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DevOps In 5 letters: Should We Say CALMS or CALMR?

When someone asks me to explain what DevOps is about, I usually do this using the different letters of the acronym CALMS.CultureCulture is the foundation of DevOps. If you omit culture, you're only doing some symptoms of DevOps (like using a whiteboard, working in timeboxes and doing daily standup meetings won't make you an Agile team).Culture is about the people, about self-organized teams, about T-shaped profiles, about tearing down the wall between Development and Operations. A DevOps team takes end-to-end responsibility of an application or system: "you build it, you run it".If your organization has always been working in a command-and-control style, then the first thing to do is to instill a culture of team empowerment. And don’t underestimate this: this will probably take years to change.AutomationThis is where a lot of focus goes into and can be considered as the easiest to obtain. The heart of DevOps is the CI/CD pipeline: the continuous flow process that is triggered upon check-in of new versions of code. Continuous integration was already known in eXtreme Programming. In a DevOps context, the continuous delivery/deployment makes the story complete. To make your CI/CD pipeline work at its full capacity, you have to consider everything as code:Your source code of courseYour automated tests - unit tests, integration tests and so onYour configurationIncluding your infrastructure configurationYour database changesYour documentationBut automation is also about closing the feedback loop: getting observations, metrics from running system fed back into your team’s product backlog.Lean principlesDevOps is not about moving big chunks of changes to production, but instead, moving to a constant flow of small and easier to control changes. Flow, as in Kanban: limited work in progress, small batches. And moving to the production does not automatically mean: "going live". If there is a dependency with other code that is not yet ready, you can still disable your code via feature toggling until everything is ready to be activated.MeasuringThis is crucial to improving: define metrics on your process. How good are the things going in your organisation? Where is room for improvement? And the apply the typical Plan-Do-Check-Act/Adjust approach to gradually improve your way of working.SharingDevOps teams take full responsibility over their system. But this does not mean that they have to reinvent the wheel over and over again. They learn from their peers.Common senseThere are plenty of resources on the internet - blogs, pictures, slide decks and videos - that explain DevOps using this CALMS acronym. So by now, this acronym has become common sense for anyone who searched for some kind of definition of DevOps. Or hasn't it…?DevOps according to SAFe®, in 5 slightly different lettersRecently I had a discussion with a colleague who is a certified SAFe® Program Consultant and trainer. According to this colleague, SAFe® doesn’t talk about CALMS but about CALMR instead. She wanted to be sure we tell the same story and don’t confuse the people we train and coach. I am not going to give a full explanation of SAFe's definition of Devops, you can read it yourself on the SAFe® site (more specifically on this page www.scaledagileframework.com/devops).But I will briefly explain what the acronym CALMR stands for according to SAFe®:Culture of sharing responsibilityAutomation of continuous delivery pipelineLean flow accelerates deliveryMeasurement of everythingRecovery enables low-risk releasesThis discussion made me wonder: if a large part of the world talks about CALMS to define the principles of DevOps, then why does SAFe® talk about CALMR and what is the difference? And why do they call it "SAFe® DevOps"? So I did some investigation and this is what I found.What's the difference?In all honesty, whether you speak about CALMS or CALMR, in the end, both are equal, or better, equivalent. Let me explain why.In the CALMS acronym, the S stand for sharing. Sharing of knowledge, of experiences. Call it communities, or chapters and guilds if you are more into the way Spotify works. I deliberately don't call it "the Spotify model" because there is no Spotify Model (says Marcin Floryan, a Spotify chapter lead in this presentation: https://www.infoq.com/presentations/spotify-culture-stc).But that’s entirely different story.Sharing in CALMRIn "SAFe® DevOps", sharing is a part of the Culture. People work in teams. But teams together form a release train. So, these teams will not only need to align planning-wise, they also inspect and adapt during the IP sprint. And they learn continuously. OK, fair point. But sharing clearly is there in both definitions.Recovery in CALMSSo, what about the recovery aspect of SAFe® DevOps? Is it a part of the CALMS acronym too? In my opinion, yes, of course, divided