Archive for March, 2013

The Role the Cloud Plays in the New Microsoft MCSE Curriculum

Microsoft has retooled its MCSE certification for IT professionals to include a major focus on the cloud. The company made the changes in response to the growing movement of IT resources to cloud-based solutions. According to Microsoft-sponsored research, cloud computing may create 14 million jobs and generate 1.1 trillion in revenue by 2015. The new MCSE certificate holder is expected to have more comprehensive knowledge of both on-premises and cloud resource technologies.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification was formerly called Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, which also used the acronym MCSE. The new name reflects the role that Microsoft IT experts play as solution providers utilizing multiple technologies and types of resources. Previously, the MCSE emphasized systems engineering with directory and network services. The heart of the new solution includes Windows Server, System Center 2012, and the Hyper-V hypervisor. As part of Microsoft’s renewed focus on competency, MCSEs can expect more difficult exams with broader and deeper coverage. They also are now required to recertify every three years in order to keep up with evolving cloud solutions and other technologies.

Microsoft’s Push to the Private Cloud
To further establish the cloud as a major area of IT, the new MCSE includes a Private Cloud certification option. The private cloud puts some of the power of cloud computing behind an organization’s firewall. Companies owning their own hardware and software can still leverage virtualization to optimize resource utilization and tracking. System Center 2012 provides centralized control of IT resources deployed across private and public clouds. Microsoft is evangelizing the benefits of the private cloud to IT organizations, citing better resource management and cost savings. Emphasizing scalability, it offers its own solution using Windows Server, System Center, and the Hyper-V hypervisor.

The MCSE Private Cloud certification stresses the deployment and management of clouds that can encompass a number of resource configurations. Even the concept of a private cloud means different things to different audiences and vendors. Some solution providers offer dedicated resources within a public or hosted cloud and call the sandbox a private cloud. Others are referring to an organization’s on-premises hosting of virtualized resources. An on-site private cloud contains the entire necessary infrastructure, and the business usually owns the resources. However, an increasingly popular configuration is the hybrid cloud in which an organization uses a mix of owned and external computing resources.

The MCSE Private Cloud Certification
When Microsoft talks about the cloud, it is often referring to a hybrid model. System Center 2012 is targeted toward users of hybrid IT infrastructures, and the MCSE Private Cloud certification addresses the operation of a hybrid data center. Within a cloud context, certificate holders must know how to set up process automation, monitor resources, implement service levels, and deploy System Center. Other topics include System Center integration, virtual machines and services, and configuring the fabric.

The Private Cloud certification requires five exams. Microsoft Certified IT Professionals, Enterprise Administrators, and MCITP Server Administrators need only take the last two exams, which pertain directly to setting up a private cloud with System Center 2012. System Center provides management of resources located in private, hosted, and public clouds. As listed on the Microsoft website, the certificate is comprised of these exams:

Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
Administering Windows Server 2012
Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

As with the other MCSE certificates, Private Cloud experts must recertify competency every three years.

The new MCSE addresses both the importance of cloud computing to industry and Microsoft’s determination to stay a major player. By proactively tailoring the MCSE to business requirements, Microsoft further influences the future of the cloud. Employers and IT professionals can expect the MCSE to remain a relevant benchmark of competency in cloud solutions.

 


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Microsoft MCPD Certification Training

Developing for Microsoft doesn’t just mean writing code for Windows anymore. In fact, after a few relatively quiet years for Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credential holders, the job market is heating up. While many jobs for professionals with MCPD training involve maintaining custom software, many Microsoft developers now work on projects designed to move data from legacy systems into more flexible online applications.
MCPD certification includes desktop, Web, and cloud

For years, earning an MCPD certification required dedication to the Wintel platform and the drive to develop custom code for employers and clients. The Internet continues to reshape the job market for coders, especially for developers who write desktop tools that must now interface with remote databases and online APIs. Microsoft certifies programmers who use the latest versions of its Visual Studio development suite and its SharePoint collaboration server:

Windows Developer 4. Programmers writing software for use on Windows desktops, utilizing the latest .NET framework.
Web Developer 4. Specialists who rely on Microsoft’s ASP.NET server tools to drive interactive Web-based applications.
Windows Azure Developer. Coders who want to migrate application development and data storage to Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.
SharePoint Developer 2010. Programmers using Microsoft’s collaboration server to help teams distribute and discuss crucial documents.

In addition, Microsoft maintains support for MCPD certifications related to every platform the company currently supports. At this writing, Microsoft still validates professionals working in Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2005. Since many large companies migrate their systems slowly, employers often prefer to hire developers with experience supporting multiple generations of Redmond’s operating systems and development suites.

