4 Ways IT Pros Stay Sharp During a Job Search

Thursday, 31 March, 2011

Just because you’re out of action does not mean you don’t have opportunities to stay sharp and keep your skills updated.   If you are on a job search, there are four great ways to stay at the top of your field.

Participate in forums. It doesn’t matter what your subject is – there is an online forum for like-minded people who congregate and discuss it regularly.  Read the posts frequently, respond and join the conversation, contribute your own ideas, start threads that ask questions.  If you’re concerned about expressing genuine or controversial opinions only to have future employers find them, just use a made-up name and be vague about your personal details.  So hit Google and look for discussion boards, forums and so on in your field and get started today.

Take a college class.  You can make the time to attend a course.  If you don’t want to be graded, ask to audit the course at registration.  Community colleges are widespread and inexpensive, and auditing is sometimes even less.  Doing this can expand your horizons and introduce you to new thinking in addition to whatever skill you may be learning.  Never underestimate the value of that sort of exposure.  Search for community colleges in your area for more information.

Volunteer your time. Just because nobody is hiring you to do what you do does not mean you have to stop doing it.  Find a place where you can do 15 or 20 hours per week in your field of expertise.  You get to stay sharp, it helps pass the time, will likely improve your mood, gives you some regular interaction, you may learn something new, and it may even lead to a full-time job.  Websites like VolunteerMatch.com and Serve.gov are good places to start, or simply identify organizations and businesses in your area that you would like to be involved with and contact them with your offer to volunteer time.

Leverage online learning. The Internet is overflowing with spectacular education resources that are very inexpensive or even free.  The problem? When we’re working it is very difficult to carve out the time to consume online learning.  One thing the Internet does great is port a traditional class into a video format which allows you to “attend” from your own home and on your own time.  For IT and management professionals, GogoTraining is an excellent provider of IT training courses taught by industry experts at rates that are a fraction of what most in-person instruction costs (and even beats the price of online competitors for the quality).

Unemployment can be a challenging time.  Take advantage of these ways to stay up on your skills.  Your career (and mind) will thank you!

Follow the Money by Training in Priority Areas

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011

In a recent survey regarding technology investment priorities, cloud computing hit the top.  Other highlighted areas include mobile, hardware, and business-process innovation.

Sixty-one percent of responding heads of IT focused on cloud computing which was a 10% lift from 2010.  Cloud computing continues to command increased attention from IT leadership as a catalyst for cutting costs, increasing efficiency and more.  The pursuit of the cloud is also transforming the role of key IT personnel in their organization, shifting emphasis toward resource management, business process and business intelligence and away from the more operational aspects of technology.

Mobile continues to appear on the scope of IT leaders.  Finding ways to apply the fruits of a recent explosion of mobile device innovation is the focus here.  IT departments are receiving or generating their own mandates to employ tablets and smartphones in ways that push beyond simple interaction.  In particular, the advent of tablets has inspired fresh thinking of how to empower human resources in the field of a variety of industries.  Intense effort being poured into mobile platform development for iOS, Android, webOS and Windows Phone 7 provide a strong backbone for this emerging field.

Newcomers to the IT field and experienced personnel looking to maintain their edge (and employability!) are increasingly seeking training in key fields.  Virtualization is a key aspect of cloud computing and is seeing expanded training opportunities.  Acquiring mobile development skills is another area of focus with Android programming the latest to emerge as a viable platform.

Expensive training options and “$99” courses that claim to equip one with a new skill set continue to populate the market.  GogoTraining, leading provider of IT and management training, continues to put forth effective and affordable training for the latest areas of pursuit.  VMware training and the Android Development Training Program are but two of a wide range of training opportunities that exist in the GogoTraining IT training course catalog.

Find what will benefit you the most and pursue it today!  These job markets are only beginning to open up and early adopters will – as usual – be positioned the best.

New Partnership Creates Viable Fourth Platform for Mobile Developers

Monday, 28 March, 2011

In the recently announced partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, the mobile device manufacturer will be adopting Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform as the foundation for new smartphones and mobile devices.  The result of the partnership will be to put Windows Phone 7 on a solid footing to take share from the mobile device platform market, with Android and iOS currently commanding leads and HP having recently announced their upcoming entry riding on webOS.

The main news for developers is to look for Windows Phone 7 being a fourth and new important market.  Both Windows Phone 7 and the re-entry of webOS (after its days with Palm) constitute fresh development territory where it comes to applications.  Windows Phone 7 was only released late Fall of 2010 and according to NPD Group the platform obtained 2% of the smartphone market in the U.S. two months after release.

