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Perhaps a “Surface Pro 4” will debut at the same time or soon after Windows 10 launches. Here’s what we’d like to see in the Surface Pro 4.
Surface Pro 4
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 has become a surprise hit, bringing in more than $900 million in revenue, according to industry analysts, and generating such enthusiasm that fans are looking forward to the next version. The Surface Pro 3 was designed to present Windows 8.1 at its best, so it’s expected that its successor will serve as a showcase for Windows 10, which could come out as early as this summer. Perhaps a “Surface Pro 4” will debut at the same time or soon after Windows 10 launches. Here’s what we’d like to see in the Surface Pro 4.
031615 surfacepro4 2
A better camera.
In our review of the Surface Pro 3, we found that its rear camera was unable to focus on objects within a few feet of it. That’s unfortunate because it means you cannot use it to capture an image of a sheet of paper with text on it. For the Surface Pro 4, we hope it has an improved rear camera that would easily let us do this. This would make the tablet even more appealing in an office environment or for work-related tasks if you can use it to quickly snap images of documents
Another keyboard option.
Generally, we like the Type Cover: Surface Pro 3’s keyboard (sold separately) that also serves as a protective cover for the tablet. However, the keys can feel slightly mushy if you don’t type with your fingers curved and wrists raised. For the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft may want to consider offering a second keyboard with keys more like a traditional notebook. The design should have sturdy hinges so that the Surface Pro 4 can attach to it (perhaps by strong magnets) without the need for propping the tablet up by its built-in kickstand, which is what has to be done now with the Surface Pro 3 when using the Type Cover.
A (slightly) larger screen
Speculation has it that the Surface Pro 4 might come in two screen sizes, possibly 8 inches and 14 inches. Microsoft considered releasing a 7 inch Surface Pro 3, but cancelled it. For the fourth Surface, the company may be wise to repeat this strategy. We like Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch diagonal size and 3:2 aspect ratio, because it approximates the dimensions of an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch sheet (though just a bit smaller). To continue making the Surface appeal to the business market, the Surface Pro 4 should have a screen that’s perhaps a little bit larger to match the size of a standard business letter.
Processors that run cooler.
The Surface Pro 3 is available running an Intel i3, i5 or i7 processor, but there have been reports of the i7 model running too hot and therefore glitching out. Fortunately, it’s likely that the Surface Pro 4 will use the new Intel Core M line — powerful processors which were designed for slim, mobile devices, and they don’t use fans.
Continued compatibility with Windows desktop apps
The first two generations of Surfaces were available in two varieties: with processors that could run standard Windows desktop applications (the Surface Pro), and ones that could only run only Windows Store apps (Surface.) This was certainly confusing to customers, so Microsoft wisely didn’t release a “Surface 3.” This made the Surface Pro 3 a unique item onto itself, lessened brand confusion, and met buyers’ expectations. So the fourth generation Surface should not include a “Surface 4.”
More software for the digital pen
The Surface Pen is great; sketching and writing with it on the Surface Pro 3’s display conveys a close sensation of using an ink pen on paper. The tablet doesn’t include much software specially designed for it, except for the OneNote app which implements a UI to make using it with the Surface Pen easier. So we’d like to see more applications for the Surface Pen, such as a tool that can take your PDFs or Word documents and let them be signed by someone using the Surface Pen.
Finally, don’t mess with its good looks.
We really like the Surface Pro 3’s case — its smooth flat surfaces machined from magnesium feel cool to the touch, and even the hinge mechanism of its kickstand gives a sense of solid mechanical design when you pop it out to prop up the tablet. Perhaps the Surface Pro 4 will be slightly thinner and lighter (the Surface Pro 3 is 0.36 inches thin and weighs 1.76 pounds), but overall we see little that needs to be improved.
With the Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, users can view virtual 3D images within the everyday real world.
A unified sensor interface will allow Windows 10 devices to support a slew of new environmental, biometric, proximity and motion sensors
Windows 10 devices in the future could be measuring temperature, environmental pressure and carbon dioxide levels, as Microsoft provides an interface to support a wide range of sensors.
Microsoft is building a unified sensor interface and universal driver for Windows 10 that will support a slew of environmental, biometric, proximity, health and motion sensors, the company said last week at the WinHEC trade show in Shenzhen. Microsoft is also providing the building blocks for Windows 10 to support sensors that haven’t yet been released.
With support for more sensors, Microsoft hopes to bring “new functionality” to PCs, smartphones, tablets, gadgets and electronics running Windows 10, according to a slide from a presentation.
Microsoft is putting Windows 10 — which is due for release later this year — in PCs, tablets, smartphones, smart devices, wearables, gadgets and Internet of things devices. The company has also shown the future-looking HoloLens holographic headset working with Windows 10; together, the OS and the headset could act as a launchpad for new sensor applications.
Device makers could add barometer, pollution, ultraviolet, temperature, altitude and other sensors to Windows 10 devices. Also through the drivers, motion detection sensors will be able to track activities such as the number of steps users take in a day, and exchange data easily with other Windows 10 devices. The motion detection sensors will also take into account where devices are — on pockets, in hand or in bag — to ensure accurate measurements.
Microsoft is also using sensors to improve the way users interact with Windows 10 devices.
