Archive for the ‘CCNA Certification’ Category

The Big Question Rises How To Become Microsoft, Cisco, ComTIA Certified

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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Best Top-Paying and most in demand for Certifications 2014 – 2015

Best Top-Paying and most in demand for Certifications 2014 – 2015

It’s always a good idea to take stock of your skills, your pay, and your certifications. To that end, following is a review of 15 of the top-paying certifications for 2014. With each certification, you’ll find the average (mean) salary and a brief description.

Based on the 2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge and Penton and completed in October 2013, the rankings below are derived from certifications that received the minimum number of responses to be statistically relevant. Certain certifications pay more but are not represented due to their exclusive nature. Examples include Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). This was a nationwide survey, and variations exist based on where you work, years of experience, and company type (government, non profit, etc.).

1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – $118,253
The non-profit group ISACA offers CRISC certification, much in the way that CompTIA manages the A+ and Network+ certifications. Formerly, “ISACA” stood for Information Systems Audit and Control Association, but now they’ve gone acronym only.

The CRISC certification is designed for IT professionals, project managers, and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks through appropriate Information Systems (IS) controls, covering the entire lifecycle, from design to implementation to ongoing maintenance. It measures two primary areas: risk and IS controls. Similar to the IS control lifecycle, the risk area spans the gamut from identification and assessment of the scope and likelihood of a particular risk to monitoring for it and responding to it if/when it occurs.

Since CRISC’s introduction in 2010, more than 17,000 people worldwide have earned this credential, The demand for people with these skills and the relatively small supply of those who have them result in this being the highest salary for any certification on our list this year.

To obtain CRISC certification, you must have at least three years of experience in at least three of the five areas that the certification covers, and you must pass the exam, which is only offered twice a year. This is not a case where you can just take a class and get certified. Achieving CRISC certification requires effort and years of planning.

2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – $114,844

ISACA also created CISM certification. It’s aimed at management more than the IT professional and focuses on security strategy and assessing the systems and policies in place more than it focuses on the person who actually implements those policies using a particular vendor’s platform.

More than 23,000 people have been certified since its introduction in 2002, making it a highly sought after area with a relatively small supply of certified individuals. In addition, the exam is only offered three times a year in one of approximately 240 locations, making taking the exam more of a challenge than many other certification exams. It also requires at least five years of experience in IS, with at least three of those as a security manager. As with CRISC, requirements for CISM certification demand effort and years of planning.

3. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – $112,040
The third highest-paying certification is also from ISACA; this one is for IS auditors. CISA certification is ISACA’s oldest, dating back to 1978, with more than 106,000 people certified since its inception. CISA certification requires at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control, or security in addition to passing an exam that is only offered three times per year.

The CISA certification is usually obtained by those whose job responsibilities include auditing, monitoring, controlling, and/or assessing IT and/or business systems. It is designed to test the candidate’s ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance with standards, and propose controls, processes, and updates to a company’s policies to ensure compliance with accepted IT and business standards.

4. Six Sigma Green Belt – $109,165
Six Sigma is a process of analyzing defects (anything outside a customer’s specifications) in a production (manufacturing) process, with a goal of no more than 3.4 defects per million “opportunities” or chances for a defect to occur. The basic idea is to measure defects, analyze why they occurred, and then fix the issue and repeat. There is a process for improving existing processes and a slightly modified version for new processes or major changes. Motorola pioneered the concept in the mid-1980s, and many companies have since followed their examples to improve quality.

This certification is different from the others in this list, as it is not IT specific. Instead, it is primarily focused on manufacturing and producing better quality products.

There is no organization that owns Six Sigma certification per se, so the specific skills and number of levels of mastery vary depending on which organization or certifying company is used. Still, the entry level is typically Green Belt and the progression is to Black Belt and Master Black Belt. Champions are responsible for Six Sigma projects across the entire organization and report to senior management.

5. Project Management Professional (PMP) – $108,525
The PMP certification was created and is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), and it is the most recognized project management certification available. There are more than half a million active PMPs in 193 countries worldwide.

The PMP certification exam tests five areas relating to the lifecycle of a project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. PMP certification is for running any kind of project, and it is not specialized into sub types, such as manufacturing, construction, or IT.