over other aspects. The first thing that the SAFe® site tells about Recovery is "Stop the line mentality".Now, that is a Lean principle. Mary Poppendieck (Lean Software Development) mentions this in her presentations: "The greatest productivity comes from not tolerating defects. Create ways to detect defects the moment they occur” (see slide deck https://accu.org/content/conf2007/Poppendieck-Stop_the_Line_Quality.pdf ).The other parts, Plan for and rehearse failure and Build the environment and capability to fix forward and roll back, these are typically automation aspects. Plan for and rehearse failure talks about the chaos monkey.The Simian Army is a bunch of tools and concepts that will create chaos in your ecosystem: kill processes, slow down processing and so on. Chaos engineering is really great, but most likely not the first thing you will implement (even though it is a very good enabler for resilience). More information on the Simian Army can be found on the Blog of Netflix. (https://medium.com/netflix-techblog/the-netflix-simian-army-16e57fbab116).Fix forward or roll back: these are the capabilities of your CI/CD pipeline, the heart of your automation efforts in DevOps. Your Continuous deployment should allow to roll back changes. Or do canary releases: for certain changes you don't go full park all the way, but deploy on a very limited set of servers/containers as a try-out and roll back if "the canary dies".ConclusionI could not find any explanation on the internet why SAFe® talks about SAFe® DevOps. The only thing I can think of is that they want to stress how DevOps culture, principles and practices seamlessly integrate with SAFe®. Similarly, SAFe® talks about SAFe® ScrumXP, where the good practices of Scrum and eXtreme Programming help to deliver good quality software every iteration and every program increment, not only on team level, but integrated with the other teams of the Agile Release Train.As far as the difference between CALMS and CALMR is concerned: they both cover the same ideas. In my humble opinion, the difference between CALMS and CALMR could be a matter of focus: maybe the initial focus of CALMS was to stress the importance of sharing knowledge, whereas the CALMR stresses more the need to be able to roll back a failing change.Bottomline, CALMS and CALMR may not be entirely equal, but they are definitely equivalent.Anyway:
DevOps In 5 letters: Should We Say CALMS or CALMR?
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DevOps In 5 letters: Should We Say CALMS or CALMR?

When someone asks me to explain what DevOps is about, I usually do this using the different letters of the acronym CALMS.CultureCulture is the foundation of DevOps. If you omit culture, you're only doing some symptoms of DevOps (like using a whiteboard, working in timeboxes and doing daily standup meetings won't make you an Agile team).Culture is about the people, about self-organized teams, about T-shaped profiles, about tearing down the wall between Development and Operations. A DevOps team takes end-to-end responsibility of an application or system: "you build it, you run it".If your organization has always been working in a command-and-control style, then the first thing to do is to instill a culture of team empowerment. And don’t underestimate this: this will probably take years to change.AutomationThis is where a lot of focus goes into and can be considered as the easiest to obtain. The heart of DevOps is the CI/CD pipeline: the continuous flow process that is triggered upon check-in of new versions of code. Continuous integration was already known in eXtreme Programming. In a DevOps context, the continuous delivery/deployment makes the story complete. To make your CI/CD pipeline work at its full capacity, you have to consider everything as code:Your source code of courseYour automated tests - unit tests, integration tests and so onYour configurationIncluding your infrastructure configurationYour database changesYour documentationBut automation is also about closing the feedback loop: getting observations, metrics from running system fed back into your team’s product backlog.Lean principlesDevOps is not about moving big chunks of changes to production, but instead, moving to a constant flow of small and easier to control changes. Flow, as in Kanban: limited work in progress, small batches. And moving to the production does not automatically mean: "going live". If there is a dependency with other code that is not yet ready, you can still disable your code via feature toggling until everything is ready to be activated.MeasuringThis is crucial to improving: define metrics on your process. How good are the things going in your organisation? Where is room for improvement? And the apply the typical Plan-Do-Check-Act/Adjust approach to gradually improve your way of working.SharingDevOps teams take full responsibility over their system. But this does not