Licensing confusion, and more salary survey feedback.
I thought Em C. Pea’s July article, “Playing
Chicken With Licensing,
” was insightful. Can you clarify the excerpt:
“After three years, you no longer have the right to keep using the software
you purchased; you must buy a new version, or you’re breaking the law…”
My vendor says that this isn’t so.
I’m an account executive for Softchoice, specializing in volume software
licensing. I must say that the statement about Microsoft licenses “expiring”
after three years is inaccurate. Although Microsoft seems to be heading
toward a subscription model, most Microsoft licenses to date are perpetual.
Once you’ve purchased a license for a particular version of a product,
you retain perpetual rights to deploy that particular version. The specific
“license agreement” you purchase the license under may expire in three
years (in some cases, two years), but this will not affect usage rights.
—Anne Marie Griffin
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Thanks for correcting this gal’s over-simplified view of Microsoft
licensing. Anyone who really needs to sort this stuff out for the enterprise,
of course, should be in touch with a specialist, and plan on spending
some significant time on the Microsoft Licensing Web site at www.microsoft.com/licensing/.
There you’ll find that we’re both right! If you purchase new software
under the Enterprise Agreement, you get the perpetual licenses and can
keep running the software forever. But, if you opt for the Enterprise
Subscription Agreement instead, you get a license “with product usage
rights ending at term expiration.” At that point, you get to renew your
agreement, buy a permanent license—or stop using the software.
So, right now, there’s a choice. But, the leaves at
the bottom of my teacup, and some of my enterprise contacts, say that
Microsoft has been promoting ESA pretty heavily as the flexible and
inexpensive alternative. Take a look at the comparison chart at www.microsoft.com/licensing/programs/sa/saolsleacompare.asp
to see how Microsoft is positioning the various programs. And, of course,
Microsoft has been floating trial balloons about an Office subscription
for years now; don’t be surprised to see that as a heavily pushed way
to buy Office 11 when it ships.
And to think that Microsoft has been promoting Licensing
6.0 as a simpler alternative to the old programs!
—Em C. Pea
Being the ENFP that I am, I intuited what author Greg Neilson,
an INTJ, was really trying to say in June’s “Professionally
Speaking” column when he suggested that the Myers-Briggs personality
test can be used to help us in our career planning. People like me are
in the wrong line of work. Damn.
There are inaccuracies in James Carrion’s September “Drill Down”
You Strike It Rich?” regarding the review of CBT Nuggets MCSE video.
The videos aren’t “blurry,” regardless of the screen resolution. At 800x600
resolution or higher, the viewer simply needs to click on View-Zoom 100
percent within Windows Media Player to get clear resolution. At 640x480,
the viewer must click on View-Full Screen to get a perfect picture. An
alternative to using Windows Media Player is the freely downloadable CBT
Nuggets’ Media Player, designed and optimized for our training videos.
CBT Nuggets believes that people can use the training videos to learn
the material and pass the exams without supplemental resources. The excerpt
“...some of the details that may show up on the exams are glossed over
or missed altogether. Normally, these ‘exam details’ show up in practice
questions or study guides bundled with a certification product...” is
damaging to the certification industry. The mentality that a person must
cheat on the exam—have the questions and answers beforehand (as in braindumps)—to
pass exams, has created the “paper certified” crisis. Our goal is to provide
the most comprehensive, realistic and technically accurate training for
vendor specific certifications—training that will help in the real world
as it will for the exams.
CBT Nuggets Development Team
When evaluating CBT Nuggets, my screen resolution was already set
at 800x600 and the View-Zoom defaults to 100 percent for Windows Media
Player 7.0. At that zoom level, the icons on the screen were jagged
and unreadable. Changing the setting to View-Full Screen helped but
was still not optimal. On the CBT Nuggets main screen, there’s a viewing
tip that states that “Most Videos are shot at 640x480 resolution. Setting
your screen resolution to 1024x768 will provide for an optimal viewing
I stand by my remarks that the product will not lead
to a passing score on a Microsoft exam. I’m not advocating the use of
braindumps or the incorporation of real test questions into certification
products but instead targeting the concepts covered in a product to
match the level of detail you’d expect on the real exam. In addition,
test preparation involves more then just learning how the product works,
it also involves teaching candidates the fine art of question/analysis
and dissection. Without a pool of practice questions on which to hone
these important skills, a candidate could be knowledgeable and have
years of real world experience, but still get lost in the “fluff” of
a test question. Even Microsoft itself promotes the use of practice
tests as a valid means to prepare for certification.
