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Backup Now! Data Backup Planning & Execution

Backup Now! Data Backup Planning & Execution

“But I don’t want to back up now. I will do it tomorrow, I promise.”

Is there a soul alive who has created digital data who has not been exposed to the concept of data backup (redundancy) in case of that data vanishing?

It does not seem likely. Similar to insurance, no one wants to buy insurance (or even talk about it), but what could the consequences be if we don’t create a data backup when appropriate, and a catastrophe occurs?

Vanishing data could be caused by a disk drive crash, a malware attack, an electrical surge, a disk drive data capture such as with ransomware, and other miscellaneous actions like device theft. What about operating system (OS) and program files? Should they be backed up along with associated data files?

Digital data does not always refer to data created with computers or computer networks. Cameras, cell phones, smart TVs, DVRs, and a host of other electronic devices can be included in this conversation.

The dominant factor in redundancy preparation is almost always determined by the value of the digital data. Let’s consider some of the basic concepts of why backing up digital information should be considered. First, I hope this story sets the tone.

Floppy Disk Backup at ComputerLand

In 1983, I was working for ComputerLand, a retail computer store in Oklahoma City. During the 1980s, ComputerLand was the largest retail computer enterprise in the U.S. which showcased Apple and IBM personal computers as their anchor products.

A client of ours, a mail order company, burned completely to the ground. They were within a hair of completely losing their business, employees losing their jobs, and lives changing forever. However, someone had the foresight to have completed a backup of the entire company database on floppy disks and had secured it in their fire safe. The data remained intact during the burn.

Because they were a client, management offered (free of charge) to take that large stack of 5¼ inch floppy disks and restore them to a new 10 megabyte hard disk. For three days, all day long, many of us took turns restoring (inserting one disk, then another) their database back to a usable state using the PC DOS Restore utility – one 360K floppy disk at a time. A very slow process, but a business was saved!

Why is Having a Backup So Important?

Organizations (or anyone) who loses a whole building and everything in it, like in the 9/11 disaster or the Oklahoma City bombing, and do not have an off-site backup store, have a very high chance of losing their business.

Losing a business this way depends on more than one factor, including the type of business. For example, an ice cream store that loses data due to a lightning strike can open up their doors the next day and commence scooping ice cream again, without too much consternation.

But a financial institution or an online company where data availability is critical creates a much different circumstance if data is compromised at any level.

So what are the primary reasons to keep an accurate backup of business data?

Livelihood

The first concept, and perhaps the dominant one, is the concept of livelihood. Today’s business records are kept almost completely in digital format and stored locally and/or online. Data is produced and kept on just about every type of transaction imaginable. Losing just the right kind and amount of data can create a reduction or complete elimination of positions within any type of organization.

When data is lost, jobs can be lost, bills potentially may not be paid, and lives can be changed. A relatively simple task of backing up data to multiple locations can prevent many recovery challenges.

Legal

Next, is the concept of legality. Organizations that accumulate data under restrictions of legal authority must take extra caution when planning a data backup strategy. For example, losing financial or medical data due to carelessness or poor planning may have a cost of more than just data loss. Government watchdogs could be looming.

Going to court, paying for and defending yourself or your company, does not seem to be a highly productive activity for any person or organization. Legal issues can drain human and financial resources, as well as lower personal or corporate morale.

There is a reason why there are many underground and above ground secure data centers (also known as data backup storage centers or bunkers) scattered around the world. Many financial (and other) institutions send backup copies of their data to these secure data bunker centers. Backups are usually in the form of digital tape media. They can be delivered (overnight) to these centers after the day’s business activity ends and the backups are completed. Many organizations have dedicated “backup personnel” with the responsibility of seeing that their organizations’ redundancy process is completed in a timely manner.

Policy

The majority of organizations that produce data may not be under the constraints of legal or mandatory data redundancy. However, as a matter of policy they may incorporate programs to protect their data. This can include part of or all of the following: local tape drive backups, hard drive imaging (exact copy of the hard drive in use), R.A.I.D. (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), server imaging to remote locations, copying data files to offline hard disks or to optical media (CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Blu Ray), and a host of other partial procedures.

For Windows users, partial redundancies could include creating a Windows Recovery Drive, a copied backup of the Windows Registry, or using the Windows Restore Point feature. For Mac (Apple Macintosh) systems, Remote Disc, or Time Machine are built-in utilities for easy access. Linux and UNIX operating systems have a multitude of backup programs available. Many are open source and free; others may be unique to the specific Linux distribution, such as Ubuntu or Red Hat. A simple internet search will provide many hours of backup education.

Convenience

Convenience, or rather extreme inconvenience, is a minimum description if a dataset is lost and redundancy is non-existing. Really! Does this need much explanation? How inconvenient would it be to lose your livelihood, go to court, or explain to superiors or customers that their data is lost?

