Thursday, December 15, 2011

How To Recover Your Data In Minutes

There are new approaches that will allow even small to midsize businesses to be able to return applications to their full and ready state within a few minutes.

Things to think about:

The first key ingredient to achieve data recovery in less than a few minutes is that the movement of data from a backup device to a source device simply can't occur. No matter how fast the network connection, the time required to make a copy will in almost every case break the goal of only a few minutes of downtime.

This means that the backup application must be able to present the data to the source server in a native state so that the application that it hosts can directly access the data. This also more than likely means that the backup device that stores the backup data needs to be a disk-based system.

Even being able to directly host the data to the application may still not be fast enough to meet the objective of zero downtime or few minutes of downtime. This will be especially true if the physical server that was hosting the application has failed. A physical server failure would mean that a standby system needs to be put in place or, more than likely, ordered so that there is something to actually access the data while it's in place.

Some vendors have overcome this problem by incorporating into their applications the ability to spawn virtual machines and recover the failed host plus its data into that virtual machine, all without moving data. This capability brings the concept of zero downtime or minutes of downtime to the masses. No longer do you need to go out and buy a sophisticated cluster to achieve those goals.

The other advantage of this technique is that the testing of a failed server can now be as easy as the click of a button. The ability to start an application with its data in a test mode almost instantly allows an organization to become very confident in their ability to recover.

Monday, December 12, 2011

2011's Biggest Wireless Mistakes

2011's Biggest Wireless Mistakes

It is no surprise that the three-day outage brought to us by the letters "R", "I", and "M" is on the list. The service brought email, BBM, and Web browsing to a screeching halt for BlackBerry users in Europe and North America for up to three days. To make up for it, RIM offered $100 in free apps, which was a pretty self-serving act since it doubled as advertising for the BlackBerry application store.

Adobe's recent abandonment of Flash for mobile platforms made the list. A combination of the overall platform not suited for touch screens, the growth of HTML 5, and Apple's prohibition of all things Flash from iOS devices did the platform in.
A general lack of carrier support for the RIM Playbook made the list, as did HP killing off the webOS platform. I think the bigger oops though is every tablet on the market that isn't spelled "iPad." The Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, RIM Playbook, HP TouchPad, and all other tablets are at best an also ran when compared to the device that created the market--the iPad. Only the Kindle Fire has shown promise, and that is primarily because it is priced substantially less than the iPad and isn't aimed as a direct competitor.

Also missing from the list is the AT&T and T-Mobile merger. The deal itself isn't the issue. That will surely benefit the two carriers, and it is arguable as to whether or not it will benefit consumers. The problem is how badly AT&T underestimated the opposition, despite hiring a number of investment banks to help them through the treacherous waters of antitrust law and policy. The competition, consumer advocacy groups, senators, representatives and the DOJ have voiced opposition to this, some verbally, others in court.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Train Students for the Future - Todd Lammle speech

Todd Lammle hosted an insightful and interesting session at our EMEA Member conference entitled “Relevant Certification Training for This Decade: How to Train Our Students for The Future—Now!”  Lammle sees issues with the way our current learning methods engage our learners; in an era of instant information and fast moving technology, it’s becoming harder and harder to get a student to sit down and actually read a book.  In fact, Lammle himself has reached a point in his life that even he can’t sit down and read a book.
We need to find fresh, compelling ways to not only entice learners into wanting to study a subject, but also to keep the subject interesting as well as to present the information in a way that is engaging and compelling to the learner.
Lammle discussed issues that are looming on the horizon that we are presently not addressing with our current technical training. For example, the Internet user base is growing at a rapid rate and we currently do not have the infrastructure to support the user numbers that we are projected to reach over the next few years. In the U.K. by 2013, our Internet infrastructure will not be sustainable unless these issues are addressed.  Lammle raised interesting points on how we need to start training the next generation on how to resolve these potential issues.  This thought-provoking session gave the audience, from certification vendors to training delivery companies to IT vendors, some great insight on the way our industry is evolving. has engaging, interactive DVD-ROM based training materials for the IT Industry.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don’t Quit IT Because of Your IT Job

