By Jonathan Merrill on 7/4/2014 11:46 AM

Recently I had a conversation with one of our services vendors who we’ve hired to replace our patch management solution.  The technology pieces are always pretty straight forward, requirements, installation, etc..  But, a specific area came up that was a cause for pause and we dived deep into an area I speak to vendors a lot about but never inevitably see.  Yet, this area is at the heart of any IT services contract and should be the benchmark that is measured first.  It’s value.  Let’s define it

Value  [ ˈvalyo͞o ] NOUN

  1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something:

    "your support is of great value"

    synonyms: worth · usefulness · advantage · benefit · gain · profit · good ·



  1. estimate the monetary worth of (something):

    "his estate was valued at $45,000"

    synonyms: evaluate · assess · estimate · appraise · price ·


Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press

In the context of patch management, the conversation went like this:

Me:  “What does reporting look like?”

Them:  “The tool comes with some canned reports.”

Me:  “Do those canned reports show just progress or do they show how successful our patch management strategy is working?”

Them:  “Um, uh, well, that depends on how you define that.”

Me:  “Ok, so how do you define our success?” (Uncomfortable Silence) “In other words, how are you showing us the value in having your organization manage our patch management program?”

Them:  “I don’t know.”

Me:  “Don’t you find it odd, you having been in the MSP business for 20+ years, that you folks don’t have a set of canned reports that already have this defined, understanding how you provide services, which include how patch management programs should be setup, executed, maintained, and managed?  How do measure that value and quantify success?”

Them:  “I don’t know.”


Next couple of blogs I’ll dive more into value in an IT context.  I don’t write these to beat up on vendors, but to have the conversation on how these relationships should be viewed and defining success for the money spent.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 6/27/2014 12:36 PM

During the post-game interview, Jason Garrett said, "It's really wasn't about officiating.  We had 60 minutes to prove we could get it done and we didn't."

Jason Garrett constantly shows real class.  He understands that his team has to be accountable for the entire game's performance.  That the whole game must be looked at and judge, not just attributing the loss based on one call.  The Cowboy’s coach realizes the hard and cold truth of business:  It’s about outcomes.  It’s about the result.  In the grand scheme of things, no one will care if it was a questionable call.  Jason Garrett realizes that his team has 60 minutes to prove they could win and that just wasn’t the outcome.

This same concept applies in IT, folks.  At the micro layer it is being assigned a “task” or incident.  At the macro layer it’s being assigned a project or being a part of a business initiative.  We are all assigned work to be completed with some expected outcomes.  That we will deliver on promises made, perform to the standard, and achieve what is being asked of us 100% of the time.  Because, that is what we are paid to do.  And for purists like me, is what we love to do.  Information Technology is my craft.  IT leadership, my art.  So, how we do IT reflects upon ourselves…

So, the take away is when you look at 2015 is look at your performance in its entirety.  Don’t focus on one or two incidents that went right or wrong, but how effective you play the IT game.  Are you a playmaker?  Or were expectations given and broken?  Then think about your work performance.  Upon reflection, were there things you could do better?  Are you training and growing your skills?  Or blaming others and chalking it up to SCUSA?

In closing, think about this hard truth, that outcomes are often based on you and your contribution.  Be accountable.  Own it.

Always forward.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 6/20/2014 2:09 PM

Ok, being a general fan of all products Amazon, I wanted to try out an Fire TV after a risk-free zero cost 30-day trial.  Let’s just say when I say very brief… It was two days.  Let’s dive into it also briefly:

The Specs

4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7" (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm)

9.9 oz (281 grams)

SOC Platform
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064

Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz

Qualcomm Adreno 320

8 GB internal

2 GB LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ

Wi-Fi Connectivity
Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks.

Bluetooth 4.0 with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP

Cloud Storage
Free cloud storage for all Amazon content

5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP
Optical Audio (TOSLINK)
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2.0 Type A

Support for Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch Stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1

Content Formats Supported
Video: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
Audio: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3
Photo: JPG, PNG

Output Resolution Supported
720p and 1080p up to 60fps

System Requirements
High-definition television, HDMI cable

TV Compatibility
Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz, including popular HDCP-compatible models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse

Warranty and Service
1-year Limited Warranty and service included. Use of Fire TV is subject to the terms found here.