mean that they have to reinvent the wheel over and over again. They learn from their peers.Common senseThere are plenty of resources on the internet - blogs, pictures, slide decks and videos - that explain DevOps using this CALMS acronym. So by now, this acronym has become common sense for anyone who searched for some kind of definition of DevOps. Or hasn't it…?DevOps according to SAFe®, in 5 slightly different lettersRecently I had a discussion with a colleague who is a certified SAFe® Program Consultant and trainer. According to this colleague, SAFe® doesn’t talk about CALMS but about CALMR instead. She wanted to be sure we tell the same story and don’t confuse the people we train and coach. I am not going to give a full explanation of SAFe's definition of Devops, you can read it yourself on the SAFe® site (more specifically on this page www.scaledagileframework.com/devops).But I will briefly explain what the acronym CALMR stands for according to SAFe®:Culture of sharing responsibilityAutomation of continuous delivery pipelineLean flow accelerates deliveryMeasurement of everythingRecovery enables low-risk releasesThis discussion made me wonder: if a large part of the world talks about CALMS to define the principles of DevOps, then why does SAFe® talk about CALMR and what is the difference? And why do they call it "SAFe® DevOps"? So I did some investigation and this is what I found.What's the difference?In all honesty, whether you speak about CALMS or CALMR, in the end, both are equal, or better, equivalent. Let me explain why.In the CALMS acronym, the S stand for sharing. Sharing of knowledge, of experiences. Call it communities, or chapters and guilds if you are more into the way Spotify works. I deliberately don't call it "the Spotify model" because there is no Spotify Model (says Marcin Floryan, a Spotify chapter lead in this presentation: https://www.infoq.com/presentations/spotify-culture-stc).But that’s entirely different story.Sharing in CALMRIn "SAFe® DevOps", sharing is a part of the Culture. People work in teams. But teams together form a release train. So, these teams will not only need to align planning-wise, they also inspect and adapt during the IP sprint. And they learn continuously. OK, fair point. But sharing clearly is there in both definitions.Recovery in CALMSSo, what about the recovery aspect of SAFe® DevOps? Is it a part of the CALMS acronym too? In my opinion, yes, of course, divided over other aspects. The first thing that the SAFe® site tells about Recovery is "Stop the line mentality".Now, that is a Lean principle. Mary Poppendieck (Lean Software Development) mentions this in her presentations: "The greatest productivity comes from not tolerating defects. Create ways to detect defects the moment they occur” (see slide deck https://accu.org/content/conf2007/Poppendieck-Stop_the_Line_Quality.pdf ).The other parts, Plan for and rehearse failure and Build the environment and capability to fix forward and roll back, these are typically automation aspects. Plan for and rehearse failure talks about the chaos monkey.The Simian Army is a bunch of tools and concepts that will create chaos in your ecosystem: kill processes, slow down processing and so on. Chaos engineering is really great, but most likely not the first thing you will implement (even though it is a very good enabler for resilience). More information on the Simian Army can be found on the Blog of Netflix. (https://medium.com/netflix-techblog/the-netflix-simian-army-16e57fbab116).Fix forward or roll back: these are the capabilities of your CI/CD pipeline, the heart of your automation efforts in DevOps. Your Continuous deployment should allow to roll back changes. Or do canary releases: for certain changes you don't go full park all the way, but deploy on a very limited set of servers/containers as a try-out and roll back if "the canary dies".ConclusionI could not find any explanation on the internet why SAFe® talks about SAFe® DevOps. The only thing I can think of is that they want to stress how DevOps culture, principles and practices seamlessly integrate with SAFe®. Similarly, SAFe® talks about SAFe® ScrumXP, where the good practices of Scrum and eXtreme Programming help to deliver good quality software every iteration and every program increment, not only on team level, but integrated with the other teams of the Agile Release Train.As far as the difference between CALMS and CALMR is concerned: they both cover the same ideas. In my humble opinion, the difference between CALMS and CALMR could be a matter of focus: maybe the initial focus of CALMS was to stress the importance of sharing knowledge, whereas the CALMR stresses more the need to be able to roll back a failing change.Bottomline, CALMS and CALMR may not be entirely equal, but they are definitely equivalent.Anyway:
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DevOps In 5 letters: Should We Say CALMS or CALMR?