To become certified, individuals must have 35 hours of PMP-related training along with 7,500 hours of project management experience (if they have less than a bachelor’s degree) or 4,500 hours of project management experience with a bachelor’s or higher. PMP certification is another that requires years of planning and effort.

6. Certified Scrum Master – $107,396
Another project management-related certification, Certified Scrum Master is focused on software (application) development.

Scrum is a rugby term; it’s a means for restarting a game after a minor rules violation or after the ball is no longer in play (for example, when it goes out of bounds). In software development, Scrum is a project management process that is designed to act in a similar manner for software (application development) projects in which a customer often changes his or her mind during the development process.

In traditional project management, the request to change something impacts the entire project and must be renegotiated-a time-consuming and potentially expensive way to get the changes incorporated. There is also a single project manager.

In Scrum, however, there is not a single project manager. Instead, the team works together to reach the stated goal. The team should be co-located so members may interact frequently, and it should include representatives from all necessary disciplines (developers, product owners, experts in various areas required by the application, etc.).

Where PMP tries to identify everything up front and plan for a way to get the project completed, Scrum takes the approach that the requirements will change during the project lifecycle and that unexpected issues will arise. Rather than holding up the process, Scrum takes the approach that the problem the application is trying to solve will never be completely defined and understood, so team members must do the best they can with the time and budget available and by quickly adapting to change.

So where does the Scrum Master fit in? Also known as a servant-leader, the Scrum Master has two main duties: to protect the team from outside influences that would impede the project (the servant) and to chair the meetings and encourage the team to continually improve (the leader).

Certified Scrum Master certification was created and is managed by the Scrum Alliance and requires the individual to attend a class taught by a certified Scrum trainer and to pass the associated exam.

7. Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) – $104,240
The CCEE certification is a legacy certification from Citrix that proves expertise in XenApp 6, XenDesktop 5, and XenServer 6 via the Citrix Certified Administrator (CCS) exams for each, the Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator (CCAA) for XenApp 6, and an engineering (advanced implementation-type) exam around implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting a complete virtualization solution using Citrix products.

Those certified in this area are encouraged to upgrade their certification to the App and Desktop track instead, which focuses on just XenDesktop, taking one exam to become a Citrix Certified Professional – Apps and Desktops (CCP-AD). At this point though, the CCEE is available as long as the exams are available for the older versions of the products listed.

8. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix NetScaler – $103,904
The CCA for NetScaler certification has been discontinued for NetScaler 9, and those with a current certification are encouraged to upgrade to the new Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N). In any case, those with this certification have the ability to implement, manage, and optimize NetScaler networking performance and optimization, including the ability to support app and desktop solutions. As the Citrix certification program is being overhauled, refer to to view the certifications available, upgrade paths, etc.

9. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – $103,822
The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) created and manages CEH certification. It is designed to test the candidate’s abilities to prod for holes, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in a company’s network defenses using techniques and methods that hackers employ. The difference between a hacker and a CEH is that a hacker wants to cause damage, steal information, etc., while the CEH wants to fix the deficiencies found. Given the many attacks, the great volume of personal data at risk, and the legal liabilities possible, the need for CEHs is quite high, hence the salaries offered.

10. ITIL v3 Foundation – $97,682
IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) was created by England’s government in the 1980s to standardize IT management. It is a set of best practices for aligning the services IT provides with the needs of the organization. It is broad based, covering everything from availability and capacity management to change and incident management, in addition to application and IT operations management.

It is known as a library because it is composed of a set of books. Over the last 30 years, it has become the most widely used framework for IT management in the world. ITIL standards are owned by AXELOS, a joint venture company created by the Cabinet Office on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and Capita plc, but they have authorized partners who provide education, training, and certification. The governing body defined the certification tiers, but they leave it to the accredited partners to develop the training and certification around that framework.

The Foundation certification is the entry-level one and provides a broad-based understanding of the IT lifecycle and the concepts and terminology surrounding it. Anyone wishing for higher-level certifications must have this level first, thus people may have higher certifications and still list this certification in the survey, which may skew the salary somewhat.