For example, a major attraction of Windows 10 is its ability to automatically switch between tablet and PC modes, which is made possible by sensors in hinges that detect the position of a laptop. Through a feature called Windows Hello, Microsoft is also using sensors to bring biometric authentication to Windows 10 PCs and tablets.
Windows 10 is friendlier to sensors than predecessor operating systems, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard officials said at a press gathering last month.
But sensors need to be identified and supported by the OS, much like other hardware components. The universal driver is designed to let device makers could plug a variety of sensors into Windows 10 devices and not worry about driver development. Microsoft will also provide a separate development kit for those who want to develop independent sensor drivers to expand the functionality of hardware.
Sensors are ubiquitous across devices, and a unified driver interface could aid Microsoft’s effort to put Windows 10 in more gadgets, appliances and other data-collecting instruments, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
Supporting more sensors in Windows 10 is also a key part of Microsoft’s plans to expand into the Internet of Things market, which revolves around data-collecting instruments feeding telemetry to Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, McGregor said.
Device makers could put sensors in mobile devices, but some sensors such as temperature and pollution monitors are more likely to go in street lamps or traffic lights. As part of Microsoft’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” strategy, data from such sources could be fed to Azure for further analysis, McGregor said.
“You have to be able to support the broadest array of applications, and the sensor data is critical,” McGregor said.
Microsoft is trying to unite disparate mobile, PC and embedded Windows operating systems under the Windows 10 umbrella. The company is encouraging the development of Windows-based devices via boards like Raspberry Pi 2 and Qualcomm’s DragonBoard 410c, which will be able to run a custom version of Windows 10 called Athens. Makers — do-it-yourselfers — have developed sensor-packed robots, drone, health monitors, gadgets and wearables with those boards.
In a separate presentation at WinHEC, Microsoft said it would also bring Windows 10 to its own Sharks Cove and Intel’s MinnowBoard Max board, which are used to prototype electronics, appliances and devices with sensors. The devices have low-power ports such as GPIO, SPI, I2C, and UART to which a variety of motion, imaging and other sensors can be attached.
It’s prudent for IT pros to cultivate skills that are in high demand. Even better are skills that will stay in demand. Here are eight key technology areas that show no signs of falling out of favor.
Wanted: Programmers, security experts, cloud capacity managers
More than 90% of U.S. companies are using some form of cloud computing, according to CompTIA’s most recent Trends in Cloud Computing study. Moreover, the November 2014 report found that companies are moving infrastructure or applications between private and public clouds. IT leaders predict that movement will accelerate in the future, which will generate a host of cloud-centric jobs, including cloud security.
A related position will be dedicated to cloud capacity management. “We expect many [organizations] will operate in a hybrid environment, a mix of private and public cloud, so the question becomes how to dynamically switch demand for compute and storage from private and public clouds,” says Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive for Accenture Digital. “That’s going to require new techniques and disciplines that many IT organizations don’t have in place today.”
Wanted: Data architects, integration experts, Hadoop pros
Cliff Justice, leader of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory practice, says organizational needs around analytics will be huge, driven partly by the sheer volume of data collected but also by the increasing number of applications (such as robotics) fueled by analytical output. As a result, companies are adding and creating IT positions to handle the work.
According to Barry Brunsman, principal in KPMG’s CIO Advisory Management Consulting practice (pdf), you’ll see roles like these: Data architects, who design the structure to support emerging needs; data integration engineers, who ensure that data solutions and analytics from any number of sources can be integrated; and IT planning analysts, who aggregate and analyze data from many internal and external sources to help IT know what its business partners are likely to need in the future.
Technical titles that are and will remain hot include Hadoop developer, data engineer, big data software architect and enterprise data architect, says Christian P. Hagen, a partner with the Strategic IT Practice at management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.
At the same time, organizational demands around analytics will create a new batch of leadership positions tasked with understanding how to use analytics to achieve goals and objectives. “Analytics won’t mean just working with tools. Companies will need someone out in front, someone who can get at how analytics will transform the company and IT as well,” Hagen says.
Hagen says leadership positions emerging in this field are chief analytics officer, chief data officer, chief digital officer, head of business analytics and vice president of enterprise data.
Wanted: “Digital artisans”
The pressure to be more than a pure technologist will continue in the upcoming years – and that means more than adding one or two business skills to your resume. Tech pros who successfully navigate the changes roiling the industry will be able to demonstrate business acumen across the spectrum, says R “Ray” Wang, founder and principal analyst with Constellation Research Inc. He calls these new specialists “digital artisans,” explaining that they’re “those who can balance right brain and left brain skills.”
Middle-of-the-road products, services and solutions aren’t enough to sustain companies in an increasingly competitive landscape, Wang says. To thrive in the next five to 10 years, organizations need to seek out talent “that can think outside of the box but execute within the system,” he says. To deliver that kind of strategic value, IT pros need to be authentic, relevant, transformation-minded, intelligent, speedy, artistic and non-conformist. (Get it? A-R-T-I-S-A-N.)
Wanted: Hardware, software, analytics experts
The 2014 PwC report The Wearable Future (pdf) sees a world where wearable devices will be used to train new employees, speed up the sales process, improve customer service, create hands-free guidance for workers and improve the accuracy of information collected to serve the growing analytics movement at companies everywhere.
Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, predicts the move to wearables could spur as much, if not more, new development as did the move to smartphones. “By the time 2020 rolls around, wearable devices could be as common as the iPhone today, and that creates all new opportunities,” Cullen says.