Job outlook for graduates of MCPD training programs

Microsoft certified professional developer training qualifies developers for roles in many large companies that rely on Windows and SharePoint. Banks, law firms, and health care companies top the lists of employers tracked by Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and other industry observers. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a booming job market for generalist computer programmers, MCPD training can help candidates qualify for competitive positions that pay 10 to 20 percent higher than the median salary for all developers.

According to the editors of MCP Magazine, MCPDs often quietly support the work of project managers in medium and large organizations. Although project managers usually get the bulk of the credit for successful projects, many MCPDs earn salaries close to those of their non-developer managers. In fact, the magazine’s most recent salary survey shows that some professionals with Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certifications actually earn a few thousand dollars more than their supervisors. Both types of IT professional, however, earn close to six-figure salaries.

On the other hand, analysts at Foote Partners note a divergence between employers who require MCPD certification for new hires and those who will settle for IT professionals with demonstrated coding skills. Although the pay gap between the two types of workers continues to narrow, hiring managers still look for evidence that candidates have completed at least some MCPD training programs. Many more employers offer fee and tuition reimbursement for MCPD certification exams as a professional development perk. Either way, hiring managers demand demonstrated experience and a portfolio of work product that reflects exposure to MCPD training.


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Email addiction: Why the enterprise can’t break free

Atos CEO Thierry Breton caught a lot of flak last year when he announced he wanted his employees to give up email, but he may have been on to something.

Kids these days don’t use email — digital market research company comScore found that use of Web-based email dropped 31% among 12- to 17-year-olds and 34% among 18- to 24-year-olds in the period between December 2010 and December 2011.

And consumers are off email as well. The Radicati Group, which tracks use of email and other messaging media, projects the number of consumer emails will decrease by 3% to 4% each year between 2012 and 2016.

Then again, there was a reason Breton came in for so much derision: Email in the enterprise isn’t going anywhere. Or more precisely, it isn’t going anywhere but up. Radicati is projecting the number of business emails to increase by 13% every single year between now and 2016.

For enterprise employees, that means more time spent in the inbox, not only on PCs and laptops but now on tablets and smartphones, wading through newsletters, social media notifications and unfiltered spam in search of the mail they truly need to do their jobs, to say nothing of the time spent filing, archiving and retrieving those messages.

For IT, that means more screams from users about storage limits being too low (especially when Google lets them keep everything), as well as worries about security, archiving, retention, ediscovery, deletion and syncing mail between mobile devices. And then there’s the cost: In 2010, Gartner estimated associated email costs of $192 per user per year.

Why do we subject ourselves to this madness? Because for all its aggravations, email works. “It’s still an efficient way of communicating, almost in real time,” says Phil Bertolini, CIO of Michigan’s Oakland County, who’s responsible for 10,000 email boxes.

“It does what it’s designed to do quite well, which is allow us to securely communicate on a one-to-one or one-to-few basis,” says Rob Koplowitz, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Simply put, we may hate email, but we can’t work without it. But if enterprise email volume is going to boom the way Radicati’s numbers indicate, something’s going to have to change, CIOs and messaging experts agree. Email is going to have to get more sophisticated and, at the same time, easier to use. And the people doing the using, who often make life harder for themselves, need to evolve, too.

Why we love email
We love email because it has utility and ubiquity. It keeps us connected and updated without requiring sender and recipients to be online at the same time, thanks to its asynchronous nature. Everyone doing business today can reasonably be expected to have an email address, where only some use communication alternatives like chat, videoconferencing or SMS texting.

Beyond that, email creates a de facto audit trail as it goes, tracking who sent what to whom when, one that is easily stored, forwarded and, barring space limitations, readily available on one’s computer.

 


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3 features that make the Samsung Galaxy S 4 unique, innovative

Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 will boast several new features, developed through partnerships, that could change the course of Android.

Samsung introduced the first chapter of the Galaxy S4 last night at a highly publicized gala held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Galaxy S4 exceeded expectations. It is a full-featured phone with a 1080×1920 HD AMOLED display and 32 or 64GB of storage and up to 64GB of additional storage using a microSD. To appreciate this hardware and software platform, take a look at the IDG News Service or the Verge’s recaps.

A few impressive features that will need more time to take shape are Knox security, automotive navigation and safety app “S Voice Drive,” and language translation app “S Translate.” These apps and features are very complex and are beyond the resources of Samsung to deliver alone in a narrow time-to-market window. Poor execution could cause a consumer uproar on par with the Apple Maps fiasco.

Samsung introduced Knox, a secure version of Android that should be very attractive to the enterprise audience, in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress two weeks ago. The important point about Knox in the context of the Galaxy S4 announcement is Samsung’s ability to strike partnerships with important companies. In this case, General Dynamics, a large U.S. government and military contractor, has allied with Samsung to certify the Knox version of Android for government data that is classified secret and below. In addition to security, the General Dynamics alliance brings credibility to Samsung’s offer to government and enterprise customers.