Regional Support
Certain services may not be available outside the U.S.

Closed Captioning
Watch videos and TV shows with closed captioning displayed. Captions are not available for all content.

Included in the Box
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote
2 AAA batteries
Power Adapter

The Beginning

The Fire TV arrived on my door step just three days after pulling the trigger on it and the box was beautiful.  Packaging was well done and tight.  Opening it was good.  The device is lightweight and simplistic.  So very easy and unassuming.  Plugged it up via HDMI and fired it up.

I was presented with a wireless connectivity screen.  I connected it to the internal WiFi and the next prompt was logging into Amazon, offering to create a new account or use the existing one.  And this is when the trouble started.  No matter what, I could not log into Amazon.  I even created a new Amazon account and no dice.  Would not log on.

Thus, my foray into attempting to find Technical Support for Amazon.  No where in the Spartan Fire TV documentation was there a number to call.  If you require support, the book simply pointed you to “”.  Amazon is legendary for hiding their phone number and I finally found it diving deep into the “My Account” section of the website.

After a 15 minute on hold time, I got connected to “Stephanie” and she knew what the problem was and got me going in less than 5 minutes.  Pretty cool technical support experience and we enjoyed Fire TV for the night and through the week.  Couple of comments here:

  • The size for the Fire TV was very good for what it brings to the table.  Clear, crisp sound, very nice picture, and snappy response in the menus.  A+
  • Very easy to setup and, the start up was a tad problematic, overall simplistic and straight forward.  A+
  • Fire TV doesn’t support DLNA, so HD Homerun Prime support didn’t exist.  The Kindle app didn’t work on Fire TV.  “F”
  • No HBOGO on FireTV.  We are a big user of HBOGO and was very surprised to not see it there.  “F”
  • You can play games on Fire TV?  We didn’t purchase a controller, but surprised to see that functionality in such a small device. “B”

The End

After one week, a lot of frustration with the Amazon Apps, and the password issue returning, not being able to log in (again), I packed up the Fire TV and shipped it back.  The price tag wasn’t worth the pay off and this technology isn’t mature enough to endure the frustration.  Amazon needs to learn a valuable lesson about advertising “as good as Kindle” Fire platform.  Actually be as good as the Kindle, the apps need to work seamlessly, and Fire TV should be media ready and not solely focused on the Amazon cloud.  Disappointed.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 6/13/2014 9:29 PM

2014 has turned out to be a tough year for blogging.  My modus operandi for this blog usually involves perception and commentary about how we execute in the industry I love called information technology.  For security and legal reasons, I’ve been asked to not blog about my current employer’s IT.  I am pretty surprised how this has changed my ability to “blog” and frequency there of.

This blog was never about any employers’ technology deep dive, but more about my journey in this amazingly exciting and deeply satisfying industry I am in.  There is a lot that should be shared as we go down the varying roads of how we implement IT.  I’ve seen wildly successful IT and sadly dysfunctional IT, so it’s that which I blog more and more about.  I know this blog has turned as I’ve written more and more about the need for leadership in IT, sharing the challenges organizations face, how people really matter when winning, and playing smarter, not harder, to achieve and add value.

In 2014, I’ve talked to colleagues and peers at various events and lack of leadership is most cited by the growing crowds of frustrated IT professionals.  I’m not an expert on leadership, but I have had the distinct privilege working for a few amazing leaders in my career.  I was lucky.  And it’s that knowledge and know-how that I try to share here, because it defines me and my team’s performance.  Sharing the tough situations we face and writing about past successes and failures in those similar situations isn’t just therapedic, but reflective.

So, to those who have emailed or commented on the low frequency of blogging, I apologize to you, but encourage you to keep reading as there is much more to share ahead…

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 6/6/2014 4:08 PM

Mostly recently, a leader posted this regarding IT performance:

I am finding that (even in other companies) most projects get about 80% baked before it becomes in production. The team (and the manager) will need to learn that this is reality.  Like it or not this will happen and we have to do our best with it.  I am concerned that there are times we hold too firm with trying to be baked just because we follow orders "black and white" versus realizing that rules are rules but in some cases with appropriate thought we must bend those rules or at least quickly find a way to put in place processes which will protect us but let progress be made faster.

