Welcome to CertMag’s Virtual Village, Population

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On an episode of “King of the Hill,” propane salesman extraordinaire Hank Hill gave his son Bobby the following advice about finding success in the working world: “Find what your niche is. That leads to riches.” Although it was a little tongue-in-cheek in the context, that little couplet accurately depicts the current state of information technology and IT certification, which are becoming more specialized around particular technologies and disciplines. Professionals in spheres like security and storage are not only making more money, but also securing their jobs.


To correspond with these IT industry changes, the CertMag.com Web site is launching 14 communities aimed at these assorted fields. These cyber-municipalities contain features, news, discussion boards, insider knowledge and other resources designed to inform as well as entertain readers in specific job roles. This column will serve as Certification Magazine’s link to these communities by providing a monthly roundup of highlights.


Career Development


The Career Development Community is designed for techies at all levels of skill, knowledge and experience, from students looking to break into the industry to veterans who want to enhance their capabilities. The first feature for this Certmag.com community covers a four-pronged strategy for moving up in the world of IT. The first of these deals with choosing a core skill set early on and resolving to be the very best at it. Author Patrick Von Schlag recommends picking a subject you’re really interested in, rather than what happens to be the most hyped at the time. Another suggestion he has is to build up your networking base. This can serve you in both job-hunting efforts and sharing of best practices. And the other two? Well, you’ll just have to go to www.certmag.com/careers to find out.


CRM & E-Commerce


As businesses become more virtual, customer relationship management and e-commerce applications have become more than just snazzy capabilities. They are now essential in most companies with any sort of online presence, as are the professionals who design and operate them. The CRM & E-Commerce Community kicks off with a feature about a vital skill in this area: marketing. The article explains how this knowledge can benefit professionals in these roles, and covers key promotional techniques, such as offering compelling case studies to clients. Check it out at www.certmag.com/crm.




As organizational databases in the private and public sectors grow to truly colossal dimensions, so does the demand for good database administrators. CertMag.com’s home for database professionals will include useful content like the current article from Carsten Pedersen, manager of MySQL’s certification program. He discusses how database certification helps companies reduce operating costs as well as improve database administrators’ aptitude. Pederson also goes over the role of the DBA in the enterprise. Although they usually design or aid in the creation of applications that go into making up the company’s IT infrastructure, DBAs also frequently serve as advisers for other developers because of the impact of databases on entire organizations. For more information, see www.certmag.com/database.


Help Desk & Support


Information technology can seem complex to outsiders, and when customers need things explained to them in terms they understand, they go to the help desk. The Help Desk & Support Community is designed for the folks who are always there for end users. In the inaugural feature, the Help Desk Institute’s Robert Last maintains that the help desk shouldn’t just dryly instruct its clients in IT processes. The most effective support services find ways to help end users help themselves. Last also details a multi-faceted approach to getting the most out of a self-support program. Get it all at www.certmag.com/helpdesk.




Generally speaking, information technology professionals have always been somewhat non-conformist. They don’t always assimilate, in appearance, work habits and philosophy, with the rest of the workforce. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.) Perhaps one of the best examples of this independent streak is the high number of outside contractors and consultants who go it alone professionally. Thus, the name of the community for this variety of IT worker is, appropriately enough, Independents. The opening article for this group examines the finer points of negotiating contracts with clients. These include preparation, professionalism and perspective, all of which are explained in greater detail at www.certmag.com/independents.


Program Management


The IT certification universe has come a long way since its earliest days, when it had a reputation—sometimes deservedly so—of being comprised of paper credentials that verified a candidate’s ability to get exam answers off of the Internet. Now, IT certification is as highly regarded as a college degree to some employers. A great deal of credit for this turnaround is due to the managers of these programs, who’ve utilized a variety of testing methods—simulation, practicum and more—to ensure the credentials have value for the industry. Subject-matter experts (SMEs) also deserve recognition for making the content as cutting edge and applicable as possible. This month, the Program Management Community explores the relationship between the certification managers and the SMEs. This overview of how to recruit and work with SMEs is available at www.certmag.com/programmanagement.


Project Management


Although it cuts across industries of all kinds, project management has become a key differentiator in the IT job market. Companies seek out professionals with skills and knowledge in this area because they know they can save time and money by finishing projects on time and under budget, with end results aligned to actual organizational objectives. The Project Management Community will offer readers an IT-focused site around this skill set. The first feature comes courtesy of popular Certification Magazine writer David Garrett, who delves into the 10 most common reasons behind project failures, which include poor budgeting and underestimating the amount of work. Want the rest? You’ll have to go to www.certmag.com/projectmanagement to get them.




It seems like it hardly needs to be said anymore, but at the risk of sounding like a skipping LP on an old record player, information security is booming. What’s more, jobs in this sphere are being created faster than qualified IT professionals can fill them. Show me a professional with a high-level security certification, and I’ll show you someone who has a considerable amount of options in the job market. Speaking of certs, in the first Security Community article on CertMag.com, Sanjay Bavisi and Sangeetha Thomas of the EC-Council, which offers the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential, explain the burgeoning practice of ethical hacking and how it’s helping organizations uncover vulnerabilities and figure out how to defend against threats. Read more at www.certmag.com/security.




In the Information Age, the significance of storage should be obvious. Where’s all that information going to go, after all? As data proliferates and space c

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