S Voice Drive is an enhancement to S Voice released on the Galaxy SIII that is targeted at voice-activated automotive navigation and safety applications. The challenge of smart mobile device apps for automotive use should not be underestimated because of the complexity of the applications and the driver distraction risks. Samsung has a unique perspective on mobile automotive apps because with Intel it is a contributor to the Linux Foundation’s Tizen project, a Linux-derivative OS targeted to provide a consistent interface across consumer devices. Tizen has been adopted by the automotive industries’ infotainment association GENIVI to serve as the automotive OS for all functions except real-time control. Android could easily be exchanged with Tizen and Tizen apps could easily be ported to Android.

The automotive industry is moving slowly towards in-car apps, but the developer ecosystem has been slow to emerge. S Voice Drive could be an important accelerator for the use of mobile apps that enhance the driving experience with information and entertainment without distracting the driver. It will be interesting to understand who Samsung’s partners are in delivering voice-based navigation. If Google is Samsung’s automotive partner, it will move Android and Google maps much closer to taking over the automotive cabin.

Samsung also introduced real-time translation of written and spoken words for 10 languages: English, French, Latin American Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese. Samsung claimed that translation would work without an internet connection, which likely means Google Translate is not the engine because Google’s language engine requires an internet connection. One of the best translation engines is the one created by the partnership of IBM and Lionbridge, which is fast and accurate enough for real-time customer service applications. It would be interesting to know who Samsung’s partner(s) is for language translation technology.

All three of these apps could change the course of Android. Samsung’s scale increases the number of companies willing to strike licensing arrangements. Its disposition towards open innovation and to designing in-technology solutions without having to own the technology provides more alternatives from which it can find the best approach and more flexibility in making mid-course corrections as markets evolve. Hopefully, Samsung announces its S Voice Drive and S Translate partners soon.


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Should I take IELTS or the TOEFL iBT?

If you are thinking about studying overseas in an English speaking country or an European University, then you will probably need to take an English proficiency test. But which one should you choose?

The two most common English tests for university admission are the IELTS and TOEFL tests. This article will compare both so students can choose the one that suits them.

Basic Information about the exams

The IELTS exam, or International English Language Testing System, is developed by UCLES, University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES and delivered by the British Council and IDP Education Australia. The test is available in an Academic and General Training Module (only the writing and reading are different). Here, we are talking about the Academic module.

The TOEFL Test, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is developed and delivered by ETS, the Educational Testing Service, a non-profit American company that has a virtual monopoly. The test is available in a paper-based version (PBT), a computer-based version (CBT) and an Internet-Based Version (IBT). Here, we only look at the Internet-Based Test.

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All are non-profit organizations – but do occasionally make money.

Cost

The cost of the IELTS test can vary depending on whether the provider is IDP or The British Council, but currently it is NT$5,100 in Taiwan (around US$160) while the TOEFL is US$160.

How many times I can take the tests?

IELTS test is available on 48 fixed dates a year – for specifically available dates you need to contact your local center while the TOEFL is available in any 7-day period. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test

Acceptance

It used to be the case that IELTS tests were only accepted by British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian schools while TOEFL dominated in the US. How things have changed! Now, the two tests are literally competing with each other and nearly any school you wish to go to will accept both.

Here is a list of Universities in the States that accept IELTS

Here is a list of all the places that accept TOEFL scores.

Difficulty

Students often ask which is more difficult. Unfortunately, the answer really depends on your individual situation and your learning experience. It can also depend on your learning style and how you think. In many cases, difficulty depends on the type of tasks in each test. Take a look at the summary below:

How are IELTS and TOEFL different?

Speaking

In the IELTS exam, the speaking test is divided into three parts: (1) general topics, (2) the individual Long turn, and (3) discussion. Part one involves answering common English type questions on up to three or four topics such as flowers, the Internet, and your hometown. In part two, you are given a topic to talk about for two minutes and one minute to prepare for it. In part three, the examiner will discuss with you a variety of issues and ideas with you related to the topic. So, if you had to talk about a famous person you admired in part two, you may end up discussing the idea of fame, and whether or not famous people should consider how they influence society.

In the TOEFL iBT things are quite different. To begin with, you are facing a computer, not an examiner. You begin with 2 questions where you have to report and comment on what you hear. You then have integrated questions that require you to read some information and then listen to something. For example, you may read about library opening times, and then listen to someone talking about what they have to do that day. There is also a task that requires you to listen to someone talking about a problem and the test-taker has to summarize the situation, the problem and what they think the speaker ought to do.

Overall, many English learners prefer the Face-to-Face Interview in IELTS. You are able to ask the interviewer to clarify, explain words or repeat the question, which makes it easier to make sure that you answer the question properly. In the IELTS test, asking questions does NOT reduce your score. On the other hand the TOEFL test environment can be noisy and uncomfortable since you listen to pre-recorded questions and speak into a microphone in a room filled with other people. You also have a fixed time limit while the IELTS is more flexible.

