I recently decided that after almost 10 years of real IT work that it was time to get some certifications out of the way. It was one of those things I always talk about but never actually follow through. That is until I noticed Microsoft had a deal going on where you can purchase an exam voucher + 4 retakes for $200. This is great, because I don't have to stress that if I don't pass the exam I have to fork out cash for another shot.
This approach is great because I disagree with how the exams are structured, no one needs to waste brain cycles remembering PowerShell commands and throwing in four similar commands but only one being right. We have access to the PowerShell ISE and autocomplete tab, you just need to know what you are looking for. It would be great if they actually gave you real "simulations", a real world scenario and presented you with a virtual lab to do it on; none of this multiple choice nonsense.
My personal exam issues aside, there were a couple of good things that I picked up along the way. Specifically around Hyper-V that I am not exposed to all that much, and a few takeaways on DHCP and DNS that I implemented at my workplace immediately.
Some of the sources I used for study are:
- Server 2012 Exam 70-410 by Infinite Skills
- Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 R2 Exam Ref (ISBN #0735684243)
- Microsoft's YouTube Learning Channel for 70-410
Most importantly, I can't stress this enough is that you should build a virtual environment with Hyper-V and deploy a couple Windows Server 2012 R2 VMs, including two domain controllers, some member servers with and without the GUI and a few mixed domain joined clients.
You should know how to (i made notes of these because I didn't fully understand them when I did the test, it is not a guide or list; it is what i needed to review more after my exam to cement it into my brain):
- Backup, copy and restore GPOs
- AD user and group management via PowerShell
- Network Load Balancing within Hyper-V
- Port Mirroring
- Local Security Policies
- Know what the settings are found in the Default Group Policy and the Domain Controller Policy
- Installing features using DISM; practice using different image.wim file and indexes
- Different type of authentications, such as Digest Authentication in IIS (what do you need to delegate for this to work?)
- DNS and what authorative reponses are
- Hyper-V's RemoteFX 3D (why would this be a disabled feature?)
- What you can and cannot do while a VM is powered on (can you move a snapshot file?)
- Server Manager and how to deploy it on Windows 2008 R2, how to enable computers for remote management, etc.
- Where are SRV records stored
- IPv6; know the loopback address, the autoconfig address, global unicast, link local and site local addresses
- ISATAP, 6to4 and Teredo protocols
I spent a few hours a day spread over a month to prepare. I took my 70-410 exam last week; passed and got my MSP and unlocked some really cool features within the learning center. It was important for me to pass on first shot, but knowing that I had another shot at the exam if I fail kept me calm, stress free and willingness to continue on this quest to get my MCSA.
On another note, Microsoft completely refreshed their certification paths in September 2016. I suggest you get familiarized with the new certification paths.
The new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: App Builder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers.