Archive for the 'IT' Category

How the cloud is revolutionizing roles in the IT department

This post was originally published on ThoughtsOnCloud on November 10th, 2014.

Many people see cloud as an evolution of outsourcing. By moving their traditional information technology (IT) resources into a public cloud, clients can focus on their core business differentiators. Cloud doesn’t nix the need for the hardware, software and systems management—it merely encapsulates and shields the user from those aspects. It puts IT in the hands of the external specialists working inside the cloud. And by centralizing IT and skills, a business can reduce cost and risk while focusing on its core skills to improve time to market and business agility.

But where does this leave the client’s IT department? Can they all go home, or do some of the roles remain? Are there actually new roles created? Will they have the skills needed for this new environment?

Changes Crossroad SignLet’s look in more detail at some of these roles and the impact that the extreme case of moving all IT workloads to external cloud providers would have on them:

IT strategy

Strategic direction is still important in the new environment. Business technology and governance strategy are still required to map the cloud provider’s capabilities to the business requirements. Portfolio management and service management strategies have increased importance to analyze investments, ascertain value and determine how to get strategic advantage from the standardized services offered by cloud. However, the role of enterprise architecture is significantly simplified.

Control is still needed although the scope is significantly reduced. IT management system control retains some budgetary control, but much of its oversight, coordination and reporting responsibilities are better performed elsewhere. Responsibility for portfolio value management and technology innovation is mainly handed to the cloud provider.

At the operational level, project management is still required. Knowledge management has reduced scope, but best practices and experiences will still need to be tracked.

IT administration

The scope of IT business modeling is reduced, as many of the functions in the overall business and operational framework are no longer required.

There are changes in administration control. Sourcing relationships and selection are critical for the initiation and management of relationships with providers. Financial control and accounting will continue to manage all financial aspects of IT operations. Human resources planning and administration are still required, but the number of people supported is reduced. Site and facility administration is no longer needed.

All of the operational roles in IT administration have increased importance. IT procurement and contracts as well as vendor service coordination are needed to manage the complex relationships between the enterprise and cloud provider. Customer contracts and pricing is needed for the allocation of cloud costs to internal budgets as well as providing a single bill for services from multiple cloud providers.

Service delivery and support

The main casualties of the move to cloud are the build and run functions. The service delivery strategy will remain in house, although it becomes largely redundant once the strategic decision has been made to source solely from the cloud. Responsibility for the service support strategy moves to the cloud provider.

Service delivery control and service support planning move to cloud provider. Infrastructure resource planning functions are likely to be subsumed into the customer contracts and pricing administration role.

Responsibility for service delivery operations and infrastructure resource administration moves to cloud provider. The help desk and desk-side support services from service support operations remain essential activities for initial level one support, but beyond this, support will be offered by the cloud provider.

Further observations

Governance is a critical capability, particularly around maintaining control over software as a service adoption. Integration of services will be a challenge, but perhaps this will also be available as a service in the future. Relationships with partners and service providers in all guises will become increasingly important.

There is a potential issue with skills. With many of the traditional junior roles in development and operations moving outside the enterprise, it’s hard to see how candidates for these new strategy and coordination roles will gain the experience they need. Academia has an important part to play in ensuring that graduates are equipped with the right skills.

In summary:

• Most current job roles remain, although many have reduced scope or importance.
• Fewer strategic roles are impacted than control or operational ones.
• Build and Run are the main functions which move to the cloud providers.
• Planning and commercial skills are key, linking the IT department more closely to the business.

Can you think of other roles that will be affected by the coming changes? Is your organization ready? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.


Demonstration: cloud, analytics, mobile and social using IBM Bluemix

This post was originally published on ThoughtsOnCloud on January 3rd, 2015.

In the 2013 IBM Annual Report, IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty talked about the shifts that she sees occurring in industries:

“Competitive advantage will be created through data and analytics, business models will be shaped by cloud, and individual engagement will be powered by mobile and social technologies. Therefore, IBM is making a new future for our clients, our industry and our company…As important as cloud is, its economic significance is often misunderstood. That lies less in the technology, which is relatively straightforward, than in the new business models cloud will enable for enterprises and institutions…The phenomena of data and cloud are changing the arena of global business and society. At the same time, proliferating mobile technology and the spread of social business are empowering people with knowledge, enriching them through networks and changing their expectations.”