Cullen expects that organizations of all kinds will identify workers and processes that could benefit from wearables, which it turn means IT departments will seek out technologists with the ability to deploy, manage and maintain hardware as well as experts who can develop, customize and support the applications and analytics programs that will make wearables useful within their specific organizations.
Wanted: In-the-weeds tinkerers and big-picture thinkers
Research firm IDC predicts in its Worldwide and Regional Internet of Things 2014-2020 Forecast that the global IoT market will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.
“Technology is being built into almost everything we have,” says David Dodd, vice president of IT and CIO at Stevens Institute of Technology. That means a bright future for technologists who understand the underpinnings of this kind of connectivity. Indeed, IoT could breed a new specialist who can combine skills in hardware, engineering, programming, analytics, privacy and security.
Dodd, though, believes the IoT skill most in demand will be in understanding what value comes from all this connectivity. Organizations are realizing it’s not enough to simply connect items and gather data, they need to know how those connections and the data they generate can solve problems or advance organizational goals. Companies “want people who can understand and formulate the future of IoT,” he says.
Position yourself for long-term growth
Smart companies have a corporate roadmap that spells out where they’d like to be three, five and 10 years out, how they’re going to get there, and how technology fits into that vision. As a smart IT professional, can you say how your skills and position figure into your company’s plans — or the industry’s as a whole?
Sure, organizations will still need programmers and developers, but they’ll want (and pay better salaries to) programmers who know how to work with robots and developers who know how to apply their craft to wearable devices. So, yes, while labor market experts expect that IT as a whole will continue to add good jobs through 2020 and beyond, savvy tech pros are taking pains to ensure their personal roadmap is steering them towards concentrations with maximum longevity.
What follows are some specialties worth pursuing to future-proof your tech career.
Wanted: Tech experts to lay the groundwork for enterprise AI/robotics
Artificial intelligence and robotics have already moved from science fiction to reality, and soon they’ll be coming to a business near you. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report (pdf), these technologies “will permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025, with huge implications for a range of industries such as healthcare, transportation and logistics, customer service and home maintenance.”
Not surprisingly, technologists skilled in this area will be in high demand, says KPMG’s Justice. He notes that IT professionals will have roles to play in programming, integrating and building out the infrastructure for organizational applications of AI and robotics.
Wanted: Programmers to tap internal, external power of APIs
There’s already plenty of buzz around application program interfaces (APIs) — the sets of routines, protocols and tools that specify how software components should interact and facilitate access to Web-based applications.
Software vendors have been providing API for years, and now companies of all disciplines are making theirs public so other developers can design applications that interact with their original software. For that reason, the importance of APIs is about to explode. Companies will require more and more APIs to tap the power of emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, robotics and artificial intelligence, as well as maximize value for existing tech-driven trends such as mobile connectivity.
IT shops will need professionals to actively develop and manage APIs for use within the organization and to connect with outside users, Accenture’s Sutcliff says. These technologists need to have strong development skills as well as an understanding of data sources, data structures and the organization’s applications portfolios. Sutcliff notes that this position won’t be about one specific language or API, but more about assembling pieces together.
Wanted: Broad and deep security chops
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 37% growth in information security analyst positions between 2012 and 2022 for good reason — all these emerging technologies are requiring, and will continue to demand, even more attention from an organization’s security program.
“For all the great opportunities that social and mobile and cloud and analytics and the Internet of Things are going to bring, any economic gains that will be realized by all these new technologies can be undercut significantly if there aren’t really robust security programs and protocols in place,” says Matt Aiello, a partner in the Washington office of Heidrick & Struggles, which specializes in recruiting CIOs and senior-level technology, engineering and operations executives. Aiello and others say the security expert of the future will need to ensure that security is embedded in all levels.
The big question rises how to become the Microsoft certified , All Microsoft certifications are acquired by simply taking a series of exams. If you can self-study for said exams, and then pass them, then you can acquire the certification for the mere cost of the exam (and maybe whatever self-study materials you purchase).
You’ll also need, at minimum (in addition to the MCTS), the CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ certs; as well as the Cisco CCNA cert.
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) – This is the basic entry point of Microsoft Certifications. You only need to pass a single certification test to be considered an MCTS and there are numerous different courses and certifications that would grant you this after passing one. If you are shooting for some of the higher certifications that will be discussed below, then you’ll get this on your way there.
Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) – This certification was Microsoft’s previous “Developer Certification” meaning that this was the highest certification that was offered that consisted strictly of development-related material. Receiving it involved passing four exams within specific areas (based on the focus of your certification). You can find the complete list of courses and paths required for the MCPD here.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) – This is Microsoft’s most recent “Developer Certification” which will replace the MCPD Certification (which is being deprecated / retired in July of 2013). The MCSD focuses within three major areas of very recent Microsoft development technologies and would likely be the best to persue if you wanted to focus on current and emerging skills that will be relevant in the coming years. You can find the complete list of courses and paths required for the MCSD here.
The Microsoft Certifications that you listed are basically all of the major ones within the realm of development. I’ll cover each of the major ones and what they are :
Most people, however, take some kind of course. Some colleges — especially career and some community colleges — offer such courses (though usually they’re non-credit). Other providers of such courses are private… some of them Microsoft Certified vendors of one type or another, who offer the courses in such settings as sitting around a conference table in their offices. Still others specialize in Microsoft certification training, and so have nice classrooms set up in their offices.