Personally, I feel this is why many in management fail.

I guess a bank with this mindset means handling your money correctly 80% of the time is good.  Or an airline saying planes only need to be on time 80%, because rules are rules.  Progress is all that matters, not quality, not safety, not the outcomes, just make progress as fast as you can.  Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

I like the prospect of bending the rules to ensure the bureaucracy doesn’t prevent progress, but many rules aren’t bureaucratic.  Often, rules are imposed to ensure quality, safety, and support-ability.  Many of those rules are designed to prevent cavalier behaviors and give people assurance that a level of seriousness was taken doing what we do.  IT is critical to what we do.  Not just for us.  But our customers.  Look at today’s events and argue otherwise.

Frankly, I am not surprised by these remarks.  I am saddened by them.  It’s indicative of the common types of leaders organizations hire, often with MBA’s.

Sadly, the organization suffers as ITIL and Six Sigma will never take root with this mindset.  High performance suffers which drives IT’s place at the table further away.  Which is why politics and savvy have such a high importance placed.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 5/30/2014 5:28 PM

I had the great honor of being thought of and hired to perform technology assistance making the independent film, From Eva With Love.  The movie consists of interesting cast, including a hacker heroine, evil rich guy, brides for sale, and a revenge plot.  I won’t give anything away, but found the experience absolutely fascinating.  Especially from an IT perspective.

Behind The Scenes

My original responsibility was to handle all the special effects where technology was concerns.  In this picture, the scene required Eva using her computer to hack into Stan’s network.  We used old Dell PCs and some batch scripting to simulate the desired effects.

In this picture, I wanted to capture the camera technology used and how young these guys were, experts at their craft.  The “Red” camera is purely digital, placing the high resolution video on a portal hard drive.  When full, it transferred to a master “Studio” PC, which takes all the scenes are allows for manipulation/management.

There is an unusual amount of hurry up and wait.  This picture captures the assistants, hair and make up, and set hands waiting for the set to be built.

This movie filmed on several locations, although a large part with filmed at a local hotel in Dallas.  This portion of the set built for the movie people with director and producer chairs in the back, set hands and various personnel in the front.  Interesting hotel décor.

Did I happen to mention interesting hotel décor?  Lots of laptops and TVs around.

In this picture, I tried to capture the hustle and bustle of a set.  Lighting people making adjustments, actors getting in place, and set hands making adjustments.  This scene had me working with the actors and trying to get the inkjet printer print fast enough so it didn’t slow the flow of the scene down.  Yes, I said ink printer.

The director sitting behind the “Studio PC”, located on a cart.  This beast of a PC runs dual video out, high resolution video cards, quad Xeon CPU, 128GB RAM, RAID 5… speed, speed, speed.  The video from the Red camera feeds directly to the Studio PC, so this station also served as the shot view and allowed the director and producer to see how their scene was being filmed.

This picture captures the end of day filming, interns talking to the producer on the next days events, all computerized and scheduled.  If you need to be on set, the application emails the people with dates/times.  This picture captures the mess that gets made making a movie.  And yes, she has an iPad.  I found most of the producers and management staff use iPads to communicate.  The software is Movie Magic 6.

The “women” of the movie.  This is the “brides for sale” scene and required a lot of camera manipulation to get it right.  The director is giving instruction on where people move and interact, setting the mood for the scene with the extras.  This was my only picture of the lead actress, Callisto Griffith, located on the far right.  She was very professional and I enjoyed working with her.

The Longest 25 Minutes

Definitely have a new found respect for the people it takes to make a movie.  It’s not easy work. Long days.  Sometimes, all night.  Although shooting the movie only two two actually weeks, the process is 4-5 months to get the sound and post film editing done.

On May 16th, the film was released.  Definitely want to thank Greg McGuire with Studio M for the opportunity to do some fancy technical work, the cast and crew for their patience working with a movie noob, and Ben Loggins, for talking to me through all the tech and tools it’s taken to make this film.