For information on ITIL in general, please refer to Exams for certification are run by ITIL-certified examination institutes as previously mentioned; for a list of them, please refer to

11. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenServer – $97,578
The CCA for XenServer certification is available for version 6 and is listed as a legacy certification, but Citrix has yet to announce an upgrade path to their new certification structure. Those with a CCA for Citrix XenServer have the ability to install, configure, administer, maintain, and troubleshoot a XenServer deployment, including Provisioning Services. As the Citrix certification program is being overhauled, refer to to view the certifications available, upgrade paths, etc.

12. ITIL Expert Certification – $96,194
The ITIL Expert certification builds on ITIL Foundation certification (see number 10 above). It is interesting that ITIL Expert pays less on average than ITIL Foundation certification. Again, I suspect the salary results may be somewhat skewed depending on the certifications actually held and the fact that everyone who is ITIL certified must be at least ITIL Foundation certified.

To become an ITIL Expert, you must pass the ITIL Foundation exam as well as the capstone exam, Managing Across the Lifecycle. Along the way, you will earn intermediate certifications of your choosing in any combination of the Lifecycle and Capability tracks. You must earn at least 22 credits, of which Foundation accounts for two and the Managing Across the Lifecycle exam counts for five. The other exams count for three each (in the Intermediate Lifecycle track) or four each (in the Intermediate Capability track) and can be earned in any order and combination, though the official guide suggests six recommended options. The guide is available at by clicking on the English – ITIL Qualification Scheme Brochure link.

13. Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) – $95,602
Cisco’s certification levels are Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect. Those who obtain this Associate-level certification are typically network design engineers, technicians, or support technicians. They are expected to design basic campus-type networks and be familiar with routing and switching, security, voice and video, wireless connectivity, and IP (both v4 and v6). They often work as part of a team with those who have higher-level Cisco certifications.

To achieve CCDA certification, you must have earned one of the following: Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), the lowest-level certification and the foundation for a career in networking); Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching (CCNA R&S); or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), the highest level of certification at Cisco.
You must also pass a single exam.

14. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) – $95,276
This certification ranked number 14 with an average salary of $95,505 for those who didn’t list an associated Windows version and $94,922 for those who listed MCSE on Windows 2003, for the weighted average of $95,276 listed above.

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer is an old certification and is no longer attainable. It has been replaced by the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (yes, also MCSE). The Engineer certification was valid for Windows NT 3.51 – 2003, and the new Expert certification is for Windows 2012. There is an upgrade path if you are currently an MCSA or MCITP on Windows 2008. There is no direct upgrade path from the old MCSE to the new MCSE.

15. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenDesktop – $95,094
The CCA for XenDesktop certification is available for versions 4 (in Chinese and Japanese only) and 5 (in many languages including English). Those with a current certification are encouraged to upgrade to the new Citrix Certified Associate – Apps and Desktops (CCA-AD). In any case, those with this certification have the ability to install, administer, and troubleshoot a XenDesktop deployment, including Provisioning Services and the Desktop Delivery Controller as well as XenServer and XenApp. As the Citrix certification program is being overhauled, refer to to view the certifications available, upgrade paths, etc.

Rounding Out the Top 25

A few popular certifications just missed the Top 15 cut due to a low total number of responses or an average (mean) pay just outside the threshold. Due to their popularity, I have included them for informational purposes.

Certification Average Pay
CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional $114,287

MCSE: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2003 $94,922

RHCSA: Red Hat Certified System Administrator $94,802

VCP-DCV: VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization $94,515

JNCIA: Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate $94,492

MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure Configuration $91,948

MCITP: Enterprise Administrator $91,280

CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional $90,833

WCNA: Wireshark Certified Network Analyst $88,716

CCNA R&S: Cisco Certified Network Associ te Routing and Switching $81,308

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Database Certifications

Popular database certifications are always in demand, whether it’sMicrosoft’s MCTS and MCITP, Oracle’s OCA, OCP and OCM or MySql’s CMA, CMDEV and CMDBA.