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How an IT Proposal Can Be Like a Reality TV Show

If you’ve ever watched reality TV shows, then you realize pretty quickly that this 42 minutes of entertainment is really just an obstacle course of challenges that are contrived to be literally and figuratively impossible to both the viewer and the contest participant. In other words, seeing others struggle and strive through the impossible while accidentally burning themselves, getting voted off the island, or getting criticized by a snarky British judge is called “good television”. I lived such a reality show experience but it wasn't glamorous or televised, there were no commercial breaks, there were no saves, and definitely no promise of marrying a gorgeous bachelorette at the end of it. My reality show was the competitive world of IT proposals.I was a project manager in the sales organization of a giant IT company. My challenge was that I received a new team every 30-60 days to work on a major proposal. I usually had no idea what the proposal was for at the start; I could not choose my teams, because they were always made up of those available at the time; and everyone’s skill-level varied so widely that I could have a veteran solution engineer working with a pricing analyst who was fresh out of college. There were a million moving parts, each proposal had corporate visibility, and they were valued in the millions or billions of dollars - no pressure! The gauntlet of corporate reviews took more time than it did to write the proposal itself, and all proposals were judged by a customer panel that decided who the winner was.One of the biggest challenges in IT proposal writing is that until the contract is awarded, it is never clear whether all of your effort was right or in vain. So, even if we had the perfect proposal we could still lose.Six rules: To turn up people into well-oiled machineGiven the absurdity of all this, I had to develop a method that would allow us to survive. I established six rules that allowed me to unify a huddled mass of people into a well-oiled machine that delivered these proposals on time, every time. And those rules are as follows:1. Have a clearly defined end-in-mind/goal2. Follow a schedule3. Have dedicated roles for every task4. Have clearly-communicated instructions and requirements5. Remove project blockades6. Treat team members as human beings and not resources1. Have a clearly defined end-in-mind/goalThe end-in-mind is the final deliverable, the final destination; and the “why” behind the proposals altogether. Many proposals lose because they focus on the mechanics of getting the proposal done, instead of providing a compelling vision of what the customer (and the proposal team) is actually trying to achieve. Understanding the end-in-mind is paramount. It drives schedule, cost, resources, and tells you when you’ve arrived. After all, how will you know when you’ve arrived unless you know where the end is?2. Follow a scheduleAmerican Football Coach, John Madden once said “even multi-million dollar athletes need to know what they need to be doing and when.”When you have a deadline, there are always two paths to get there - either through planning or procrastination. I chose the path of planning. While responding to last-minute deadlines can be thrilling, as a chronic habit it can burn you out quickly. For me, planning created a more balanced proposal experience, people were happier because they knew what they needed to do by when, and often we were finished well before the deadline.3. Have dedicated roles for every taskProposals of any importance are never done in a vacuum, and involve a variety of resources and management. In a reality TV show, these are your characters, actors, players, and contestants. At the beginning of each proposal, I established each person’s specific role. It is vital that the team understands why each person is there, and values one another's perspective.  4. Have clearly-communicated instructions and requirementsEvery successful proposal depends on rigorous communication. Communication is often downplayed as a soft skill, but it is actually one of the most critical factors of any project. As you already know, many projects that fail do so because of some level of poor communication.5. Remove project blockadesBad news doesn't get better with age, and on complex proposals issues are inevitable. Whether it’s unavailable resources, a complex multi-vendor solution, or your price is 3 million too high, you need someone to get obstacles out of your way. Sometimes that’s you, but sometimes it may be an empowered project champion. I needed a plan for dealing with issues early, otherwise they could sink my proposal at the end.6. Treat team members as human beings and not resources -The final rule was human connection. The moment my project teams saw each other as human beings, rather than as resources, we connected in a more personal way, and once we had that we were unstoppable.We succeeded because we had a clear vision of the end in mind, the roadmap to get there, a clear understanding of the value of diverse roles and viewpoints, open communication, proactive issues-handling, and the human touch.    By the way, all of this assumed that the proposal was approved, funded, resourced, and actually known to the management. If not, that would have been a whole different reality TV show altogether - I think that would have been a comedy.
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How an IT Proposal Can Be Like a Reality TV Show

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Why Most Of The IT Companies Look For Certified Professionals