PS.  Yes, I am on IMDB.  Find me here.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 5/23/2014 4:12 PM

This month, I’ll be 41.  It’s the time of the year where I step back and take a look behind me to ensure I am moving forward and not in circles.  It is that time to look in the closet and throw away those clothes I haven’t worn in a year.  Reimage my computer with a fresh OS.  And basically focus on me.  Am I headed in the right direction?

This is one of those rare blogs where I talk about myself and those close to me.

My New Home

I’m happy to report that I’ve moved out of the apartment scene and back into a home.  After an arduous search combining the need to stay close to my kids and as close to work as possible, I’ve decided to purchase a home in the city of Little Elm.  A five bedroom home on .5 acres, spread across three lots, located on lakeside property.  One of my dreams was to own a home on a lake.  And as of March 2014, that dream came a reality.

These two pictures are the view from my front porch:



In my lifetime, I have met many, but have found so few people I’ve instantly made a connection with.  Even fewer that have the same conservatism and life goals that match my own.  My personal life has been a wreck since my divorce in December 2013, coupled with an even longer separation, it’s not been easy to trust.  So, it was by sheer luck I met Amanda and she has had a profound influence on my well being.

She reminded me that relationships are so very important to one’s health.  Not just between a husband and wife, but the need to have friends and family.  Bringing other people into our lives enriches our fabric in so many ways.  I had become a isolationist and I didn’t realize it.  Her invites to participate into her personal world has opened my eyes in so many ways.

I thank God for her every day.

Work / Life Balance

This year I went to my physician and was given the news I am pre-diabetic, borderline high blood pressure, and have abnormally high levels of upper body tension.  All indicative of stress.  2013 gave me plenty to be stressed out about.  2014 was been marginally better.  Some changes will have to be made to continue my road to a healthier me.  Even with losing 50+ pounds, it’s been a tough road getting here.  So, here are a couple of things I am doing:

5.  Health Alert.  My grandfather died many years ago.  My grandmother has reunited with a high school flame last year who happens to be a retired pharmacy business owner.  After a very successful run, his retirement has been remarkable.  Equally remarkable is his depth of knowledge about the importance of what we put into our body to promote good health.  My father has been on Health Alert for some time and has had remarkable progress.  It’s worthy of a look and I’m investigating it’s applicability into my own health plan.

4.  Walking.  Twice a day, around the building.  And as often as I can.  Awesome stress reliever.  I try to have meetings walking around the building.  I try to stand as much as possible as sitting is so destructive to our health.  Not very successful so far, but keep plugging away at it.

3.  Stop Taking Things Personally.  This one is hard as we are what we do.  I am not a perfectionist, but I do like doing things right and leave the situation better than when I found it.  This deep level of care comes at a cost.  Especially when people are critical.  Equally when they fear what they don’t understand.  The world is full of naysayers, so I am consciously trying to focus more on people and less on things.

2.  Taking Time Off.  Also equally hard to do since IT Operations is truly a 24/7 job.  I’ve taken 8 days off so far this year.  I’ll probably take 8 more by the end of 2014.  I am a big believer of work/life balance.  We need to disconnect and remind ourselves of our lives.  Reconnecting with my kids, spending time with family… All on the agenda.  Maybe a vacation in there somewhere.

1.  Education/Education/Education.  Where does the time go and what happened to all those goals I had in 2013?  Really bummed I’ve neglected this part of my life since I push it’s importance so hard with my people.  So, I have reaffirmed my intent to grow in these places in 2014:

  • University of the People.  Looking at the possibility of going back to school.  Many reasons.
  • Getting deeper into Information Security.  Although I’ve always had a hand in it, investigating CISSP and becoming a member in the local user group.
  • DevOps user group participation and learning how we could do this at SCUSA.  I feel it’s a game changer.  The question is how to actually do it.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 5/16/2014 10:16 AM

Of all the organizations I’ve been employed by, none enforced quarterly reviews.  And I find that an absolute blessing since the review process typically is daunting, difficult, and often time consuming.  However, the real difficulty growing my staff’s capabilities and skills is the age old problem of dedicating the time to that endeavor.  If not for quarterly reviews, I would fail at one of the most important jobs being a leader.

