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15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013

15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013
Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST

Having earned an IT certification, many individuals think they are automatically entitled to a huge raise. The truth is that several factors, including geography, industry, experience, and yes, certifications, combine to play a major role in determining an individual’s salary. However, certain certifications do have greater impact on the earning potential of an individual. Here, we take a look at the 15 certifications with the highest earning potential for 2013.

Note: The rankings below are derived from certifications that received the minimum number of responses to be statistically relevant in the Global Knowledge annual salary survey completed in October 2012. Certain certifications pay more, but are not represented due to their exclusive nature. These include CCIE: Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert and VCDX: VMware Certified Design Expert, for example.

1. PMP: Project Management Professional – $105,750
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is recognized as the most important certification for project managers. It is globally acknowledged, in heavy demand, and highly sought after by corporations and individuals alike. A Project Management Professional designation demonstrates that you have not only the experience but also the education to successfully lead and direct projects. The PMP credential is for experienced project management professionals, as the qualifications and testing for this certification are rigorous, as are the required continuing education requirements. All of these factors ensure that the PMP credential is widely respected. The PMP experience and exam requirements focus on five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.

2. CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional – $103,299
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is primarily intended for security managers and profes¬sionals who develop policies and procedures in information security. The CISSP certification has become the gold standard in information security certifications and education. Earning and maintaining a CISSP certification is required for many government, military, and civilian security positions. The CISSP was the first credential in the field of information security, accredited by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 17024:2003.

3. MCSD: Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – $97,849

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer is the new Microsoft developer certification that replaces the old Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification. The new certification validates a candidate’s ability to design and build application solutions. These solutions may span multiple versions of a single technology or integrate multiple technologies. Developers are expected to analyze and design enterprise solutions using different Microsoft languages and development tools.

Currently, there are three separate certification tracks for those seeking to earn this certification: MCSD: Windows Store Apps, MCSD: Web Applications, and MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management. Each MCSD track requires anywhere from three to six separate exams. Microsoft has introduced a recertification requirement for the new MCSD. Current certification holders will have to recertify every two years, ensuring that they remain current on the base technology that will have changed due to service packs, revisions, and new product releases. (Those holding MCSE certifications will have to recertify every three years).

4. MCDBA: Microsoft Certified Database Administrator – $95,950

Access to information is critical in today’s fast-paced, global environment. Corporations are even more dependent on quick and reliable systems to process and retrieve information. This means they must operate their own database servers and business intelligence software to access this information in order to grow and become more successful, and Microsoft Certified Database Administrators (MCDBA) are the ones who provide this expertise. An MCDBA-certified individual has proven his or her ability to design, implement, and manage SQL Server 2000 databases. This certification was retired on September 30, 2012, though if you achieved it before that date it will still appear on your transcript as a legacy certification. There are two new MCSE certifications for SQL 2012: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Platform and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence.

5. CCDA®: Cisco Certified Design Associate – $94,799

The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) indicates that the certified individual has a strong foundation and apprentice knowledge of network design for Cisco converged networks. A CCDA certification is for network design engineers, technicians, and support engineers, who enable efficient network environments. The CCDA-certified individual has the skills to design a routed and switched network infrastructure and services involv¬ing LAN, WAN, and broadband access for businesses and organizations.

6. MCAD: Microsoft Certified Application Developer – $93,349

The Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) credential provides industry recognition for professional developers who build powerful applications using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Web services. Responsibilities include implementing requirements, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining department-level applications components, Web or desktop clients, or back-end data services by using Microsoft tools and technologies. The MCAD certification is appropriate for Programmers, Analysts, Software Engineers, Software Application Specialists and Application/Software Developers.

7. VCP-DV: VMware Certified Professional Datacenter Virtualization – $92,400

Virtualization, and those who are knowledgeable on virtualization products, are in heavy demand, especially those professionals with datacenter virtualization skills. In the highly competitive virtualization market it is essential to distinguish yourself with a certification that validates your technical capabilities. VMware is one of the leading vendors of virtualization products and earning a VMware certification is the first step toward gaining industry-recognized expertise in virtual infrastructure. Earning the VCP-DV certification demonstrates that you have not only completed a VMWare-authorized training course but also have the necessary experience and training to successfully install, deploy, scale, and manage VMware vSphere environments.

8. CNE: Certified Novell Engineer – $91,350

The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) shows that those certified individuals have the expertise and knowledge to solve advanced company-wide support problems and high-level network problems. They perform planning, installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and upgrade services for networks. The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) has been recognized as one of the IT industry’s leading certifications for advanced networking and troubleshooting professionals.