I love the TechRepublic website, and my last Monday morning’s reading included Jack Wallen’s “10 Reasons for Quitting IT” article. Lots of comments and suggestions—some of them humorous like farming and Buddhist monk, etc., but some of them observations from some pretty frustrated IT folks. As someone who has moved around for most of his IT career (production manager in database/imaging service bureau, IT manager, CIO in several places, storage industry executive leadership, now working for CompTIA doing R&D on future technology certifications), I thought long and hard after Jack’s article—should I quit my IT job?
The article cites a number of characteristics about the IT market, and is dead-on accurate. But let me offer a qualified alternative response—don’t quit IT because of your IT job! We’ll look at some of the factors listed why someone would leave, and I’ll give my take on it.
1. Stress. The author states “It’s a rare occasion that someone will have a job in the IT field where there isn’t stress.” Yes, there are long hours, the need to keep up your skills, make sure you are better than you used to be, and people wanting free tech advice. All in all, there’s got to be some stress there (I remember way too many “magic upgrade weekends”, upset c-level folks, and suits who just didn’t get it but had power over my life. Stress, stress, stress—I even started grinding my teeth at night in my last job in the storage industry hey—can you get workman’s comp for that?).
All I can say is, “Welcome to the real world, pal!” — where things break and systems don’t work like the vendors said they would; where you are the only person who understands all the moving parts; where people are impatient and sometimes rude; and where the pace of change is frenetic. Instead of running away to some la-la land where there is no stress, figure out how to thrive in this environment, because that’s what IT is all about.
Continual learning, constant improvement, and the satisfaction of a job well done is why I LOVE information technology. The stress can be there, but that’s why I walk my dogs, love my wife, pray at church and have some outside interests. I also think about what Bill Murray (playing Dr. Peter Venckman) said to his secretary in the movie Ghost Busters (the first movie—you know, the only good one), “someone of your caliber should have no problem finding a top flight job in the housekeeping or food service industry.” You want a no-stress job? Hard to find any of them out there that put real food on the table.  The key is to de-stress your present IT job or find another IT job in a healthier environment.
2. People (in general). The writer had some traumatic experiences as a consultant in IT. He observes, “That is not to say that people, in general, are bad. It’s just that when you have your IT hat on, people seem to look at you in a different light. You are both savior and sinner in one stressed-out package . . . I’ve found myself getting taken advantage of, used, abused, unpaid, underpaid, unappreciated, and more.”
Well. I can hear the responses from folks in just about every job in every field, complaining about people, about being unappreciated, taken advantage of, etc. Yes, one of the unfortunate things about IT jobs is that you have to deal with people.
I remember as a CIO having one of my best bench techs leave our organization. During the exit interview, I asked if there was anything I could do to make him change his mind. He requested, “I wish you had a windowless room where you could shove broken systems through a slot, and I could fix them and shoo them out through the slot.”
In other words, we want an IT job without people. Short of forest ranger, nighttime security guard or island castaway, it’s hard to find a good job that doesn’t involve people. Key for me in my IT career is to manage your relationships, expect respect and address it productively when you don’t get it. (Passive-aggressive brooding, retreat, gossip and overall griping are not helpful strategies for either you or the people around you).    
3. Technology. The author concludes that the state of technology is hopeless: “Every day is a battle to keep PCs and systems working. Some days you win that battle, some days you lose it. The days you win are always lost in the pile of days you lose.”
Got to say, as a former president, “I feel your pain.” Technology is one of those areas where Murphy’s Law seems to be a constant. I always remember what one boss told me a long time ago—“Embrace the madness!”
I always act surprised when everything works and am prepared for failure. Good back-ups, tested restores, worst-case scenarios whirling around, over-extending project completion dates, under-promising everything and over-delivering every chance I can—folks understand how finicky technology can be (at least most of them do), but most of them also can see how hard you are working to make tech work—and I believe we have better hardware and software, better systems and more transparency into systems.  Maybe it takes the perspective of a few decades in this field, but it really is getting better.
4. The Cloud. The author observes that “clients and end-users want the cloud to be some magical experience that will make all their work easier, better and faster. If only they knew the truth.”
Yes, we know it’s not magic—but we also know that cloud computing has the power to be a truly transformative technology game-changer for many businesses. That’s why a good many people have been asking CompTIA to develop a credential to help IT professionals separate the truth from the hype with respect to cloud—stand by for some good news on that front.
I would imagine that the IT folks who can’t figure out how to thoughtfully integrate cloud-based options may find themselves “being retired” instead of quitting—so better to get in front of this trend that be adversely “rained on” by cloud computing. It’s here, and it’s here to stay—and although we can also complain about gravity, but we still have to deal with it.
5. Respect. The author’s observation is, “The general public has a bad taste in its mouth for IT professionals. Why? There are many reasons. They’ve been burned before. They’ve been ripped off before. They’ve had consultants who only seemed to want to sell them bigger and better things. So long has this gone on, and so jaded has the public become, that IT pros have a hard time earning respect.”
Okay, and I would say the same thing about doctors, lawyers, politicians, preachers, car salesman and guys working at the local 7-11. I think the general public still gets excited when a new iPad or Android-powered smartphone comes out. I think kids still get jazzed about collaborating via videoconferencing technology to their peers worldwide. I still think it’s cool that we have RFID tags now on scalpels so surgeons can count the number they start with and finish with (and not leave any of them “behind”—cue the lawyers).
Got to tell you—I think IT is one of the greatest jobs in the world. I have had the joy of seeing businesses solve challenges, of government serving taxpayers better, of teachers educating students more effectively, and of people from all over the world learning something from each other’s experience. Folks don’t respect you? Sometimes it may be because you give them permission to treat you that way.
So no, I would not quit my IT job. Maybe I would find a better IT job (the market is starting to pick up now), or perhaps consider a different IT vertical—the days of sitting around a data center or bench tech environment may be limited as IT moves into other professionals. Perhaps healthcare IT, green IT or some other applied vertical practice area might be the right approach. And yes, CompTIA is doing good work developing credentials programs for those careers. I might work on the inside, get a more positive perspective on my job (I know there are many laid-off IT pros who wished they could get another shot), or work on a “self upgrade”—education, training, hobby, relationship-building, etc. 
For me, I love working in IT, and would recommend it as a rewarding career to any middle schooler or high schooler out there. Has IT lost some of its “mojo”? Perhaps. I think we let it get away, or we get busy on other things. But like Austin Powers, who had to discover he had his mojo all along, IT professionals should stop and realize just how cool their jobs can be.

