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.
September 2, 2013 3:38 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
When I created the Exam Cram book series back in 1997, I got the idea from my late and lamented friend and collaborator, Kurt Hudson, who taught one-day classes at what was then called Squier Computing, and would later become part of New Horizons. He offered a half-day tune-up for various Microsoft certification exams that he called “Exam Cram and Jam.” Upon seeing an advertisement for one of his (free) sessions, I immediately jumped on the first two words in that phrase to coin the series title for a set of short, focused IT certification prep books that have gone on to become the second best-selling series of computing books (behind only …For Dummies, another series to which I have contributed half a dozen titles or more as well). That’s why I couldn’t help but grin when I saw this item show up on the promotional information for Oracle Open World (San Francisco, September 22-26, 2013).
There is no monopoly on good ideas, or good titles, though those who register trade names will usually choose to challenge this notion!
Over the years, I’ve seen the Exam Cram name applied to all kinds of things, both inside and outside the IT certification space. It continues to capture the idea of an intense (and often last-minute) review for an upcoming test of some kind, and thus speaks to the need for exam takers to make themselves ready to surmount the challenges involved. That’s why this name will continue to resonate with buyers and users of certification (and other) exam preparation materials for the foreseeable future. I’m just glad to be a part of that overall phenomenon.
August 30, 2013 3:15 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
With virtualization and cloud-based computing so dominant on the IT landscape already, and trending strongly upward, I was curious to see what would happen in researching a certification survey story for Tom’s IT Pro on that very topic. As I expected, I found plenty of evidence for strong growth, change, and new introductions nearly everywhere I looked. To me, this all indicates that cloud-based computing is more than just a fad or passing fancy, and really is reworking the IT landscape as we’ve known it in the past. Let me summarize some key points from my research:
With more and more IT infrastructure depending on virtualization and cloud technologies,
it’s really time to peel back the covers and dig into the details.
[Image credit: Shutterstock 123217306]
1. Based on several informal counts, the number of cloud-related certs available has skyrocketed in the past year. At the end of 2012, an initial survey at ITCertificationMaster.com turned up 29 such credentials. By May of 2013, that number stood at 52 certs from 13 different sponsoring bodies. As I completed my own updated survey yesterday afternoon, I totted up to 68 credentials from 18 sponsoring organizations. That’s an amazing rate of growth and new introductions over a very short period of time.
2. Looking at what’s coming down the road, I see many new certifications in the offing, including as many as 5 new items from Amazon Web Services possible, lots of action around OpenStack technologies, and a large variety of private-label offerings as well (for example, Learning Tree offers a Cloud Computing Certified Professional “credential” of its own, and lots of other training companies and post-secondary educational institutions offer a bewildering array “cloud certificates” to IT Pros).
3. Many big companies, including Cisco, Dell, HP, EMC and others offer partner-only training and certification programs not available to IT pros who don’t work for partner organizations that are explicitly and completely (or primarily) focused on designing and implementing cloud-based solutions, sometimes (or often) along with cloud-based services offerings also included. I can’t really count these as public certifications because these programs are somewhat restricted, and often not publicly disclosed in detail. But that tells me there’s a lot going on with cloud-based computing and virtualization that requires advanced skills and knowledge, with training and testing/vetting operations to make sure that authorized partners possess the right chops to properly and adequately represent the parent companies involved.
It looks like this explosion is only going to get bigger with time, and will probably keep doing so for the foreseeable future. This means there will be LOTs of opportunity in the cloud computing and virtualization niches for IT pros going forward, so that the real question becomes “What’s in my skills and knowledge portfolio for these topics?” rather than “Should I train up on cloud computing and/or virtualization?”
[Note added 9/12/2013: You can now read the full text of my Tom's IT Pro article "Cloud Certifications in 2013" to see which sponsors and certs I found in conducting that survey. If you know of anything I've missed, please e-mail me at ed at edtittel dot com, or comment here. Thanks!]
August 28, 2013 2:52 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
I was researching a reader question for my weekly blog post for Tom’s IT Pro earlier this week when I came across a PBS story that posted on July 24, 2013. Entitled “The Bogus High-Tech Worker Shortage: How Guest Workers Lower US Wages,” it explains that recent graduates in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) subjects are having trouble finding entry-level jobs at the same time that high-tech employers and industry organizations are bemoaning the shortage of STEM workers for them to hire. This explains a troubling recitation of this so-called problem, for example, that appeared yesterday in the CompTIA Press Releases entitled “Technology Groups Step Up Call for Immigration Reform.”
