end up going back to the community college, because that college will teach them a marketable skill.”
What this tells me, and what most parents already hope for their college-bound or college-age offspring, is that picking a substantial major with a well-defined job or career track on the other side of the diploma is key in a market like the present one. And just about anybody can take a tip from the strategy that the kids at a vocational school adopt if they can’t immediately find a job upon graduation or earning a certificate: they take extra classes at the local community college, and keep building up a collection of intellectual and training-based tools to help them build upon their set of bankable skills and knowledge. Even if this doesn’t lead to a degree, it still adds to their resumes and lists of accomplishments when they finally do interview for a position, and hopefully helps to counter the inevitable questions about skills, knowledge, and passion for work that all entry-level candidates must answer.
What with the semester near its end and the summer drawing on, young people’s thoughts turn to employment. The CollegeRecruiter.com Web site has compiled a nice press release (dated 4/7/09) entitled “Best and Worst States in Which to Find an Internship or Entry-Level Job.” Here’s a tabular recap of their results:
There are lots of interesting things to observe about these numbers. First and foremost, it looks like (surprise) the states with the biggest populations float to the top of these rankings. Second, the absolute numbers for internships are miniscule, with the numbers for entry-level positions merely small. These numbers don’t look incredibly encouraging to me, until I stop to think that most internships don’t get advertised much, if at all (mostly they’re doled out through alma mater affiliations and/or family and friend connections).
It all adds up to a pretty interesting summer for underclassmen and -women looking for work, and a tough slog for recent grads trying to find their first jobs in IT. Good luck to one and all, and may your school, friend, and family connections help you find something. There’s not much on the boards at all, apparently.
Recent jobless claims continue to flatten out, but at 8.9% overall, unemployment is still on the high side for the US from a historical perspective (the last time we experienced such rates was in the 1980s, in fact). This creates an interesting situation, in which everybody — including me — is looking for signs of hope wherever they might be found. Recent activity on the stockmarket still shows some vacillation in a sometimes-up, sometimes-down pattern, so financial markets are still uncertain as well.
What does all this mean for IT employment? Conventional wisdom is that those who have jobs should be glad, and do what they can to keep them, and that those looking for work need to turn over as many rocks as possible to find something or anything while the unemployment situation remains so tough. On the other hand, lots of more aggressive technologists and economists believe that technology employment is a bellwether that usually pushes to the front of the group of employment sectors that lead the economy out of a slump (or deep recession, in our current case).
The problem is that while numbers aren’t sliding down as fast as they were in the last quarter of 2008, nor the first quarter of this year, they’re neither on the way up for overall employment, nor particularly upward-inclined for IT in particular. If IT is to lead the economy, the destination isn’t yet clear: as far as I (or anybody else can tell), we’re still meandering around with no easy way to connect the dots along our recent path, nor a definite trend yet in sight.
All I can conclude is that it’s still time to hunker down, and tread the conservative path. As I indicated earlier in this blog, that means if you’ve got a job right now (or work if you’re a freelancer like me) be grateful. If you’re looking for work, alas, this means it’s time to look harder and perhaps even to consider a move to those few markets where employment opportunities are relatively more abundant. Ouch!
One question that comes up all the time in reader e-mail and interaction, and in my “Ask the Expert” dialogs, is the one that entitles today’s blog. Actually, this has been on a lot of people’s minds lately–as a quick perusal of my earlier postings here and elsewhere will ascertain, and as many other pundits and experts have also opined–and it’s on SearchNetworking’s mind as well. In fact, the editors have asked me to poll my readers for profiles of individuals who have benefited, career-wise, from obtaining an IT certification, or completing some course of IT training (which may or may not have resulted in a degree, a certificate of completion, or some other credential).
To prime the pump, I’ll share a story with you, based on close personal experience. In 1994, I met a young man at a local computer store who seemed knowledgeable and on the ball. I asked him to do some work for me, which he did with enthusiasm and energy, and one thing soon led to another. By 1997, I’d not only hired him full-time but had gotten him started on his MCSE, which he finished in 1998. By the time we quit working together in 2001–I had sold my company, and we’d all gotten trounced in the dot bomb of 2000/2001, and he decided he could do better off on his own–he’d also earned a CISSP, a CEH, and was starting to dig into the SANS certification program with verve and gusto.
He went on to become a full-time classroom instructor, primarily on information security topics. He now makes his living mostly teaching overseas for a company that contacts with the Department of Defense to teach military personnel about information security topics, prepping those folks in uniform to earn their CISSPs. Needless to say, he’s doing extremely well, and has carved out a very comfortable career for himself, wear and tear from a 50-plus-percent travel schedule notwithstanding. I no longer know how much money he makes (nor is it really my business to know any more) but I’m sure that his annual earnings are in the six figure range (and not the very bottom of that range, either). Not bad for somebody in his mid-thirties, eh?
I’m sure there are lots of other stories like this one to share, and I hope you’ll share them with me and SearchNetworking.com. We’d like to review your input to this request and profile a few of the most outstanding responses, both here in my blog and in articles on the SearchNetworking.com site as well. So please drop us an email at Editor@SearchNetworking.com, or post a reply to this blog in the comments, so I can follow up with you. May the best story win, and earn adulation and envy from all your peers!