Are you a database professional seeking to polish your resume in the hopes of landing a better gig? Perhaps you’re just getting started in database administration and you’d like to establish your credentials in the field. Database vendors offer a variety of professional certification programs that can help you advance your career while gaining valuable technical skills. After all, even the most seasoned professional has yet to fully explore some nook or cranny of the field that’s covered on a certification exam.

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So, where do you start? Most database certs are vendor-specific, so you’ll want to earn a certification from the company that puts out the software you’re currently working with or would like to work with in the future. We’ll take a brief look at the credentials available from the major vendors.

If you’re an Oracle guru, the Oracle Certified Professional program may be for you. There’s one catch to this program, however. Before receiving any Oracle credential, all candidates must take at least one instructor-led course. If you’re like me and you just want to pick up the book, study and take the exam, you’re out of luck here. Oracle’s program includes three tiers of certification, beginning with the Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate (OCA), progressing through the Oracle Database Administrator Certified Professional (OCP) and culminating with the Oracle Database Administrator Certified Master (OCM). Each certification is version-specific, so you’ll need to update your certification each time a new version of Oracle rolls off the production line.

On the other hand, if you work in a Microsoft shop, you should consider one of several certifications:
• If you’re maintaining Microsoft Access databases for your organization, the simplest database credential is the Microsoft Office Specialist Access Track. This is a one-exam certification that covers basic knowledge of Microsoft Access 2003 and Access XP topics. Users of Access 2007 should instead prepare for the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) program.
• The Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS) credential is the entry-level certification for SQL Server professionals. There are three different certification paths: MCTS SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance, MCTS SQL Server 2008 Database Development and MCTS SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance. Each requires only a single exam and may be used to build toward higher-level Microsoft certifications
• The Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP) credential is the premier certification for SQL Server administrators. It also comes in three variations. If you already hold the MCTS in SQL Server 200 Implementation and Maintenance, you can upgrade it to MCITP: Database Administrator with a single exam. Similarly, those who passed the MCTS Database Development exam can become MCITP: Database Developers with one additional exam. Finally, if you’re an MCTS in Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance, you can upgrade to MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer with one test.
Finally, if you’re a MySQL user, you might find one of their four certifications useful in your career:
• The MySQL Associate (CMA) certification requires passing a single exam and attests to the holder’s knowledge of basic MySQL skills.
• MySQL database administrators may earn the Certified MySQL Database Administrator (CMDBA) certification by passing two advanced examinations.

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• Similarly, MySQL developers may earn the Certified MySQL Developer (CMDEV) credential with two development-focused exams.
• Finally, CMDBA holders may upgrade to MySQL Cluster certification by passing a single additional exam.
Once you’ve chosen a credential that’s suitable for you, it’s time to hit the books and/or take a course and get started on your way to professional certification!

Overview of Major IT Certifications

In today’s competitive IT job market, an IT certification is often a prerequisite to get a high-paying job or a salary increase. Professional certifications are the best way to demonstrate your skills and expertise in any given technical field to present to prospective employers. Through education and certification, professionals gain the skills, knowledge, and validation needed to be recognized as an expert in diverse products or technologies. MCSE Certification, CCNA Certification, A+ Certification, and SAP Certification are a few of the many certifications or credentials an IT professional may achieve.


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Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft certification programs are considered to be the major advancement to gain both professional and education background. The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification prove an individual’s expertise in designing and implementing the required infrastructure for any type of business solutions based on the Microsoft Windows 2000 platform and Microsoft Windows Server System. Other Microsoft certifications include MCAD (Microsoft Certified Application Developer) certification, MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Analyst) and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer).

Cisco Certifications

The CCNA certification (Cisco Certified Network Associate) indicates a foundation in apprentice knowledge of networking with certified professionals able to install, configure, and operate WAN, LAN, and dial access services for small networks with 100 nodes or fewer. Operation and configuration services also includes but are not limited to use one but several of the following protocols: Serial, Frame Relay, IP RIP, IP, IGRP, VLANs, RIP, and Ethernet, Access Lists. CCNE, CCIE and CCNP are other Cisco certifications.

SAP Certification

SAP Certification is sponsored by SAP corporation – a leading business software (ERP, CRM and Supply Chain software) vendor. It is one of the few credentials in the world of business with additional value only issued to those professionals who demonstrated their abilities by passing demanding, process-oriented exams through rigorous study or direct experience.