A data catastrophe, (i.e., a hard drive crash) is bad enough. But in IT (information technology) crash terms, convenience is having an identical and up-to-date dataset within close access and all that is needed is for a handy tech to install it and get the system up and running again within minutes! Redundancy planning and implementation can be acutely convenient compared to the alternative.

How to Backup Data

Tools available today for data backup and security are seemingly unlimited. Discussing the dozens of tools could take many books to break down the specific software and hardware options and how they relate to the multiple operating systems used by different organizations. Instead, here are some basic technologies popular today.

The first is not a specific technology, but is a key consideration – planning. Optimal data recovery depends on optimal planning.

Planning Ahead for Optimal Recovery

Optimal planning consists of understanding what backup technologies are available, how they are installed, their function, how they are maintained, the level of technical sophistication, the costs involved, and understanding the procedures used to restore lost datasets. It has been said that “no two computer networks are the same.” This means that perhaps no two data backup strategies would be the same even on very similar networks.

Components of a successful backup plan can consist of three major categories: operating system (OS) files, program files, and data files. As mentioned, data is the primary target – both for a backup strategy and for hackers. However, having intact OS and program files can eliminate hours of additional labor restoring a hard drive. They are not as critical because organizations have them either in their possession or have the licenses to be downloaded and reinstalled.

Are data the only backup targets? OS and program files will have to be reinstalled as well. In addition, they may have to be updated. Updating to the most recent versions of these files also has the potential of adding additional time to recovery. It is almost a certainty that in today’s internet climate, not updating OS and program files can lead to security risks and software operation glitches. Organizations may also want to create a backup security policy to protect these backups. Consider having a backup plan meeting to create a plan and get approval for it.

Redundancy Technologies

Copy & Paste

But what is a computer backup? You have probably already used the most common backup technique! The most common utility known for duplicating files for safekeeping is the copy feature offered by all common operating systems. While copy is not considered a formal backup strategy, it is widely used to create file redundancy. It’s quick and easy to use.

Windows graphical user interface (GUI) users know the copy command (Ctrl+C) as copy-n-paste or cut-n-paste. Other copy commands in Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, and PC-DOS operating systems are xcopy.exe and robocopy.exe. These are used from the command line and offer more features than the easy to use copy command. More complex data backup software is also available.

Many of the Linux distributions that have a GUI offer the copy and paste function. From the Linux command line, the cp utility can be used.

Mac users also have copy and paste functions. OS X offers both copy and paste and cut and paste functions. The copy and paste function can be done two ways: Command+C or Command+V, and using the mouse and the Option key.

Data Backup Chart

Backup Media

Backup media is not discussed in detail here. Backup media generally includes one or more of the following: magnetic tape systems, external or internal (to the computer) hard disk drives, USB (jump/thumb) drives, optical media such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, and Blu Ray, remote backup servers (computers located in another location such as across the room or in another city), or online secure data backup.

Full, Differential, Incremental vs. R.A.I.D.

Data backup strategies vary widely. Two common strategies than have been around since the 1970’s and 1980’s are full, differential, and incremental, as well as R.A.I.D. These are not strategies necessarily to be used in place of the other, but rather to be used with each other to help provide the most secure redundancy possible. Each strategy performs very different services and can be used with various kinds of data backup software.

Full Backup

The full strategy functions almost like it sounds. Although all strategies have software settings allowing customization, the full backup service is designed to fully backup “everything” on a hard disk drive. This includes all OS, program, and data files. Should a computer hard disk drive become unusable or stolen, the full strategy can be used to create an identical state of the hard disk drive at the moment the full backup strategy was completed.

The advantage of the full strategy is important. Only one file is created containing everything on the hard disk drive. All data, programs, OS and user settings are kept intact. Restore the file to a new or blank hard disk and everything should be exactly as the moment before the backup process began. It’s fairly easy to copy or distribute a single file to provide additional security for the backed up file.

Challenges also follow the full strategy. That one single file is often enormous in size. Depending on how much information is on a hard disk drive, it can take hours for the backup process to complete. It can also take hours for the file to reassemble on a new hard disk drive during the restore process. The backup file only contains data as of the date of backup. Any changes made since the backup are not included. Individual files are not accessible, meaning that to access any programs, folders, or files on the backed up media, the backup file would have to be restored first. This can be an inconvenience.

(Note: There are newer backup systems now available that do allow for individual folder and file access. Some of these newer systems also allow for an accelerated backup and restore process, saving time.)

Differential Backup

For backing up files that have changed since the last full backup, differential or incremental strategies can be used in conjunction with the full strategy. A differential is a type of backup that copies all the data that has changed since the last full backup.

