Saturday, February 28, 2015

IT education helps workers avoid obsolescence

IT education helps workers avoid obsolescence 
According to a survey conducted by Tech Pro Research, 59% of IT and technology workers are concerned that their professional skill-set will become obsolete. While the majority of workers across numerous industries share this concern, obsolescence is a particular issue within the IT world, as new innovations are coming at an exponential rate. As technology rapidly evolves, it's imperative for tech professionals to update skills to meet the expectations of top IT companies.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CompTIA IT Fundamentals exam

CompTIA IT Fundamentals

The CompTIA IT Fundamentals exam focuses on the essential IT skills and knowledge needed to perform tasks commonly performed by advanced end-users and entry-level IT professionals alike, including:
  • Identifying and explaining computer components.
  • Setting up a workstation, including conducting software installations.
  • Establishing network connectivity.
  • Identifying compatibility issues and identifying and preventing security risks.
  • Managing the safety and preventative maintenance of computers.
The IT Fundamentals certification is ideal for individuals and students considering a career in IT, as well as those in allied fields that require a broad understanding of IT. CompTIA IT Fundamentals can be a stepping stone to more advanced certifications such as CompTIA A+, and with, specialized experience, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+.
Test Details
Exam NumberFC0-U51
Exam FormatMultiple choice, 60 minutes, 75 questions
Passing score650
Recommended ExperienceNo prior experience necessary
The CompTIA IT Fundamentals exam replaces the CompTIA Strata IT Fundamentals exam (FC0-U41), which retires August 30, 2015.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

U.S. government issues rare warning to stop using Internet Explorer

U.S. government issues rare warning to stop using Internet Explorer 
The cybersecurity division of the Department of Homeland Security is recommending that consumers cease using Microsoft's flagship Internet browser until the company has addressed a zero-day exploit, which allows hackers to remotely breach networks and distribute malware. The exploit, which was revealed by security firm FireEye, is present on versions of Internet Explorer 6 and higher and has been blamed for attacks on the finance and defense industries.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Archaic hiring practices limit cybersecurity talent pool at DHS

Archaic hiring practices limit cybersecurity talent pool at DHS 
The Department of Homeland Security is letting some of the nation's most talented cybersecurity professionals slip through its fingers, experts say, thanks to complex hiring procedures and rigid employee guidelines that weed out candidates who lack a college degrees or don't conform with the image of a government worker. Lawmakers are exploring ways to help DHS compete for talent with the private sector, but observers say some obstacles -- such as ruling out candidates with tattoos or requiring security clearance for work that isn't secret -- are part of a hiring culture that DHS can change on its own.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Master's programs in analytics see enrollment surge Big Data Need

Master's programs in analytics see enrollment surge 
More colleges are adding graduate-level data-science programs as Big Data takes center stage. Northwestern University's Master of Science in Analytics program received applications for 20 times more students than it could enroll. The 75 students set to graduate with a Master of Science in Analytics from North Carolina State University in 2014 have their pick from nearly 250 job offerings.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cybersecurity training lacking at most firms, poll says

Cybersecurity training lacking at most firms, poll says 
Eighty-six percent of organizations say they will make cybersecurity a priority this year, but few are taking proactive steps to do so, according to a survey. The poll of more than 1,400 IT decision-makers sponsored by Dell says that many companies have expressed concern about vulnerabilities tied to BYOD and the cloud, but barely half have implemented cybersecurity training programs, and many ignore the potential danger from unknown threats. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Europe aims to hire more cybersecurity experts

Europe aims to hire more cybersecurity experts 
Europe is confronting a shortage of cybersecurity specialists in the wake of revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency is collecting data from foreign nationals, experts say. The drive to bolster corporate and government networks is creating a boon for trained cybersecurity experts -- who may command as much as 25% higher salaries than comparable Web developers -- and is prompting universities to experiment with new programs, such as one at Switzerland's ETH university where students get into the mindset of cybercriminals by learning hacking.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Careless mobile security leaves U.S. government exposed, poll says

Careless mobile security leaves U.S. government exposed, poll says 
U.S. government workers are contributing to the vulnerability of critical federal networks by failing to implement basic mobile security protocols, a study says. The 2014 Mobilometer Tracker, from Mobile Work Exchange, says more than 40% of surveyed federal workers admitted to engaging in risky mobile practices, such as using public Wi-Fi to conduct government business or failing to set a password for their devices.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

IDC expects government spending on wireless data to rise

IDC expects government spending on wireless data to rise 
Government spending on wireless data, services and applications will peak next year, although tablets and data services will continue to grow at double-digit rates through at least 2017, IDC says. The report also predicts local governments will turn to tablets "in a big way" in three years. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Analysis: Energy-IT sector has healthy job opportunities

Analysis: Energy-IT sector has healthy job opportunities 
Complex infrastructures, increasing security requirements and regulations, and research and development in the energy-IT sector are driving job opportunities for tech professionals, Howard Baldwin writes. The demand is also spurring top pay for needed skills, says Ann Manal of Mercer.