If the subject interests you, you really, really want to read the aforecited PBS story, but the nut-net goes something like this:
1. For the past 15 years, IT wages have stagnated primarily because easy importation of high-tech “guest workers” is keeping a lid on pay for many entry-level IT positions. At the same time, “high-tech industries are now using guest workers to fill two-thirds of new IT jobs.”
2. High-tech companies and organizations, decrying a “lack” of STEM workers, have requested that Congress pass legislation to grant visas to a larger supply of guest workers, which — according to the estimates of the social science researchers who presented the case for this story — “would equal 150 percent of the expected number of new IT jobs each and every year going forward…”
3. The researchers see related policy arguments as “a debate about America’s policies for creating good jobs, strong technology and an innovation-based economy” and also observe that “policy should not be about targeting government giveaways to a few industries by supplying ever more guest workers when there is an ample domestic supply of qualified graduates and workers.”
In fact, the crux of the argument seems to come down to the researchers’ observations that the real reason for importing additional guest workers is to keep entry-level wages down, in the interesting of boosting corporate profitability. This trades the futures of all the STEM graduates (both foreign and domestic) whose entry level pay sets the base for all future career progress and development, for a boost to big companies’ bottom lines. In fact, the research results presented show that guest workers fill “half of all IT hires each year and fully two-thirds of annual hire of workers younger than 30.” In addition, their research also revealed that “only two-thirds of computer science graduates went into IT jobs in 2009,” where “of those not landing an IT job, half said they found a better job elsewhere” and “one third reported there were no IT jobs available.”
I agree 110% with the conclusion of this article, which I reproduce verbatim here:
We cannot expect to build a strong STEM workforce and encourage domestic innovation by developing policies that undermine the quality of STEM jobs. Before asking government to intervene in labor markets by handing out more guest worker visas and green cards to STEM graduates, we should ask for audits of shortage claims and workforce impacts as a first step toward developing evidence-based policy on this issue, an issue critical to the nation’s future.
Asking domestic graduates, both native-born and immigrant, to compete with guest workers on wages is not a winning strategy for strengthening U.S. science, technology and innovation.
Readers: please gear up, and contact your Senators to ask them not to support the Senate’s S744 legislation, and do likewise with your representative for any similar legislation that might make its way onto the floor of the US House of Representatives. We urgently need to find a better way to develop solid, workable futures for our STEM graduates and professionals, rather than gumming up the works of progress and innovation with hordes of apparently unnecessary imported high-tech guest workers!
August 26, 2013 3:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
For the past two years or so, I’ve been following Mirek (Miroslaw) Burnejko’s excellent ITCertificationMaster.com Website on a pretty regular basis. Over the past two months, I’ve noticed zero update activity on his pages, and this morning when I attempted to see if he’d finally gotten around to adding any new content to his site, I got a “this domain has expired message” instead of the site’s usual home page. In poking around at the Wayback Machine, I observed that the most recent date the site was snapshotted occurred on June 13 but that the snapshot file itself is dated May 29, which I presume to mean nothing had changed in the interval from May 29 to June 13.
Burnejko’s photo and motto have long occupied his now apparently MIA home page.
Gosh! I seriously hope this is just a glitch of some kind, and that the site comes back up soon. The resources on the site include the most comprehensive list of IT certifications (the “List of All Certifications“) I know of anywhere, with lots of other useful and informative goodies besides. I’ve already reached out to Mr. Burnejko to offer help and financial support. Should he respond and evince a need for either or both, I will hasten to do whatever I can to help out. This is one of those information treasures on the Web I’d be very sad to see go dark.
11:45 AM CDT [-06:00 UCT] Just got an email from Mr. Burnejko informing me that the snafu comes from a DNS registration renewal issue. The site should be back up and running, no later than the end of this week, on or before August 30, 2013, providing that registration renewal is successful in the next day or two.
Noonish on 8.27: I’m not sure how long ago this happened, but the site’s back up at www.itcertificationmaster.com. Goody, Goody, Goody! Still see no new content, though…
August 23, 2013 3:27 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Nobody can deny that virtualization tools, platforms, and technologies are at the white-hot heart of what’s making things happen in IT these days, and driving future growth and development . That’s why I examined a nice infographic from the folks at TrainSignal (now part of Pluralsight, a developer training outfit) with great interest this morning. Here’s just a snippet of what’s on offer: it’s a fairly complete roadmap to the many virtualization credentials currently available that shows how they might be threaded together to create a certification “ladder” or hierarchy.
