Thursday, June 28, 2012

Q3 Staffing from a CIO perspective

Most chief information officers plan to maintain their current IT staffing levels in the third quarter of 2012, according to the recently released “IT Hiring Index and Skills Report ” by Robert Half Technology.

In the latest quarterly survey, 5 percent of CIOs interviewed said they expect to expand their IT departments and 4 percent anticipate cutbacks, for a net 1 percent projected increase in hiring activity. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed plan no change in personnel levels, up four points from the second quarter.

In the same study, 76 percent of technology executives said they are somewhat or very optimistic about their companies' growth prospects in the next three months, and 82 percent feel confident in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects.

The report is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. Executives are asked whether their companies plan to increase or decrease the number of full-time IT personnel on their staff during the coming quarter.

Key Findings

• The net 1 percent increase in anticipated IT hiring activity is down two points from last quarter's projection.

• Eighty-nine percent of CIOs plan to maintain their current staffing levels, up four points from the Q2 forecast.

• Networking, data/database management and help desk/technical support professionals are in greatest demand, according to survey respondents.

• Seventy percent of survey respondents said it's challenging to find skilled professionals today, up five points from last quarter.

• Seventy-six percent of CIOs are somewhat or very confident in their companies' growth prospects in the next three months, compared to 87 percent in the prior quarter.

• Eighty-two percent of technology executives expressed confidence that their firms would be making investments in IT projects in the third-quarter, up five points from last quarter.

"Although most organizations are keeping staff levels constant, our research suggests larger companies may hire more actively in the third quarter," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Firms with 1,000 or more employees plan a net 10 percent increase in hiring next quarter, up from a net 5 percent increase projected for this quarter."

Confidence in Business Growth and IT Investments

Seventy-six percent of CIOs reported being somewhat or very confident in their companies' prospects for growth in the third quarter of 2012. Eighty-two percent of technology executives expressed confidence in their firms' third-quarter investment in IT projects, rating the likelihood that their companies would be investing in IT projects a three or higher on a five-point scale, with five being most confident.

Skills in Demand

Executives said it is most challenging to find IT professionals in the functional areas of networking (19 percent), data/database management (16 percent) and help desk/technical support (16 percent).

Data/database management is the skill set in greatest demand, cited by 55 percent of CIOs. Network administration and Web development/Web design followed, with 48 percent and 33 percent of the response respectively.

Industries Hiring

Executives in the finance and business services industries expect the most IT hiring in the third quarter. A net 5 percent of CIOs in each of these sectors plan to expand their IT departments. This is followed by the construction industry, where a net 4 percent of technology leaders anticipate adding staff

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Takeaway: The certification landscape changes as swiftly as the technologies you support. Erik Eckel looks at the certs that are currently relevant and valuable to IT pros.

When it comes to IT skills and expertise, there are all kinds of “best certification” lists. Pundits are quick to add the safe bets: Cisco’s CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert), Red Hat’s RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer), and other popular choices.

This isn’t that list.

Based on years of experience meeting with clients and organizations too numerous to count, I’ve built this list with the idea of cataloging the IT industry’s 10 most practical, in-demand certifications. That’s why I think these are the best; these are the skills clients repeatedly demonstrate they need most. In this list, I justify each selection and the order in which these accreditations are ranked.

1: MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008

I love Apple technologies. The hardware’s awesome, the software’s intuitive and their systems make it easy to get things done fast while remaining secure. But it’s a Windows world. Make no mistake. Most every Mac I deploy (and Mac sales are up 20 to 25 percent) is connected to a back-end Windows server. Windows server experts, however, can prove hard to find.

IT pros who have an MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional): Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 accreditation demonstrate significant, measurable proficiency with Active Directory, configuring network and application infrastructures, enterprise environments, and (if they’ve chosen well) the Windows 7 client OS.

That’s an incredibly strong skill set that everyone from small businesses to enterprise organizations require. Add this line to your resume, and you may be all set to find another job should your current employer downsize.

Honorable mentions for the top spot include the MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2 and MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator on Exchange 2010. Microsoft Exchange owns the SMB space. Virtualization initiatives are only getting started and will dominate technology sectors for the next decade at least. Administrators who can knowledgeably navigate Microsoft’s virtualization and email platforms will only grow in importance.