Consequently, IBM is focusing on three strategic imperatives: data, cloud and engagement.

Recently I have been demonstrating this in a holistic way by showing the fast deployment of an application running on IBM Bluemix, the company’s platform as a service (PaaS) offering. It’s a social analytics application that provides cross-selling and product placement opportunities enabling systems of engagement with systems of insight. It analyzes social trends like tweets to help sales, marketing and operational staff to target specific customers with more personalized offers using mobile technologies.

Take a look at this video of my demonstration:

How governments can tap into cloud and Internet of Things

This post was originally published on ThoughtsOnCloud on October 2nd, 2014.

In my previous post, I discussed some of the innovations that can be achieved by governments using cloud. I presented on this topic recently at the Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar: Next steps for cloud computing. At the session I went on to explore mobile, the Internet of Things and some changes in the skills needed for cloud.

The session abstract asked the following question about mobile: As device processing power increases, yet cloud solutions rely less and less on that power, is there a disconnect between hardware manufacturers and app and software developers? I think this misses the point. Cloud isn’t about shifting the processing power from one place to another; it’s about doing the right processing in the right place.

U.S. Marine using GPS capabilities on a handheld device to check his location.

At IBM, we talk about the nexus of forces of cloud, analytics, mobile and social (CAMS) and we split information technology (IT) into Systems of Record and Systems of Engagement.

The Systems of Record are the traditional IT—the databases that we’re talking about moving from the existing data centers to the cloud. And, as I’ve discussed in a previous post, moving into the cloud means that we can perform a lot of new analytics.

With mobile and social we now have Systems of Engagement. We have devices that interact with people and the world. Because of their fantastic processing power, these devices can gather data that we’ve never had access to before. For example, these devices make it really easy to take a photo of graffiti or a hole in the road and send it to the local council through FixMyStreet in order to have it fixed. It’s not just the additional processing power; it’s the new instrumentation that this brings. We now have a GPS location so the council knows exactly where the hole is.

In a case I discussed in my previous post, this would have made it a lot easier to send photos and even videos of Madeleine McCann to a photo analytics site, to assist in the investigation of her disappearance in 2007.

We’re also working with Westminster council to optimize their parking. The instrumentation and communication from phones helps us do things we’ve never done before, moving us onto the Internet of Things and making it possible to put connected sensors in parking spaces.

With connected cars, we have even more instrumentation and possibilities. We have millions of cars with thermometers, rain detection, GPS and connectivity that can tell the National Weather Service exactly what the weather is with incredible granularity, as well as the more obvious solutions like traffic optimization.

Let’s move on to talk about skills. IBM has an Academic Initiative in which we supply software to universities at no cost, and IBMers work with university administrators and professors on the curriculum and even act as guest lecturers. For Imperial College, we’re providing cloud based marketing analytics software as well as data sets and skills, so that they can focus on teaching the subject rather than worrying about the IT. Since computer science curriculum in schools is changing to focus more on programming skills, we can offer cloud based development environments like IBM Bluemix. We’re working with the Oxford and Cambridge examination board on their modules for cloud, big data and security.

Students at the lecture 21440848

To be honest, it’s still hard. Universities are a competitive environment and they have to offer courses that students are interested in rather than ones that industry and the country need. IT is changing so fast that we can’t keep up.

Lecturers will teach subjects that they’re comfortable with and students will apply for courses that they understand or that their parents are familiar with. A university recently offered a course on social media analytics, which you’d think would be quite trendy and attractive, but they only had two attendees. It used to be that universities would teach theory and the ability to learn, and then industry would hire them and give them the skills. Now, things are moving so fast that industry doesn’t have the skills and is looking for the graduates to bring them.

Looking at the strategy of moving to the cloud and the changing role of the IT department, we’re finding that outsourcing the day-to-day running of the technology brings about a change in skills needed. It’s less about hands-on IT and more about architecture, governance, and managing relationships with third party providers. A lot of this is typically offered by the business faculty of a university, rather than the computing faculty. We need these groups to work closer together.