Monday, March 3, 2014

VMware-Google partnership aims to push Chrome OS to businesses

VMware-Google partnership aims to push Chrome OS to businesses 
VMware has announced a partnership with Google to deliver Chrome OS-based computers into the enterprise by integrating VMware's desktop-virtualization technology to deal with legacy software and systems. Google's Amit Singh said the move will let companies access Windows programs, data and desktops on Chromebooks with a savings of about $5,000 per computer

VMware training

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do and make more with physical security

Do and make more with physical security 
More IT solution providers and MSPs are being asked by their SMB clients to handle aspects of physical security. Most that respond to the requests confine their work to basic video surveillance systems, but there is so much more to offer and so many more dollars -- usually recurring -- to be had with a more comprehensive approach.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Employers Receptive to Hiring IT Job Candidates with MOOC Educations

Employers Receptive to Hiring IT Job Candidates with MOOC Educations

– Fred O'Connor, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

December 09, 2013

Tyler Kresch isn't turning to graduate school to help him change his job from tech sales to running a startup; instead he's taking massive open online courses (MOOCs) to learn the IT skills necessary for that career move.

Kresch's foray into IT may come sooner than the 2012 college graduate anticipated.

Currently working as an account manager at Procore Technologies, Kresch was recently offered a junior developer position at the Santa Barbara, California, startup. The development team was impressed with how he used his computer science skills to improve the company's cloud-based construction management software.

"I created a small app to help with the really tricky part of the account setup," said Kresch, whose long-term career goal involves starting a tech company. "It used to take an hour of our account manager's time to close every new account. We now use my tool and that saves us that hour."

For IT professionals looking to advance their careers or people who want to make a career change to tech, taking a MOOC in a technical topic can help, according to employers. The caveat: People need projects that show hiring managers how they've used the tech skills they learned online.

"We're not theorists here. We're actually buildings things," said Chad Morris, product lead at Mandrill, the transactional email service from MailChimp. "We're really looking at what it is you've actually done."

Morris applies this metric to all job candidates, including those with a computer science degree from a four-year college.

"We rate education relatively light here," Morris said. To him, a traditional college education and online learning hold the same value and convey the same information: that a person has been exposed to code.

The software that people develop with that code demonstrates their technical competency, which along with cultural fit, are the two metrics Morris uses to measure potential hires.

"I'm going to have to see projects that you've actively worked on. I'm going to have to talk to you and get a sense of how much you've actually retained of that information. Any of the best programmers that I've hired didn't go to school for computer science."

Kresch, 22, holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and technology entrepreneurship from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He obtained a computer science background from the classes he took on edX, a MOOC platform launched by Harvard University and MIT in 2012. The platform has since added courses from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Texas System and Cornell University, among others.

EdX offers the same courses that are taught to students enrolled in the participating schools. Unlike a regular university, edX offers the courses free to anyone with an Internet connection, and successfully finishing a course earns a student a certificate of completion instead of a diploma. Tests and quizzes are also conducted online and students with questions on the material turn to forums hosted by the professor, teaching assistants and other students for answers.

Other popular MOOC platforms that offer a similar learning setup include Coursera, which was launched by two Stanford University computer science professors, and Udacity.

Kresch earned certificates for completing two Berkeley courses on software as a service and MIT's computer science course. He lists each MOOC in the education section of his LinkedIn profile.

The MIT course "was optimized for being taught online, which I think is a really big difference between things that are videotaped and put on the Internet versus adapted to the Internet."

MOOCs allow students to take the courses when they have the time, a trait that appealed to Kresch, who watched the lectures and completed the course assignments during his lunch break and after work.

"There's this big trend toward people moving away from evaluating a brick-and-mortar education and really valuing the experience," he said. "These days your resume -- more often than not -- is your online presence. It's your list of projects that you've done. It's not courses that you've taken."