Let me share with you the email I send to my team for the quarterly.

Does your annual review reflect the real you? Do your assessments accurately reveal your staff?  How easy it is to cave in to temptation and give overly optimistic reviews to avoid discomfort. I’ve done it; you’ve done it. We’re all guilty. At the end of the day, I kick myself because I’ve shortchanged everyone. In fact, I’ve undermined my employee and my organization. Worse yet, if I’m not modeling appropriate and accountable reviews, my subordinates will follow my poor example…. Honest feedback to stimulate improvement is what our people and organizations need the most.”  - Edward Marx, CIO, Texas Health Resources, Blog, January 25, 2012

Team – I’ve embraced the quarterly feedback process as a part of my leadership practice managing people for several years.  I too find annual performance evaluations to be less retrospective and more eventful peppered with the most recent activities that permeate an entire years’ worth of performance.  Since meeting with my team and talking about job performance every quarter, I have witnessed significant improvements in employee communication and engagement.  Improved bi-directional communication and accountability.

Quarterly feedback is not a punitive mundane exercise.  This is an opportunity to get your leadership’s honest assessment of your job performance, modeling our team’s and the organization’s values, and opening the door to coaching and improving service delivery.

Each subject area is split into three performance grades:

Developing Performer – This grade is given to team members that have development opportunities to improve.  Typically, remediation comments are given to assist the team member in dialog.

Significant Performer – This grade is given to team members that are performing to expected standard and above.  This grade is the goal for team members.

Top Performer – This grade is given to team members that provide service above and beyond the expected standard, showing true heroic service excellence.

Next, the quarterly feedback is between you and I.  It is a conversation tool.  It’s a benchmark allowing you to either feel your efforts are to expectations or the warning flag to change course without involving formal processes, like performance improvement plans.  Again, this is an informal tool.  Although this feedback should be considered thusly, you should take this feedback seriously and lets have those conversations.

Last, your annual evaluation will be a summary of all previous quarters including the most recent, giving you full visibility of the year.  No ambush.  Expected results.

Thank you for your efforts.  Always forward, team!

In an upcoming blog, I’d like to talk about the quarterly evaluation scorecard I use, where I stole it from, and why I feel it’s the most effective tool I have encountered.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 5/9/2014 12:50 PM

GOMERRILL Approved Tool!

IIS Crypto is a free tool that gives administrators the ability to enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2012. It also lets you reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites offered by IIS, implement best practices with a single click and test your website.

\\ JMM

By Jonathan Merrill on 5/2/2014 12:27 PM

JMM says… Sharing the wealth… Republished (ripped) from Christopher Kusek, Technology Evangelist Blog:

So I came across this gem not too long ago (I’ll be duplicating their content here in the event that it ever ‘disappears’ from the source)  Also I’ll be introducing some additional training resources and such which they did not cover or reflect, to make sure you have access to as much Free as possible!

That covers one bulk of entries which I’ve been meaning to share for awhile, and here are the rest from that other site! by j23evan <3

Free/Reduced Certifications – Free/Reduced Training 2014 Edition

Free Certifications 2014 For Everyone:

For IT Professionals:

  • VMware VSP & VTSP – Secure Customer Login – VMware offers fantastic training and certifications for partners with their VMware Sales Professional and VMware Technical Sales Professional Certifications.
  • F5 University for Partners – F5 offers several sales and technical accreditations for partner company employees.
  • Citrix Partner Central offers free training on their products as well as the CCSP 2013 for partner company employees.