A full/differential recovery would include restoring the last full backup first, and then the last differential backup performed. Differential file sizes would be much smaller, allowing for a quicker restore, at least on the differential restore. Again using this system, two files are used for restoring, the last full and the last differential.

The differential type of backup does not clear the archive bit. This means that the next time a differential backup is performed, it backs up everything that has changed since the last full backup. Previous differential files can be discarded.

Incremental Backup

A full/incremental strategy is also an option. With an incremental strategy, each backup captures all computer software changes since the last backup, usually an incremental backup. A completed incremental backup does clear the archive bit. This means that it closes out (completes) the backup process.

For example, a full backup on Friday, an incremental backup on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with a hard disk crash on the next Friday, means that restoring a hard disk drive up to date through the last Thursday, would mean restoring a total of five files (the last full, and the incremental backups for Monday through Thursday).

Backup and Restore Schedule Samples

Type

Backup #

FullDifferentialIncrementalRestore from DifferentialRestore from Incremental
Backup #1All dataLast FullLast Full
Backup #2All dataChanges from backup #1Changes from backup #1Backup #2
Backup #3All dataChanges from backup #1Changes from backup #2Backup #3
Backup #4All dataChanges from backup #1Changes from backup #3Backup #4
Backup #5All dataChanges from backup #1Changes from backup #4Backup #5Backup #5

Determining which system and desired frequency would be optimal to use for any given computer or network requires evaluating how the systems are used, the importance of timely recovery, and the volume of data to be restored. In addition, a hybrid of full, differential, and incremental can be implemented.

R.A.I.D. Backup

R.A.I.D. is another option that can be used on its own, or with any other data security strategy. R.A.I.D. is not a specific strategy, but offered in many different forms called levels. For example, some of the most popular levels are R.A.I.D.1, R.A.I.D.5, R.A.I.D.10.

R.A.I.D. usually requires more technical knowledge to install and implement. Computer BIOSes, microprocessors, PC motherboards, controller cards, and software knowledge is required before optimal R.A.I.D. implementations can be incorporated into PCs, servers, and networks.

The basic concept of R.A.I.D. is that multiple hard drives are installed into an array. When a hard drive (or hard drive controller chip) fails, one of two actions can take place, depending on the R.A.I.D. level. First, a duplicate hard drive could be immediately available because of a process called mirroring (an exact copy). The mirrored hard drive is instantly online and the users do not know that an error (crash) has occurred.

Another R.A.I.D. level might send an error message to the administrator that a crash has occurred. The administrator then can rebuild the lost data to a new hard drive using data stored on the remaining hard drives in the array. No data is lost, only a little time is required to get the system back up and running.

There are many variations of R.A.I.D. They vary on their own, and can vary on implementation depending on the OS supported. R.A.I.D. is a very popular concept, and is widely included in data redundancy.

Let’s Conclude

Much has been written about data security and is available in many places including online. However, like a regular Sunday sermon, we users need to be constantly reminded of securing our data before it becomes lost forever!

Whether you are a home user that has spent many hours scanning your family albums, a financial or medical organization, or anything in between, you can help prevent inconvenience, livelihood or legal consequences by protecting important data. Now is a great time to plan for a data loss emergency.

Perform a data backup now!

Do you love everything IT?

If you want to start or advance a career in IT, LeaderQuest can help! We offer 5-10 day courses with traditional instruction and hands-on labs designed to quickly get you ready for your certification exam. Our Career Services department works one-on-one with each student to help them prepare for the job hunt, and connect them with our local Employer Partners. You could be doing Data Backup for a company professionally!

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Born in Billings, MT, Gary attended the Oklahoma City University, the University of Central Oklahoma, The University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City Community College. His proudest accomplishments come from helping students connect with job placement contacts. He’s worked with companies like Dell, Purina, and many others to facilitate great jobs.

5 Powerful Reasons to Join the Tech Industry Now!

5 Powerful Reasons to Join the Tech Industry Now!

Have you been considering a career change? Nobody likes working a dead-end job with no chances for promotion or advancement, but it may not be your boss’s fault. Some industries, like manufacturing, have been stagnating in recent years as emerging markets generate more and more output. Other jobs, like customer service or food service positions just don’t offer lower level employees an easy way to climb the ladder. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A career in IT can provide great job security and advancement opportunities.

There’s never been a better time to make the switch to working in IT. Check out our five powerful reasons to join the tech industry, below!

1. The Average Annual Tech-Sector Wage is $112,890

Sure, Silicon Valley skews this stat a little bit high, but even if you leave California out of the equation the average wage is still $102,800! Entry-level positions won’t command this kind of salary, but it shows the salary potential for experienced workers in the industry. At an entry-level role like Computer Support Specialist, you can expect a median salary of $52,810 (BLS, 2017).

