News & Notes for IT Professionals

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Microsoft, Novell Form Truce
Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc., a manufacturer of open-source software platforms such as Novell NetWare and SUSE Linux, recently announced a set of business and technical collaboration agreements to make Novell and Microsoft products more compatible.

The two companies also announced an agreement to provide each other’s customers with patent coverage for their respective products.

Under the agreements, which will be in place until at least 2012, Microsoft will buy $240 million of SUSE Linux certificates and dedicate $46 million to sales and marketing for the collaboration.

With this new model, customers will see improved interoperability and manageability between Windows and Linux. The two companies will create a joint research facility where Microsoft and Novell technical experts will build and test new software. Microsoft and Novell also will seek to make it easier for customers to manage mixed Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise environments.

Additionally, it will aim to allow OpenOffice and Microsoft Office system users to easily share documents and make translators available to improve interoperability between Open XML and OpenDocument formats.

In the weeks following the deal’s announcement, however, there were some indications the agreement between the two companies was somewhat strained. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made public comments asserting the deal proves Microsoft’s intellectual property does exist in Linux operating systems. Novell, in turn, issued an open letter to the Linux and open-source community, countering that the deal is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes on any of Microsoft’s intellectual property.

Discovery Rules for Electronic Records Streamlined
On Dec. 1, the 2006 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure amendments went into effect. These rules, which are published by the U.S. Supreme Court and then approved by Congress, have been revised only nine times since they were established in 1938. This 10th revision made changes in discovery rules that make it easier for courts and litigating parties to manage electronic records.

This affects organizations managing IT in a number of ways. First, it means that in the context of legal proceedings, organizations can produce evidence in their native electronic format. Second, it decrees that legal counsels are expected to have a reasonable understanding of the electronic evidence that exists within their organization and the cost to produce that electronically stored information. The third piece is the so-called “safe harbor” rule, which says that if organizations have a deletion process as part of their normal course of business, they will not be held accountable for deleting information in keeping with that process. For example, if a company has a policy of retaining its e-mail for five years, deleting e-mail in the sixth year, it cannot be held liable for deleting e-mail at that time.

According to a recently published white paper on the electronic discovery process published by research firm Enterprise Strategy Group, 91 percent of organizations with a workforce of more than 20,000 employees have been through an electronic discovery event involving e-mail in the past 12 months, and 46 percent have been through a general electronic discovery event over the same time period. These findings are based on interviews with 500 corporations conducted earlier this year.

Program updates




  • Apple will be adding two new exams for its Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) title this year. They will be the Mac OS X Server v10.4 Command Line Install and Configuration (#9L0-614) and the Mac OS 320 Network Account Management v10.4 (#9L0-615). The Command Line exam debuted in January, and the Network Account Management exam should follow in February. Objectives for the exams have not yet been released, but optional training is available. Previously, candidates choose among five different ACSA exams: Xsan Administration, Mac OS X Deployment 10.4, Directory Services Integration and Administration 10.4, Security Best Practices for Mac OS X, and Podcast and Streamed Internet Media Administration.
  • Hewlett-Packard added a new category of certification and renamed and regrouped several others. The new focus area, Hardware Support, offers titles related to hardware maintenance and repair, and it has been designed to simplify partner authorization for printer maintenance and support work. The company now offers one main level of certification, HP Accredited Platform Specialist, in which cert seekers can choose from several tracks. The company also reorganized its existing titles under five other categories: Systems Integration; Systems Development; Systems Administration, Sales and Presales.
  • Microsoft has announced some details of certification and training tracks for its upcoming software releases. The tracks will consist of one exam at the Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS) level that will focus on Vista skills, as well as one or two exams that focus on specific job roles at the new Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP or PRO) level. The first exam, now in beta testing, is called #70-620 TS: Windows Vista Client Configuration. The Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Enterprise Support track will be equivalent to the current MCDST, while another track, MCITP: Consumer Support, has no existing equivalent at Microsoft. This exam is called the #70-623 PRO: Supporting and Troubleshooting Applications on a Windows Vista Client for Consumer Support Technicians.



Pay for IT Certs Down, Noncertified Skills Up
According to the latest quarterly edition of the “Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index” report from IT workforce research firm Foote Partners, pay for IT certifications went down an average of 2 percent in value during the third quarter ending Oct. 1. This marked the largest quarterly decline recorded by the firm since 2004. Meanwhile, the report states pay for noncertified IT skills increased 1.4 percent on average for the quarter and 4.8 percent in the past six months, adding up to a 7 percent value increase over the last 12 months.

The report surveyed 55,000 IT executives and professionals, with 51 percent receiving some form of tech skills pay as part of their overall compensation, according to the survey.

Among noncertified IT skills, enterprise business applications, applications development tools and platforms and Web/e-commerce development skills continue to perform well, garnering 9 percent to 13 percent increases in value for the year ending Oct. 1, and 1.4 percent, 1.9 percent and 5.8 percent growth, respectively, for the third quarter.

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