The Windows Phone Marketplace (Microsoft’s app store) offers 10 million songs sold in several ways, but only boasts around 11,000 apps so far (compared to hundreds of thousands for Android and iOS).  This is similar to the early-stage number of apps available for webOS.

Windows Phone 7 applications are based on XNA or a particular WP7 version of Microsoft’s Silverlight platform.  Microsoft makes Visual Studio 2010 Express and Expression Blend for Windows Phone for  phone app development.

Android and iOS will both have to work harder now with HP announcing their enterprise-wide effort to lean into the mobile platform market with webOS.  Microsoft’s Windows 7 was a moderate threat due to their history with Zune, first assuring the community they were very much behind it and then subsequently dropping the project altogether.  The partnership with Nokia puts Microsoft firmly in the arena with a highly-motivated partner and a lot of added global sales and marketing teeth. 

Microsoft mentioned in their press release regarding the partnership announcement that the mobile market is now a “three-horse race,” however that was before HP made their intentions publicly clear with webOS. Make that four horses, Microsoft.  We already predict the winners will be mobile developers and mobile device consumers.

For developers, a great way to enter mobile device app development is through IT training courses with GogoTraining.  In particular, the Android Developer Training Program is cost-effective and highly effective.

How to Spend Hundreds to Save Millions

Friday, 25 March, 2011

Most businesses do not appreciate network uptime until it is down.  Few people realize how much loss can occur when the network or servers are not operating correctly until they see entire departments of people idle and searching for something to fill their time while repairs are put into effect.

CDW took a look at the problem in a survey run last year and released recently.  In their 2010 CDW Business Continuity Straw Poll, CDW asked 7,099 IT managers about uptime and 1,794 reported they had experienced a network disruption of more than four hours since July 2009.  The survey was closed after obtaining 200 completed responses from SMB’s with over 100 employees.

Two major take-away points from the report:

  • From the 25% of the initial set that suffered significant outage and the average number of days business was closed due to such circumstances, CDW estimated these cost roughly $1.7 billion in lost profits last year.
  • 82% of the most significant outages could have been avoided by enacting measures found in any comprehensive business continuity/disaster recovery plan.

Enter ITIL, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library.  ITIL is concerned with best practices surrounding the management of information technology.  As a certification path, it starts out with the Foundations level which establishes, well, a foundation of BP understanding and an important overview of the landscape.

From there, important information technology service management (ITSM) issues are covered at the Intermediate level.  One of them is the ITIL Planning, Protection and Optimization course which covers such mission-critical subjects as capacity management, availability management, IT service continuity management, information security management and demand management.  Sound familiar?  Probably because these are the things that would have saved those 1,794 IT manager’s.

More to the point, these are the things that would have saved $1.7 billion of loss last year.  Considering the cost of obtaining ITIL certification in order to implement these management best practices, the business case is more than established.

On top of it, ITIL training doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.  Travel and in-person expenses are easily saved through providers like GogoTraining, an APMG ITIL authorized training organization (ATO), who delivers online, self-paced ITIL v3 certification training courses.  Due to a unique business model and the savings afforded with online delivery, GogoTraining courses are among the most affordable on the market (online courses are in the low hundreds!).  For ITIL, you can get the ITIL v3 Foundation for $448 (two courses on a buy-one-get-one package) and then enough Intermediate courses to fulfill the credit requirement to sit for Intermediate certification, all for mere hundreds of dollars.  To save hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars?  There isn’t much to argue on that point. 

If your business has not considered the potential of downtime and the impact to the bottom line, a great way to start would be to obtain ITIL certification in order to put in place IT management best practices to avoid them in the first place.

3 Most-Wanted Oracle Certifications in 2011

Tuesday, 22 March, 2011

The Oracle Certification blog ran a poll to find out what certifications people “intend to pursue in 2011” and the results held a few items of interest.

The results:

  • 58% plan to pursue database certification.
  • 35% plan to pursue Java certification.
  • 29% plan to pursue PL/SQL.
  • Almost 7% intend to pursue Solaris certification.

That Oracle DBA certifications were on top is no surprise as that has always been Oracle’s big deal.  While nobody expected Solaris to rank high it does seem to be somewhat lower.  Java certification certainly looks strong and shows a good addition to Oracle’s suite of professional IT certifications.  So the top three truly most sought-after certifications are for database, Java and PL/SQL (really a subset of the DBA certification list).

Learn more about training for Oracle database certifications.  GogoTraining also offers outstanding Java training courses along with a host of other technologies in the online IT training course catalog.