While many tech workers are salaried, there is a growing “gig economy” in the tech sector. For tech occupations the median hourly wage was $38.90, not bad! Gig workers can’t take advantage of benefits like health care, but they still command high wages.

2. Tech Unemployment is at a Rock Bottom 2.3%

For context, that’s nearly 70% less than the national unemployment rate of 3.9%. Nearly every industry has a need for tech workers, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. As more and more businesses go digital, get online or otherwise adopt 21st century technology to run better, there is a huge need for tech workers. If you’ve got tech skills and you’re not working, it shouldn’t be hard to find a job.

3. Huge Growth Potential of 11-12% by 2026

Considering that we’re in what historians call the “Information Age,” this should come as no surprise. Our economy’s focus has shifted from production of goods to the management of data and digital assets, and it shows in the kinds of jobs being added to the economy. The BLS reported growth rates of 11% for Computer Support Specialists, and 12% for Computer and Information Systems Managers from 2016-2026. Compare this to the national average of 7% growth and it’s not hard to see that tech is on the rise! In 2016 alone, the tech industry added 200,000 new jobs to the economy.

While mining and manufacturing continue to decline in their share of the economy and the number of jobs they create, the tech industry is going in the opposite direction. Of course, not every sector of the tech industry is growing at the same rate. Since 2010, the IT services and custom software services category powered job growth, accounting for 67 percent of job gains.

4. Predicted Shortage of Over One Million IT and Cyber Security Positions in the U.S. by 2026

If you think that the need for workers in this sector is powerful now, wait until you see what the future has in stock! According to CompTIA Cyberstates, “When factoring in the need to replace retiring or career-change workers, the total potential tech workforce need will exceed 1.2 million through 2026.“

Part of this need is driven by the expanding role of tech in other industries, but the increasing need for cyber security is also a huge factor. As fast as tech has grown over the last twenty years, we are only just beginning to understand the need for strong security measures for our networks and data. With every passing year, protecting our voting systems, financial infrastructure, and communications networks becomes more and more important. The US government has made its commitment to cyber security clear with Directive 8570/8140, and American businesses are making their commitment clear with more job roles and increased spending on security.

5. Tech Workers are Needed in Nearly Every Industry

According to the Cyberstates 2017 report, over half (56%) of technology professionals are employed at companies not in the tech industry. Nearly every modern company needs to use computers, the internet, data storage and more. To manage and secure these devices and networks, companies from nearly every industry are hiring IT positions.

This is great news for workers with tech skills because it means that you can move anywhere and know you’ll be able to find a great job. It also helps ensure excellent job security, because there are so many jobs for tech workers in so many different industries.

Are You Interested in Information Technology?

Making the transition to a tech career could be easier than you think. While a degree in Computer Science or a similar discipline can be very helpful, skills are more important than diplomas for most hiring managers. IT certifications can prove your skills and offer a faster route to skills competency and entry level positions.

LeaderQuest offers accelerated training courses that can give you the skills and hands-on experience you need to pass your certification exams and excel at a new job. Our courses generally take 5 days or 10 nights and are taught by industry-expert instructors that can answer your questions and help you work through the material. With a mix of lecture and lab, you’ll gain the confidence you need to secure a new position and start a brand new career in a thriving industry,

If you’re interested in learning more about accelerated IT training, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’ll schedule a time for you to meet with one of our expert Career Training Counselors and see if a career in IT could be right for you.

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How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

How Can the CompTIA A+ Certification Jump-Start Your IT Career?

Today, we are living in a digital economy. Every business can see that technology has become a critical part of their current operations and their future success, and leadership is pushing for digital transformation. In order to remain competitive, companies know they must invest in IT. This includes everything from the computers that workers use every day, to the networks they communicate with the internet over, to data storage, to cloud computing, and more.

CompTIA A+ is the industry standard for launching IT careers into today’s digital world. Why? Because it’s performance-based, trusted by employers, regularly re-invented by IT experts, and offers a complete skills development solution.

Getting your CompTIA A+ certification will enable you to join this digital revolution and ensure a competitive salary and great job security. Read on to learn about why A+ is so powerful and what you’ll learn.

What Makes the A+ Certification Valuable?

CompTIA A+ vendor-neutral certification is the preferred qualifying credential for technical support and IT operational roles. A+ demonstrates comprehension of hardware, software, operating systems, system troubleshooting, technology repair, networking, mobility, security and operational procedures.

  • Directive 8140/8570: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recognizes CompTIA A+ certification for information assurance technicians under DoD Directive 8140/8570.
  • Mapped to NICE: CompTIA A+ maps to the Customer Service and Technical Support specialty area of the framework developed as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).
  • Highly In Demand: CompTIA A+ ranked 7th in U.S. job listings showing the certification is required or recommended for potential candidates. (Source: CompTIA IT Employment Snapshot, Q4 2017)

If you want to learn more about this certification, download CompTIA’s A+ Certification Guide.