A+ Certification

A+ certification is different from the others because it is not promoted by one company only, but by a whole group of PC manufacturers and other companies in the hardware market and its acceptance as an industry-wide credential offers additional benefits. A+ Certification prove the competency of entry-level service technicians in the computer industry and it is an internationally recognized testing program sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

Certs: Added value or minimum requirement?

I’ve got a Bachelors Degree in Information Systems Management, my Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP) certification, the SANS GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) certificate and I used to be a CCNA.   I spent two years getting my B.S. by attending night courses, the CISSP took me 6 months of constant study, the GSNA required a week’s worth of intense instructor lead study, and I spent the better part of a school year taking the official Cisco course work at the local junior college before taking the test.  And with the exception of the CCNA, the time I spent earning my degree and getting my certifications was aimed strictly at filling in a check box on an HR person’s list rather than learning something.  Not to say I didn’t learn something in studying for each, but my goal was fulfilling a job requirement instead of education.

I have mixed feelings about certifications in the IT and security professions; certifications show that someone has the minimum knowledge required to pass a particular test.  It shows they understand their profession well enough to know what certificates are going to be required to get a job in their field.  It shows that the person is dedicated enough to their profession to take and pass these tests.  But what it doesn’t show is real-world knowledge of security.

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Obviously I’m not opposed to certifications, since I hold several myself.  But I’ve never liked the fact that many people think certification and skills are the same thing.  The fact that having the right certification can mean a significantly higher level of pay for professionals who otherwise are of the same skill level only further complicates the situation.   It encourages people to accumulate as many different certifications as possible to help bolster their income, something I’m as guilty of as anyone else.

I remember the early days of the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and “paper MCSE’s” who had passed all the tests, but could barely remember how to change a password when they got their first job in the real world.  I often hear accusations that the CISSP is heading in the same direction, despite increased efforts by the ISC2 to validate candidates and  verify levels of experience.  But I think both of these miss the real point of certification; they show that someone has spent the time and effort to pass a test, not that they have the skills required to work in the real world.   After all, no one expects a kid fresh out of college to know everything about their chosen career, so why should a certificate be any different?

Cisco launches new routers aimed at wireless carriers

For carriers, Cisco is pitching its wireless network routers as a way to speed up IPv6 migrations, improve returns on investment and make service management easier.

Cisco on Monday rolled out a new set of routers designed to allow wireless carriers to deploy mobile services more easily.

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With the move, Cisco is aiming at Alcatel Lucent, which is a major player in wireless networking gear and betting heavily on low power and its new processors. In addition, Juniper is also targeting wireless network providers. Cisco’s routers are installed at more than 500 service providers globally, including Comcast, NTT Plala, PCCW in Hong Kong, China Telecom and Tata Communications.

These telecom equipment makers are chasing carriers that are likely to struggle to keep up with traffic. Cisco estimates that there will be two network connections for every person in the world.

Cisco called its latest wireless effort the Cisco ASR 9000 Series Aggregation Services Routers Systems. The idea behind the collective platform is to allow carriers to deliver mobile, video and data services faster.

Specifically, Cisco introduced three wireless service provider offerings:

ASR 901 is a cell site router designed for 2G, 3G and 4G services.
ASR 903, an Ethernet access router for mobile applications.
ASR 9001, a smaller version of the ASR 9000 edge router.

These products run on Cisco’s network virtualization, which mixes various parts of a network into one 96 Tbps system, as well as the company’s mobile framework.

For carriers, Cisco is pitching its wireless network routers as a way to speed up IPv6 migrations, improve returns on investment and make service management easier.

Tips for printing digital photos at home

It’s easy to capture and preserve memories as digital snapshots with Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and so is turning them into stunning scrapbooks or photo albums.

If you’d like to create professional-looking photo prints using a home PC, here are a few hints and tips that will help you produce sharper, more eye-catching results.
Photograph of red poppies in bloom

A little care is all it takes to turn photos into gorgeous prints.
Maximize image quality

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The best prints come from the finest images. Help improve picture quality by following these suggestions:
1. Increase photo resolution

As a rule, the higher the resolution, the better the picture. Most digital cameras offer a choice of settings. Check your camera’s instructions to figure out how to change the resolutions you’re using. For premium printing results, always select the maximum offered photo size and quality.