Not everyone has time to sit as many exams as an MCITP requires. The MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) certification is among the smartest accreditations an engineer can currently chase. As mentioned above, it’s a Windows world. Adding an MCTS certification in Exchange, SharePoint, Virtualization, Windows Client, or Windows Server will strengthen a resume.

There is no downside to any of these MCTS accreditations. Each of the above tracks provides candidates with an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency with specific technologies that organizations worldwide struggle to effectively design, implement, and maintain every day.

3: VCP

Virtualization is all the rage. It makes sense. Hardware manufacturers keep cranking out faster and faster servers that can store more and more data. Tons of servers sit in data centers using just fractions of their capacities. Virtualization, which enables running multiple virtual server instances on the same physical chassis, will continue growing in importance as organizations strive to maximize technology infrastructure investments.

VMware is a leading producer of virtualization software. Tech pros earning VCP (VMware Certified Professional) certification give employers (both current and future) confidence they can implement and maintain VMware-powered virtual environments. And if you talk to the techs responsible for maintaining data centers, you’ll frequently hear that VMware remains a favorite over Microsoft’s Hyper-V alternative, although most sober IT pros will have to admit Hyper-V is improving and closing the gap.


The next politically correct certification to list is the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert). However, that’s a massive exam that few professionals realistically will ever have an opportunity to obtain. And while Cisco equipment frequently composes the network backbone, fueling numerous medium and large organizations, most organizations don’t need a CCIE and don’t have the resources to pay one.

That’s why I believe the more fundamental CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification is a smart bet. A CCNA can help technology pros better familiarize themselves with the network OS’s fundamentals, while simultaneously strengthening their resume. Particularly motivated candidates can proceed to earn a CCNA Security certification, as the network security focus is a critical component of enterprise systems.


In early 2012, Dell announced its pending acquisition of SonicWALL. There’s a reason Dell is buying the hardware manufacturer: SonicWALL has made great strides within the SMB unified threat management market.

Someone needs to be able to configure and troubleshoot those devices. The CSSA (Certified SonicWALL Security Administrator) certification not only proves proficiency in installing and administering the company’s devices, certified professionals receive direct access to tier two support staff and beta testing programs.

Organizations are always going to require network devices to fulfill firewall, routing, and threat management services. SonicWALL has carved out quite a bit of market share — so much so that it will now have the marketing might of Dell helping fuel additional growth. Knowing how to configure the devices will help IT pros, particularly those who support numerous small businesses.

6: PMP

Too many chiefs isn’t an IT problem I hear or read much about. Instead, it seems there’s a lack of IT pros capable of sizing up a project’s needs, determining required resources and dependencies, developing a realistic schedule, and managing a technical initiative.

The Project Management Institute is a nonprofit group that administers the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification. The exam isn’t designed to earn a profit or motivate IT pros to learn its product and become unofficial sales cheerleaders. The PMP certifies candidates’ ability to plan, budget, and complete projects efficiently, on time, and without cost overruns. Those are skills most every medium and large business needs within its IS department and such ability isn’t going to be replaced by an app or third-party developer in our lifetimes.


If you want to specialize in security, the (ISC)² (International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc.), which administers the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) accreditation, is your organization. Its vendor-neutral certification has a reputation as one of the best vendor-neutral security certs.

Organizations’ data, networks, and systems are increasingly coming under attack due to the value of personal, corporate, customer, and sensitive proprietary information. So individuals who demonstrate measurable success and understanding in architecting, designing, managing, and administering secure environments, developing secure policies, and maintaining secure procedures will stand out from the pack. In addition, the knowledge gained while earning the certification helps practitioners remain current with the latest legal regulations, best practices, and developments impacting security.


There’s more to the energy surrounding Apple than pleasant tablet devices, intuitive smartphones, and a stunning stock price. The company continues chewing up market share and shipping computers at rates 10 to 12 times greater than PC manufacturers.

The ACSP (Apple Certified Support Professional) designation helps IT pros demonstrate expertise supporting Mac OS X clients. Engineers, particularly Windows support pros and administrators increasingly encountering Macs, will be well served completing Apple’s certification rack for technical support personnel. Benefits include not only another bullet for the resume but an understanding of Apple’s official processes for installing, setting up, troubleshooting, and maintaining Mac client machines.

9: Network+ / A+

Yes, CompTIA’s Network+ and A+ designations are, technically, two separate certifications. But they’re both critical certs that test absolute fundamentals that every IT pro needs to completely understand.