9. ITIL v3 Foundation – $90,900

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) is a foundational process that provides for quality IT Service Management. The success of ITIL is through the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire Service Lifecycle. The ITIL Expert level is the third of four levels. The ITIL Expert level certification is aimed at those individuals who are interested in demonstrating a superior level of knowledge of ITIL Version 3 (v3) in its entirety. Once you have achieved ITIL Expert level you will also satisfy the pre-requisite entry criteria for the ITIL Master Level; the highest level of certification within the ITIL v3 scheme, though the Master level is still under development.

10. CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenServer 6 – $90,850

The Citrix CCA is an entry-level certification. Earning this certification validates the candidate’s skills with one of 11 specific Citrix products, the most popular being XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer. The Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenServer 6 certification validates the certified individual’s ability to effectively install, configure, administer, troubleshoot, and maintain XenServer 6.0 Enterprise edition and Provisioning Services 6.0 in an enterprise environment.

11. MCITP: Database Administrator – $90,200

The MCITP certification validates that the IT professional is capable of deploying, building, designing, optimizing, and operating technologies for a particular job role. MCITP certifications builds on the technical proficiency measured in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. In order to earn the MCITP: Database Administrator you must first pass the Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certification in SQL Server 2008 (by passing the 70-432 exam) and then pass the 70-450 exam. The MCITP Database Administrator demonstrates knowledge of SQL Server instances and database solutions, database server security solutions, high availability databases, backup and recovery solutions, monitoring strategies, database management and maintenance strategies, and data distribution strategies.

12. MCTS: SQL Server 2005 – $90,100

Those who have earned the MCTS: SQL Server 2005 certification are IT professionals who may pursue careers as database administrators, database developers, or business intelligence developers. They may also be people who do not work with Microsoft SQL Server as a part of their primary job functions but who want to show their breadth of technology experience, such as developers, systems administrators, and others. This certification validates that the IT professional can implement and maintain databases by using specific instructions and specifications.

13. MCT: Microsoft Certified Trainer – $89,949

Those holding the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCTs) certification are the premier technical and instructional experts on Microsoft technologies. An MCT has earned at least one premier certification on a Microsoft product and maintains that certification. Some of the benefits of earning and maintaining an MCT include access to the complete library of Official Microsoft Learning Products; substantial discounts on exams, books, and Microsoft products; members-only newsgroups and online community resources; and invitations to exclusive events and programs. MCT’s must renew each year by completing an online application, pay an annual fee, and meet a number of program requirements to renew your certification for the coming year.

14. CCNP®: Cisco Certified Network Professional – $89,749

There are two tracks available at the Associate and Professional levels – Designing and Networking. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) demonstrates that you have the ability to plan, implement, verify, and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks. A CCNP-certified individual is expected to work collaboratively with other Cisco specialists on advanced products such as security, voice, wireless, and video solutions.

15. CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenDesktop 5 – $89,499

The Citrix CCA is an entry-level certification. Earning this certification validates the candidate’s skills with one of 11 specific Citrix products, the most popular being XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer. The CCA for Citrix XenDesktop 5 certifies the expertise required to install, administer, and troubleshoot an enterprise environment containing a XenDesktop implementation, including Provisioning Services, XenServer, XenApp and the Desktop Delivery Controller
Summary

Earning a certification does not guarantee that you will walk into a higher paying job. Certification counts, but employers look at several factors, including experience. There was a time when certification holders were reasonably assured of landing a job. Today it is more of a qualifier – not having a certification means you may not even get an interview.
About the Author

Randy Muller (MCT, MCTS, MCSE, CEH) is an instructor with Global Knowledge, specializing in teaching Microsoft Office 365, Exchange, Lync Server as well as Windows Server 2008.


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Microsoft: What it did right and wrong in 2012

Windows 8: It is the best of Microsoft; it is the worst of Microsoft

At this writing Windows 8 could be the biggest thing Microsoft has done wrong — ever. But it could also wind up being one of the best things it has ever done.

By CEO Steve Ballmer’s own description it is the one of the top three major events in the company’s history, grouped with IBM PCs adopting MS-DOS and the advent of Windows 95.

By that measure, if it’s a flop it’s huge.

IN PICTURES: Top network and IT industry stories of 2012

NEWS: Dell’s acquisitions not yet paying dividends

MORE: Worst security snafus of 2012

Windows 8 drives users crazy. It’s a two-headed operating system that supports the traditional Windows keyboard-and-mouse interface as well as a touch-centric UI that many say is baffling, at least initially.