In today’s increasingly competitive market, candidates, regardless of their experience and qualifications need a competitive edge over their peers. Professional certifications do just that for them. Rightly so, because hiring a candidate who does not have the right set of skills and knowledge affects him/her as well as the employer. This is not to say that certifications are the ultimate path to your career goals; you, of course, need to meet all the prerequisites mandated by your recruiters. Certifications are the best way to tell your employers that you belong to the category of niche professionals who can make a difference.  If you are already working in a team with people having varied skills, IT certifications are also one way to stand out. Not only will they help you enhance your skills and knowledge but will provide you the competitive advantage over your team members. Trending and up-to-date certifications will speak for your commitment and make you a valuable asset to your organization.  Speaking of certifications, Robert Blanchard, Director of Support Services, Aspen Skiing Services Co. said-  “The person with the certification is the one that is going to get hired.” Why is to so necessary to get certified? IT professionals are not new to being told that certifications are the gateway to countless career possibilities. But most of them have a tough time figuring out the smart and best means to make these certifications align with their goals. First and foremost, it is necessary to understand why it has become so crucial to integrate your career with certifications.  Generally speaking, IT professionals usually consider certifications as the surefire ways to-  Boost their earning potential  Seek more opportunities in the job market Shift their career to the next best level A latest article published by Forbes Magazine says that IT professionals with certifications are earning an average of $17,000 more per year than the median IT certification salary. From an employee perspective, certifications let you demonstrate additional qualifications on your resume in addition to getting hired faster.  Many of these certifications even come with digital badges, which according to your potential employers are the quickest means to verify the stated qualifications immediately. This is further supported by one recent statistics which says that in the UK’s office, for the last 3 years, 14% of 13,800 employees were not holding the qualifications which they claimed. To minimize the possibility of such incidents, more number of companies are preferring digital badges to verify certifications.  It is also worth mentioning that certifications are not just useful for the professionals seeking better opportunities, they are equally beneficial for the existing employees of a company who want to prove their skills to their employers. Why do your employers handpick certified professionals? The IT environment has matured, and so has the mindset of the employers. Today they just don’t look out for employees who are skilled and knowledgeable. They prefer a validation of your skill sets. More correctly, relevant certifications. This helps them ascertain the best fit who will help the organization keep pace with the fast-evolving industry.  In fact, more than on-the-job experience and quality of experience, recruiters of present times are on a lookout for certifications, especially the ones that are tailored to their ongoing project requirements.  In this section, we shall discuss various reasons as to why certified individuals are the prospective recruits in today’s market.  New employees Certification and credential holders are the first ones to get noticed when it comes to hiring new employees. Given the intrinsically valuable nature of such industry-tailored certifications, the employers can be assured of the expertise levels of those employees.  A few salient features of the top certification programs will explain why employers like them so much- Clearly defined program goals and standards Customized curriculum with progressive levels Expected skill sets and knowledge upon completion Proper assessment criteria  Hands-on projects (for certain programs) That fairly explains why certifications enhance the credibility of new employees.  Existing employees More often than not, companies have found critical skill gaps in their existing teams, that are mostly the barriers to progress. To address these gaps and uplift the team(s) as a whole, the employers recommend taking up professional certification programs.  Certifications can also be a saviour for the existing employees if any of the following situations arise- Departments are getting reorganized  New projects are being assigned to existing staffs Cross-functional teams are working together  Company is merging with other organizations, creating new responsibilities  In such cases, the top management often finds it difficult to hire new people with the required skills and let them upskill the teams. The prescribed approach, which is all the more realistic, is to have in-house experts who are already certified in the latest technologies.  Top certifications your employers are looking for   Before you decide to take up any certification, be sure of the value it holds in your career as well as the current market. An ideal example to cite would be that of ITIL®, which started picking up momentum post 2012. If statistics are to be believed, there are nearly 1.37 million ITIL® certifications out there. Way too many IT professionals have benefited from this certification. It has helped them understand the fundamental concepts of IT Service Management and service lifecycle to improve business decisions. Implementing the ITIL® best practices have been found to help these professionals streamline their processes for continuous improvement.  Two other top-rated certifications are Agile and Scrum, and PMP®. Agile and Scrum training and certification program is extremely useful for teams which have adopted the Scrum framework to simplify processes and work in a collaborative environment. The Agile methodology is provenly a major upgrade from the traditional waterfall method and transforming software development projects worldwide.  The Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, on the other hand, is deemed the most distinguished qualification for the project managers working with several teams. It facilitates on-time and on-budget project delivery, mitigating risk factors and saving costs. Will certifications secure your career? It is safe to say they will. But certifications alone cannot guarantee your future in the IT industry. Even your employers will not solely rely on certifications to gauge your calibre. Additional skillsets such as soft skills, technical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are also the mandates to establish a firm foothold in the corporate world. It is also important to note that the certifications you opt for should be up-to-date and on par with the latest trends in the industry. Because in the end, your employers would handpick only the ones with relevant certifications and experience. After all, certified professionals are the catalysts for a major transformation in organizations. 
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Lead Or Manage, Which Is The Ideal Approach In An Agile Team?