HP, Oracle to Enter Competitive Mobile OS Market

Friday, 18 March, 2011

The mobile device operating system space has continued a long, drawn-out explosion of innovation due to the battle of Apple’s iOS and upstart Android from Google.  Especially after Android recently unseated Symbian as the top smartphone OS, that space has seemed entirely taken up by the two combatants who have been pushing the envelope of development and seemingly leaving no breathing space for a newcomer to get a word in edgewise.  Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 has seen delays getting to market and industry pundits are taking a “wait and see” position regarding the ability of the fine people in Redmond to develop meaningful market share.

Move over, says HP and Oracle.

HP recently announced several things they have set their sights on, specifically their intention to become a major cloud computing source and also to enter the mobile device field with their HP webOS which they acquired with their purchase of Palm in 2010.  HP has already introduced two smartphones to release this spring, the HP Veer and HP pre which are to release with HP webOS 2.2.

The bigger deal is the entrance into the tablet arena with the 9.7-inch HP TouchPad which will run on webOS 3.0 and is rumored to release in June for around $499 with a complement of features meant to compete with the iPad 2.  A 7-inch tablet nicknamed the Opal is also rumored for a September release date, in time to hit the holiday season.

Perhaps even more significantly, HP also announced they intend to ship all HP computers with the HP webOS on board starting in 2012.  HP CEO Leo Apotheker has indicated this is a bid to inspire developers to develop apps that will enhance and differentiate HP computers.  Developers have created well over 300,000 applications for Apple devices and over 250,000 for Android. According to HP, their webOS only has a field of 6,000 apps. If you’re an app developers, this is good news.

Oracle’s recent ownership of Java has meant a number of questions coming from the long-lived development community, a few more of which were answered recently.  Java ME is the version built for running devices that languished due to lower priority while under Sun’s wing.  Oracle is interested in turning that around.

Two key overtures occurred recently.  First, Oracle’s now much-publicized lawsuits and threats against Android with claims that the breakaway OS contains illegally copied sets of Oracle code.  In general, software giants only get into legal tussles for two reasons: to protect their IP (very legitimate) and to protect a market position they are working on entering or maintaining.

Second would be comments at the Server Side Symposium in Las Vegas this month.  Adam Messinger, Oracle VP of Development for Fusion Middleware reminds us that Java ME is already installed on many devices which he says ship at a “tremendous rate.”  He says Oracle has recently had discussions about Java showing up on tablet devices and also plans are underway to empower developers more by improving Java ME with capabilities such as library changes, metadata, annotations and more.

Whether Oracle intends to establish Java ME as a branded entrant and competitor in the mobile device space or keep consuming market share from the shadows remains to be seen.  In similar fashion, whether HP is able to replicate the success in computers they’ve had into the software and OS space also remains to be seen.  One thing is certain about both players: they have the resources and vision required to be contenders and they intend to enter the space, and that space is about to get a little more crowded.

Check out GogoTraining’s online IT training course catalog for mobile computing training courses in Android and iOS.

Major Recruiting at AMD Focusing on Key IT Skills

Thursday, 17 March, 2011

AMD, the multinational semiconductor producer, is hiring over 1,000 IT professionals across their global operations in anticipation of the enterprise movement toward Cloud Computing.

The highest portion of new hires will be focused on design and verification and will be recruited at all AMD facilities including Boston, Orlando, California, Texas and in Canada.

Given AMD’s support of open-source software, engineers with Linux, C/C++, Ruby, and Java are going to be a focus of hiring on the software side.  In hardware, analog design engineers with backgrounds in electrical engineering, CISI and ASIC design abilities will be hired.

AMD plans to meet the new cloud market with software and hardware products and expects to leverage the same entrepreneurial ethos that has served them well in the past. Lance Phillips, Global Talent Acquisition Leader for AMD, defines this as, “candidates and employees who are good fit are those who like to work beyond typical boundaries and beyond a job description.”

GogoTraining has introductory and advanced courses in the majority of technologies being sought after by AMD and other large employers gearing up for the cloud (or just gearing up to compete in the emerging economy).  Check out the online IT training course catalog for more details.

The 4 Time-Tested Truths of Training

Wednesday, 16 March, 2011

Still not sure if training is right for you?  People often wonder which course to take or if it will even make a difference.  Truth be told, informing yourself and then following your instincts has often resulted in a win.  There are four truths about training that have been tested and validated by time that should put any wondering to rest.

Truth #1: Training will increase your value

There are a lot of studies available that show education of any sort will generally lift your value in the workplace.  There occasionally are some studies that show certain certifications may not be of direct financial value.  Often they are studying certifications in a technology that is being replaced or is otherwise becoming obsolete.

In general, we know that when employers see someone with certifications and education vs. someone without they will likely consider the person with education to be more credible on the knowledge front.  That gets moderated right away by the amount of hands-on experience; of two well-educated people, the one with more experience will be regarded as having more knowledge.  Many have used this to argue that education isn’t everything.  That might be true, but it misses what is a more important point.

