Microsoft Certifications are one of the most widely acclaimed, pursued, and achieved technical certifications in the IT industry. The demand for Microsoft Certified Professionals in the job market is increasing every year.
Microsoft offers a number of certification levels depending on specific areas of proficiency and nature of job. Some of the certifications pertaining to networking are:
Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA)
Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE)
Each certification level has certain exams associated with it. You can decide the appropriate certification exam based on your experience, skills, and interests.
Benefits of Microsoft Certifications
Microsoft Certifications provide a standard method for testing employee skills. The certifications provide employers a valid benchmark for evaluating the employee's abilities. This will provide you the recognition and reward as per your expertise.
Microsoft Certifications offer prospective employers a baseline to judge your knowledge, skill, and expertise in the field. Certifications can provide added advantage if you are at the same level of experience as another person without certifications.
Certifications are a valuable tool if you have no or very little experience. The certifications that you hold can prove and reassure your employers and consultants about your knowledge in the field. This will help you secure good job as well as negotiate a good salary.
Pre-Requisite Experience (Recommended) for Microsoft Certifications
To pursue this certification you should have at least 1 year of experience in:
Implementing and administering a network operating system in environments with 50 to 26,000 supported users, in approximately 3 to 150 physical locations.
Implementing network services and applications such as file and print services, database services, messaging services, proxy server or firewall services, dial-in server services, and Web hosting.
Implementing and administering a desktop operating system.
Designing a network infrastructure with 3 or more domain controllers.
Significance of Microsoft Certifications for Microsoft Windows Server 2003
Microsoft has developed independent certification requirements for Microsoft Windows Server 2003. An aspirant can certify directly for MCSE/MCSA in Windows 2003 if they are new to certification process. If the aspirant is already a certified MCSE /MCSA in Windows 2000, then they can follow the upgrade path for MCSEs in Windows 2000 to secure Windows 2003 Certifications. If the aspirant certifies in MCSE for Windows NT4.0, they can earn MCSE in Windows 2003 by following the upgrade path for MCSEs in Windows NT4.0.
The exams are slightly more challenging than their Windows 2000 counterparts, but they will actually test your hands-on knowledge since that is the most important part of ensuring that a certification is credible.
Exam 70-290: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
Exam 70-290 is the first in the series of the core exams for MCSE certifications.
When you pass the Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment (MCSE 70-290) exam, you achieve Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) status. You also earn credit toward the following certifications:
Core credit towards Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 certification
Core credit towards Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 certification
MCSE 70-290 exam objectives are:
Objective 1: Managing and Maintaining Physical and Logical Devices
In this objective you will need to demonstrate expertise in managing and maintaining physical and logical devices. As an administrator, you should understand Basic and Dynamic disks, RAID configuration and troubleshooting, driver signing, and the use of tools, such as Device Manager and Hardware Troubleshooting Wizard. Familiarize yourself with Device Manager and the warning and disabled icons found when problems are present on installed devices.
Objective 2: Managing Users, Computers, and Groups
This objective includes many topics, so you should be prepared to face many questions that fall into this category. Have a healthy introduction to profile management, user and group accounts, permissions, and troubleshooting. Practice a lot on GPOs and perform a variety of administrative tasks, including configuration of desktop settings, control of security settings, assignment of scripts, redirection of folders, and software distribution. Also, get a clear understanding on inheritance and filtering.
Objective 3: Managing and Maintaining Access to Resources
Knowing how to configure, monitor, audit and troubleshoot NTFS permissions based issues are one of those most important areas that you need to know this concept thoroughly and also be sure to brush up on your share permissions and share/NTFS permissions interaction. Do not forget to brush up on how folder and file permissions can change or stay the same when copying or moving within a drive or between drives.
Objective 4: Managing and Maintaining a Server Environment
In this objective you'll find questions from topics, such as Event Viewer, System Monitor, software updates (including the functionality of Microsoft's Software Update Service or SUS), Remote Assistance, disk quotas, print queues, performance objects and IIS 6.0. Spend time understanding IIS topics around Web sites, Virtual and physical directories, files and host and cname records in DNS. New to Windows Server 2003 is SUS. Understand clearly how SUS is used for deploying and managing client and server critical updates.
Objective 5: Managing and Implementing Disaster Recovery
In this objective you'll find questions on ASR, VSS, backing up files and system state data, configuring security for backup operators, verifying backup jobs, managing media, restoring and scheduling backups and recovering from server hardware failures. You should take some extra time to get familiar with the various types of backups that Windows Server 2003 supports, as well as the various configuration options that are available to you. Practice making backups of different types and then practice restoring them.
MCSE 70-290 Exam Model
Most of the questions in the MCSE 70-290 exam are multiple choice type. The questions require the "best" answer from several close responses. Other questions may present an implementation scenario, requirements, and a proposed solution and then ask if the solution meets all of the requirements or combinations of the primary and secondary requirements. Microsoft has introduced some testing innovations for the certification exams. These question types present a more realistic visual representation of the tasks a MCSE would do in future. These are:
Hot Area Questions - This type of question requires indicating the correct answer by selecting one or more elements within a graphic.
Active Screen Questions - This type of question asks you to configure a dialog box by changing one or more elements.
Drag and Drop Questions - This type of question asks you to drag source objects to appropriate targets within a work area.
Build List and Reorder Questions - This type of question asks you to indicate the correct answer by building an answer list. In a Build List and Reorder question, you need to build a list by dragging the appropriate source objects to the answer list and then placing them in the correct order based on criteria defined in the question.
Create a Tree Questions - This type of question asks you to create a tree structure. You indicate the correct answer by dragging source nodes to the correct locations in the answer tree. Nodes consist of text and a small icon.
Windows Simulation Questions - This type of question asks you to indicate the correct answer by performing specific tasks such as configuring and installing network adapters or drivers, configuring and controlling access to files, and managing hardware devices. Many of the tasks that systems administrators and systems engineers perform can be presented more accurately in simulations than in most traditional exam question types.
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