There are also some online (and other forms of distance learning) courses to help prepare for the exams.
The cost of taking classes to prepare can vary wildly. Some are actually free (or very nearly so), while others can cost hundreds of dollars. It all just depends on the provider.
And here’s a Google search of MCTS training resources (which can be mind-numbing in their sheer numbers and types, so be careful what you choose):
There are some pretty good, yet relatively inexpensive, ways to get vendor certificate training. Be careful not to sign-up for something expensive and involved when something cheaper — like subscribing to an “all the certificates you care to study for one flat rate” web site — would, in addition to purchasing a study guide or two at a bookstore, likely be better.
If you want a career in IT, then you need to have both an accredited degree in same (preferably a bachelors over an associates), and also a variety of IT certifications. The MCTS is but one that you will need.
You should probably also get the Microsoft MCSE and/or MCSA. The ICS CISSP. And the ITIL.
There are others, but if you have those, you’ll be evidencing a broad range of IT expertise that will be useful, generally. Then, in addition, if the particular IT job in which you end-up requires additional specialist certification, then you can get that, too (hopefully at the expense of your employer who requires it of you).
Then, whenever (if ever) you’re interested in a masters in IT, here’s something really cool of which you should be aware…
There’s a big (and fully-accredited, fully-legitimate) university in Australia which has partnered with Microsoft and several other vendors to structure distance learning degrees which include various certifications; and in which degrees, considerable amounts of credit may be earned simply by acquiring said certifications. It’s WAY cool.
One can, for example, get up to half of the credit toward a Masters degree in information technology by simply getting an MCSE (though the exams which make it up must be certain ones which correspond with the university’s courses). I’ve always said that if one were going to get an MCSE, first consult the web site of this university and make sure that one takes the specific MCSE exams that this school requires so that if ever one later decided to enter said school’s masters program, one will have already earned up to half its degree’s credits by simply having the MCSE under his/her belt. Is that cool, or what?
I wouldn’t rely on them over experience (which is far and away the most valuable asset out there) but they are worth pursuing especially if you don’t feel like you have enough experience and need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to land a position as a developer.
If you are going to pursue a certification, I would recommend going after the MCSD (Web Applications Track) as it is a very recent certification that focuses on several emerging technologies that will still be very relevant (if not more-so) in the coming years. You’ll pick up the MCTS along the way and then you’ll have both of those under your belt. MCPD would be very difficult to achieve based on the short time constraints (passing four quite difficult tests within just a few months is feasible, but I don’t believe that it is worth it since it will be “retired” soon after).
No job experience at all is necessary for any of the Microsoft Certifications, you can take them at any time as long as you feel confident enough with the materials of the specific exam you should be fine. The tests are quite difficult by most standards and typically cover large amounts of material, but with what it sounds like a good bit of time to study and prepare you should be fine.
Certifications, in addition to degrees, are so important in the IT field, now, that one may almost no longer get a job in that field without both. The certifications, though, are so important that one who has a little IT experience can get a pretty good job even without a degree as long as he has all the right certs. But don’t do that. Definitely get the degree… and not merely an associates. Get the bachelors in IT; and make sure it’s from a “regionally” accredited school.
Then get the certs I mentioned (being mindful, if you think you’ll ever get an IT masters, to take the specific exams that that Strut masters program requires so that you’ll have already earned up to half the credit just from the certs).
If you already have two years of experience in working in the .NET environment, a certification isn’t going to guarantee that you will get employed, a salary increase or any other bonuses for achieving the honor. However, it can help supplement your resume by indicating that you are familiar with specific technologies enough to apply them in real-world applications to solve problems.
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You are preparing to write code that configures a CredentialPicker object. The code should allow
for platinum members to save their user credentials according to business authentication
Which of the following is the property that should be included in your code?
A. The PreviousCredential property.
B. The AuthenticationProtocol property.
C. The CredentialSaveOption property.
D. The TargetName property.
You are preparing to write code that enforces the technical search capabilities requirements.
Which of the following is a method that should be included in your code?
A. The appendSearchSeparator method.
B. The appendResultSuggestion method.
C. The appendQuerySuggestions(suggestions) method.
D. The appendQuerySuggestion(text) method.
You have been instructed to make sure that customers and visitors are shown in keeping with the
prerequisites. You are preparing to write the necessary code.
Which of the following should be included in your code?
A. The CommitButtonText property of the ContactPicker class.
B. The SelectionMode property of the ContactPicker class.
C. The Email property of the ContactPicker class.
D. The DesiredFields property of the ContactPicker class.
You are preparing to write code to deal with adding and saving annotations according to the
technical product news updates prerequisites.
Which of the following should be included in the code?
A. You should consider making use of the onbeforenavigate navigation member.
B. You should consider making use of the onnavigated navigation member.
C. You should consider making use of the canGoForward navigation member.
D. You should consider making use of the canGoBack navigation member.
You are preparing to write code to satisfy the navigation business requirements.
Which of the following is the function that should be included in your code?
A. The navigate function.
B. The forward function.
C. The back function.
D. The addEventListener function.
Find out which tech jobs offer the most job satisfaction, average salaries and growth opportunity, according to data from Glassdoor.
