Tuesday, 6 July 2010

New to IT? Some Certification Advice Offered

I have been having a conversation with a fellow that is currently interning with an IT company.

Here is my reply to him on the question of what to study and how to go about it.

Vi’s Question: For someone who is pursuing in the IT field, I have looking for advices (sic) to know what to look out for and what not to look out for. I also have my interest perk at the knowledge of CCIE. Do you have your CCIE? Would you recommend it worth pursuing that title?

Philip’s Answer:

I am pretty specialized into a niche that incorporates SBS 2008 and SMB based IT solutions.

The two most important indicators to clients and their confidence level in me and my company were the following:

  • Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist on SBS 2008 (relevant product to their business).
  • MPECS Inc. is a Microsoft Small Business Specialist designated company due to my MCTS as well as passing an online exam in the Microsoft Partner Portal.

What I am trying to tell you is that the efforts you put in should be twofold:

  1. Apply for and test on products that fit into a particular market niche.
    1. Don’t over certify on a lot of different products. Focus on a few that are relevant to a particular IT solution set or service set.
    2. See above for example as far as what I have done.
    3. CCIE will give you a foothold into the Enterprise but experience will play a vital part of landing a job or starting a business.
  2. Make sure you invest in some hardware that is relevant to the industry certification that you will pursue.

So, see about getting yourself a Dell pedestal or 2U server with an X3300 series Xeon and at least 16GB of RAM. Augment that with at least 4 15K SAS drives (probably 146GB) to set up in RAID 10. Then you can install the free Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 and virtualize any needed SBS, Windows Server 2008/R2, Exchange, etc. server products and configure them according to best practices.

I suggest staying away from any previous generation NetBurst CPU based servers as they may be 64bit capable, but they are inefficient in their power consumption relative to the processing power of the CPU by a large margin compared to the newer Xeon E5100+ or X3200+ CPU based servers.

It is not too difficult to gain access to Cisco equipment via government auctions and the like around here. The same may be true for area code ### if that is where you are located.

Have a look around job boards and specialty Cisco forums to see what the prospects are for obtaining a job or for information on fine tuning your training to better fit a placement after your internship finishes. The company you are interning at should have some good advice on the what/where/how to gain training, certification, and experience beyond your internship.

One thing that is not mentioned in this note to Vi, but comes to mind now, is the fact that our industry is always changing.

From new products coming down the pipe that will support in-house, in-house and Cloud blends, to pure Cloud based IT solutions we need to be on top of the changes so that we can provide the best solution for our clients.

This constant change is one of the things that I personally love about our industry. I never get tired of learning new things, and burning serious brain power on digging into a new solution or technology challenge.

Given the way things are changing in our industry all the time, we should _always_ be investing in our knowledge by training on new products, working with vendors and their hardware solutions, and of course getting to know our Cloud vendors and their products.

The changes coming down the pipe are game changers indeed. So much so that we need to make sure we have an understanding of what products and technologies to invest our training time into for the particular IT market niche we happen to reside in.

Otherwise we will be left behind in the dust. See Vlad for more info.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer

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