The other thing to consider is the type of questions themselves. The biggest problem with the TOEFL speaking for some people is that it may be difficult to catch the ideas in the integrated speaking questions. That said, the TOEFL speaking questions are not as complex. IELTS questions can become quite sophisticated in part 3.

Listening

IELTS and the TOEFL iBT differ in question types, format, content, length and accent. First, in the iBT all questions are multi-choice format, checking or matching. IELTS, on the other hand, has a wider range of question types and it often asks you to write exactly the words you hear. Spelling is critical.

In the iBT test, apart from the first part, all are lectures or mini-lectures. While IELTS has a conversation in Part 1, a monologue on a topic of general interest in Part 2, a 2-4 person discussion in an academic context in Part 3 and a simplified lecture in Part 4.

As for accents, IELTS prides itself on the fact that it has a real range including British, Australian, and North American, while in the iBT students will hear British, American, and Canadian. Length also differs with the IELTS being considerably shorter at 30-40 minutes + 10 minutes transfer time while the iBT will be between 60-90 minutes since ETS (the test developer) may try out a new test on the tester.

Regarding content, TOEFL listenings tend to be more academically specialized. They are more likely to ask questions about cells, and molecular biology. Although IELTS listenings are also academic, they tend to be more general. The main reason why people find IELTS listenings difficult is that they require you to write down words and phrases, which is difficult because usually the keywords are synonyms or paraphrased AND you have to spell correctly! Finally, if you are used to American English, you will find the IELTS test to be a little more challenging just because of the wider range of accents.

Microsoft MCT Certification Training

Microsoft MCT Certification Training
Technology training helps professionals survive the job market, now more than ever. Office workers and administrators now receive the same kind of instruction on file servers and databases that would have qualified them for highly technical roles just a decade ago. Meanwhile, professionals from a variety of fields have discovered how they can boost their salaries by blending their experience with specialized IT knowledge. This upward surge within the technology community could be your key to a bigger compensation package, if you can leverage your existing Microsoft certification into a computer training job.

Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) have enjoyed consistent salary growth over the past few years, at a rate that has outpaced earnings for most other IT specialties. According to researchers at Foote Partners, the MCT designation signifies mastery of another technical certification as well as the teaching and communication skills necessary to assist other professionals. A report in IT trade magazine CIO suggests that effective companies must budget as much as 13 percent of their technology spending to training and professional development programs. MCTs stand to collect many of those funds, either in dedicated teaching positions or as occasional team trainers.
Earning MCT Status

MCT training helps prospective instructors apply their skills to a new environment: the classroom. The Microsoft Certified Training program builds on previously earned certifications, enabling you to customize your career. According to Microsoft’s Learning team, MCT candidates must first pass a Microsoft Certified Professional premier exam in any of these specialties:

Systems Engineer
Systems Administrator
Systems Administrator: Security
Desktop Support Technician
Microsoft Certified IT Professional
Microsoft Certified Professional Developer
Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist
Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist
Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Specialist
Microsoft Certified Business Management Solutions Professional
Microsoft Certified Master
Microsoft Office 2007 Master
Microsoft Certified Architect

After that, MCT candidates can use one of four options to certify their presentation skills:

Pass the CompTIA CTT+ exam.
Attend a Microsoft-approved presentation skills course.
Provide instructor credentials from Microsoft or from a trusted partner, such as Cisco, Citrix, or Oracle.
Submit proof of instructor or professor status from an accredited academic institution.

MCT remains one of only a handful of IT credentials that enable you to blend multiple existing certifications instead of sitting for a dedicated exam.
Top Employers for Microsoft Certified Trainers

Microsoft Certified Trainers enjoy even more job security than many of their peers, due to their flexible skills. If demand for training within an organization dries up, an MCT can fall back on his or her foundational skills or find another training job elsewhere. Compare that experience to a more typical IT career, threatened by potential outsourcing or offshoring.

Generally, there are three options or career pathways for MCTs:
Full-time Microsoft trainers working in colleges, universities, and career development centers. The MCT certification, by definition, qualifies technical professionals to train students in formal classroom settings. When combined with the appropriate undergraduate and graduate degrees, an MCT can solidify faculty and staff positions in the higher education market.
Full-time MCTs working in-house at major employers. Some companies have such complex development needs that they budget for dedicated personnel to handle ongoing training projects.
MCTs in other functional roles, called upon to handle occasional training for their employers. Many companies offer bonuses or enhanced compensation packages for internal staff who can flex into training roles when needed.

In some cases, you might even use your MCT certification to make extra side money by teaching occasional training classes or offering personal consulting for clients outside your main employer. Pursuing the MCT shows employers that you’re committed to keeping your skills current while investing in the development of your peers.


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