Monday, December 5, 2011

CompTIA Certification Renewal Policy Clarified

CompTIA Certification Renewal Policy Clarified

Current certificate holders remain certified for life; renewal requirement applies only to certifications earned on or after January 1, 2011
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., January 26, 2010 – CompTIA, the leading provider of vendor neutral skills certifications for the world’s information technology (IT) workforce, today clarified details of its upcoming certification renewal and continuing education policy.
All individuals currently certified in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and/or CompTIA Security+ will retain their “certified for life” status with no requirement to recertify or retest.
Individuals who become certified in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ by December 31, 2010 also will be considered certified for life.
“We do not wish to disenfranchise any of the individuals who have supported our certification program,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA.  “The right thing to do is to honor our past commitment to those certified under our original ‘certified for life’ policy.”
Effective January 1, 2011, all new CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications will be valid for three years from the date the candidate becomes certified. 
“We believe this solution balances the interests of our current and future certification customers with the stringent requirements set for us by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI),” Thibodeaux continued. “Our ISO accreditation is extremely important to us because of the global credibility it carries.”
The policy that takes effect on January 1, 2011 will allow CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications to maintain their accreditation with internationally accepted standards for assessing personnel certification programs (ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024).
CompTIA also said that the new date for the launch of its continuing education program will be January 1, 2011. The program will offer CompTIA certified professionals a range of ways to keep their certifications earned on or after January 1, 2011 current without necessarily having to take a new exam. Certification holders and candidates are encouraged to visit for the latest updates. Soon, information will be available on this web site on how to participate and help shape the program.
About CompTIA
CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through its educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications, and public policy advocacy. For more information, please visit