The Best Tech Jobs in America
Glassdoor recently released its list of the best jobs in America and 10 of the top 25 jobs listed are in the technology sector. When you combine that with the fact that technology-related careers continue to have unemployment rates lower than national average and, according to BLS statistics, tech jobs are expected to grow 21.5 percent between now and 2022, it’s easy to see that the demand for highly skilled technology workers is exploding. It is one of the few areas in the job market that the BLS predicts double-digit growth. So whether you’re just entering the tech market or you’re looking to make a change, the jobs on this list highlight some of the best that this industry has to offer.
Methodology: The Glassdoor Best Jobs report identifies 25 jobs with the highest overall job score rating. They base this on a 5-point scale, where 5 equals the highest score. Glassdoor uses its data to determine the weight of the following three factors:
Earning potential (average annual base salary)
Career opportunities rating
Number of open job listings
The results in this list that follows represent job titles that rate highly among all three categories:
“For a job title to be considered, it must receive at least 75 salary reports and at least 75 career opportunity ratings shared by U.S.-based employees over the past year (from January 1, 2014 to January 9, 2015). The number of openings per job title represents the total number posted on Glassdoor over the past three months (October 21, 2014 to January 1, 2015): Note, this report takes into account job title normalization that groups similar job titles, according to Glassdoor representative, MaryJo Fitzgerald.
So here it is — the list of best tech jobs in America.
10. Sales Engineer
“A sales engineer has a technological and scientific understanding of the product being sold, “says Fitzgerald. These salespeople specialize, selling complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They need to take these multifaceted products and be able to explain to potential clients/customers the business value. Sales engineers need to be able to adjust their level of tech jargon and complexity to suit their audience; know their products/services inside and out, as well as the underlying technologies that support them and know the problems facing organizations that use their product or service.
9. Mobile Developer
If you’re a mobile developer, it’s your time to shine. The proliferation of responsive design, the explosion of new mobile devices and the apps that power them have sent competition for mobile development skills skyrocketing.
8. IT Project Manager
The project manager is a special breed; these individuals need to be steeped in technology with great time-management and communication skills. They ensure the project stays within guidelines, that deadlines are met and that everything stays within budget. To do that they have to allocate resources, know who is good at what and be able to talk to people from all walks of the business, i.e., customer, developer, accountant, etc.
7. Network Engineer
If your network goes down, your business comes to a halt. Network engineers work to make sure that doesn’t happen. These IT pros deal with all of the organization’s hardware and the computer networks that live within. Unlike network admins, network engineers focus mainly on top level design and planning as opposed to the daily operations and support of the network. Responsibilities range depending on the company size. In smaller companies network engineers might work with a small team or alone, wearing many different hats, like sysadmins, for example. Larger organizations may have an entire staff of network engineers, installing new hardware and wiring, adding hubs and switches and more.
6. QA Engineer
Whether your company offers products, services or both, QA engineers are a necessary part of technology execution. QA engineers oversee the entire development process from concept to final product/service ensuring whatever it is your organization creates is built to a standard with customer experience in mind. That customer might be someone who buys a piece of software or a product or a worker using a tool supplied by IT.
5. Solutions Architect
These tech workers are accountable for designing and organizing computer systems and custom applications used by their organization. While similar to an IT consultant, this role is more focused on the development and implementation of an interface that any employee can use to make their job easier and more efficient, according to MaryJo Fitzgerald, a public relations representative from Glassdoor.
From a technology standpoint, these workers must define current problems along with future goals to build a roadmap to get the business from point A to point B. This role has evolved over the years to become more of a technical role than it was originally.
4. Data Scientist
These IT workers delve into some of businesses most complex issues. Using often-times disparate sources of data, data scientists work to find insight and actionable data. Math, communication, business and statistics skills are all part of the data scientists skillset.
Josh Willis, a data scientist for Cloudera said a data scientist is a, “person who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician.”
3. Product Manager
Timing is everything in this role. These IT professionals work closely with engineering, sales and marketing teams to ensure a product meets the business’ overall strategy and goals. They take a product from concept to reality. In between they take input from stakeholders and customers and ensure that the product aligns with business objectives and work on things like maximizing business value and user experience.
Although it’s listed in the tech jobs category, the right person for this role needs a strategic mind and a strong understanding of the business needs.
2. Database Administrator
Organizations have lots of data and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. In fact, IDC reports that in 2012 the amount of data stored globally reached 2.8 zettabytes and they now forecast that organizations will generate 40 zettabytes (ZB) by the year 2020. That’s an astounding number.
Along with all that data comes job security for those skilled in the art of storing and organizing data. These individuals work to maintain the integrity of their respective data and make sure its deliverable to analysts when necessary. They maintain and create new database systems as well as make sure things like back-ups are performed, plan security and ensuring that data comes from reliable sources.
1. Software Engineer
Computer science, engineering and math skills are what it takes to rise to the top of the software engineer talent pool. These professionals design, develop, test, debug and evaluate the software and systems required to keep businesses both big and small moving forward.
These IT pros must be familiar with different OSes and middleware to make sure that when push comes to shove, the software “just works.” The process begins by evaluating user needs, then developing software and algorithms to support business needs.
The myth about how Amazon’s Web service started just won’t die
How AWS got started and what its co-founder is doing now that he says could be bigger than cloud
There’s a rumor that goes around cloud circles about how Amazon.com created what is now the multi-billion dollar infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud computing industry in the early 2000s.
Some people wrongly assume that Amazon had spare, excess computing capacity from their ecommerce site that was used as the basis for Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud.
It’s something that Benjamin Black has heard a lot. But it’s not true. And he would know: Black is widely credited with co-authoring the initial proposal at Amazon that led to the creation of AWS.
“Why will that not die?” Black says about the rumor. “It’s totally false.”
Black, who recently accepted a new position at cloud company Pivotal, says from day one, every part of AWS has been purpose built for AWS. And now he’s hoping to work on a new project that he says could be even bigger than the cloud he helped create at Amazon.
How AWS actually got started
Benjamin Black co-authored a paper at Amazon.com in 2003 that helped kick off Amazon Web Services and the IaaS cloud computing market. Black now works at Pivotal.
In 2003 Black was running a website engineering team at Amazon. The company was growing fast and IT wasn’t keeping up. Black worked with Chris Pinkham, who he says is one of the best managers he’s ever worked with. Pinkham pushed Black to consider how Amazon’s infrastructure could more efficiently scale up. They explored how abstraction and decoupling the applications from the infrastructure could make it easier to manage.
“We realized there could be a lot of value in doing that, and a lot of value to others potentially outside of Amazon,” Black told Network World. “We could sell it (the infrastructure) as a service.” Black and Pinkham wrote up the idea, which made its way to Jeff Bezos, who greenlighted the proposal. Pinkham then led a team to build Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which are virtual machines as a service and one of AWS’s first products released in 2006.
“Right off the bat we just thought it would be an interesting thing to do. It took a while to get to a point of realizing that this is actually transformative.”
That seed of an idea turned into what is now the market-leading IaaS public cloud computing company. Amazon was estimated last year by Gartner to have a public cloud that is five times larger than its next 14 competitors combined. Needless to say, the idea Black helped start took off. Pinkham went on to found startup Nimbula, which Oracle bought and used as the basis for its cloud platform. Pinkham now works as an engineering vice president at Twitter.
How did Bezos receive the idea? Black recalls Bezos envisioning a platform that would give anyone, such as college kids in a dorm room, the tools they would need to start a new company.
“That’s still the idea people have about it,” Black says. “At the same time, it’s taking over the world.” He says the fundamental key to AWS, which remains today, is that it provides the undifferentiated technical infrastructure to anyone who wants it – whether that’s VMs, storage, or Hadoop as a service.
Some of the directions Amazon has taken AWS have surprised Black. AWS is moving further and further “up the stack” to provide application services, like virtual desktops and email. Not everything he and Pinkham proposed made it into the initial version, but every change was for the better, he wrote in a blog post describing the origins of EC2.
Did Black realize the idea he and Pinkham proposed to Bezos would turn into what is has today? Far from it. “Right off the bat we just thought it would be an interesting thing to do,” he says. “It took a while to get to a point of realizing that this is actually transformative. It was not obvious at the beginning.”
How the Internet of Things could be the next cloud
Black has a new gig now. After stints at Microsoft, VMware, advising the company Chef and starting his own monitoring company named Boundry, cloud company Pivotal hired Black as senior director of technology. Pivotal, which is a spinout from VMware, EMC and has substantial backing from General Electric, is behind the open source platform as a service (PaaS) Cloud Foundry.
Whereas an IaaS like AWS is a massive distributed system of virtual hardware and services – like compute, storage and databases – a PaaS is an application development and hosting service.
In his new role at Pivotal Black hopes to spearhead the company’s burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) lab in Seattle, where he lives.
INSIDER: 5 ways to prepare for Internet of Things security threats
There’s an opportunity for a company like Pivotal to create a series of application components that can be used in IoT that serve as a basis for many other IoT apps, Black says. “There are some pretty basic patterns across all of these desired apps,” he says. “What we’re looking do is develop the primitives that would allow anyone to get into the IoT marketplace.”
When asked how the IoT market could compare to the cloud computing market that he helped usher in, Black said: “Bigger.”
Some of these industries, such as paper and home phones, you can guess. But some will surprise you.
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Metropolitan Taxi Systems
The dual driving force of decentralized apps (Uber, Lyft) and self-driving technologies will cause the centralized taxi industry to disintegrate. In just a few short years, Uber has already made a sizable dent in their business and will continue to do so. On the other hand, automated taxis will spread like wildfire once viable. As an NYC resident, all I have to say is good riddance, yellow cabs!
2. The USPS
Almost all of the processes that used to require a mail response are completely online now, and the USPS today is essentially one big junk mail courier for companies wanting to advertise at a 1.4 percent conversion rate on average. The only spectacular aspect of the USPS is their Media Mail rate, but if the industry was privatized, the price would be just as competitive via the nature of private industry, e.g. UPS (UPS) and Fed-Ex (FDX) .
3. The Paper Industry
The paper industry won’t ever disappear completely, but it will be almost obsolete by 2020 as everything is digitized.
4. Home Phones
I believe home telephones will be obsolete by 2020, if not sooner. Smartphones have outpaced landlines as a far more convenient and necessary form of communication. It’s already very rare to meet someone without a cell phone. We even contemplated this year switching all our office phones to cell phones. (T, VZ, S, TMUS).