Regarding Em C. Pea’s September column, “Does
It Have To Be This Hard?” she says that “the software that handles
reconciling check transactions between banks is largely trouble-free.”
In my experience, even this statement of quality isn’t true. I’ve worked
with online banking and ATM software, and it’s plagued with errors. My
friends in the banking industry say that banks rely not on avoidance of
errors but in traceability and making the customer whole if something
goes wrong. Money gets “lost” and “found” frequently, but it isn’t visible
to the customer.
In some situations, higher costs and longer schedules are tolerated to
get higher quality, but it still seems impossible to create an error-free
application. There are no rules of physics in software to guide us to
the correct conclusion or punish us when we break them. It’s difficult
to visualize the overall state of a piece of software—you can’t take surveys
and aerial photos of it. It seems like every application is a 39-cent
taco—some just cost more and take longer to cook.
—Jon Pulsipher, MCSD
Flunking Pass/Fail Scoring
I’ve completed courses toward my MCSE certification and have passed the
70-210 exam, making me an MCP. I recently took the 70-215 exam and failed.
I studied with Transcender sample exams, questions from exam prep Web
sites and other sample exams from my tech school instructor. I studied
close to 400 sample questions, but found that all but about three or four
of the 50 questions I hadn’t seen before. Since I failed the exam and
have no way of knowing what I knew and what I didn’t know, I’m confused
on how to go about studying for the exam a second time. After failing
the exam, I felt like Microsoft was just out for my money. There’s no
way to know what you missed on the exam so you can be better prepared
for it the next time.
—Gary Ordway, MCP
Mission Viejo, California
It’s harder, with the new scoring system, to know your areas of
strength or weakness on a given test. What the results are telling you,
though, is that you’re not where you need to be yet. The best thing
to do at this point would be to set up a network on which you can practice.
Just studying test questions and answers isn’t enough; you need to understand
how the technology works and go through the process of setting up the
network, adding users, creating DNS zones, troubleshooting and so on,
to a) pass the test, and b) be prepared to work in the field, (if you
aren’t already). You’ll need at least two computers, and three or four
would be even better. Find books that step you through various configurations;
there are also training and certification companies you can find online
that are becoming more lab oriented, allowing you to connect to their
servers remotely and work on them in a setup closer to a real-world
environment. Whatever methods you choose, you’ll need to get your hands
dirty to be a solid test-taker, as well as a solid employee.
More Salary Survey Sentiments
I've read the comments in the August issue's "Salary
Survey" regarding the disparity between an NT 4.0 MCSE and a Win2K
MCSE, and I agree. Cross-platform familiarity is the real key to defining
yourself in this very difficult job market. I've been involved in the
IT field for quite a few years now and, finally, four years ago decided
to get certified. I followed the MCSE track and made it a point to digest
all the MCSE track objectives. I completed the track in November 1998
and continued to achieve the MCSE+I designation. During this time, I was
working for a network integrator, using the skills that I'd learned. I
then found out about Citrix and got certified as a CCA under MetaFrame
1.0. and then the Citrix CCEA program. I've distinguished myself among
my peers as both a Microsoft and Citrix expert. I've also upgraded my
MCSE credential to Win2K and MetaFrame certs to MetaFrame XP. I just landed
a new position with a Fortune 500 firm after seven months of searching
for the right fit (all the time remaining employed). What made me stand
out wasn't my knowledge of Win2K but of how to migrate to Win2K and from
Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000, and how it all works with Citrix and its
migration. I agree that Win2K alone won't get you where you want to be:
You must create a portfolio of technology that defines you, then market
that portfolio in your resumé. The real challenge with Microsoft's OSes
of the day is being able to make them all play well together.
—Kevin Barrett, MCSE+I, CCEA
Think about the possibility of NT 4.0 MCSEs at higher salaries that haven’t
yet or don’t plan to complete their Win2K certifications. Though the years
of IT experience within these two areas is fairly close, I still suspect
many of the Win2K MCSEs were never certified on NT 4.0, thus they haven’t
been certified as long or don’t have as much relevant NT/W2K experience.
-Name withheld Atlanta, Georgia There are others like me; our small but
well-established company didn’t lay off anyone, but there are no salary
increases across the board. We provide consulting, programming, training
and software for midsize manufacturing firms. Otherwise, I think your
numbers are pretty accurate, as they have been for the past four years.