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tap into Federal Funding for Job Training

The Department of Labor made $240 million available in federal grants for training U.S. workers in high growth, high tech and high skill jobs.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grants program competition yesterday. Grants will be awarded to help workers update current job skills or acquire new skills so they can enter career pathways that lead to higher-paying jobs, including positions in information technology. The Department of Labor expects to fund 75-100 grants.
Last fall Secretary Solis, CompTIA and leaders in the IT industry – including representatives from CVS, HP, IBM, Juniper Networks and Oracle – met to discuss strategies on how program should be structured to maximize benefits to the American workforce.
The Department of Labor intends to award two types of training grants: those that provide on-the-job training to all participants and those that use other training strategies. At least $150 million will be awarded to grantees that provide on-the-job training. The department also intends to award at least $45 million to applicants proposing to provide training for occupations in the healthcare industry and at least $60 million to applicants that serve long-term unemployed individuals.
Don’t miss out on your chance to win some funding to make the IT workforce even stronger.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Are there Opportunities in Future IT Support?

Article from

"As the year comes to a close, two of the most popular activities are looking back at what just happened and looking ahead to what we expect for the New Year. Thinking back on the big IT trends from this year, it’s interesting to look forward at how those will continue to grow and what effect they will have on IT departments and solution providers.
Three of the largest trends shaping the IT landscape right now are:
  1. Cloud,
  2. Mobility and
  3. Social solutions.
Cloud is changing the way IT approaches infrastructure. For various reasons—cost, agility, new features and many others—IT departments are considering cloud as an option for providing compute resource. Cloud is not necessarily the new infrastructure; although some organizations are more aggressive than others, most will settle on some sort of hybrid approach, utilizing cloud resource alongside on-premise resource. Given that, the integration of cloud systems into legacy systems will continue to be a major issue.
Mobility is changing the way we access data. For end-users, this means the ability to get necessary data at any time from any place. This flexibility has the potential for large productivity gains, so businesses are clearly interested. For IT teams, though, this means the spread of data beyond a controlled perimeter, along with a wide array of non-homogenous devices to manage. IT will need to take a central role in managing expectations as the business side asks both for the productivity gains of mobility and the security of data.
With social solutions, we are changing the way we communicate with each other. Either through public social networking sites or internal social enterprise tools, individuals are now driving conversations more than they have in the past. Organizations are finding that they have far less ability to control a message, but they are also finding that they are gaining the ability to build communities and collaborate in real time. Social concepts are moving from the marketing department into the overall communications strategy.
What’s the Net Result?
The management of IT is becoming increasingly complex. Smaller IT departments may start to find that they are not equipped for some tasks, even if those tasks may be affordable and in line with business objectives. For example, many companies are starting to explore mobile applications, either to connect with customers or to provide a portal to internal applications for mobile employees. Using Platform as a Service or Infrastructure as a Service in the cloud makes this affordable, but there may not be software development skills in-house.
What’s the Opportunity?
This opens the door for managed service providers. The latest study on managed service from CompTIA Research finds that 89 percent of managed service users are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive, and 62 percent are planning on increasing their spend on managed service over the next two years. While 46 percent also have cut IT expenditures by moving to a managed service, an overemphasis on cost could lead to unacceptable cuts into margin. Instead, MSPs can focus on the value they bring, especially in managing added complexity or filling in skill gaps.
Ultimately, there will be a growing need for IT orchestration. In very large organizations with self-sufficient IT departments, this happens naturally at the CIO level. With smaller IT departments using some amount of managed service or with small companies who completely outsource their IT function, a similar role needs to be played. The level of complexity may even result in MSPs needing to partner together to fulfill a customer’s need, with the orchestration happening externally as well. As orchestration becomes more important, best practices will emerge—such as the development of metrics for demonstrating the value produced by an overall IT solution.
CompTIA will publish a full report on 2012 trends and outlook in January, exploring various hot topics for the upcoming year. We welcome your feedback on the topics you think are going to be big and how the direction of IT will change."
Article from

CompTIA SmartBrief