Following in the wake of Microsoft’s long-standing “Second Shot” program, VMWare is offering a re-take option on its popular, in-demand VMWare Certified Professional on VSphere 4.0 (VCP4) exam. The name of their offering is “Second Chance,” and requires using the promotion code VCPTAKE1 when you sign up for the test at Prometric Vue. The following restrictions also apply:
- Alas, if you decide to take up this offer, you can’t apply any discounts to the exam cost, and must pay full price to get a free re-take. The exam code is VCP410, and full price is $175 (you must also take an authorized VCP 4 class to take this exam, so total costs for your adventure will exceed $3K before all is said and done).
- You must register for and take both the first and second tries on or before July 31, 2011.
- Only one retake per customer.
If you’re gonna do it, you have to do it soon. If you haven’t taken the course (or courses) yet, it’s probably already too late to take advantage of this offer. But if you’ve already planned to take the exam, jump on this offer right away.
Learning at Cisco is offering reimbursement for any third-pary testing center-based Cisco exam (sometimes called a “written exam” though there’s very little writing and most button pushing involved) for up to $350 to those who join the Learning@Cisco group on LinkedIn, and who then file a “How Cisco certification helps my career…” message, and acquire the most “Likes” for their posting.
In list form, here’s what’s required:
- Step 1: Join Learning@Cisco Linkedin Group. (http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=3443017)
- Step 2: Register on Cisco Learning Network (http://www.ciscolearningnetwork.com)
- Step 3: In Learning@Cisco Linkedin group, create a post with the following title and write about it.
“How Cisco certification helps my career? <Your CLN username>”
- Step 4: Share the post you created in step 3 on your Linkedin profile and ask your contacts/others to ‘Like’ your post.
For more information, please visit Marcus Fan’s May 11 Cisco Learning blog “Win a Cisco Certification Written Exam.” It’s not an onerous amount of work for those planning to take a Cisco exam anyway, and some lucky IT pro will get a free ride thanks to his or her persuasive writing skills, or their ability to work their personal networks.
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).
By no small coincidence, the items of particular interest relate to these credentials:
- Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Design Specialist
- Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Support Specialist
- Cisco Data Center Networking Infrastructure Design Specialist
- Cisco Data Center Networking Infrastructure Support Specialist
[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.
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!
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.
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!
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:
Here’s the blurb further down the Cisco M-Learning page that explains how things work:
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!
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).
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!
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.
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!
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:
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).
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:
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.