In fact, there’s an argument to be made that all IT pros should have both of these accreditations on their resumes. CompTIA is a well-respected, vendor-neutral (though vendor-supported) organization that continually develops and administers relevant certifications. The network, hardware, and software skills tested on the Network+ and A+ exams are basics that every self-respecting tech professional should master, whether they’re performing budgeting tasks, deploying client machines, managing site-wide migrations, overseeing security, or administering networks and servers.

10: CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician

With an aging population, U.S.-based IT pros (in particular) should consider earning CompTIA’s Healthcare IT Technician credential. Obviously, if you work in manufacturing, the credential may be a stretch. But manufacturers frequently lay off staff. And many others produce material for health-related purposes.

See where I’m headed?

The interest surrounding health-related technology is almost unparalleled. Look around the city where you live. During the recession, where have you seen growth? Are there lots of new bookstores opening? How about new single-family home developments? Seeing lots of new manufacturing centers?

Doubtful. Like many, you’re probably seeing new medical services offices, immediate care centers, hospitals, outpatient facilities, dental practices, and similar health-related businesses.

They all need IT support. Support technicians, administrators, engineers, managers, and especially consultants who want to position themselves well for the future will do well to demonstrate their proficiency with health care technology’s regulatory requirements, organizational behaviors, technical processes, medical business operations, and security requirements. IT pros could do worse with their time, that’s for sure.

Original article:
By Erik Eckel

March 26, 2012, 6:34 AM PDT

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mobile App Developer CompTIA Certification

A new credential intended for mobile application developers is being created by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the IT industry, and viaForensics, a digital forensics and security firm.

“The mobile app development world is a vast arena for innovation, but too often security has been a secondary concern in the rush to bring new apps to the market,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA.

“Because mobile devices typically combine both personal and corporate data, they’re a rich target for cybercriminals and hackers,” he said. “CompTIA and viaForensics intend to elevate the level of security awareness among mobile app developers.”

The secure mobile application developer credential and corresponding testing services — scheduled for availability in the first half of 2012 — are intended to meet the growing needs of software application vendors in their pursuit of qualified professionals to work in the fast-growing mobile apps market.

Research firm IDC estimates that the number of annual mobile app downloads will grow from 10.7 billion in 2010 to nearly 183 billion by 2015. Other industry observers predict similarly epic numbers of users of these handy, but potentially risky applications.

“Over 45 million smartphones are in use, not only by U.S. consumers, but at companies and government agencies across the nation,” said Andrew Hoog, chief investigative officer, viaForensics. “Vulnerabilities found in these mobile devices place their owners, companies and our country at risk.”

CompTIA and viaForensics intend to offer secure mobile application developer credentials and testing services for both the iOS and Android operating environments. This effort combines CompTIA’s standing as a provider of vendor-neutral skills certifications for IT professionals with ViaForensics’ appSecure service, appWatchdog and other mobile security intelligence.

“CompTIA’s global distribution and partnering programs will provide scale and access for the programs, while the depth of viaForensics’ secured applications expertise will afford user access to industry best services,” said Terry Erdle, executive vice president, skills certification, CompTIA.

The announcement is part of CompTIA’s broader initiative to address issues impacting companies doing business in the mobility marketplace. CompTIA is developing a new mobility curriculum, consisting of educational programs, workshops, how-to guides and other resources, to meet the specific needs of IT channel companies.

Early this year, CompTIA is scheduled to publish new research on mobility, telecommuting and remote workforce trends

New Credential for Health Care IT Workers - Certification Magazine

New Credential for Health Care IT Workers - Certification Magazine

Friday, December 2, 2011

New CompTIA Cloud Certification

CompTIA — a provider of vendor-neutral skills certifications for the global IT workforce — and ITpreneurs — a provider of competence development products for IT best practices — announced they are collaborating on a new cloud computing skills credential.

The CompTIA Cloud Essentials exam , scheduled for availability in December, will validate knowledge and understanding of cloud computing principles and concepts, including what cloud computing means from a business and technical perspective and what’s involved in moving to and governing the cloud.

“The value and benefits of cloud computing are quickly becoming apparent to organizations of every shape and size, from the largest enterprise to the smallest business,” said Terry Erdle, executive vice president, skills development, CompTIA. “But there is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for moving to the cloud. It requires thoughtful evaluation, comprehensive planning and technical savvy.”