Here are some good resolution guidelines to consider:

2 megapixels: Appropriate for an attractive wallet-sized (2.5-by-3.5-inch) or album-sized (4-by-6-inch) print

3 megapixels: Minimum resolution required for projects like calendars and greeting cards or 5-by-7-inch reproductions

5 or 6 megapixels: A resolution that offers better image quality for use with craft projects. Also suitable for printing and framing an 11-by-14-inch photo for use around the home

8 megapixels: A resolution that’s capable of providing attractive 16-by-20-inch prints

10 megapixels or more: Optimal for printing larger (20-by-30-inch) projects, including posters and panoramas

The more you increase photo resolution, the more you’ll improve image clarity and detail.
Higher image resolutions (left) produce sharper snapshots.

Higher image resolutions (left) produce sharper snapshots.
2. Choose the correct file format

The JPEG file format, which compresses image data, is suitable for emailing pictures or posting them to the web. For photo-printing purposes though, it generally pays to stick with larger TIFF files. Despite consuming more space on a memory card, TIFF images are smoother, crisper, and vastly superior to their JPEG counterparts.
3. Edit and enhance images

Use programs such as Windows Live Photo Gallery (Windows 7) and Windows Photo Gallery (Windows Vista) to soften edges, experiment with lighting and color, remove blemishes from pictures, and touch up your photos. It’s a simple way to add special effects, get rid of red eye, and otherwise improve your snapshots. Read more articles about how to make simple fixes to your digital photos, take better pictures, capture the perfect moment, and create online photo albums.

Enterprising shutterbugs can even use Microsoft Photosynth to transform their images into three-dimensional scenes.
Add special effects to spice up any photo.

Add special effects to spice up any photo.
Prepare your printer

Enhance print quality by configuring your printer for optimum results.
1. Use current drivers

Drivers are software interpreters that let your computer and printer communicate. But printer manufacturers are constantly revising these drivers. Always use the most current drivers to help ensure peak performance and picture quality. Check your printer manufacturer’s website regularly for downloadable updates, or see this tutorial for advice on locating and installing them.
2. Don’t skimp on dots per inch

The higher your printer’s dots per inch (dpi) specifications, the better the prints it will produce. Avoid images which suffer from frayed and jagged edges by using a printer with 600 x 600 dpi or better printing capabilities when producing hard copies of color digital photos. You can find photo printers for sale at Microsoft Store and advice on picking the right model here.
3. Configure print quality settings

After installing your printer, check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to change print quality settings, or read this article, which covers the basics of printer selection, page orientation, and color management. Remember that it’s always important to choose the right print options and preferences before printing. Detailed instructions on how to print pictures are also available that can help you get the most from your images, as are answers to frequently asked questions.
4. Managing paper

Different types of paper, such as high gloss or card stock, require varying amounts of ink and touch-ups. When setting printing preferences, be sure to tell your printer which type you’re using to help ensure first-rate results and to avoid wasting expensive stock.
5. Ongoing maintenance

It’s a good idea to run printer alignment, color calibration, and print cartridge cleaning functions every 90 days. These practices help prevent blurring, streaking, and off-center photo prints. See your printer’s owner’s manual for instructions on how to perform this maintenance.
Pick the right paper and ink

Help improve photo prints by selecting the right choice of paper and ink to perfectly complement your images.
1. Go with photo paper

Standard printer paper isn’t suitable for creating pleasing photo prints. Unless you’re printing documents, choose a glossy or matte finish photo paper instead. Black and white prints generally look best on matte finish papers, and color tends to look best on glossy paper.
2. Creativity counts

Multiple varieties of paper stock are available, designed for a wide range of specialty uses. These special-purpose materials can enhance any photo printing project. Whether incorporating your photos into decals, business cards, or T-shirts, before starting a new project, browse the selection at your local office supply or electronics retailer.
3. Choose the right size

Photos come in many shapes and forms, from wallet-sized (2.5-by-3.5-inch) to album/scrapbook-ready (4-by-6-inch or 5-by-7-inch) prints. Match the paper to fit.

Alternately, choose a standard letter-sized (8.5-by-11-inch) paper and use Windows Photo Gallery or Windows Live Photo Gallery to squeeze several smaller images onto one sheet.
Windows Photo Viewer makes printing multiple photos a breeze.

Windows Photo Viewer makes printing multiple photos a breeze.
4. Get inked

The safest way to pick an ink is to choose a brand from the same company that manufactured your printer. Various types of ink provide differing degrees of resistance to water, smudges, age, and fading. Which one you should pick depends entirely on how much you’re willing to spend for various image-enhancing qualities.
Additional advice

Always align new print cartridges.

Experiment with free or commercial photo-editing software to eliminate image imperfections and to improve your subjects’ already stunning good looks.

Practice by making test prints. Try reducing image size and creating multiple prints on a single sheet of paper to cut down on wasted materials.

Before placing photos in an album or framing them, give the ink approximately 12 hours to dry.

Remember that Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Gallery also make it possible to order prints online or print files at a local printer kiosk, for your convenience.

The 5 biggest IT security mistakes

IT security can be a thankless task no doubt and mistakes only magnify problems Like cleaning the windows, IT security can be a thankless task because they only notice when you don’t do it. But to get the job done in the era of virtualization, smartphones and cloud computing, you’ve got to avoid technical and political mistakes. In particular, here are five security mistakes to avoid:


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1. Thinking that the business mindset of the organization is the same as five years ago.

It’s not. Your power and influence are being whittled away as the organization you work for flings open the doors to allowing employees to use personal mobile devices at work, and pushes traditional computing resources and applications into the cloud — sometimes without your knowledge. You have to be proactive in introducing reasonable security practices onto what are fast-moving technology choices which are sometimes made by those outside the IT department altogether. It’s a “mission-impossible” assignment, but it’s yours. It may involve developing new policy guidance to clearly spell out risk factors so there are no false assumptions.

VIRTUALIZATION SECURITY: Shift to virtualized environments shaking up security practices

2. Failing to build working relationships with IT and upper-level managers.

IT security divisions are typically small in relation to the rest of the IT department. IT security leans on IT staffers to get basic security jobs done. The security professional may have specialized knowledge and a pocketful of certifications like the CISSP, but that doesn’t mean he or she is necessarily admired or liked because of that — especially as security people are usually the ones saying “no” to other people’s projects.

Moreover, don’t think the power structure is always pointing toward the chief information officer as top decision maker. A fundamental shift is occurring in which the traditional role of the CIO as commander of IT projects is declining in favor of the rise of the chief financial officer having the final say on IT projects. Some evidence shows the CFO doesn’t even like the IT department. The CFO’s ideas about security may only go as far as the general legal idea of “compliance.” The job for the security professional must be to communicate, communicate, communicate.

3. Not understanding that virtualization has pulled the rug out from under everyone’s security footing.

Organizations are well on their way to achieving 80% virtualization of their server infrastructure, and desktop virtualization projects are increasing. But security is lagging, with many incorrectly assuming it begins and ends with VLANs. The reality is that virtualization architectures change everything by opening new pathways that can be exploited. As has happened so many times before in the IT industry, groundbreaking technologies have become available for use with inadequate attention paid to the security impact.

Some traditional security products, such as anti-virus software for instance, often don’t work well in virtual machines. Physical appliances may have new “blind spots.” Today, specialized security products for virtualized environments are finally coming to market — and security professionals need to figure out if any of them should be used, while also keeping up with evolving security plans from vendors such as VMware, Microsoft and Citrix. Virtualization holds tremendous promise in eventually improving security, especially disaster recovery.

7 Intelligent Tips To Prepare For Certification Exams

Clearing any exam is crucial for students. Though due to rising standards of technical and career-driven programs, exam preparation is widely observed as a laborious task, attaining online IT certification can be interesting and an experience of a lifetime. Now days a rising number of institutions provide online Microsoft certification classes to students. They also provide sample exam questions for preparation and configure software technologies to let students practice and consolidate their understanding before appearing for certification exams. The Microsoft certification classes are designed to increase your knowledge base over various technologies or features that you may not be aware of before preparing for the certification program. In this way, acquiring Comptia certifications or any other certifications has less to do with testing your current knowledge, but it has more to do with expanding your knowledge horizons.