To a certain extent, we’re addressing this with apprenticeships. IBM has been running an apprenticeship scheme for the last four years. This on-the-job training means that industry can provide hands-on training with the best blend of up-to-the-minute technical, business and personal skills. This has been very effective, with IBM winning the Best Apprenticeship Scheme from Target National Recruitment Awards and National Apprenticeship Services and Everywoman in technology.

In summary, we need to be looking at the new things that can be achieved by moving to cloud and shared services; exploiting mobile and the internet of things; and training for the most appropriate skills in the most appropriate way.

How do you think governments should utilize cloud and the Internet of Things? And what changes do you think are needed to equip students for a cloud based future? Please leave a comment to join the conversation.

How to run a code club – without computers!

Here is a link to a post that Martin Gale and I wrote on the Salesforce Foundation blog.

Upgrading a Salesforce App from Classic to Lightning Experience by Sam Garforth


A while ago, I wrote a Salesforce app to be used as example of the kinds of apps that can be built on the Salesforce platform. It is called Shared Rides and is a carpooling app to offer and accept shared rides via Chatter. You earn green mile credits which can be tracked on a dashboard. It is available as a Salesforce App Cloud Quick Start App and can be downloaded as a managed package from here.

Salesforce has recently introduced a new look and feel called Lightning Experience (LEX) along with associated tooling to help you develop apps that use it. It is a component based framework (Model View View Controller), as opposed to the Model View Controller framework that Classic uses. I decided to check whether my app worked in the new interface and make any changes necessary take advantage of all the benefits of being a Lightning app.

There are some great training modules in Trailhead. The trail Migrate to Lightning Experience tell you a lot of what you need to know to understand LEX and, in particular, the unit Upgrade a Classic App to a Lightning App in module Lightning Apps gives the recommended steps for upgrading.

The Standard Steps

So here are the steps I took:

  1. Create a fresh org to develop and test the app one
  2. Install the app package that I wanted to upgrade into the new org.
  3. Enable Lightning Experience for the org and switch into it.image001image003image005
  4. From Setup, enter App in the Quick Find box, then select App Manager.
  5. image007

  6. Find your app in the list. In my case, It’s called Shared Rides.
  7. Click the pulldown from the app row, and select Upgrade.
  8. image011

  9. Leave the suggested name as-is, e.g. “Shared Rides Lightning” and click Upgrade.
  10. image013

  11. The Classic app is copied and upgraded for Lightning Experience. There are now two versions of the app: a Classic version, and a Lightning version. After you upgrade it, the Classic app is no longer accessible in Lightning Experience via the App Launcher. You’ll still see the Classic app in the apps list, but with the Visible in Lightning column deselected.image015
  12. After you upgrade a Classic app, the two versions of the app must be managed separately. Future changes you make to the Classic app won’t be reflected in the Lightning version of the app, and vice versa.
  13. So now the Lightning app is available in the App Launcher and it even has the data from the old version

    Adding the Enhancements

    However, it’s not taking advantage of the great enhancements that Lightning apps can offer. So we go through the following steps.

    1. Back in the Lightning Experience App Manager, find the Lightning app in the list.
    2. Click  from the Lightning app row, and select Edit.
    3. image022

    4. Update the description if needed as the app description displays alongside the icon in the App Launcher, so it’s a great way to tell your users what the app is for, but keep it brief.
    5. In the App Branding section, change the Primary Color to something appropriate and also upload an image.image024image026

      After saving, click the Select Items tab, and remove the Home tab from the Selected Items list by selecting it and then clicking the ‘<’ button between the two columns. Then ensure you’re happy with the other items and click ‘Save’ and .Done’.image028

      Now, when you go into the App Launcher the app should be there with the correct branding. The changes may not appear immediately as the page is cached. You may need to force a reload of the browser.image030

      That brings us to the end of the official instructions. Now comes the testing.

      Further Tidying


      The new version of the app has quick action buttons for ‘New Contact’ and ‘New Opportunity’. These aren’t relevant to a car sharing app so I need to remove them.

      Also, there is a pane with functionality for activity, new task, log a call etc which is not relevant.