Inexpensive Certifications

  • Brocade Accreditations$20Accreditation Exam Information – Brocade has 11 web based Accreditation’s that are only $20. They also offer Free training PDF’s for each course.
  • HP Specialty Certifications$10-45 – HP has a series of web based Certifications (HP2-HP5 Prefix) of inexpensive exams.
  • Apple Associate Exams$65Training and Certification – Thankfully Apple is moving away from their Authorized Training Centers (aka Robber Barons) to Pearson, and are offering their Associate level Exams online from the comfort of your home for $65 and free training PDF’s/iBookstore books.
  • Google Apps Education Qualification / YouTube Digital Citizen Certification – $15 – Google Apps Education Training Center – Google has 5 Exams that are $15 a piece that once all are completed earn you the Google Apps Education Qualification. The exams are web based and all training material is provided for free.
  • M.I.T. XSeries Certification in Computer Science – Massachusetts Institute of Technology is offering an inexpensive certificate to those who attend and pass their courses. Absolutely brilliant, they follow a traditional semester mold and would look fantastic on a resume. They have a supply chain certificate as well. (thanks Stryder144)
  • OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Certification – $25 -…chString&#x3d; – Yes I know it’s not an IT Certification. Proving that you have attended and passed the 10 Hour OSHA training course will give you a leg up over other applicants in certain industries. They also have a Cyber Safety Awareness program.

Reduced Certifications

  • Microsoft Exams through Prometric (070, 071, MTA)Retake Microsoft Certification Exam for Free | Microsoft – Microsoft’s Second Shot is back! Now through May 31st, 2014 you can obtain a voucher to have a free retake on almost all of their technical exams. Dynamics is sadly excluded.
  • Microsoft Exam Pack Discount…xam-packs.aspx – Microsoft is offering a 15% off discount for purchasing all 3 exams towards an MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE. Now through May 31st, 2014 you will also receive a free second shot with the discount.
  • Microsoft Virtualization CertificationMicrosoft Virtual Academy – Microsoft is offering a 50% discount for anyone who signs up and attends their free online jump start training. The exam is 74-409: Virtualization with Hyper-V and System Center. They are also introducing a free MVA course for it as well and you can watch it on demand on Expires June 30th, 2014.(Thanks SweenMachine)
  • Check PointTraining and Certifications – Check Point is offering 50% off all examination retakes and provides free training.
  • Juniper Fast Track…rack_home.aspx – Juniper is offering a 50% discount on 4 of their exams by taking and passing a free pre-assessment. Best of all they offer free elearning as well! (Thanks Zartanasaurus)
  • Stanley Community College – VCP-DCV VMware Course - VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage – Definately the best education deal for VMware, though unfortunately you need to go on a waiting list. For $200 you get the full online VMware Academy course as well as a 70% off Exam voucher. The labs are great and the instructors are great.
  • Oracle Beta Exams – Beta Info – Oracle offers beta exams for $50 instead of $150-$245. You can see what the release date is for each and when to expect a score report. As far as training goes… Oracle isnt the most benevolent of companies to starving IT professionals.
  • Get Certified 4 Less…ts.asp?Cat=129 – Get Certified 4 Less runs short sale specials discounting specific exam vouchers that must be taken rather soon. In addition to that they tend to sell exam vouchers $10-20 less than directly from the vendor. (Thanks Kriscamaro68 and shyguyIT)

For IT Professionals:

  • Brocade CNE - Education – Promo Code: CNE250BCNEPromo – Brocade is offering a Free BCNE exam voucher for current CCNA holders with purchase of the $100 CNE 250 training.
  • Microsoft Partner Network/Prometric 40% Discount…age/index.html – Prometric is running a special where Microsoft Partners can purchase 5 Exam vouchers for 35% off, or 20 vouchers for 40% off. With a free second shot. Offer Valid through May 31st, 2014 and exams must be taken by December 31st, 2014.

For Students:

  • CA Technology 60% off -…ation-faq.aspx – If you are a full-time college student in good academic standing, please contact and attach a JPEG image of your current student id card. They will email you a voucher which will enable you to receive a 60% discount. Limited to one voucher per 12-month period.