MOOCs proved "instrumental" to Dan Farnbach as he looked to start a career in social media.

As online editor at F+W Media, Farnbach manages the publishing company's blog and email marketing campaigns and handles audience development on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Farnbach saw social media emerging when he entered the job market in 2001. After freelancing in the publishing industry for some years, he wanted to add technology skills to his education, which includes a humanities degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Earning another degree appealed to him, but "it would have been financially difficult to put myself through college."

Instead, he enrolled in Coursera courses, including one on social network analysis. During the eight-week course he learned how to use the open-source social network analysis program Gephi to construct social network visualizations, among other topics.

Farnbach, 34, used a social media map he created for a homework assignment to land his first freelance social media strategy job.

"That gave me another line in my rA(c)sumA(c) that led to the job I have now," he said. "I was able to be strategic about social strategy from day one despite not having a Facebook page."

At Black Duck Software, having tech experience trumps how a person received their education. The company's human resources department has recently started emphasizing "that we want people with experience through whatever means. Whether it's online course work, internships or through education," said Tammi Pirri, vice president of human resources and administration.

"We don't need someone to have the piece of paper from the university or the certificate from the online course work," she said. "If they're able to take courses and they're able to demonstrate the ability to do the work that we need, that's what we're looking for."

The Burlington, Massachusetts, company recently hired an entry-level engineer with an unconventional education. The employee's background consists of a high school education, University of Phoenix online courses in programming and internships at Microsoft and Black Duck.

"He has shown to be an exceptional coder already and our user interface team could not be happier with the work he's producing," said Pirri, whose company offers consulting services for enterprises looking to adopt open-source software.

Given the strong demand and competition for tech workers with desired skills, employers shouldn't dismiss the education MOOCs offer.

"A company that doesn't entertain the thought of potentially hiring someone [with an online education] is limiting themselves and their ability to accomplish the development projects that they need to get done," said Pirri. "We should be blind to where the university degree comes from. It should be based on the skill set."

The up-to-date material offered by MOOCs makes them ideal for learning IT topics that are relatively new, like antispam, an area that's important to a company like MailChimp since its business is based on sending email.

"Antispam has only existed as a subject for the last 10 years," Morris said. "Really only in the last five years we've got a reasonable handle on how it all works."

MOOCs allow Morris' staff to "cherry pick" the antispam material they may need a refresher on as well as stay current on the latest developments.

To millennial-generation employees -- and those coming after them -- education is just another aspect of their lives that can be digitized.

"In the generation that's presenting itself now, coming out of high school and beyond, they're learning 24/7 through online courses," said Pirri. "That's just how they've learned and received their education. It makes sense for us to embrace it."

Younger employees aren't the only ones enrolling in MOOCs.

Peter Sisk, senior software engineer at The Institute for Health Metrics, used a combination of evening and online courses to acquire the skills necessary to work in software development.

"I still don't have anything like a proper computer science background," said Sisk, who holds an undergraduate degree in civil engineering. "The online courses help me to fill in a lot of the missing material. There's nothing to lose but some time and plenty to gain."

Sisk's online studies include completing a Coursera course on Scala taught by Martin Odersky, who wrote the language, and finishing 75 percent of a comparative computer language course. MOOCs offer the opportunity to stop or pause a course without academic or financial repercussions, said Sisk, who is in his 60s.

"If you get busy at work or you don't have the time, you stop taking the course," said Sisk, who stopped the course after taking a new job that lengthened his commute. "You don't lose a ton of money. You don't have a grade that follows you down the years telling you what a failure you are."

Sisk's online learning wasn't brought up when he interviewed with his new employer, a Burlington, Massachusetts, nonprofit that collects and analyzes hospital patient care data to develop better clinical procedures. They were more interested in his skills, he said, adding that his MOOC education could have worked in his favor during the hiring process.

"It indicated to them that I am still interested in new ideas and acquiring new skills. Perhaps that had an effect."

"If you're taking a Coursera class you're actively seeking that information," Morris said. "That says you're interested enough in the concept to be aware that these things exist." Job candidates can use completion of online courses to show their passion for a topic even though, at the moment, not all employers may be "giving the big thumbs up for completing these things," Morris said.

For IT job candidates with the desired skills and work background, "anything you can point to in addition to your real world experience is a benefit," said Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, especially if people can show that their course work added value to the business.