Then toss in a separate version of Windows 8 called Windows RT. It’s a hardware/software bundle based on ARM processors that doesn’t support traditional Windows x86 apps — only so-called Windows Store applications that rely mainly on touch. Confusion reigns.

A version of the traditional desktop remains in Windows 8, but it’s different enough to be uncomfortable. Users want an OS that builds on the past, not one that reinvents itself entirely. They lament the loss of the Start button and Start Menu upon which they relied.

When learning the Windows 8 touch interface they find it difficult to find and remember, say, how to turn the machine on and off, close applications, remove applications, switch among four or five apps running at the same time, find Charms, figure out what Charms are, etc., etc. It’s a near-perfect storm of consternation and frustration.

Meanwhile the company’s traditional PC market is being threatened by devices running Linux, Android and OS X even as sales growth of traditional PCs gets slower and slower, apparently headed for decline. That’s Microsoft’s bread and butter.

Compounding the problem, tablets and smartphones are gaining popularity as personal and business productivity platforms and arguably represent the main force undercutting traditional PCs. Microsoft comes in a distant third in both areas.

Windows 8 is supposed to help Microsoft make gains in these areas. But given its slow start so far and comparing it to the wild success of every version of iPad that ever launched, then Windows 8 is lining up to be a disaster.

So what was Microsoft thinking?

Windows 8 is designed to tap into the shift in demand away from traditional desktops and laptops and toward phones and tablets.

Core to this strategy is making a shift to mobility and creating an application environment transferrable from device to device. The advantage: Massive blocks of code from an application written for Windows 8 can be readily repurposed for apps written or Windows Phone 8 — making it feasible for these apps to be available on any Windows device.

Because Windows Store apps are written primarily for touch, their navigation is similar from tablet to notebook to phone. Applications are available for phones, tablets and laptops, and if you master them on one category of device, you’ve mastered them for all.

These applications, called Windows Store apps, represent a new category optimized for touch and for running on lower powered mobile machines based on ARM processors to promote longer battery life.

In addition, Windows 8 heavily promotes use of cloud services. It comes with cloud-based music free and integrates SkyDrive, Microsoft’s 5-year-old cloud storage service that enables sharing data among devices and syncing them with each other. It comes with 7GB of free storage.

The bottom line is customers can access the latest versions of their data and all their stored files from whichever device they happen to have with them so long as they have Internet access.

The problem is that this elegant scheme is lost on customers, analysts and reviewers who don’t buy into this view. With education, customers could be won over, but not in the short-term, and particularly with RT. Business customers will have to adopt Windows Store apps or virtualize, and that takes time.

“It will take 10 or more years before most organizations completely transition to WinRT technology, which, if successful, will represent the next 20 to 30 years of Windows,” says Gartner in its report “Windows 8 Changes Windows as We Know It.”

Beyond Windows 8, Microsoft has scored some hits and some misses this year with new products acquisitions. Here are four of each.

RIGHT
Windows Server 2012

Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Server is to be applauded for how it simplifies many areas of virtualization, which leads Network World reviewer Tom Henderson to write, “What the Windows 2012 Server editions provide is a compelling reason to stick with Windows infrastructure, as many of the advances represent integration of management components that have no competitive parallels.”

The software streamlines live migration of virtual machines for reasons of preventing performance of one instance degrading because it is overwhelmed by demand. Windows Server 2012 removes the need for designating failover clustering ahead of time and a separate SAN to share storage among instances that were required in Windows Server 2008.

Windows Server 2012 also offers replication of virtual machines asynchronously. Called Hyper-V Replica, the feature is ideal for replicating VMs from site to site over limited WAN links.

A new feature called Storage Spaces treats hundreds of disks as a single logical storage reservoir and ensures resiliency by backing up data on at least two physical disks. The feature sets aside a designated storage area — called a space — for a defined category of data within the entire available disk capacity — called a pool.

Storage Spaces can allocate a space that is larger than the actual available physical capacity of the pool that the space is carved out of via thin provisioning. This keeps data from overflowing the space by freeing up capacity whenever files are deleted or an application decides that such capacity is no longer needed.

Windows Server 2012 also enables managing servers in groups and includes an automated tool to periodically check for proper server configuration.

System Center 2012
This management suite offers new tools to better handle closely related cloud environments and virtual data centers, and has expanded the products it can manage to include some of the virtual environments of rivals Citrix and VMware.