Targeted Job Roles

The A+ certification is ideal for those looking to get started in the Information Technology industry. It was created to certify that readiness and skills for job roles such as Service Desk Analyst, Field Service Tech, Help Desk Tech, and IT Support Specialist.

Employers look for candidates with their A+ certification because it helps them know they’re making a great hiring decision. Being able to pass the exam is a form of 3rd party skills verification that gives hiring mangers confidence that this hire will be able to do the job and do it right. In fact, 96% of HR managers use IT certifications as screening or hiring criteria during recruitment!

What Does the A+ Certification Cover?

This in-depth certification covers the most important basics of the IT industry: security, infrastructure and hardware, networking, operations, operating systems, software and troubleshooting. For a more in-depth look at what you could learn, read through the exam objectives below.

Security

Tech support teams face a growing challenge to accurately triage a flood of security issues.

  • Physical and logical security
  • Social engineering
  • Malware detection and removal
  • Device hardening
  • Biometric authentication
  • Privacy concerns, including GDPR and handling PII

Security Objectives

  • Summarize the importance of physical security measures.
  • Compare and contrast wireless security protocols and authentication methods.
  • Given a scenario, detect, remove, and prevent malware using appropriate tools and methods.
  • Given a scenario, implement security best practices to secure a workstation.

Infrastructure & Hardware

Connectivity is the lifeblood of productivity. Troubleshooting device connectivity issues are table stakes for IT support professionals.

  • Cloud and virtualization
  • IoT devices and protocols
  • Internet appliances, including endpoint management
  • Different network types, including wireless mesh networks

Mobile Devices Objectives

  • Given a scenario, install and configure laptop hardware and components.
  • Given a scenario, install components within the display of a laptop.
  • Given a scenario, connect and configure accessories and ports of other mobile devices.
  • Given a scenario, configure basic mobile device network connectivity and application support.

Networking Objectives

  • Compare and contrast TCP and UDP ports, protocols, and their purposes.
  • Compare and contrast common networking hardware devices. (Routers, switches, access points, firewalls, bubs, repeaters, etc)
  • Given a scenario, install and configure a basic wired/wireless SOHO network.
  • Compare and contrast wireless networking protocols.

Hardware Objectives

  • Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.
  • Given a scenario, select and configure appropriate components for a custom PC configuration to meet customer specifications or needs.
  • Given a scenario, install and configure motherboards, CPUs, and add-on cards.
  • Given a scenario, select, install and configure storage devices.

Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, use the best practice methodology to resolve problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot problems related to motherboards, RAM, CPUs, and power.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot common wired and wireless network problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot hard drives and RAID arrays.

Operations

As the systems that users connect with increase in both number and variety, the definition of competency for an entry level IT support pros has expanded.

  • Scripting, Python, Bash, Javascript
  • Working with log files
  • Knowledgebase best practices
  • Change management
  • Basic disaster prevention and recovery
  • Using remote access

Operational Procedures Objectives

  • Compare and contrast best practices associated with types of documentation.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic change management best practices.
  • Given a scenario, implement basic disaster prevention and recovery methods.
  • Explain the processes for addressing prohibited content/activity, and privacy, licensing, and policy concepts.

Software

Hardware knowledge underpins tech support competency, but the day-to-day requires software expertise.

  • Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Mac OS
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Hypervisors
  • iCloud, Exchange, Google Inbox
  • Active Directory

Operating Systems Objectives

  • Compare and contrast common operating system types and their purposes.
  • Summarize general OS installation considerations and upgrade methods.
  • Given a scenario, use appropriate Microsoft command line tools.
  • Given a scenario, configure Microsoft Windows networking on client/desktop.

Software Troubleshooting Objectives

  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot Microsoft Windows OS problems.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot and resolve PC security issues.
  • Given a scenario, use best practice procedures for malware removal.
  • Given a scenario, troubleshoot mobile OS and application issues.

Are you interested in IT training?

Does the idea of installing and configuring motherboards make you grin? Do you want to learn the ins-and-outs of running virtual machines? A career in IT could be the perfect choice for you. If you enjoy working with your hands, fixing broken things, and understanding the latest technology, consider giving IT a chance.

LeaderQuest can help you get the training you need to get hired in IT. Our training courses take 5-10 days to complete and are taught by instructors with years of industry experience. We include hands-on labs in every course so that you’ll have the skills you need to excel. Finally, we offer one-on-one career services to help you with your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, interview skills and more. We’ll even connect you with local IT employers that are looking to hire.

So what’s stopping you? Your IT career is waiting for you!