Cullen noted that a certificate from a MOOC is not the same as earning a certification through a traditional certification program. For example, companies seeking a network engineer certified in Cisco Systems technology want someone who earned a certificate through an authorized program.

"There's a difference between course work and certifications," he said.

But that course work can give candidates an advantage in the competitive IT job market.

"If they're competing against someone with the same skill set but you've taken additional course work that's going to probably push that person up the food chain into getting the job."

Copyright 2013 IDG News Service, International Data Group Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Nonhuman bot traffic is taking over the Internet, report says

Nonhuman bot traffic is taking over the Internet, report says

More than half of all Internet traffic does not have a human hand behind it, according to a study from Incapsula that says 61% of all Web traffic is generated by bots. The report, which says nonhuman Web traffic increased 21% this year over 2012, determined that bot traffic is split nearly evenly between so-called "friendly" programs, focused on things such as search engine optimization, and malicious bots that include traffic from hackers and spammers

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Poll: With training budgets frozen, more IT workers pay for their own education

Poll: With training budgets frozen, more IT workers pay for their own education

Technology workers looking to get a leg up in their career by adding new skills to their resume are finding less support from their employers, prompting many to take matters into their own hands, survey data shows. According to a poll of 489 IT specialists conducted by Computerworld, skills advancement through continuing education is viewed as a critical factor, but thanks to stagnant training budgets, nearly two-thirds of tech workers have had to pay for training out of their own pockets.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

8 hot IT skills for 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

IDC: Big Data tech is likely to surge

IDC: Big Data tech is likely to surge
IDC is predicting that Big Data technology and services will outpace the information and communications tech market in the next several years. "The Big Data market is expanding rapidly as large IT companies and startups vie for customers and market share," said IDC's Dan Vesset. Cloud infrastructure will see the highest compound annual growth rate, at 49%, IDC says.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tech industry sees a shift to independent workers -- and different kinds of opportunities for IT pros

Your next job, next year, may be self-employment

Tech industry sees a shift to independent workers -- and different kinds of opportunities for IT pros

The tech industry is seeing a shift toward a more independent, contingent IT workforce. And while that trend might not be bad for retiring baby boomer IT professionals, it could mean younger and mid-career workers need to prepare to make a living solo.

About 18% of all IT workers today are self-employed, according to an analysis by Emergent Research, a firm focused on small businesses trends. This independent IT workforce is growing at the rate of about 7% per year, which is faster than the overall growth rate for independent workers generally, at 5.5%.

The definition of independent workers covers people who work at least 15 hours a week.

Steve King, a partner at Emergent, said the growth in independent workers is being driven by companies that want to stay ahead of change, and can bring in workers with the right skills. "In today's world, change is happening so quickly that everyone is trying to figure out how to be more flexible and agile, cut fixed costs and move to variable costs," said King. "Unfortunately, people are viewed as a fixed cost."

King worked with MBO Partners to produce a recent study that estimated the entire independent worker headcount in the U.S., for all occupations, at 17.7 million. They also estimate that around one million of them are IT professionals.

A separate analysis by research firm Computer Economics finds a similar trend. Over the last two years, there has been a spike in the use of contract labor among large IT organizations -- firms with IT operational budgets of more than $20 million, according to John Longwell, vice president of research at Computer Economics.

This year, contract workers make up 15% of a typical large organization's IT staff at the median. This is up from a median of just 6% in 2011, said Longwell. The last time there was a similar increase in contract workers was in 1998, during the boom and the run-up to Y2K remediation efforts. Computer Economics recently published a research brief on the topic.

"The difference now is that use of contract or temporary workers is not being driven by a boom, but rather by a reluctance to hire permanent workers as the economy improves," Longwell said.

Computer Economics expects large IT organizations to step up hiring in 2014, which may cause the percentage of contract workers to decline back to a more normal 10% level. But, Longwell cautioned, it's not clear whether that new hiring will be involve full-time employees or even more contract labor.

"There are a lot of different variables that go into the decision to use temporary, rather than permanent, employees, and one of them is the outlook for sustained growth," said Longwell.

IT hiring has slowed after the past several months, according to recent reports.

Jeff Wald, co-founder and COO of Work Market, believes that demand for independent employees will only increase. That's based on Work Market's own surveys.

King said the good news, particularly for people with skills, "is there is a lot more opportunity to find part-time employment and set up your own shop and work as a consultant and contractor than there has been in the past."

But what if you want to keep working full-time?

