The 10 most interesting IT and certification stories of 2016

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What IT news stories impacted you most in 2016?So 2016 was a fairly mundane year for technology and IT certification news. Oh sure, Yahoo! seemed(!) determined(!) to give away the personal information of every user they’ve ever had over the last 15 years. And Microsoft bought some new toy for $26 billion while demolishing and reconstructing its certification program.

Russia reportedly rekindled the Cold War because everything old becomes new again, like Nintendo’s Classic Mini NES, which sold approximately a gazillion units — or would have, if Nintendo had actually had the foresight to produce and distribute a gazillion units.

Oh, and apparently there was an election, possibly involving hacker-initiated fraud. You may have heard about that.

We sorted through the bin of stories, posts, and clips, and came up with a list of our top 10 noteworthy news stories concerning technology and IT certification in 2016.

10) The Top Five Tech Skills — Rinse, Repeat

At the end of the previous year (2015), the top five tech skills being touted for the new year were Information Security, Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Mobile App Development, and Big Data. These were also the big tech skills called out in 2014 — and if we were picking the hot skills for 2017, we’d be hard pressed to make a change. These five disciplines continue to receive the lion’s share of attention from businesses, governments at all levels, and schools from K-12 to colleges and universities. You could do far worse than to get trained in any of these areas.

9) Cisco goes Cyber Ops with a new cert and scholarships

In its early years, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification was solely about routing and switching. The networking giant has since diversified the CCNA portfolio with several different specializations, including the new CCNA Cyber Ops credential. Designed for IT security professionals working in a dedicated operations center, the CCNA Cyber Ops certification is earned by passing two brand new Cisco exams.

To sweeten the pot and bring more candidates into the security field, Cisco has dedicated $10 million for a new Global Cybersecurity Scholarship program.

8) Google Certifications

Google continued to strengthen its in-house certification program in 2016. Its credentials now include the Google Certified Associate for G-Suite Administrators, the Google AdWords certification, and the upcoming Google Certified Professional credentials for Data Engineers and Cloud Architects who are using the Google Cloud Platform — both of these certifications have beta exams in progress.

Google’s popular analytics software also has its own credential, in the form of the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) designation.

7) Microsoft Buys LinkedIn

You’ve probably wondered at some time or another how you would spend a cool $26 billion that’s burning a hole in your pocket. If you’re Microsoft, then you go down to the social network store and throw down 26 large to buy LinkedIn.

The “Facebook for working professionals,” LinkedIn debuted in 2003 and has since developed into the largest social network aimed at businesses and employment seekers. In June 2016, Microsoft announced its purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, making it the largest acquisition in the company’s history. Industry experts expect to see Microsoft integrate LinkedIn into its Office productivity suite, although exactly how remains to be seen.

6) Luxury Certification Boot Camp

If you could combine the grueling training regimen of an IT security boot camp with the first-class service experienced regularly by the upper class, you would have the Firebrand Max program. This luxury IT boot camp from Firebrand Training in the UK begins with your helicopter ride to a castle in the Scottish countryside, where you are put up in 5-star accommodations and assigned your own personal chef to create the optimal eating plan during your studies. Starting at £200,000, Firebrand Max is not for the cost conscious … but hey, why not try to get your supervisor to sign off on the expense form?

5) Intel Signals PC Slowdown

Mass layoffs are not unheard of in the tech industry; you practically aren’t considered to be an IT veteran until you’ve experienced your first outsourcing, right-sizing, or strategic reduction in workforce. But, one big industry layoff from this year served as a clear signal that we are living in a post-PC world.

In April, Intel announced its intention to layoff 12,000 employees, a staggering 11 percent of its global workforce. The world’s foremost chip maker has been struggling as the PC market continues to cool down from previous years of bullish growth. Intel will likely focus more of its efforts on high-end datacenter CPUs in coming years, and put less R&D into its consumer lineup of products.

4) Microsoft Makes Major Changes to its Certification Program

Microsoft has made regular updates to its training and certification program over the years, but 2016 saw the most significant changes to its program in some time. While other vendors have been diversifying their certification programs — Cisco comes to mind — Microsoft has gone the other direction and radically simplified its respected MCSE and MCSD expert credentials.

The number of MCSE/MCSD certifications has been reduced from almost a dozen to just five, and all previous MCSE/MCSD credentials are slated for retirement at the end of March 2017.

3) Samsung Galaxy Note Sev — KABOOM!

If you are old enough to remember the reference, you may have laughed when you heard a friend say that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was the Ford Pinto of smartphones.

It was supposed to be the Korean company’s greatest flagship smartphone to date. Instead, it became known as the device that started catching fire and exploding in frightening numbers worldwide, resulting in one of the most publicized product recalls in recent memory. Samsung has completely discontinued the phone, and is in the process of “bricking” all of the units out in the wild that owners haven’t returned under the recall.

2) Yahoo! Security! Blunders!

For an Internet company to have more egg on its face this year than Yahoo, would have required having offices built at the foot of Humpty Dumpty’s wall. In September, Yahoo confirmed that user data from 500 million user accounts had been stolen back in 2014. Earlier this month, news outlets reported Yahoo’s latest security breach in which user data from 1 billion accounts was compromised back in 2013.

Details of these breaches were not disclosed to Yahoo’s potential buyer Verizon, which has been kicking the tires and watching Yahoo’s fenders fall off since September. Yahoo’s $4.8 billion asking price is likely going to take a hit, if any deal takes place at all.

What IT news stories impacted you most in 2016?1) Russia Hacks the Vote

Did they or didn’t they? Even now, claims that Russia and its strongman leader Vladimir Putin conspired to interfere with the Nov. 8 U.S. election through a series of cyberattacks are being debated from the local tavern right up to the White House. Not surprisingly, the Kremlin is denying all allegations of wrongdoing, demanding that the outgoing Obama administration provide evidence to back its accusations.

There are many important, mostly unanswered questions surrounding this situation. If the claims are true, how many attacks were made, and what were the targets? Did any of these nefarious activities actually have a statistically relevant impact on election results? And where were Jack Ryan and James Bond during all of this?

And there you have it, the top ten technology and IT certification news stories of 2016. Here’s to less exploding phones and a thriving IT job market in 2017.

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Aaron Axline

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer and knowledge management specialist based in Edmonton, Canada. His work has appeared in titles from Que Publishing, and on many tech blogs and websites. His professional writing site is AaronAxline.blogspot.ca.

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