For all those who live in an Agile world, the word “manager” is not the most loved one. But what is it that makes us feel like that? Why don’t we have the same feelings when we hear the word “leader”? Well, let’s think a bit about it... Often used interchangeably, the terms management and leadership create confusion among people. Some people think that management and leadership are the same thing, others don’t.  In fact, the term leadership in the organizational world is relatively new. A couple of centuries ago, no one would have thought of using it in a work environment. Indeed, great leaders of history were related to politics, philosophy, governments, religion. Some examples are Abraham Lincoln (president of the United States that abolished slavery), Martin Luther King Jr (Baptist minister who led the Civil Rights Movement) and Mahatma Gandhi (who led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world), among others. Based on these examples, and if you Google it, you will find several others, we can infer that to lead is to motivate, to inspire, to influence people. And why would someone want to influence others? Well, to share a vision with the team and motivate the team to be aligned to that vision!  So, what makes the difference between a manager and a leader? Basically, it is the approach they use to reach people and the approach they use at work. Leadership is about inspiring and management is about planning. Leaders are focused on aligning people to the organizational vision, which includes obtaining their buy-in, communication, motivation, and inspiration, while managers focus on planning, budgeting, and taking the vision to a reality. Managers follow processes that make organizations successful, they take care of numbers that demonstrate good performance and solve problems when they arise.  Control or inspiration? Basically, managers direct and control. They follow the organization’s policies and processes. Their work is more rational and logical. They create plans and follow them till their success. Managers have to detect risks that may impact their plans and mitigate them. Their objective is to have everything under control, even those plan items that may be at risk since their final goal is to achieve the expected outcome for the team. Management is the practice of manipulating people for personal gain. Leadership is the responsibility of inspiring people for the good of the group. — Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) February 6, 2018 On the other hand, leaders let people be themselves, but at the same time, they share with them the organization’s vision and inspire them to follow it, to be part of a bigger purpose. Leaders understand that forming high performing teams is much better than having individual heroes since diversity is the key to success. This is the reason why their focus is on developing people to its highest performance. Leaders truly believe that this is the path to achieving the expected outcome for the team. Status quo or disruption? Managers ensure that the organization’s policies and processes are followed, but leaders… leaders challenge the status quo. Managers try to ensure that every plan is complete as agreed, but leaders embrace change. They know that change is part of our lives and that if teams do not adapt to change, they may die. This doesn’t mean that managers don’t believe this as well, but their focus is set on achieving goals, as planned. People or processes? Managers create or follow processes and use tools to support the team in the accomplishment of their objectives. Leaders focus on developing people, by coaching them to be a better version of themselves. …..“People over processes”, this is one of the values of the Agile manifesto. And this is the point where we distinguish leaders and managers, and why managers are not “that well seen” in Agile environments.  After having made this comparison, we may now understand those who are against management in Agile environments. Managers seem to be the opposite of what any Agile team may want… However, in order to have successful organizations, there needs to be managers and leaders, people with logical minds and people with innovative ideas. If an organization is run efficiently, then for sure there are leaders and managers in it!! It is the key for organizations to create the correct balance between leadership and management. Of course, “correct balance” may mean something completely different for each organization, and it is their responsibility to define it and achieve it. Achieving it may mean having in your team leaders, managers or people that have management and leadership skills, which gives them and the company a competitive advantage. It is key to understand that both sides of the coin are important. Nowadays, people not only look at their managers for them to assign tasks but for guidance. Teams are eager to grow and improve, teams are eager to embrace change and be challenged. So, what are you waiting for? Challenge them! Give them what they want and they will be high performers, for sure! As Peter Drucker says: “You don’t manage people. Your task is to lead people by making productive their specific strengths and knowledge.” Never forget that in Agile environments, “people” are your highest priority. 
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Lead Or Manage, Which Is The Ideal Approach In An ...

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The 7 Highest-Paying IT Certifications Must Do In 2017-18

Launching a career in IT takes much more than just college education. You need to be tech-trained and have one of the top IT certifications. Wondering why you need such certifications? Jobs in the IT domain require specific skill sets and having such certifications validate your ability to perform the job. Being certified also works in your favor when you are looking for a job for the first time or need a job change since the hiring managers would know you possess the skills to succeed. From security and networking to cloud computing and virtualization, there exists a wide range of IT certifications that would help you to earn a fat paycheck and launch your dream IT career, or take your career a few notches above in case you are already employed. However, not every certification would help. You need to find the ones that will give you the optimal return on your money. But with a proliferation of a wide range of certifications, each claiming to be better than its competitors, how do you decide which is the best for you? We bring you some help in your endeavor by listing the top seven IT certifications that you must do in 2017-18 to enjoy a rewarding IT career. 1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) This certification from ISACA is designed for IT project managers and professionals as well as others whose job needs them to recognize and manage IT and business threats through suitable IS (Information Systems) controls. The CRISC exam covers the whole life cycle, from design and implementation to continuing maintenance, and will fetch you an average yearly salary of $131,298. On our list, this is the highest-paying certification. To get it, you must have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in at least two of the four areas (Identification, Assessment, Control Monitoring and Reporting, and Response and Mitigation) covered by this certification and pass the exam that consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. You can register for this computer-based test on the ISACA website, which will cost you at least $420 (a bit more actually when you add the cost of test materials and preparation to it). In 2017, this exam is offered in three test windows (May 1 - June 30; August 1- September 30; and November 1 to December 30). Every year, you will need CPE (Continuing Professional Education) credits for maintaining your certification.  