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What is ITIL V3 Foundation and Why Do You Need It?

What is ITIL V3 Foundation and Why Do You Need It?

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is one of the most commonly requested certifications for IT support staff. For those looking to start a career in IT, this certification is an important addition to their resume. LeaderQuest offers a 5-day ITIL course that will teach you everything you need to know to pass the exam and get certified, even if you don’t have any IT experience.

This blog will cover what ITIL is, why it’s important for a career in IT, and how it doesn’t just apply to support roles.

What is ITIL?

ITIL is a framework for best practices for delivering IT services. In the 1980’s, the British government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) started collecting best practices in an effort to reduce inefficiency and standardize IT processes. The library eventually included 30 volumes, collected from all over the world. These volumes covered a variety of best practices, including ones from technology vendors all over the world.

In 2000, ITIL V2 was released. This revision of the ITIL reduced the number of volumes to just 7, each focusing on a different part of IT service management:

  • Service Support
  • Service Delivery
  • Planning to Implement Service Management
  • ICT Infrastructure Management
  • Applications Management
  • Security Management
  • The Business Perspective

In 2005 the ITIL was again consolidated, this time to just 5 volumes. In 2011, ITIL V3 was released by AXELOS, a joint venture of Her Majesty’s Cabinet Office and Capita PLC. V3 is the most current version of ITIL, and the version that LeaderQuest offers training on.

ITIL Foundation is the first of five certifications offered by AXELOS:

  • Foundation Level
  • Practitioner Level
  • Intermediate Level
  • Expert Level
  • Master Level

What makes ITIL V3 different?

In general, V2 was more focused on process, while V3 is more focused on business integration and a holistic service lifecycle for continuous improvement.

While V2 was very process-focused, V3 is more service oriented. V3 introduced the lifecycle approach to service management. V2 had a linear structure from business to infrastructure, whereas V3 offers a hub-and-spoke structure that enables flexibility. V3 also roughly doubles the size of the library that composes ITIL. While V2 did little to help IT service management professionals to clearly articulate the benefits of professional service management, V3 uses clearly defined roles and responsibilities through the entire lifecycle.

Finally, while V2 was more focused on “what” should be done and why, V3 has more practical focus on “how” one should go about doing it. V3 aligns much much better with the needs of modern businesses and their focus on seeing real results, instead of focusing on theory.

Benefits of ITIL and PMP

If you’re interested in doing project management for an online company or any business that has strong IT needs, this is a powerful combination. ITIL Foundation will give you a deep understanding of the processes and framework for IT service management, which will help you plan your projects in a way that works efficiently with those teams. When it comes to getting hired, this combination can put you on the top of the stack with the right kind of companies.

The PMP certification is the most important industry-recognized certification for IT project managers. Globally recognized and demanded, the PMP certification demonstrates that students have the experience, education, and competency to lead and direct projects. PMP is an ideal certification for project managers, project team members, functional managers, and others involved in the planning, implementation, and control of projects. If you are looking to solidify skills, stand out to employers and maximize earning potential, this certification is for you!

ITIL is also an important certification if you’re interested in going into management. By understanding the terminology, processes, and service management cycle, your ability manage IT teams with efficiency and confidence will be greatly increased. ITIL gives you a foundation to create best-practices through the latest tools and techniques available.

LeaderQuest offers these two certifications as a package in our Senior Technology Project Manager program.

Senior Technology Project Manager

Benefits of ITIL and CISSP

For those who are interested in going into IT security, ITIL is the perfect certification to combine with other more cyber security-focused certs. If you want to make sure that systems and networks are secure, it’s important to understand the processes that are used to create and maintain those systems.

Because CISSP has a focus on management, ITIL and CISSP are a great combination. It’s vital to understand the business front to back, soup to nuts, and IT infrastructure is an important part of how any business operates. ITIL will assist you in coordinating with all levels of IT efficiently.

Hands-On ITIL Training at LeaderQuest

We know how hard studying new concepts can be when you don’t have any IT experience. That’s why we custom-built our ITIL curriculum to empower career changers to master these concepts quickly and start a career in IT with confidence. An important component of our curriculum is a case study that we adapted for use. You can read all about it here.

Are you ready to start your IT career?

If you are thinking about getting into IT but have no experience, ITIL is the perfect place to start. Combining ITIL with the power of other certifications my seem daunting at first, but when you get started with LeaderQuest you’ll find that this training is designed for people just like you.

The truth is, you really only need a few key certifications to get started in the IT industry. Our Computer User Support Specialist track combines ITIL, A+, Net+ and Security+ to give you a strong foundation for career growth. After a few years working in the industry, you can use this as a base to grow into cyber security with certs like CEH, CND or CISSP. Or you can get into networking and infrastructure with CCNA. If you’d rather be in management, you can get your PMP and easily find work anywhere in the world.