Free Training

  • CNWP -CWNP | My Account Home – CWNP is giving away a voucher for a free lifelong practice exam engine for the certification of your choice by signing up.
  • LPI - Practice Questions and Self-Study Materials | Linux Professional Institute (LPI) – LPI Provides free training material for all of their Exams.
  • VMware Hands On Labs- VMware – NEE – VMware has a large collection of hands on labs that have tasks associated with them running the gamut of all of their offerings. A great resource to test new technologies, or brush up on material. Oh and it’s free.
  • Google Digital Analytics Fundamentals - – Google is offering free training with hands on labs for their analytics platform.
  • Scrum TrainingScrum Training Series: Free Scrum Master Training – To Quote: "Free Online Scrum Master Training: The fun way to learn about Agile/Scrum, prepare for Scrum Master certification / Agile certification, and debunk popular misconceptions. (Thanks N2IT)
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy – Microsoft has a very in-depth training website covering almost all of their products and offerings.
  • IT Masters CISSP Short CourseFree Short Course: CISSP Security Certification | IT Masters – IT Masters in conjunction with Charles Sturt University is offering a free short course training in CISSP. (thanks Stryder144)
  • DegreedDegreed – The Digital Lifelong Diploma – Degreed is an interesting site that is all about free online classes, aggregating them, and tracking credit for what you have done in them, tradition school, and other training sources to provide a new millennium "degree" program highlighting your knowledge and skills. Microsoft Virtual Academy classes transfer over.

For IT Professionals

  • Microsoft Partner Network - – A fantastic training site that explores in most Microsoft products and has assessments. Most assessments can be linked to specific partner competencies, and the best part is the completed courses are tied to you. If you change companies and associate your Microsoft Professional account with them they will get all the benefits of what you have accomplished.
  • EMC Powerlink – EMC Powerlink is for employees of Partner Organizations to learn and take assessments validating Sales and Engineering for both EMC Solutions and RSA Security.
  • MerakiCisco Meraki Webinars – Free Meraki 802.11n cloud managed AP for attending a webinar. IT professionals only, you must register with your company email.

Reduced Training

  • Western Governors UniversityOnline University | Online Degree Programs | The University of You – As many of you are aware, WGU is one of the best deals in post-secondary education. Think of it as the public version of Phoenix University. It’s Online, Accredited, Accelerated, and Inexpensive. For my broke IT professionals you can get student loans via fafsa (Yes its debt, but think of it as a down payment for a better future). The majority of their IT classes revolve around obtaining a certification, and they give you all the training you need. You can actually structure and accelerate your classes to where your term is cheaper than it would be to get the certs separately, and you earn college credit.
  • University of the people – Is a non-profit, US accredited, tuition free online university that targets itself to everyone in the world. It offers both 2 and 4 year degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science. The caveat is while they do not charge tuition, you must pay $100 for each final exam. Wikipedia has some interesting info on them cknapp78)