5. Mobile Phones
Years ago, mobile phones became portable computers; we just insisted on thinking of them as mobile phones. The industry dedicated to making and supporting phones is already in rapid decline in the U.S. Over the next five years, that will spread globally. All data will just be data, and no distinction will be made between phone data and Internet data. Companies caught on the wrong side will be gone.
6. Credit Cards
Just like music CDs and VCRs, the plastic card that we walk around with in our wallets could very well disappear. Sooner or later, they will be replaced with mobile payments. It’s awkward each time we have to type 16 numbers into a web page, swipe an overused card repeatedly, or have to wait for the machine to spit out that receipt. Even worse, having to sign it. Smartphones will disrupt this. Bad news for MasterCard (MA), Visa (V), American Express (AXP) and Discover (DFS).
7. Movie Theaters
Sales have been declining steadily and with good reason: for the price, seeing a movie in theaters just doesn’t deliver good value. The only benefit used to be the huge screen and great sound system, but with HDTV and a small investment at home, you can create an experience that’s much superior. As more movies become available for streaming and download, movie theaters will slowly fade away.
8. Storage Media
CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray Discs, External Hard Drives, Memory Cards, etc. With the increasing presence of cloud storage, the desire to remain connected to the digital world and the increasing presence of streaming media services, many forms of physical storage will become obsolete.
9. Retail Health Insurance Agencies
The Affordable Care Act has created marketplaces for individuals to purchase health insurance. The brokerage incentives to provide individual insurance coverage will continue to evaporate and health policies will no longer be promoted by your neighborhood insurance broker.
10. Cable TV
The Internet is changing the way we consume video. Millions have already ditched their cable subscriptions in favor of Netflix accounts. As high-speed Internet reaches more places, there will be less of a need to keep paying for your old cable service. You can already get almost everything you want on demand except live sports. When that fully switches to live streaming, it’s game over. (TWC, VZ).
Mobile payment apps like LevelUp, Venmo, Google Wallet (GOOGL) and ApplePay (AAPL) make it fast, easy and convenient to pay for anything. As more retailers adopt alternative payment methods and new technologies, there will soon be no need to fish out the old leather wallet from the back pocket or pay a visit to the ATM for cash.
12. Fast Food Workers
Pay attention McDonald’s (MCD) and Burger King (BKW): in a restaurant atmosphere that’s all about low price and fast service, the workers themselves will quickly become expendable. This is because customers don’t care so much about service, but rather that they can get the right order in the same amount of time or less. With the push for higher wages, this could become reality sooner rather than later.
As always, you never know when a disaster will strike, so better to have a checklist on hand so that panic doesn’t set in when the network goes down.
1. Creating a plan
Cloud services company Evolve IP has created a list of suggestions for executives to evaluate their current disaster avoidance plans or, should a plan not exist, provide directional measures to protect their information and communications systems.
2. Establish a disaster recovery functional team
Elect one spokesperson from the group for communication. In the event of a multi-location organization each location should have a core team or representative that works with the corporate entity.
3. Risk assessment
Identify risks in the following areas:
Information – What information and information systems are most vital to continue to run the business at an acceptable level?
Communication Infrastructure – What communications (email, toll free lines, call centers, VPNs, Terminal Services) are most vital to continue to run the business at an acceptable level?
Access and Authorization – Who needs to access the above systems and in what secure manner (VPN, SSL, DR Site) in the event of a disaster?
Physical Work Environment – What is necessary to conduct business in an emergency should the affected location not be available?
Internal and External Communication – Who do we need to contact in the event of an emergency and with what information?
4. Cloud-based data centers and applications
Create a written recovery plan that is hosted remotely in a secure and redundant data center. Schedule and test your plan at least once per year or in accordance with regulatory/compliance requirements. Ensure employees can access the hosted environment (both from within the business confines and remotely) during fail-over mode from the designated locations.
5. Premise-based data centers
Produce a written recovery plan that is stored remotely. Identify water entry areas throughout the building and have sandbags available. Install VESDA smoke detection and thermal detectors. Have a fail-safe alarm system. Place high-temperature sensors on fire sprinkler heads if non-water based fire-suppression is unavailable. Keep your data center above street level. If you are in a single-floor building, raise your racks from the floor. Employ multiple Internet service/data providers and test for failover regularly.
6. Data back-up
Tape back-ups should be removed daily and stored in a secure, easily accessed public building with at least 2-3 individuals having keys to the location. Back-up data to a geographically distant location, either electronically, or ensure physical media is in a diverse location.
7. Hosted telephony systems
Employ multiple Internet providers and test for failover regularly. Verify that critical phone numbers have the ability to call forward in an unreachable condition.
8. Call center
Identify key business applications required and how call center staff will access these applications from alternative locations. Identify critical call types that must be answered and determine mechanism to segregate those calls. Identify alternative locations to house the staff with the appropriate systems, phones, and work environment. Ensure administrative staff has the ability to remotely change call routing, messaging, and related call center functionality.
When it comes time to choose a wireless carrier, most Americans just go with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. Recently, more and more people have been tempted by T-Mobile’s cost-slashing “Uncarrier” moves, but that’s about where it ends: the four major carriers.
And that reluctance to look beyond the big guys could be costing you money.
Did you know there are a host of different carriers in the U.S. that use the same networks as the big companies but offer some serious discounts on your monthly bill? They’re called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and piggyback on the major carrier’s networks.