      So click on ‘edit page’


      This takes you into Lightning App Builder. Highlight the Activity pane.image038

      and click the x in the top right corner of the paneimage040

      Ideally you would want to change the layout of the page (template) but in my case this option in not available. Perhaps it’s inherited.

      Now we need to remove the ‘New Contact’ and ‘New Opportunity’ buttons so click on the pane that contains these i.e. the Highlights Panel.


      On the right hand side it tells you which page layout you are using for the actions. Click through to it, in my case I click on “Location Layout”.

      Scroll down the page layout setup page to the Lightning Experience section and click on the ‘override the predefined actions’ hyperlink.


      Remove the actions you don’t want by dragging them up to the Lightning Actions palette.


      then click ‘Save’.

      Go back to the Lightning App Builder page and click ‘save’ to save the other changes and then select ‘Activate’.

      Select what level you want to assign the page as the default for. I selected ‘Org Default’.


      Click ‘Back’ to go out of the App Builder back to the page.  I can see that my changes have taken effect.


      These changes only affected the Location page. I still needed to go through the same steps to adjust the layout and actions on the other pages.

      JavaScript Button

      In the Classic version of my app I had an “Accept Ride” button which someone could click to say that they would like to share a journey that had been offered.image053

      This was a JavaScript button.


      JavaScript buttons are not supported in LEX so instead I needed to create a Lightning Component Quick Action button. So, these are the steps I took:

      Create the Lightning Component

      1. Open the Dev Consoleimage059
      2. Create a new Lightning Component.
      3. Give the component the nameAcceptRide.
      4. I selected Lightning Record Page and Lightning Quick Action.image061
      5. Then I replaced the contents of the component with the following:

      Add a Component Controller

      1. Click the Controller button in the Dev Console.
      2. Replace the contents of the controller with the following and then save it
      handleAcceptRide: function(component, event, helper) {
      var sharedRide_id = component.get("v.recordId");
      var action = component.get("c.getSharedRide");
      "sharedRideID": sharedRide_id
      action.setCallback(this, function(response) {
      var res = response.getReturnValue();
      var resultsToast = $A.get("e.force:showToast");
      if (res) {
      "title": "Ride Accepted",
      "message": "You have been added to the Shared Ride riders list."
      } else {
      "title": "Error",
      "message": "Sorry, you could not be added to the Shared Ride riders list."
      var dismissActionPanel = $A.get("e.force:closeQuickAction");;

      Create the Apex Controller

      1. In the Dev Console, create a new Apex Class,File > New > Apex Class.
      2. Give it a name ofAcceptRideApexController.
      3. I replaced the contents with the following and saved it.
      public class AcceptRideApexController {
      public static Boolean getSharedRide (Id sharedRideID) {
      PSE_Shared_Rides__c rideToUpdate = [SELECT Id, Number_of_spaces__c FROM PSE_Shared_Rides__c WHERE Id = :sharedRideID];
      Decimal spacesleft = rideToUpdate.Number_of_spaces__c;
      if (spacesleft  0 ) rideToUpdate.Number_of_spaces__c = spacesleft - 1;
      update rideToUpdate;
      return true;

      The original javascript looked like this:

      /* */
      var rideToUpdate = new sforce.SObject("PSE_Shared_Rides__c");
      var spacesleft = "{!PSE_Shared_Rides__c.Number_of_spaces__c}";
      rideToUpdate.Id = "{!PSE_Shared_Rides__c.Id}";
      if (spacesleft == 4) rideToUpdate.Ride_Sharer_4__c = "{!$User.Id}";
      if (spacesleft == 3) rideToUpdate.Ride_Sharer_3__c = "{!$User.Id}";
      if (spacesleft == 2) rideToUpdate.Ride_Sharer_2__c = "{!$User.Id}";
      if (spacesleft == 1) rideToUpdate.Ride_Sharer_1__c = "{!$User.Id}";
      if (spacesleft > 0 ) rideToUpdate.Number_of_spaces__c = spacesleft - 1;
      var result = sforce.connection.update([rideToUpdate]);
      if(result[0].success === "true"){
      "An Error has Occurred. Error: " +
      "An Unexpected Error has Occurred: Error: " + e
      1. Save the file.
      2. Ensure that the Apex controller is referenced in the tag in AcceptRide.cmp file i.e. controller=”AcceptRideApexController”