King said young workers, who may change jobs frequently, already have back-up plans for independent work, but mid-career workers may not be as prepared. He recommends having an action plan. That may include thinking about how to earn a living as a solo worker, and developing networks outside the office. A lot of people are already moonlighting on part-time job services to "get a sense of what's going on," he said.

But there will also be full-time opportunities for younger workers as baby boomers gradually leave the workforce.

In California, for instance, Ron Hughes, the chief deputy CIO of the state's Department of Technology who recently spoke at a Gartner Data Center conference, urged younger workers to consider working for state IT shops.

In Hughes agency of 750 employees, 53% are already eligible for retirement, and in the mainframe group, a subset of the overall number, 73% are eligible to retire.

"The opportunities are going to be phenomenal," said Hughes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Should everyone learn how to code?

Should everyone learn how to code?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IT jobs market looking up, but be sure to bring your social skills

The New Year is shaping up to be a bright one for technology professionals, according to a new report from job site 
In a survey of 860 tech-focused hiring managers and recruiters, 73% reported planning to hire more candidates in the next six months, and 24% percent said their additional hiring will be substantial. That's good news for anyone looking to make a change in 2014.
But expect the IT landscape to change, too.
Here's a look at five predictions on hot skills, evolving roles, and how social media will change recruiting.
1. Big data skills heat up. Companies were quick this year to adopt and invest in social, mobile, and cloud, but the rise of these technologies has created an overwhelming amount of valuable data that businesses need to make sense of, said John Michelsen, CTO of software management company CA Technologies.
"Big data demands a new breed of data scientists, and advancements in mobility, social, and sensing technologies rely on resetting the design and architecture of applications and user interfaces," he said. "These are highly specialized skills currently lacking and impossible to recruit completely within any one organization."
Debra Germaine, managing partner at executive recruiting firm CTPartners, said that data scientists and data analytics leaders will be essential, especially in the consulting, retail, and banking markets.
"Enhanced customer relationship management and the development of products and services based on predictive consumer behavior spending patterns require the need for advanced interpretation of complex data sets," she said. "Using analytics and customer data is now primarily seen as a competitive tool that has calculated ROI."
2. SAP voids are still hard to fill. SAP database skills might no longer be sexy, but the demand is still high, said Rona Borre, CEO of IT recruiting firm Instant Technology.
"Assigning full-time resources to the SAP space is very difficult for businesses, especially in the US, but the demand for these people and skills will still be high in 2014," she said. "SAP isn't as exciting as something like mobility or big data. It's hard to find database people now and it will become harder because it's not that sexy skill."
3. CIO roles expand with more responsibilities.
"CIO" no longer stands for "career is over." Rather, the role is undergoing an evolution that positions it as more critical to most organizations than ever before, according to CTPartners' Germaine.
"The CIO of the coming years is at the forefront of many trends associated with other hot jobs: data, mobile, digital and analytics," she said. "The CIO's focus has migrated from the back office to the boardroom, making the role more visible, in greater demand, and hotter than ever. In addition, many companies are adding "and SVP" or other monikers to CIO titles. The dual titles reflect the increasing importance of IT within organizations and the increasing responsibility of the CIO."
4. Recruiting gets more social. The days when your resume alone got you interviews are over, said Shon Burton, founder of software company HiringSolved. It's not only about your skills on paper, it's also about your social presence.
"If you look at the evolution of recruiting, it started with going through phone books, then job boards, and what's changed everything today is that everyone has a social footprint," Burton said. "All this information offers us a much more rich profile of candidates than we had before."
Your social footprint can be a pro or con when you're looking for a new job, he said. Be wary of how you present yourself online, and take steps to improve your online presence. This might include answering questions in forums related to your profession or starting a blog. The goal, Burton said, is to provide Google and other search engines with a signal of your professional self rather than silence when recruiters or hiring managers search for you.
5. Talent management becomes social. Although social has changed how businesses recruit talent, it is also changing how they retain it, according to Scott Hebner, VP of social business at IBM. In 2014, say goodbye to the traditional HR survey and expect new methods to assess, develop, and retain talent.
"Organizations are searching for a means to not only recruit the right candidates, but more importantly, retain and nurture the talent to become passionate, engaged, and loyal," Hebner said. "In 2014, we'll begin to see organizations tapping social and behavioral data to better understand what is important to employees, what motivates them, why they stay with an organization, and much more."

CompTIA SmartBrief