The fact is that if you acquire education you will experience some lean years in the beginning but will emerge on the higher end of the value scale from that point forward.  Already have experience but slim on training?  Even better – training will take very little time and investment and will enhance your position very quickly.

Truth #2: You might actually learn something (gasp!)

There is so much time spent evaluating training from a financial value perspective that we easily lose perspective on the other value we obtain: knowledge.  If you think about it, if you taught yourself how to use some specific technology or platform then you may be a hands-on expert but you are likely missing a thing or two.  That last 5-10% you’re missing can often streamline your efficiency or enhance your productivity to a significant degree.  We all know that sort of performance pick-up could be the difference between a raise and even keeping your job in lean times (and that has financial value too!).

Truth #3: Training is arguably the best investment

Is it possible to lose money on education?  Sure, we’ve all met them.  People who obtained education in something they have no interest in are likely to have poor return over time.  Those who paid outrageous costs (like sitting for a $2,000 class when you can take the same class with GogoTraining for $248!) will have to spend much more time recuperating their investment (which itself is a risk by extending the amount of time required to obtain value).

Otherwise, education is arguably the strongest investment.  Why?  Unlike investing in property or gold, you cannot lose education.  As long as you are able to work, education continues to produce added income for you.  Technical education has to be taken more often as technologies and platforms rise then become obsolete, however they are taken in smaller pieces than a large, 4-year college degree.  Over time, an IT professional who consumes training consistently through the span of a career will likely spend the same or less than the cost of a full college degree – if they shop intelligently for their training and avoid overspending.

Truth #4: You may get a new, better idea

When people go to school they are introduced to new ideas. The system of obtaining a college degree is in fact designed to introduce a diverse spectrum of ideas to every student even if they enter the program knowing exactly what they want to do.

People who enter education programs very often change direction.  They encounter something new and subsequently develop a new idea on what they would like to do (or at least try).  These moments of discovery are energizing because they represent a genuine spark of curiosity and interest.  In short, they very often are the moment someone realizes something they would truly like to be involved in.  The value of that kind of realization is immeasurable.  This reason alone is worth the investment in education.

Instead of wondering whether training is right for you, spend time researching and deciding what technologies and skills you should be training for.  Spending time acquiring knowledge is time well spent, and that is universally true.

Check out GogoTraining for a great catalog of IT training courses and pick what fits you today.

Some Oracle Certification Costs to Rise in August

Tuesday, 15 March, 2011

Starting August 1, 2011, Oracle will introduce a new requirement for those seeking certification for Java Architect, Java Developer, Solaris System Administrator and Solaris Security Administrator.

Under the new qualification criteria, IT professionals will be required to attend hands-on training provided by approved, instructor-led courses.  According to the announcement on the Oracle education website, self-study courses on CD-ROM or recorded web courses do not meet the requirement.

The courses listed on the Oracle education website last from three to five days and cost roughly $2,000 to almost $4,000.  They must be taken through Oracle University Training Center, Oracle Authorized Education Center or Oracle Authorized Education Partner, Oracle Workforce Development, or Oracle Academy and approved programs.

From now through July 31, professionals can still get certified based on the current requirements.

Prime Time for IT Skill Education Based on IT Industry Activity

Monday, 14 March, 2011

Expanding activity and energy in the IT industry is indicating a good time for investing in IT skill education and certification.  Based on activity, the economic outlook in the industry and in general is much stronger than in recent years.  Early adopter of key skill sets are likely to see above-average career opportunities.

In 2010, mergers and acquisitions in the technology sector have picked up significantly over recent years which is signaling a return of confidence by technology companies.  Overall this bodes well for the economy as the disposition of the tech industry is often found to be a bellwether for the overall economy.

According to John Shea of Berkery Noyes, mergers and acquisitions indicate how people are viewing the economy 3-4 years in the future. Not only did activity rise but the prices paid were at pre-recession levels.  In 2010 there were 1,121 transactions in the software industry versus 819 in 2009.  Value of those deals was up over 100% as well.  Niche software, business software and infrastructure software saw the most activity, according to the Berkery Noyes report.

Increased M&A activity in the previous year coupled with renewed vigor in enterprise-level pursuit of significant projects such as entering Cloud Computing and enabling workforces with tablets and custom mobile apps are all indications of how investing in an information technology career – new or existing – is likely to provide positive returns over the coming years.

Interested in enhancing an existing IT skill or acquiring a new one? Check out GogoTraining’s online IT training course catalog.  From Oracle certification exam prep training to Android mobile development training program, there’s something for everyone.