2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) The primary focus of this certification from ISACA is information security management. Though this certification will let you deal with engineering and designing of security protocols, you will have greater involvement in the company’s security management. This certification will let you earn an average yearly salary of $128,156. To get it, you must have 5 years’ experience in Information Security, a minimum of 3 of which should be as a security manager. This experience of yours must be achieved within the 10-year period prior to your date of application for certification or within the 5-year period from the date of passing the exam. Unlike the CRISC where no exceptions are applicable to the experience requirement, the CISM has some alternatives to the experience requirement. This exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. You can register for this computer-based test on the ISACA website, which will cost you about $415 (but a lot more actually when you add the cost of test materials and preparation courses to it). In 2017, this exam is offered in three test windows (May 1 - June 30; August 1- September 30; and November 1 to December 30). Every year, you will need continuing education credits for maintaining your certification.  3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate This certification is aimed at people involved in designing and managing applications on the AWS (Amazon Web Services) platform. The exam covers everything from AWS best practices, AWS cost estimation and identification of cost control measures, to AWS system design and deployment. For getting this certification, you need to have hands-on AWS experience (1 year or more) along with proficiency in one high-level programming language. The candidates also need to have the ability to recognize an AWS-based application and define requirements for it together with the experience of deploying hybrid systems with AWS and components on-premises and be capable of providing the best practices for setting up reliable and secure applications on the AWS platform. Kryterion testing centers offer this computer-based exam that consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam registration fee is $150. However, armed with this certification, you will get to earn a yearly average of $125,091. 4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) This CISSP certification is your ideal choice if you are an auditor, analyst, systems engineer, security consultant, or manager since it gives you the chance to prove your capability of engineering, designing and maintaining the IT security policy of a company. Pearson Vue Testing centers offer this exam against a few of $599. This exam consisting of 250 multiple-choice questions and needs an eligible candidate to have a minimum of 5 years’ of full-time work experience in two or more of the eight domains CISSP CBK (Common Body of Knowledge) domains. Those not having adequate work experience can meet 1 year of required experience with a 4-year college degree (or its regional equivalent), or a credential permitted by the CISSP Prerequisite pathway. As a second alternative, you can earn your (ISC)2 Associate designation by taking and passing the CISSP exam, after which you will have up to 6 years’ time to earn the necessary work experience. You must earn CPE credits every year to stay certified. This certification will give you access to a career that pays an average yearly salary of $121,729. 5. Project Management Professional (PMP) This is the most renowned project management certification that lets you work in almost any industry, at any location and with any methodology. Project Management Institute (PMI) has created this test and manages it as well. You have to apply at the PMI website to take this exam. After the approval of your application, you would be able to sign up for the actual exam via Prometric. The prerequisites of this exam are having a secondary degree (associate’s degree, high school diploma, or the global equivalent) along with 7,500 hours of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education; or having a 4-year degree together with 4,500 hours of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education. You will need to shell out $405 for taking this test. Every three years, you need to compulsorily earn 60 PDUs (professional development units) for maintaining your PMP. $119,349 is the average yearly salary that this certification will bring your way.  6. Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N)   This certification is ideal for systems or network administrators, architects and engineers adept in desktop and app virtualization, who plan to expand their skills to include NetScaler 10.5 for desktop and solutions app. To get certified, you have to prepare with the recommended training that includes two options: taking Citrix NetScaler Essentials and Unified Gateway or CNS-222; or getting prepared with Citrix NetScaler Unified Gateway or CNS-221 in case you’ve already taken the Citrix NetScaler Essentials and Traffic Management or CNS-220. In addition, you have to analyze the preparation guide for Exam 1Y0-250: Implementing Citrix NetScaler 10 for App and Desktop Solutions; and pass Exam 1Y0-250. The exam costs $200 and the certification would stay valid for 3 years. With CCA-N certification, you can aim to earn an average yearly salary of $102,598.  7. ITIL v3 Foundation It’s the entry-level ITIL certification that offers an extensive knowledge of the IT lifecycle together with the ITIL terminology and concepts. It covers everything from capacity and availability management to incident and change management, along with IT operations and application management. Selection and authorizations of partners are done by ITIL, who in turn provide education, training, and certifications. The ITIL foundation exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions and costs $150 plus taxes (VUE/Prometric). To pass this exam, you should have knowledge (at the comprehension level) of ITIL service life-cycle, service management as a practice, and the key models as well principles along with awareness level knowledge of generic definitions and concepts, selected processes, roles and functions, as well as technology and architecture, among others. Simply passing this exam is all you need to do to get certified, and once you have this certification, you can expect to earn an average yearly salary of $103,408.  Summary A quick analysis of this list shows that all these top certifications pay more than $100,000 on an average, and are related to the domains that are experiencing a growing demand in the market, namely security, virtualization and cloud computing, together with networking and business. All these IT certifications can help in your career advancement – no matter whether you are a junior-level employee aiming to improve your skills to bag better opportunities in the IT industry, or a tenured employee looking to constantly grow and adapt your skills to meet the fast-changing IT landscape. But since you will come across a huge number of IT certifications that are offered today, it becomes important to research well before taking your pick since a handful are far more valuable than the others.  
