WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter

WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of February 2012 Sponsored by: ManageEngine

Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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1. Are IT Pros Qualified to do the Job?

This month, Tom and I got a chance to go to Belgium for TechDays Europe 2012. We met some great people, learned a lot and had a good time. During the trip, I was able to slip away for a day and fly up to Denmark to visit with a friend I met through Facebook. She owns and shows dogs of the same breed as my three.

As we talked and got to know each other better, the conversation rolled around to what I do for a living and how I got started in the IT industry. She was surprised to learn that my background and training were in criminal justice and that Tom had been an M.D. before we decided to make a joint career switch back in the 1990s. She told me that in her country, it wasn't possible to do that - unless you went back to school all over again and got a degree in the new field. I explained to her that here, many people who work in technology have their degrees in totally unrelated disciplines, and some don't have degrees at all.

Later, Tom and I were talking about some of his conversations with the attendees at the conference. He mentioned that they seemed "more professional" than the typical IT pros he meets in the U.S. I couldn't help wondering whether that was because of more stringent training requirements in that part of the world.

The American IT industry has been, for the most part, unregulated. That's changing, but most of the regulatory requirements thus far have to do with how the technology is deployed/secured than with the qualifications of those who are deploying and securing it. There have been attempts by private companies and industry organizations to set standards for IT personnel, and certification exams have become the most popular way of documenting one's mastery of the various IT skill sets.

There are a myriad of different exam programs, some run by the makers of various software or hardware products (Microsoft, Cisco, RedHat, Oracle), others by non-vendor-specific organizations (ISC2, SANS, CompTIA). Passing the exams is one way to demonstrate a basic level of knowledge, but the true value of the exams is hotly debated. Those who have been in IT for a while will remember the scornful dismissal of "paper MCSEs" in the 1990s, when many got certified without knowing much about the subjects by memorizing so-called "brain dumps (cheat sheets composed by those who took the Microsoft certification exams and then posted everything they remembered about the questions on web sites).

Microsoft and other vendors addressed this by working to make their exams more difficult, focusing more on scenario based questions. Some, such as Cisco's CCIE, require actual hands-on lab work. Some, such as the CISSP, require years of verified job experience along with the ability to pass the tests. The problem is that the more difficult the tests are to pass, the more difficult they are to construct and administer, too. That means the cost goes up, to the point where many IT pros who might be able to pass them can't afford to sit for them. Thus many of the exams still make it relatively easy to cheat. And a recent survey done by Network World indicates that almost three fourths of IT pros who responded think test-takers are still using braindumps to pass the exams.

From time to time, there have been rumblings about requiring state licensing for networking professionals. After all, professionals such as doctors, lawyers and engineers must be licensed, and states also require licensing for many blue collar occupations such as plumbers, electricians and hairdressers. It's not a new idea; in the early 1990s some computer science groups were advocating government licensing of computer professionals. In this case, they were talking about software developers but the same arguments have been put forth regarding IT pros.

Some would argue, however, that requirements for licensing, certification or computer science degrees only serve to exclude some otherwise well qualified people from getting a job, and that employers should be able to hire whomever they want and set their own standards and requirements. Many of us have transferred skills learned in other fields to create successful careers in IT (e.g., Tom used the diagnostic skills from his training and experience as a physician to become expert at troubleshooting network problems, and I leveraged the investigative skills I developed as a police officer to become a network security professional).

I would be interested in hearing what you think. Should IT pros be required to hold degrees in a computer-related field? Should you have to have a government license to work as an IT professional? Do certifications really measure whether you're qualified to do the job, or is it just a money-making scam on the parts of vendors, trainers, and the authors and publishers of study guides? Send your opinions to dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

See you next month! - Deb

By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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Quote of the Month - Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. - Oscar Wilde
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month

Installing MDT 2010 in a Virtual Machine

Can you install MDT 2010 in a virtual machine and then use it to deploy Windows in your production environment? Yes! MDT doesn't care about the underlying hardware of the system, or whether the system is physical or virtual, as long as it's installed on a supported version of Windows. But there is one important thing you should be aware of before using this approach on your production network. If your virtual machine uses a dynamically expanding virtual hard drive (dynamic VHD file) then over time this VHD file can become bloated in size. The reason for this is that with MDT you may often be creating and deleting Windows images in your deployment share as the needs of your environment change. For this reason, it's best to use a fixed-size VHD instead of a dynamic VHD for the virtual machine in which you install MDT. Fixed VHD files have pre-allocated sizes and do not expand over time. Just be sure to create a fixed VHD that's large enough to accommodate all the Windows images you may decide to store within your deployment share.

For more administrator tips, go to WindowsNetworking.com/WindowsTips

5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month

Virtualization is where we're all going and it's where we want to put all of our workloads. However, if you want to put your domain controllers in a Hyper-V environment, there are some special considerations that you will need to keep in mind. The article: Things to consider when you host AD domain controllers in virtual hosting environments will help you with some of these. However, this article doesn't cover issues with time drift, so check out How to Configure Your Virtual Domain Controllers and Avoid Simple Mistakes with Resulting Big Problems.   

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6. Windows Networking Links of the Month

7. Ask Sgt. Deb

QUESTION:

Hey Deb,

I've been reading a lot about cloud computing and the impact that it's having now and what it's going to have in the future. I've always been in the Microsoft world and am in charge of most of the Microsoft technologies we have in our datacenter. I'm doing some long term career planning because of the cloud and I'm wondering what I should be thinking of five to ten years down the line. Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated! Thanks! Tomkin.

ANSWER:

Hi, Tomkin,

You're doing yourself a favor by thinking of these things now, because the pace of change in the IT professional's world is going to increase in the next few years and you don't want to get caught out in the cold. From what I've read of various analyst reports, there is expected to be a contraction in the traditional IT professional infrastructure and operations space of 50% to 75% in the next five years, primarily due to consolidations from cloud computing. In fact, your IT staff is going to have to compete with public cloud providers who will claim that they can provide the same infrastructure and operations services that you now provide, but at a lower cost.

While at first glance it might appear that the future for IT professionals is bleak, a closer reading of the studies indicate that IT pros who wish to stay in the business can remain viable if they uplevel their skills into architecture roles. Predictions are that, while the number of infrastructure and operations workers will shrink significantly over the next five years, most of those positions will morph into architectural roles, where you will work closely with business units to design service oriented solution architectures that solve specific and general business problems.

So, how do you get started? The good news is that this change isn't going to happen overnight, so you have time to plan and study the various architecture roles that are available and see which one best fits your personal preferences and skills sets. The first place to start might be to get the ITILv3 foundations training and certification. After that, you might want to investigate the IASA Foundations training (www.iasaglobal.org). After completing this training, you'll have a lot more insight into the world of system architecture and be in a good position to plot your long term course.

I also know that Microsoft is aware of these changes in their customer demographics, and will be publishing a lot of information in the area of infrastructure architecture and solution architecture so make sure to keep up with that! As for private cloud architecture, you might want to check out the Microsoft Private Cloud Solutions Hub over at www.technet.com/cloud/private-cloud to get started.

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TechGenix Sites

ISAserver.org
The No.1 Forefront TMG / UAG and ISA Server resource site.
MSExchange.org
The leading Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 / 2007 / 2003 resource site.
WindowSecurity.com
Network Security & Information Security resource for IT administrators.
VirtualizationAdmin.com
The essential Virtualization resource site for administrators.