If you’re ready to get started, consider LeaderQuest. We offer short-term training designed to get you skilled up and on the job market in as little time as possible. The Computer User Support Specialist program takes about two months to make you job ready, including instruction and time to take your exams. All of our courses are taught by live, industry-expert instructors, and LeaderQuest even covers the cost of one certification attempt per course.

Once you’re certified, our Career Services team will meet with you to optimize your resume, improve your LinkedIn profile and online presence, and help you prepare to interview for IT roles. We have connections with local IT employers, and can get your resume in front of their hiring managers. It’s our goal that every LeaderQuest graduate get connected with a great IT job, and our Career Services team is here to make sure that happens!

So what are you waiting for?

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Hands-on Experience with ITSM: An ITIL Case Study

Hands-on Experience with ITSM: An ITIL Case Study

When you’re learning a new skill, it’s important to get hands-on experience to make sure you really understand it. For classes like CompTIA A+, that means getting experience working with computer components and building working machines. But for other classes, like ITIL, it can be difficult to gain practical experience.

The official ITIL v3 Framework syllabus doesn’t contain a case study or ways of applying ITIL skills hands on. While this isn’t a stumbling block for experienced IT professionals with years of experience in the field, newcomers are another case altogether. For example, many of our students at LeaderQuest are new to IT, and in need of formal experience. It’s crucial they understand not just the ITIL, but also how to apply it.

To solve this problem, and better equip our graduates for working in the industry, LeaderQuest instructor Richard Petti adapted a case study designed for the Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) certificate to be used in our ITIL Foundation class.

Here is the case study, how we worked with it, and how newcomers seeking ITIL experience got what they needed.

Real-Life IT Application: The Banking Case Study

The seven-page case study is easy to read and understand. It takes one bank that is working on the challenge of becoming an interactional business. Through it, students were able to dig into the question of what ITIL looks like when it’s actually running in a company.

The case study covers the bank’s background, services, company structure, corporate vision/business strategy, challenges issues/risks, IT structure, IT infrastructure, IT services, and it’s overall IT service management (ITSM) situation. The ITSM includes 5 components, which are broken down and analyzed piece by piece:

  • Service Strategy
    • Strategy Management for IT Services
    • Service Portfolio Management
    • Financial Management for IT Services
    • Business Relationship Management
    • Demand Management
  • Service Design
    • Design Coordination
    • Service Catalogue Management
    • Service Level Management
    • Supplier Management
    • Availability Management
    • Capacity Management
    • IT Service Continuity Management
    • Information Security Management
  • Service Transition
    • Transition Planning & Support
    • Change Management
    • Service Asset & Configuration Management
    • Release Management
    • Service Validation & Testing
    • Change Evaluation
    • Knowledge Management
  • Service Operation
    • Processes
      • Event Management
      • Incident Management
      • Request Fulfillment
      • Problem Management
      • Access Management
    • Functions
      • Service Desk
      • Technical Management
      • Application Management
      • Operations Management
  • Continual Service Improvement
    • CSI Approach
    • 7-Step Improvement Process

Practical Experience in Class

Richard used this case study to create five exercises for the class. In each exercise, students broke into groups to analyze one aspect of the case study and how it related to ITIL’s framework for IT Service Management. Students completed a worksheet that analyzed the IT service elements, and then come back together as a class to compare notes and fill in any gaps.

These exercises provided a break from the more traditional instruction parts of the class and enabled students to explore the implementation of what they’ve been learning. Hands-on experience helped students increase their understanding of IT as a business for interviews and job readiness.

At LeaderQuest, we understand that many of our students have little to no IT experience. We go the extra mile to ensure that they understand the material, pass the ITIL certification exam, and have all the skills they need to perform well in their new job role after graduation. No other IT training company provides the kind of hands-on experience that LeaderQuest offers at all levels of study. Hands-on training is just one part of the package that we offer to help prepare those with little or no IT experience get hired in IT.

Get Trained & Get Experience With ITIL!

Do you want a chance to start your career in IT? Our hands-on IT certification training will give you the skills you need to get hired in this growing industry! Each course is 5-10 days with a focus on an important certification that can help you find employment in your field.

To make getting certified easy, LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per course and hires instructors with years of industry experience who know the exam inside and out. If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, IT training could be right for you. Get a job you LOVE!

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About Richard Petti

Richard has attained every ITIL v2, v3, & 2011E certification, including ITIL Expert, Practitioner, and Service Manager. He brings 13 years of teaching ITIL to LeaderQuest to help our students excel.

Richard is an an executive level ITSM/ITIL certified service/support manager and trainer, a conference speaker, and consultant with international experience. He has managed consumer support, sales, customer service, and technical service/support groups in call centers, as well as facility and HR departments.

