I took the CISSP bootcamp and certification at Firebrand training last month, and thought I’d write a quick review of the experience.

I had previously taken the shorter PRINCE2 3 day project management course and certification with Firebrand and was very happy with the entire package. This was a 7 day bootcamp with an intensive 6 hour exam on the final day. These weren’t lazy days – we were regularly starting at or before 8am each morning, and working up until 7pm. After dinner there was usually more revision and material to be studied in private. Those that did the best on the course seemed to be the ones that immersed themselves in the environment rather than constantly checking and responding to emails, taking calls and so on. Overall, I have nothing but good things to say about the Firebrand experience. The courses aren’t cheap but you get what you pay for and the quality is fantastic. The bedrooms are by no means luxury however they don’t need to be, and they are more than comfortable for the short time spent in them. Three good meals are served each day in the restaurant, and there is plenty of choice.

On to the course – our trainer was absolutely fantastic. I can’t recommend him highly enough to anyone interested in taking the course. He was very approachable, had a great teaching style, and managed to take a class of over 15 students from completely different backgrounds and train them on some often heavy and dry material. The entire environment is very welcoming and conducive to study. The training center itself offers a completely complimentary all-you-eat supply of apples and bananas, as well as a hot drinks machine for use at no extra cost.

The days were split up by frequent short breaks, and although they were long and grueling the trainer held our attention very well. By the time the exam day came around, I was anxious but confident, and felt very well prepared. The exam needs to be handled like a battle. Of the 6 hours allowed, I used a total of 4 hours and 45 minutes, and that included 2 short breaks. I finished the exam with a numb brain and with generally no idea how well I’d done. I received my result immediately, and I passed, although no mark is shown. I was really relieved!

There isn’t really any specific information I can give on what type of material is covered – it really is such a broad mix of information. The official CBK review manual is probably the best revision guide.

I won’t go into too much detail on my thoughts towards the CISSP material itself. I was happy with the majority of it. This, like the CEH was a certification that I was doing 90% just to get the certification, and 10% for the actual course content. I’ve searched for and read some of the criticisms of the certification, such as Dave Shackleford’s blog, and frankly I largely agree with his and other’s similar sentiments. In my case, I wasn’t taking the CISSP to wear as a badge attesting to my great skill level. I wanted to cover a certain level of knowledge in the domains I was unfamiliar with but more importantly to gain a highly respected industry leading certification. Whether or not the certification should be respected in industry had no impact on my decision to take it. Whilst it may be of disputed value within certain technical circles, at the time of writing, it is undoubtedly valuable at HR, management and exec levels.

The bottom line is, I went with Firebrand because the environment was great the first time around when I took the PRINCE2 course with them, and I wanted both top quality training and the highest chance of gaining the certification first time – I got that and more, and on some perverse level I might even have enjoyed myself.