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5 Trends Influencing Cloud Computing In 2017

Cloud security was the biggest concern of 53% of the webmasters that participated in the giving birth to an important 2017 cloud computing trend, i.e., improved cloud security. The cloud providers like Google, Microsoft, AWS etc., have started coming up with advanced threat monitoring tools and other robust identity management functionalities to increase the security within every layer of cloud infrastructure. This improved cloud security trend would not just reinforce the trust of organization on cloud computing but also transform the way cloud security was being operated over the years.   Like improved cloud security with many cloud benefits, there are many other trends that are influencing cloud computing in 2017. These trends are changing the way cloud computing was being used as well as provided by the organizations and cloud providers respectively in the yesteryears. A clear understanding of these trends is imperative to gain a competitive edge in terms of speed, agility as well cost savings. So, let’s not waste any more time and jump straight to the five trends that are influencing cloud computing in 2017.  Hyperconvergence The hype around hyperconvergence in the realm of cloud computing has increased drastically in 2017. A gradual shift can be seen to hyperconverged cloud infrastructure aka HCI that has provided ease in the process of managing integrated technologies with the help of a common toolset. It will allow organizations to leverage the already integrated storage resources that will ease power computation for faster cloud implementation. Organizations that seek to build their own private cloud resources would be turning their attention towards hyperconverged cloud infrastructure that offers the support of virtualization at present.  Hybrid Cloud Management Due to the increased need for flexibility and swift information sharing, an orchestration between the private cloud and public cloud services has surfaced in the cloud computing domain. This amalgamation of public and private clouds is called a hybrid cloud. The need for effective management of hybrid cloud has given birth to cloud service brokers in 2017. They are responsible for not just defining all the hybrid services but also securing and managing them. The rise of these hybrid cloud manager aka cloud service brokers would be a big influence in the way cloud computing management worked earlier.  Enterprise Cloud Computing A dramatic rise in enterprise cloud computing has been witnessed in the first semester of this year. Instead of depending on a single cloud for their different information technology and business needs, companies are now diversifying their approach to multiple cloud models. Enterprise cloud computing is allowing businesses to make contracts with different cloud providers irrespective of them being private, public or hybrid. They are now getting their services hosted on different platforms that offer the most appropriate solution to their needs.  Cloud-Run Business Apps At present, the share of cloud-run business apps is 70%, which is gradually increasing with the expansion of enterprise cloud computing. By the end of 2020, more than 90% of the organizations in the world would have cloud-run apps for their business. Increased productivity, enterprise mobility, and user-driven customization are some of the core drivers for business apps towards cloud computing. Cloud adoption has accelerated in 2017 and would continue to do so in the coming years.   Cloud Containers On The Rise Cloud containers like Linux are used by top companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc., and are becoming a rage among other organizations too. They offer a more secure, streamlined and simplistic implementation methods for each and every infrastructure requirement. Cloud container is one of the most relevant developments for the developers as it enables the packaging of applications in a more standardized way. It also facilitates the development of various micro services that’ll provide ease in security, monitoring, storing and networking etc. While cloud computing is not a new technology for businesses, the trends discussed above have given it a makeover and transformed the way it is being used by businesses in 2017. All the five trends, i.e., hyperconvergence, hybrid cloud, enterprise cloud, cloud-run business apps and cloud containers have led to a continuous expansion of cloud computing throughout the first two quarters of this year and would continue to influence cloud computing in days to come.   
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5 Trends Influencing Cloud Computing In 2017

Cloud security was the biggest concern of 53% of t... Read More