      Make the component a Quick Action

      1. Ensure that force:lightningQuickActionWithoutHeader is an implements attribute of the component.
      2. Save all the files.
      3. Navigate back to the Object Manager and choose the Shared Ride object.
      4. Scroll down to the Buttons, Links and Actions section.
      5. Click the New Action button.
      6. Select Lightning Component as the Actions Type.
      7. Select c:AcceptRide as the Lightning Component and set the height to 400px.
      8. Type Accept Ride in the Label field and Accept_Ride becomes the name.
      9. Click Save.
      10. Navigate back to Shared Ride object page and click the Shared Ride Layout in the Page Layouts section.
      11. Click the override the predefined actions link in the Salesforce1 and Lightning Experience Actions section.
      12. Click the Salesforce1 & Lightning Actions link in the Property Layout box.
      13. Drag the Accept Ride tile to the Salesforce1 and Lightning Experience Actions section and place it as the first item. Remove the buttons that you don’t need.
      14. image065

      15. Click the Save button in the Shared Ride Layout box.
      16. Navigate back to a Shared Ride Record page. If the changes don’t appear then force refresh the page.image067
      17. Click the Accept Ride Quick Action button to accept the offer.
      1. In my case I have different page layouts for different record types and I change record type each time someone accepts a ride. I needed to change each of these layouts.

      Create the Test Class

      So now, although the app is working I want to be able to package it and share it to other users and orgs. For this I need a test class for the new apex code. Here is my new test Apex Class:

      private class PSE_TestAcceptRide {
      static testMethod void myUnitTest() {
      PSE_Location__c l1 = new PSE_Location__c();
      l1.Location__c = 'SO53 1JA';
      insert l1;
      PSE_Location__c l2 = new PSE_Location__c();
      l2.Location__c = 'EC2N 4AY';
      insert l2;
      PSE_Route__c r = new PSE_Route__c();
      r.Start_Location__c = l1.Id;
      r.Destination__c = l2.Id;
      r.Name = 'Chandlers Ford to SFT';
      insert r;
      update r;
      PSE_Shared_Rides__c s = new PSE_Shared_Rides__c();
      s.Name = 'Test Ride';
      s.Route__c = r.Id;
      s.Time__c = Datetime.newInstance(2015, 10, 17);
      s.Number_of_spaces__c = 3;
      insert s;
      update s;
      catch(System.DMLException e)

      Package The New App

      Once the app is working it needs to be packaged if you intend to share it as a package. So go to the Package Manager and select ‘New’. Give it a name and save it and select ‘Add’ to add the components.

      Start with component type App and select both versions of your app. At first I just selected the Lightning one but then it will only work in LEX. You need the classic version too for people who don’t have LEX.

      I also had to manually add the Apex test class and the AcceptRideController.js

      Select Upload and fill in the fields.


      This was my personal experience of upgrading a packaged app with a JavaScript button to Lightning Experience. I hope you found it useful. I would welcome any comments on improvements I could make to my process and also other learnings you have had upgrading other apps.