Top virtualization skills to boost your career – An infographic by the team at TrainSignal, which is now Pluralsight
The roadmap shown is the final panel in a collection of four that make up the infographic. The other three panels cover the following topics, and are worth perusing:
1. Top Virtualization Skills to Boost Your Career: information about topics of interest, and the obligatory plug for TrainSignal online training.
2. Why You Must Learn Virtualization: statistics and pay information to incent IT pros to dig into this topic.
3. Top 10 Most-Watched Virtualization Courses: the list of TrainSignal’s top virtualization courses includes their basic introduction (1), VMware entries (5), Citrix (3 for Xen App, Server, and Desktop) and Hyper-V (1).
Check it out!
August 21, 2013 2:50 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
I got a very nice e-mail on Monday from Joe Cannata, Brocade University’s Senior Manager of Certification. He shared pointers to the results of the company’s 2013 Certification Survey, which polls as many of its certified IT professionals as are willing to respond, to take their temperature on a number of interesting topics. The screenshot below, for example, graphs responses to the query: “What value do you perceive as a result of earning a Brocade credential? (Please choose all that apply)”
Answers to the perceived value of Brocade certification reflect the overall high ratings the program enjoys from the people who’ve earned such credentials.
To peruse the entire set of survey results, see the blog post entitled “2013 Certification Survey Results,” where you’ll find answers to questions about geographic location, employment status, performance improvements, social media, and more. With over 1200 respondents — a reported increase in response rate of 94% over the company’s similar 2012 survey — it’s pretty obvious that the Brocade program is thriving and that it enjoys strong support from its community of certified professionals.
Perhaps even more interesting, Brocade is launching a beta version of the Brocade Certified vRouter Engineer Exam (BCVRE) on September 10, which remains available through October 21, 2013. During that time 150 free seats for that beta exam will be made available to interested IT professionals. For this beta exam, Brocade has adapted the content of Vyatta’s Certified Professional exam with a number of changes and additions. According to a recent blog post from Mr. Cannata entitled “Brocade Certified vRouter Engineer Beta Exam Information” that exam includes 97 questions and runs for 120 minutes (2 hours). Not only will the first 150 applicants be able to take the exam at no charge, they will also be granted free access to study materials. Registration opens next Monday (August 26, 2013) so there’s still time to enroll by following the step-by-step instructions available in the blog post (follow the hyperlink in the preceding sentence). This credential is one of the few currently available in the hot and high-demand area of “software defined networking” (SDN) and very much worth digging into. The blog post also includes links to the Brocade IP Primer, and three different PDF-based Vyatta manuals with useful background and technical information. Check it out!
August 19, 2013 4:37 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
When I posted about SDN (Software Defined Networking) nearly two weeks ago, I didn’t anticipate the huge groundswell of interest and reaction that information would provoke (to see that original post, check out Learning@Cisco Takes Bold Steps Forward into the World of SDN ). To answer the large number of requests for additional reading and information on this subject, I’ve compiled a “materials list” that includes numerous online references, links to a couple of (commercial, meaning “available for purchase”) e-books, PPTs from a course at Duke University, and even a free online course on the subject from Dr. Nick Feamster of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Enjoy!
SDN enables fully virtualized network infrastructures of all kinds: great stuff!
1. Wikipedia “Software Defined Networking”
2. Compsci 514 (Duke University) “Software Defined Networking” (PowerPoint Presentation, 32 slides)
3. Cisco White Paper “Software Defined Networking: Why We Like It and How We Are Building On It” (PDF)
4. Vishal Shukla: “Introduction to SDN – OpenFlow & VxLAN” (book & e-book, Amazon link, $13.77 e-book or $14.49 in paperback)
5. Rajesh K. Sundararajan: “SDN – A Definitive Guide” (e-book only, Amazon link, $9.99)
6. Dr. Nick Feamster (Georgia Institute of Technology; free course) “Software Defined Networking”
7. SDN Central (good general resources on this subject, see especially their SDN PDF Library and SDN PPT Library)
Of all these items, if you feel inclined to spring $10 to buy something, the Sundararajan pamphlet (it’s just under 80 pages, so it doesn’t really deserve to be called a “book” per se, though it is sold as an e-book in Kindle edition format on Amazon), provides an excellent introduction to the overall subject matters, protocols, and technologies involved, in a clean, straightforward and vendor-neutral fashion.