Richard has consulted and trained IT executives, directors, managers, and service/support personnel in North America, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East. During that time he has developed new business, education, service, and support processes. He has also performed operations and process assessments and then proposed strategic road maps to accomplish his clients’ process improvement objectives.

10 Pros and Cons of Working for a Defense Contractor

10 Pros and Cons of Working for a Defense Contractor

Have you considered working for a defense contractor? Some of the largest defense contractors in the world are located in the United States! There are a lot of benefits to working in this industry, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. Below, we take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of private defense contractor jobs so that you can make a decision with all of the information you need.

Pros

1. Great Pay

Because of Directive 8570 (and 8140), those who work with secure information need certain baseline certifications such as Security+ to even start working. That means that defense contractors need these certified individuals to meet the requirements of their contracts, and they’re willing to pay top dollar for this kind of talent. It pays to get certified!

In fact, contractors with a security clearance earned $15,000 more than their government coworkers on average. And demand for these workers is only increasing as the US comes to terms with the dangers of cyber warfare and a crippling cyber security talent shortage. Your defense contractor salary could easily be as much as $109,250 for a Network Security Administrator, but even entry level defense contractor jobs can pay handsomely.

2. Good Education Benefits

Many defense contractors provide ample education benefits to keep their workers certified and compliant. Taking advantage of these benefits can help you build your career at an impressive pace as you continue to add new certifications to your resume.

While this is a common practice, be sure to examine your company’s policies, as many require that the employee continue to work for the company for a number of months after completing their class. You’ll want to plan ahead to make sure your timeline matches up perfectly.

3. Doing Work That Matters

By working in the defense industry, you could be protecting American cyberspace or creating the next generation of defense technology. The defense industry supports our military and the important work it does all over the world.

In recent years, it’s become clear how vulnerable companies and governments are to cyber attacks that can cripple infrastructure or steal valuable data. The defenses that we build today will safeguard us against cyber terror for years to come.

4. Working with Cutting-Edge Technology

The defense industry uses brand new technology that you can’t get access to anywhere else. While you may not want to live the life of a contractor forever, your time spent working with DoD contractors will give you irreplaceable experience.

Did you know that the internet was created by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency? This is just one example of how defense technology eventually gets adopted for civilian uses. By working with the defense industry, you can use these technologies before they go mainstream!

5. Equal Pay for Everybody

The US Government mandates that all workers with a given position receive the same pay. This means that you can’t get paid less for being too old or too young, or for being a minority or a woman. If you get the job, you’ll get paid the same amount as everybody else in that job.

6. Work with Interesting People

Those who work for defense contractors come from diverse backgrounds. Many of them have had experience working in the armed forces and could tell you a story or two. Others have been studying and working with cutting-edge technology for years. If you want to surround yourself with people who are capable and smart, look no further.

Cons

7. Your Job Depends on Government Funding

The US Government is no slouch when it comes to defense spending, but that doesn’t mean your job has perfect security. As administrations change or national priorities shift, you could find that what you’re working on has been defunded. The company you work for may switch you to a different project, or all of your positions might be liquidated.

On the other hand, no industry offers 100% job security, and the skills and experience you gain will still hold their value.

8. Projects May Change at the Whim of the Administration

Similar to the point above, you may find that the project you’ve devoted all of your blood, sweat, and tears to is no longer a priority for the administration. This could be caused by political differences, changing national priorities, or external factors such as cost or economic shifts.

While your project might not be outright defunded, its focus could be altered to suit the changing winds. Work that had been completed might be scrapped or repurposed. For most, this kind of change might be stressful but would still be better than losing your job.

9. Your Contract May Be Purchased by Another Company

Even if your project continues to receive funding and support, it may be purchased by another company. When this happens, you might stay with your current company and be reassigned to another project, or you could get hired by the company that’s taking over the contract and be asked to stay on that project. New employees of the company taking over the project essentially have to start over and may have to negotiate pay rate and benefits.

10. You May Face More Criticism

If you work with employees of the government, you’ll find that you’re vulnerable to a lot more criticism. Government employees are protected from losing their jobs unless they really make huge mistakes. Contractors, on the other hand, are easy to fire and don’t have the same kind of security. It can be frustrating to see coworkers who’re just “going through the motions” with no problem while you get criticized for every little thing. Of course, this depends on the kind of position you have and the company you work for.

Interested in Working for a Defense Contractor?

LeaderQuest can help! We offer IT certification courses to help you get your Security+, CEH, CISSP, and other certifications that can be your foot in the door to get hired by a defense contractor. Our courses take 5-10 days, are taught by instructors with real industry experience, and LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per class. After you’re certified, our Career Services team will make it their #1 goal to get you hired!

Are you ready to start training for your future?

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