Salesforce Application Lifecycle Management

IBM MQSeries Professional Certification

The value of professional qualifications in the computing industry is a contentious issue but there is no doubt that they are here to stay. Five years ago IBM introduced the Certified MQSeries Engineer qualification. This has since mutated into three others qualifications and more have arrived too.
IBM’s motivation for introducing the MQSeries certification is debated. Back in 1995 it was difficult for them to achieve sales, as customers were rightly concerned about the availability of skilled support staff. Also, there was concern that Microsoft’s imminent MSMQ could become serious competition. Microsoft already had a certification programme which enabled them to boast about the number of people with skills in their products. IBM’s introduction of the MQSeries certification helped alleviate this difficulty. However, Peter Goss of MQSeries Product Marketing responds to this suggestion saying, “Your statement is not correct. The tests in the MQSeries Family Certification programme – all 8 of them – were introduced to allow individuals to validate the success of the education they have taken and experience they have gained working with the products. And it allows Business Partners and customers to validate that their employees have gained the education, knowledge and experience necessary to do their jobs.”
There is also debate over who should pay for the sitting of the tests. It is in IBM’s interests to have lots of qualified people in the market. If employers demand that job candidates are certified then people have no choice but to take the tests and often to attend supporting IBM education. In order for a software vendor or consulting company to receive support from IBM it must become an IBM Business Partner. One of the requirements for a company to be a member of IBM’s PartnerWorld programme is that they have a certain number of employees who are certified.
Peter goes on to say, “Tests therefore have real value to an individual or to a company, and so it’s no surprise that it costs money to take the test.”
Another area of concern is that employers could use the fact that an employee has failed the test as justification for dismissal. For this reason some employees refuse to take the test until they are absolutely sure that they are ready, but this can cause conflict.
Having said all this, the Certification Programme is here to stay and if you achieve the qualification you are undoubtedly in a better situation than if you do not.
The IBM Professional Certification Programme is the roadmap provided by IBM such that you can achieve internationally recognised certification by attending education classes and taking examinations that demonstrate your abilities and experience. IBM says that its Professional Certification Programme “offers a business solution for skilled technical professionals seeking to demonstrate their expertise to the world.” The programme is designed to objectively validate skills and demonstrate proficiency in the latest IBM technology and solutions. They say that by giving you and your employer confidence that your skills have been tested, the certification can help you excel at your job, delivering higher levels of service and technical expertise and thus move you on a faster career track.
For optimum benefit, the certification tests must reflect the critical tasks required for a job, the skill levels of each task, and the frequency by which a task needs to be performed. IBM has comprehensive, documented processes, which ensure that the certification tests remain relevant to the work environment of potential certification candidates.

A typical price for a test is £105 plus VAT. Although it is sometimes possible to get a “You Pass We Pay” deal depending upon your position (e.g. business partner). Sometimes, at IBM conferences, it is possible to sit the test for free. The prerequisite IBM MQSeries Courses typically cost around £300 plus VAT per day and last between one and five days.
IBM justifies the cost of taking the test and associated education with a Return on Investment study. They say that the study indicated positive business results for the companys taking the test such as improved Revenue (Profitability), Efficiency (Productivity), and Customer Satisfaction (Credibility).

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 16.05.03

At Level 1 you can take tests to qualify as an IBM Certified Specialist in MQSeries, MQSeries Integrator or MQSeries Integrator V2. This title certifies you to perform basic operational services such as basic planning, configuration, installation, support, management, and maintenance, with limited assistance or to perform administration of the product, with limited assistance.
At Level 2 you can qualify as an IBM Certified Solutions Expert in the same products and also in MQSeries Workflow. This title demonstrates breadth of basic operational services skills in more than one environment or demonstrates depth of advanced operational services skills such as customising, integrating, migrating and tuning, in one environment.
Also at level 2 is the IBM Certified Developer qualification for MQSeries. It demonstrates the capability to plan and design an application requirement and build a prototype.
As an example, the people who should consider applying to be IBM Certified Solutions Experts in MQSeries are people responsible for planning and architecting software solutions and designing applications based on MQSeries. They should have the knowledge available from attending the MQSeries Technical Introduction course along with the Application Programming course, the Domino Connections course, and the Advanced System Design and Connections course. They should also have practical experience of implementing MQ with transaction management and database products, systems management, prototyping IT solutions, basic programming concepts, IT security concepts, plus the ability to gather business requirements and to translate those requirements into IT solutions, and skills in implementing systems on multiple computing platforms.

Each of the qualifications requires the taking of at least one test, with the recommended prerequisite study and experience.
The mapping between the qualifications and test names is not immediately obvious but it does help you to understand what the qualifications signify:




MQ Specialist

Installation and Configuration

MQ Solutions Expert

MQ System Planning and

MQ Developer

MQ Application Design

MQSI Specialist

MQSI Installation and

MQ Specialist

MQSI Solutions Expert

MQSI System Planning and

MQ Solutions Expert

MQSI V2 Specialist

MQSI V2 Implementation

MQ Specialist

MQSI V2 Solutions Expert

MQSI V2 System Architecture
and Design

Any MQ certification

MQSeries Workflow Solutions

MQSeries Workflow System
Planning and Modelling

Details of the individual test objectives, describing the topics potentially covered on the tests can be found at

Each test specifies as a prerequisite course the MQSeries Technical Introduction, which is available from IBM Learning Services as a class lesson or as a computer-based training CD-ROM. They each require at least familiarity with the MQ manuals and publications and knowledge of basic MQSeries functions and facilities. Each certification also has other specific courses associated with it, the details of which are available on the tests web page.

