Preparing for Microsoft exam 83-640, Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring

Since I finished up my exam 70-642 right at the end of 2009, for one of my resolutions going into 2010 would be to finish up my MCITP this year.  In that regards, I am giving myself 45 days to prepare and pass the 83-640 exam.  I am going from today (Jan 3rd 2010), so I am going to set my exam for Feb 17th which will work well for my schedule as luck would have it.

This exam replaces the 70-640 exam in the US because a part of the exam uses the performance based testing that I did the pilot for.

I am going to use the following resources to study:

I will start by going through Train Signal’s video courses first, then using the self paced study guide and virtual machines to get more of a hands on feel to deal with more of the performance based testing.

I feel this schedule will be tough, but I just got done designing and implementing a Server 2008 Active Directory network for a small business not to mention I have been working on Active Directory since 2000.  I am going to document regularly here as I go through the study material.

getVIRTUALnow roadshow by Microsoft

On Monday I went to the Chicago stop of the getVIRTUALnow roadshow with a some of the Train Signal crew.  I like the new direction Microsoft has taken with the product launch/showcase events.  In the past I disliked going to these because of they showed very little tech and more marketing, though in the last two I have gone to, it has squarely been a technical show.  Between seeing live demo’s by the people who actually implement and work with the product (not just a marketing guy), and having a hands on lab with walk through scenarios so you could get your hands on the product, it was a very informing event.

The presenters also stick around to sit in "Ask the Experts" tables down in the expo area so if you have something you want to ask that doesn’t get answered in the session.  I have found this to be extremely cool to go and talk to these guys to get a more "inside" talk about the product as it might apply to your environment.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses though.  I found the Expo area pretty weak on vendors, especially for smaller/midsize business solutions.  You would think in these economic times they would be willing to target whoever could buy, but this just wasn’t the case.

While I found the hands on lab very informative, it took a TON of time to complete even one of the labs because of the underpowered PC’s in place.  I missed almost an entire session because I was waiting quite a bit during the lab because of the low memory on the virtual machines in the lab.  While I realize the problem, someone else might not and think the technology is slower than it really is on a correctly provisioned box.  I am not sure if it was a local company providing equipment or if it floats with the show, but I think if they are going to showcase it, they should at least make sure it can do better then the minimum specs.

The venue was nice, but a bit crowded for the show, but nothing too bad.  At the end of the show, we got the free t-shirt, a voucher for free E-Learning Collection 6319: Configuring Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 from Microsoft Learning, along with a free voucher for Exam 70-652: TS: Windows Server 2008 Virtualization, Configuring!  They will also be mailing out the session slides with some evaluation software to all attendees.

All in all, a good event, I would recommend it for anyone who wants to learn and see how Microsoft is implementing virtualization into its core product offerings.

There are only 5 more stops left as of today at:

Oct 31st: Boston, MA
Nov 3rd: New York, NY
Nov 10th: Washington, DC
Nov 13th: Philadelphia, PA
Nov 17th: Atlanta, GA

 

You can sign up at https://www.getvirtualnow.com/usevents/cityselect.aspx

Last call for 70-113 the new Virtual lab based exam

There is a post on Born to Learn today about them extending the registration for the pilot program.  I wrote about my testing experience taking 70-113 back in August and how positive I thought the experience was.

As an added incentive if you are one of the first 3000 to take the exam you will now receive 3 exam vouchers for future use on any other Microsoft exam at Prometric.

Here is the registration info from the post:

You must register at least 7 days prior to taking the exam. Register before October 25th to take the exam before October 31st. Please use the following promotional code when registering for the exam: H640 (promo code is active till October 31st)
Receiving this invitation does not guarantee you a seat in the pilot; we recommend that you register immediately.

I highly recommend you go and signup and get experience with this new format before it is rolled out to the regular exams.

Free Microsoft Hyper-v Virtualization Training

So I was taking a break from writing to look through my RSS feeds and found a very cool post from Ken Rosen over at Born To Learn that has a link to free E-Learning courses from Microsoft that will help you get familiar with Hyper-V technology and the new Microsoft direction for Virtualization.  In the same post Ken talks about some of the current and upcoming certification options for Virtualization experts.

I went through the first module of the course, and while it is sparse on practice elements, it is put together well enough to be informative and get familiar with Hyper-V, hopefully the later modules provide more examples and detail. 

You should give Born to Learn and the E-learning courses a look over if you are interested in learning about Hyper-V.

Microsoft Performance Based Testing Review Pilot Exam 70-113

Let me start this by saying I have been taking Microsoft Certification Exams since NT 4.0 and have seen them evolve over the years. I am happy to say that I sat the Pilot exam 70-113 today and was extremely happy about the Performance Based section of the exam. I wont go into any of the questions so I dont break NDA, but I will talk about how it works and how it feels.

When you get into the Performance Based section of the test it feels just like the virtual labs that Microsoft uses to teach certain things. You can see them at this address: Microsoft Virtual Labs. You basically connect up to a virtual lab that can have either one or multiple computers setup in whichever way fits for the question. You are given an overview of the environment with any relevant information given that could affect how you complete tasks.

You then click through to the tasks view and there is a list of things that need to be done, that are both standard admin tasks, and some more esoteric ones that some administrators may never do. The coolest part is that you can get them done in anyway you want, it is just the end result that matters. You can also do the list in any order that you want, but you are under a time constraint for just the lab based portion that is smaller than the overall total test time.

Some of the negatives I found was that the latency was a little brutal when trying to do some things. This could of course just be the testing center that I am at. It can cause some missed clicks and some jerky movements. The other major issues I found was the testing center had a smaller monitor and with the virtual machine I was looking for more screen real estate to be able to see the desktop AND the tasks easily without having to move windows around too much. Both of those negatives though can vary by testing center so I can’t really fault Microsoft for that.

The biggest complaint I have? That the Performance Based testing will not be implemented on the exam I am taking in two weeks, I can only hope the pilot goes well and I will be able to take future exams with this method.

One more thing, I know it was a pilot that I was taking but I wish I had gotten my score even if it didn’t count as I still have to take that exam at a later date and it would be nice to know how I was doing in my studying.

Microsoft Exam Pilot for Performance Based Exam

Trika blogged about a Microsoft Pilot program that will instead of a simulation will have a Performance based engine by using a virtual Server 2008 emulation. I am very excited about this and have already signed up at Prometric to take the exam (70-113: TS: Windows® Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring) on August 7th. The bad news of course is that this is NOT a beta, only a pilot so the exam counts as nothing and will not be on my transcript even if I passed. Thats ok though, because I want to get hands on with the technology to see where things are going. Plus if your one of the first 3000 who take it, you will receive an exam voucher.

Get all the information at Trika’s blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/trika/archive/2008/07/31/performance-based-testing-pilot.aspx