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We’ve listed below ten smart tips that should support you really well while preparing for those tricky certification exams:

1. Certification papers are time-based, keep a close watch on the time spent on each question, as you may end up spending most of your time on few questions and not able to attend all of them. It’s quite possible that you’d spend most of your time on answers that you were not sure of.

2. Thoroughly read all the questions before directly jumping onto the supplied answers as they are mainly structured to confuse nervous students or those with low confidence.

3. There may be certain questions that come structured simply but contain a lot of irrelevant information. They are generally aimed to confuse students. You must look forward to identify what is irrelevant and work in right direction.

4. While attempting a question, be certain about why a particular answer is correct or incorrect. Be thorough, even if it is laborious in the start but it will be worth the investment.

5. In case of lengthy question, the statements beginning with “the” are vital. Always read them first and pick out maximum relevant information. This avoids re-reading to extract relevant information that could have wasted your time.

6. Avoid changing your answers. Oftentimes students select the correct answer and then due to lack of confidence, they change it. Remember that there is usually a subconscious reason for your first choice.

7. Most of the exam centers provide small dry-erase board for you to use during exam. You must always take them as and write things down. This helps as you can even forget simplest things under pressure during the exam.

Certkingdom – Encouraging its people for Certifications

Certkingdom has always been up-front in encouraging its people for gaining knowledge and expertise in their respective technical domains. People at Mindfire have recently cleared certification exams which have helped them to hone their skills and capabilities, eventually providing exceptional service to clients across the globe.


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Employees from various technical domains at Mindfire have successfully cleared certification exams and they are now specialists and experts in their fields.  Supriti Panda and Premananda Das from the open source PHP team have cleared the PHP Zend certification and are listed in the yellow pages. There are a total of 295 Zend certified engineers in India, out of which 2 are from Certkingdom. Premananda Das is also a Zend framework certified engineer after clearing the Zend Framework Certification.  He is one of those 7 developers in India who have both the certifications and we are proud that Premananda is one of them. The .Net team at Mindfire was not behind either. Rabi Narayan Biswal & Nirmal Chandra Hota cleared the MCTS exam and are now recognized as Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist in .Net framework. Kaushik Mohanty, Saroj Dash & Srikanta Barik who are a part of the SharePoint development team at Mindfire appeared for the “TS” & “PRO” exam in SharePoint to help them achieve MCPD title in SharePoint 2010. Now it was the turn for our QA team. Nimmi Joseph, Saurava Singh, Gopa Kishore Mindi, Sudeep Patnaik, Prabhat Nayak & Vivek Mishra from the Quality Assurance testing team took their chance for the ISTQB certification and are now recognized as ISTQB certified testers.

“These certifications act as a catalyst for the employees to exhibit their expertise in a coherent manner. The overall growth and development of our people is our motto. Growth of our employees is Growth for Mindfire. All these certifications have provided great value to the developers, our clients and Mindfire as a whole.” stated Mrs. Bhagyashree Sathyan, Associate HR Manager, Certkingdom.

Apart from encouraging its people to take up various certifications, Mindfire also sponsors them to different technical conferences (national/international). Mindfire recently attended the Microsoft Tech ED 2011 conference held in Bangalore. This event imparted lot of learning in forthcoming Microsoft technologies, tools, platforms and services. Mindfire also attended the ISQT Step Auto International Software Testing Conference held at Bangalore. One of our employee also represented Mindfire in the Servoy Conference held this year at Amsterdam. These conferences give a platform to the employees to interact with some of the legends of software industry.

About Certkingdom:

Certkingdom is amongst the leading providers of Software & IT services encompassing development and delivery of complex projects for enhancing business growth of its customers. Mindfire has added value to more than 200 clients in US, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia in the 12 years of its operations. The company has over 500 people, spread across 2 Advanced Development Centers (ADCs) in India which are equipped with ultra modern facilities, and where Mindfireans strive round the clock for achieving customer delight. For more information on Certkingdom, please visit