This of course is the contentious part. The qualification is designed to show that you have adequate experience to cope with real life situations. Taking courses designed to get you through the test and missing out the real life experience is defeating the object.

When you think you may be ready to take the test it is worth trying a sample one. This way you will know whether it’s worth spending the time, money and stress on the real thing. Also you’ll get a feel for the style of questions and may even learn more through the experience. Sample tests are available from the certification web site.

Example Question
Here is an example question. It is a very simple question but the answer is not so easy. See the web site for the answer.

 An MQSeries application has created a queue with the following conditions specified on the DEFINE QLOCAL command:

When will a trigger message be generated?

 A. No trigger messages will be generated
 B. when the queue contains 5 messages
 C. when the queue contains 10 messages
 D. when the queue contains 5 priority messages
 E. when the queue contains 10 priority 5 messages

It is common to say that IBM has simply got the answer wrong and/or that there is more than one answer. This is a common criticism of the tests in general but usually shows that the person has not fully understood the question or the reason for the answer. This is a good way to identify which people deserve the certification but unfortunately gives the test a bad reputation.

Tests can be scheduled with either an IBM Learning Centre or Prometric, Inc. (formerly Sylvan Prometric). IBM Learning Services can be contacted on 0845 758 1329. It may be possible to register as late as the day before the test. You will be required to pay at the time of scheduling and if time permits, you will be sent a letter of confirmation.

You will need to take two forms of identification. At the conclusion of the test you will receive a full score report with section analyses. If you fail you will be able to reregister for a test. This test should have different questions.

Each of the MQSeries tests has questions that relate to MQSeries Version 5.1 for distributed platforms and MQSeries for OS/390 Version 2.1. Each test has between 60 and 80 questions and is of multiple-choice, closed book format. Most last 90 minutes but some are 75 minutes.
Some people say it is possible to pass and still know very little, or to study, cram and pass the test and then forget it. Some object to the tests covering areas that are not relevant to their work, however you do not need to get 100% to pass so it is not expected that you will know all the areas of the product. It shows that you have a reasonable percentage of knowledge. A common criticism of the tests is that they test retained knowledge and people say that in real life they would not need to know it, that they would look up the information in a manual or call IBM. The certification specifications specifically say that they certify that a person is self-sufficient, performing the tasks with limited assistance from peers, product documentation and vendor support services. There is only so much that can be achieved by someone who needs to rely on documentation and support. In the crisis situation of a live production problem there may not be the time to look things up or to wait for a call to be returned. An employer will be looking for someone who can cope under this sort of pressure. Also, it is necessary to have complete understanding and retention of fundamentals to be able to understand the more complex MQ and application scenarios. For example, it would not be possible to master MQSI if you had to keep referring back to MQSeries itself. However, the tests also cater for the other point of view by asking where you might expect to look up certain information.

In 3 to 6 weeks after you passing IBM will send you the Certification Agreement and a welcome package, which includes your certificate. After accepting the Certification Agreement you may open the package and use the IBM Professional Certification title and trademark. The package contains a certificate, a wallet sized certificate, a lapel pin and details of the certification logo and how you can use it. The logo looks like this:


You are asked to keep the testing centre informed of any changes in your personal details. They in turn keep IBM informed. Apparently this means that they can keep you informed of all programme information. However, I have never received anything other than the original pack.

MQSeries skills are still scarce at the moment and so people may not feel the need for certification, but as more people learn MQ skills, certification may become more useful. It is in the interests of both employers and good employees to find a way to filter out the people who claim abilities that they do not have. The certification system is by no means perfect but it is still a good step towards achieving this.
Sam Garforth
IBM Certified Specialist – MQSeries
IBM Certified Developer – MQSeries
IBM Certified Solutions Expert – MQSeries
© S Garforth 2000

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