— Will Goubert
The comment about MCP jobs going overseas is incorrect. While many large
firms are outsourcing programming jobs overseas, I don’t know anyone outsourcing
operating system implementation or network engineering projects. As a
matter of fact, many companies that were outsourcing programming jobs
have now stopped the practice because of management and quality issues.
Most firms, especially American ones, are not adept at remote controlling
software projects. At the same time, American software products are sufficiently
complicated that a serious commitment to programming discipline is required
by the developers. This type of discipline is generally not provided nor
understood by either overseas programmers or their management staffs.
The job problem is one of large companies being very discriminating when
hiring. Since it’s now an employer’s market, you also have to have good
credentials. This means at least a B.A. or B.S. in some technical field,
a couple of years experience and some certifications. The total package
is what employers are looking for. With so many IT people being put out
of work by large company problems (WorldCom, Enron and so on), many qualified
people are available at extremely reasonable prices. Unless you have good
credentials, you aren’t going to get hired.
I teach Win2K courses at the College of Dupage in Illinois. My suggestion
to students is to stop thinking they deserve a job and start thinking
about marketing themselves. Do an objective inventory of yourself, your
technical skills, education and language skills and then look at where
you want to go.
—Bruce Waid, MCSE
I'm an MCSE in Orlando, Florida, with several years experience. After
years of making the big money, I can't find a decent paying job in IT
to save my hide. The last contract I had, two years ago, paid $40 an hour.
The best offer I've received since the economy went bad was $11 an hour.
Maybe I'm living in the wrong town, but I know a lot of people in this
same predicament, and your salary numbers don't jibe with what's going
on in Orlando. I don't buy it! —Name Withheld
One reason the MCSD certification brings the highest salaries isn't the
certification directly, but the content. I'm employed but job searching
because I'm relocating to a different part of the United States. In my
searches, I've noticed that the requirements for developers tend to be
the same: "VB/VC++, SQL Server Design, ASP, XML, HTML, MTS/COM+/COM" and
so forth. But even if the ad doesn't state "MCSD preferred," the MCSD
requirements expose you to most of those areas; thus, you come pre-qualified,
even if they don't specifically ask for the MCSD (many hiring managers
seem to toss every techno-acronym that they've ever seen into an ad).
As a programmer/analyst, I design the architecture, figure in ROI and
TCO, consider its impact on the backbone, design the database, code the
app, bulletproof the user interface, and almost act as DBA through the
whole project (all of which I truly enjoy). So anyone who's reached MCSD
status isn't just a good VB code-cranker. Now, add to that equation 500,000
MCSEs vs. 34,000 MCSDs, and I think you'll find that the $70,000-plus
salaries (for MCSDs) reported are quite accurate, to the dismay of the
nay-sayers. I feel for the MCSEs, because they're equally skilled and
relied upon; there are just so many.
I'd like to see numbers comparing salaries of dual MCSE holders to those
who hold only one. Those stats might really tell a tale regarding migration
— Russell D. Scott, MCSE, MCSA
Ft. Worth, Texas
Sharing the Love
I just finished reading the July 2002 issue of MCP Magazine, and
loved every bit of it. The troubleshooting, packets, system recovery,
scripting (can't wait for the next issue to finish the script). Loved
it! I can't believe all the ways this particular issue will help. Thanks
—Sue Diefenderfer, MCSE, MCT, MOUS, A+, Network+
Tampa Bay, Florida
Keep on Truckin'
I've been an MCSE since January 1997 and in the industry eight years.
I've worked for both large- and mid-cap companies. I've even worked and
managed at the international level. I got laid off in October and spent
three months looking for a job. I had all kinds of theories back then,
like, "Thirty days and I'll be back in the seat!", and "If I average eight
resumés a day, maybe I can average one or two interviews a week." I managed
four interviews in three months. At one interview, my resumé was one of
400. They interviewed four people for the position. Then they eliminated
the position before they even selected anyone. I'm sure my story isn't
much different from others out there.
I quickly ran out of theories, save one: Go back to school, get your
degree and come back to a healthier market. The worst that could happen
would be the question: Why were you out of work for so long? Answer: "I
went back to school and got a shiny degree!" It's definitely better than
"Because no one wanted to hire somebody over-experienced for the job."
In an employer's market, if they want to mandate that you have three eyes,
blue hair and an MIT degree, they can. I even saw an ad asking for a network
manager with 30 years' experience. I don't know any network managers who
would answer that ad, even if they had 30 years. Maybe that was the point.
So I'm back in school, graduating next March. We'll see if my theory pans