If you’ve never heard of MVNOs, you soon will. Google reportedly wants to get in on the MVNO game and offer its own cell plans using the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, paired with Wi-Fi. Beyond MVNOs, another report says Cablevision is planning a mobile carrier service called Freewheel that will depend entirely on Wi-Fi—including free access to the company’s more than one million public hotspots.
But you don’t have to wait for Cablevision and Google to get in the cell phone service game. There are already numerous MVNOs running on networks from all four major carriers, and some that also offer Wi-Fi only plans. Many of the more interesting carriers run on Sprint, but there are also a number of options that use T-Mobile for anyone looking to use a GSM-based phone.
In no particular order, here’s a look at 10 MVNOs that are well worth a look, at least on paper. We haven’t been able to test these networks ourselves so you’ll have to judge their quality on your own.
It should also go without saying, but if you plan to bring your own device (BYOD) to an MVNO—not all allow it—the device must be compatible with that MVNO’s underlying network, be it Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T.
BYOD: Yes (some restrictions)
Cost: $21 per month (monthly average)
Ting is one of the more interesting choices among MVNOs. The company offers what is more or less a pay-as-you-go model. Ting categorizes usage by buckets. The first 1-100 minutes, for example, cost $3, the next bucket $9, and the next $18. There are also buckets for SMS and MB of data usage, and you must pay a monthly per-device fee of $6 each. The company’s complete rates are on its site. Ting says the average monthly cost per device is $21.
A variety of phones are available with Ting, including the iPhone 5s, Nexus 5, and Galaxy S5. If you’re thinking of moving to Ting, the company says it will pay 25 percent of the early termination fee (ETF) from your current carrier, up to $75.
2. Republic Wireless
Cost: $5-$40 per month
Republic Wireless is one of several carriers that integrates Wi-Fi, reverting to a cellular connection only when Wi-Fi isn’t available. In fact, if you live in an urban environment and are daring enough, you can pay just $5 per month for a Wi-Fi-only plan. The bad news is that if you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi your phone won’t work. Nevertheless, this might be an ideal plan for a university student who lives on campus.
After the Wi-Fi plan, how much you pay really depends on what you need. For $40 per month you can get unlimited talk, text, and data on 4G and Wi-Fi, though the data is throttled after 5GB/mo. There’s also a $10 plan that’s talk and text on cell and Wi-Fi, plus Wi-Fi only data. Whichever plan you choose, Republic phones default to Wi-Fi whenever possible.
Cost: Free to $80 per year
Another Wi-Fi centric carrier similar to Republic, FreedomPop offers a $5 Wi-Fi-only plan. You can also get unlimited voice, text, and 500MB of data for $11 per month, or you can pay $80 up-front for an entire year of the same plan. There’s also a $20 monthly plan that offers unlimited everything over Sprint’s 4G network, but data is downgraded to 3G speeds after the first gigabyte.
4. Scratch Wireless
Cost: $2 to $4 per day, $25 to $40 per month
Scratch Wireless takes another interesting pay-as-you-go approach like Ting. Instead of buckets, Scratch uses a “passes” concept. You can get a daily pass for $2 offering unlimited voice, and pay another $2 for unlimited data for a day. If you need a monthly pass, Scratch offers $25 for unlimited data and another $15 gets you a month of unlimited voice. Scratch does not charge for SMS, which is free under all its plans.
Cost: $40-$60 per month
An actual part of T-Mobile, MetroPCS offers standard prepaid packages similar to the mainstream carriers. You can still save some money, however, as MetroPCS offers unlimited talk and text along with 2GB of LTE and unlimited data at “average MetroPCS network speeds” beyond that for $40 per month. Plans with 4GB of LTE and unlimited LTE cost $50 and $60 per month, respectively.
Cost: $30-$55 per month
Target’s MVNO Brightspot offers a number of basic plans. If you’re not a big talker, you can get a $35 plan that includes unlimited text, up to 3GB of data at 4G speeds, and 300 minutes of voice.
Cost: $19-$59 per month
Ultra Mobile offers a number of standard plans that can meet your needs. The company also offers some international options for those who need to call overseas (as do a number of other MVNOs, including Brightspot). For $29 Ultra Mobile offers unlimited talk and text, and 1GB of LTE data.
Carrier: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
Cost: $25-$80 per month
Owned by TracFone, Net10 offers connections on all four networks depending on your preferences. For $40 per month you can get unlimited talk, text, and data. The downside is Net10 only offers the first 500MB of data at LTE speeds.
Cost: $20-$65 per month
A T-Mobile-based MVNO, PTel is a little bit cheaper than Net10 with $35 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. Like Net10, PTel only offers the first 500MB at LTE speeds.
Cost: $2-$33 per month
If you can get past the cutesy names of its monthly plans (such as Kate, Hazel, and Bella,) RingPlus has a wide range of offerings. The most realistic plan for serious smartphone users is Data, priced at $30 per month. This plan gets you 300 voice minutes, unlimited text, 2GB of data, and unlimited Wi-Fi calling. RingPlus charges 6 cents extra per message for MMS.
Switch and save?
Switching to an MVNO is not for everybody, especially if you live somewhere with limited cellular connectivity options. But if you’re in an area where networks like Sprint and T-Mobile offer good service you could save yourself some serious cash.