The platform includes broad support for managing smartphones based on Microsoft’s phone OS, but also those from Apple and from a range of vendors that base their phones on Android.

The Virtual Machine Manager, Orchestration Manager and Operations Manager can combine to make management of virtual environments simpler. For instance, the management suite streamlines configuring virtual machines to pick up the function of others when they go down so help desk workers can perform the task without escalating.

In a practical sense, System Center can give developers the capability to create and tear down virtual machines for their test environments within parameters set by network executives.

One downside is that upgrading to System Center 2012 requires a lot of network prep as well as education to learn what other Microsoft products are required in order for the various modules to work.

Buying Yammer
Microsoft spent $1.2 billion this year to buy Yammer as a way to beef up social networking and collaboration in its SharePoint, Office, Dynamics CRM, Lync and Skype platforms.

When its integration is completed over the next few years Yammer will add tracking of conversation threads and enterprise search to these applications, aggregate news feeds, manage documents and unify user identities.

Yammer is already available with Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud offering and will gradually permeate the company’s other collaboration and productivity platforms, the company says.

With the purchase Microsoft has bought the tools it needs to set itself up well in support of new ways corporations do business using tools that end users have become familiar with via their use of consumer social networks.

Targeting botnets
Microsoft did itself proud this year disrupting the Nitol botnet with a combination of technical and legal innovation, as well as seizing servers belonging to the worst instances of the Zeus botnet.

These efforts represent the fourth and fifth times Microsoft has intervened to shut down or a least temporarily cripple criminal malware enterprises.

The company’s Digital Crimes Unit started its aggressive action in 2010 and continued steadily since then. While its work won’t halt online abuses, its proven commitment to causing periodic significant damage to them does make criminal activity more difficult, and that steady opposition helps raise the bar for criminals hoping to enter the game.

The effort sends a message to other criminals that Microsoft might strike them at any time, says Richard Boscovich, assistant general counsel for the DCU.

WRONG
Euro browser flap

Microsoft failed to live up to an agreement that it would display a Windows screen giving users the option to pick Internet Explorer or some other browsers.

While Microsoft says the problem was caused by a technical glitch and has worked to correct it, it’s still facing down a possible $7 billion fine from European Union regulators. While Microsoft would likely survive the hefty penalty, it’s really a case of the company shooting itself in the foot. It is also damaging its reputation in not only Europe where customers were directly affected, but worldwide where end users heard about the case and adjusted their opinion of the company accordingly.

Windows Phone
The launch of Windows Phone 8 this fall revealed an operating system that met with generally good reviews and a phone — Nokia’s Lumia 920 — that shows it off to good advantage.

The problem here is that it comes so late after the iPhone and Android phones have dominated the market. The company must now dedicate itself to a long-term effort to scratch its way up from 2.6% of the market, according to IDC estimates, to something more significant.

IDC thinks Microsoft will succeed in that goal by claiming 11.4% of the market in 2016 — a terrific boost. But the company leaves a lot of smartphone money on the table by coming out so late with a compelling product.

Windows Phone 8 itself may pan out to be a winner, but the overall handling of Windows Phone to date racks up as a loss. And with Microsoft’s desire to link all its mobile platforms, a slow start for Windows phone hobbles that larger effort.

Licensing hikes
Microsoft boosted by 15% the fees it charges for licenses that allow users to access servers, squeezing more money out of customers while still giving them a better deal than the alternative.

This is likely good for Microsoft because it means more revenues, but it’s just another reason for business customers to carp about being gouged for software.

Corporate employees are moving toward use of multiple devices in the workplace, making licenses based on numbers of users attractive rather than licenses based on individual devices. Even with the price hike, many customers will wind up paying less for user client access licenses (CAL) than for device CALs. But that won’t eradicate the bad taste from their mouths.

Fanned Flame
The complex Flame espionage malware that infected Iranian government computers earlier this year was in part enabled by a Microsoft security snafu.

A key element of Flame called for exploiting weaknesses of the MD5 hashing algorithm. Microsoft had urged in 2008 that network administrators and certificate authorities stop using the hash because researchers had discovered how to exploit it.

Microsoft officially disallowed its use in 2009 but failed to weed it out of its own products, particularly Terminal Server Licensing Service. Researchers figured out how to compromise MD5 using what they call collision attacks to obtain fraudulent certificates that are accepted as real. This allowed attackers to send malware that victim machines accepted as authenticated Microsoft updates.


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