“A principal understanding of cloud computing, and its related skill set, is essential for a well-managed implementation of any cloud project,” said Sukhbir Jasuja, chief executive officer, ITpreneurs. “This credential demonstrates IT professionals’ understanding of the key concepts, themes and issues around cloud computing, including definitions, organizational readiness, operating in the cloud and governance and security of the cloud model. It is also driving agreements around definitions of key concepts across major vendors, and encouraging the whole industry to cooperate with each other through the Cloud Credential Council as the preferred forum.”

Exam content is based on consultation and insights from subject matter experts and organizations in the cloud computing market, including Amazon, Cisco, Citrix, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace and VMware.

Potential candidates for the new credential include IT professionals in companies utilizing cloud computing today or contemplating doing so as well as individuals involved in selling cloud services. Though not required, it’s recommended that candidates for the exam have a working knowledge of how an internal or external IT organization operates and have at least six months of experience in an IT environment with direct involvement in IT-related tasks, responsibilities and decision making
Get the exam specifics here:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Microsoft finalizes Windows Thin PC1

Microsoft has released to manufacturing its Windows Thin PC client, and plans to make it available to Software Assurance customers starting July 1, company officials said on June 7.
Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is the successor to Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP). Whereas WinFLP was based on the Windows XP SP3 platform, WinTPC is based on the Windows 7 platform.
Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) allows users to repurpose older PCs as thin clients, something that a number of users seemingly want to do in order to save money and avoid having to upgrade users to new PCs.
PCs with WinTPC will not require the VDA (Virtual Desktop Access) license that regular thin clients will need to access VDI desktops, Microsoft officials have said. Microsoft officials said today that they are planning to add Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) support for WinTPC in the third calendar quarter of 2011.
In a blog post on the “Windows For Your Business Blog,” Microsoft officials noted the approved uses for WinTPC:
“WinTPC is designed to be a thin client device, and therefore only applications that fall into the certain categories are enabled. These categories include security, management, terminal emulation, Remote Desktop and similar technologies, web browsers, media players, instant messaging clients, document viewers, NET Framework and Java Virtual Machine. If customers want to locally run productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, or any other application that does not fall into the categories mentioned above, they would be better off using a PC, as thin client computing may not be the best fit for their scenarios.”
Microsoft released a first test build of WinTPC in March 2011. While the test build was available to the general public, the final product is limited to volume licensees with Software Assurance only.
Update: A couple more tidbits from Microsoft’s blog post today: WinTPC and Citrix’s Receiver technology will work together, enabling XenApp or Xendesktop via WinTPC. And System Center Configuration Manager and the Windows Embedded Device Manager 2011 products can be used to manage WinTPC clients.

original article by By Mary Jo Foley | June 7, 2011, 10:30am PDT

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

IT hiring outlook

A new CareerBuilder survey indicates that IT hiring and compensation is on the uptick for 2011.
CareerBuilder conducted its national annual IT hiring poll among more than 170 IT employers between November 15 and December 2, 2010. The results were that two in five (42 percent) of IT employers plan to increase the number of full-time, permanent employees this year (this is up from 32 percent who said the same last year).
Here are some other employment trends to follow in 2011, according to the survey:

•Sixty-six percent of those polled said they will increase compensation for their existing staff in 2011. The good news is that 13 percent expect the average increase will be five percent or more. The bad news is that most estimate the average raise will be 3 percent or less.

•One-third (33 percent) state that they currently have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates. Thirteen percent said they will be hiring outside the U.S. for workers to work in their U.S. offices. This is an interesting disconnect: Employers are saying they can’t find qualified workers, but there are a ton of IT pros out of work.

•Nearly half (49 percent) of IT employers are hiring contract or freelance workers in 2011, up from 47 percent in 2010. Forty-six percent of IT employers plan to hire temporary workers on a permanent basis in 2011.

•More than one-third of IT employers (38 percent) voiced concern over worker burnout within their organizations, as heftier workloads and longer hours take their toll on worker morale. Nearly the same amount (34 percent) reported that maintaining productivity levels is one of the top staffing challenges for the new year. The first part of this paragraph sounded kind of nice until you saw the concern was linked to almost the same percentage of employers looking to maintain productivity, didn’t it?

•Forty-four percent of IT employers stated that they will be placing a greater emphasis on social media in 2011.

Original article:
About Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is an award-winning writer and Head Blogs Editor for TechRepublic.