Associations & Membership Perks For Everyone

  • Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)FREE - CSTA – Individual Membership – The CSTA is focused on IT Education, and unlike the title says is not just for educators, but anyone interested. From time to time Microsoft offers free MTA exam vouchers to member, and other vendors provide perks, as well as being given a full ACM Membership.
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)$19/$99 - Membership — Association for Computing Machinery – ACM is an incredible value for students at $19 a year, or IT professionals at $99 a year. (That is if you aren’t interested in education and opt for the CSTA membership). Member perks include Free access to Safari, books24x7, and skillsoft. Email forwarding and filtering through postini with an email, access to their digital library and tri-weekly news emails keeping you up to date. Additional perks as a Student member include Microsoft Dreamspark/Dreamspark Premium (Yay free software! And typically a free MS Voucher yearly) , and CA Academic Initiative.
  • Microsoft DreamSpark/DreamSpark Premium – Free, Students only - – Microsoft has a decent program for students that give them access to free software in the Programming/Server fields. If your school is awesome they will have access to DreamSpark Premium which gives you a plethora of keycodes and software that rivals the midrange MSDN account. WGU and Stanly CC are both Premium members. Both offer VMware software and keycodes, as well as VMware voucher and training discounts.
  • Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)$25+/$165+Join ISACA – IT Professional – IT Student – IT Educator – Memberships | ISACA – ISACA is for the big boys and cool kids. Those that are certified are typically more tenured higher level IT professionals. You are required to pay your local chapter dues in additional to the association dues, but $25 is fantastic for students. You get access to networking events, continuing education, COBiT access and data, and discounts on their certifications. Even the professional level at $165 pays for itself after 1 exam.
  • Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)$30/$95 - – ISSA is a great resource for people looking to network or break into the InfoSec world. While not as many tangible benefits as ISACA, at $30 for students and $95 for professionals it is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of chief information security officer challenges.
  • Project Management Institute (PMI)$32/$129 - Types of PMI Memberships | Project Management Institute – PMI is still the gold standard in project management, and the benefits of membership enable you to discounts on their certifications, a free digital edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), discounts on training and resources, and great networking opportunities. If you are pursuing the PMP or Associate of PMP $32 for students and $129 for professionals is a great deal.
  • The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)$250Become a CompTIA Member – CompTIA membership is different from being CompTIA certified. Membership is primarily aimed at companies, but what IT professional isn’t a consultant on the side? This year they had a $100 discount on membership for people who signed up to go to their free conference. Not if you actually went, just signed up. At $250 for an individual I am not sure it is as good of a deal, but the perks are Free CompTIA Executive Certifications and training, 80% discount on your first voucher purchase, 15% off every following voucher purchase. (80% off casp+ for $150 and 15% off every other voucher sold me)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)$32/$187IEEE – Join IEEE – The IEEE is probably the most important association in the IT industry. Student members get another DreamSpark Premium Account. All members get access to publications, standards, networking, googleapps@IEEE (An email, advertisement free gmail, 30GB of shared storage Google Drive/Gmail), and a tremendous amount of other benefits.
  • VMware User Group (VMUG)Free/$200 – VMUG is a great resource for VMware enthusiasts. Membership is free, and includes free access to local conferences, meetups with local chapters, and discounts on elearning books. For $200 you can become an Advantage member which will give you 35% off VMware Lab Connect, 20% off VMware-Delivered Classes, 20% off VMware Certifications, $100 Discount to VMworld, and 50% off VMware Fusion and Workstation Licenses. In the spring and summer to generate memberships they like to include a free VMware voucher (Which makes it a no brainer).
  • Help Desk Institute (HDI)$35/$165 – HDI membership offers discounts on their certifications and training, as well as access to white papers and networking events. At $35 for students you will immediately recoup the membership on the first exam you take.
  • ASIS International$25/$215…s/default.aspx – ASIS International is another specialized higher end security education and certification firm. Membership benefits include discounts on exams and education materials.
  • Microsoft Partner Network - – For seasoned IT professionals, or those who do side consulting/run a SOHO, one great perk is joining the Microsoft Partner Network. It is free to sign up for, even if you are already associated as a Microsoft Professional to your Primary Employer you can create one for your side business. After taking a short assessment you can purchase an Action Pack subscription for $475 which entitles you to internal use licenses to run your business. Office, Windows, Windows Server, Exchange, RDS CALS, SharePoint and System Center are all included.

Third Party Transferable Certifications

  • CIW Security Specialist & Professional…ity_series.pdf – CIW gives credit to MCTS, CCNA, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, Security+ certification holders who have passed the entry level CIW Security exam the second and third level designation.
  • Linux+ Certification 5-in-1 PiñataCompTIA Partnership | Linux Professional Institute (LPI) – Originally called 3in1, then 4in1, now 5in1: If you pass Linux+ 101 and 102 from CompTIA to earn the Linux+ designation, you are eligible to receive LPIC-1, Novell CLA, Novell Suse 11 Technical Specialist, and Novell Data Center Technical Specialist.
  • Cloud Certification CouncilGrandfather Program for Cloud Experts – The CCC is a newly created vendor agnostic certification council made up by a conglomerate of several vendors to offer a higher level credential. Now until June 2014 you can submit your resume and certifications (along with a fee) to be grandfathered in to the program.
  • Alcatel-Lucent…h2VAQAKBjLlw!! – Alcatel-Lucent accepts current Cisco & Juniper certification holders to satisfy their entry level Network Routing Specialist I and II exams.
  • HP Fast Track ProgramFast track program | HP ExpertOne – HP Officers fast track certifications and recognition of Cisco, NetApp, and EMC credentials in lieu of their courses/exams. (Also includes ATA with Certiport)

As you can see this is a metric training ton of information and training! Use it. Be better for it. Share it. Visit the source and thank j23evan for producing this awesomeness! Enjoy!


Father, Leader, Mentor,
Educator, Evangelist,
Problem Solver, Visionary,
Strategist, Architect,
and Technology Professional





"The views and opinions expressed in articles, publications, and in any comments located on this website are those of mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers."