Andrew here. Hi there. You may remember my tales of Microsoft exams in the second half of last year. As a quick recap let me tell you briefly that I have been working in IT for about 15 years but although I had seriously considered certification exams in the past, I never actually went down that route. Last year I was considering the prevalent economic climate and realised that I wanted to improve my chances on the job market in case the worst happened (it didn’t, luckily) and I wanted my CV to stand out from others.
I had seen a lot of jobs that specified Microsoft certification as a pre-requisite for candidate applications, so I decided that this was the year that I would get the qualifications. I enrolled on an intensive course and gained the Microsoft Certified IT Professional Enterprise Administrator certification. I also picked up a bit of a passion for exams: I subsequently passed another 8 Microsoft exams in a period of 4 months, gaining the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified IT Professional Enterprise Messaging Administrator titles. On a side note, I also gained the Cisco Certified Network Associate after all that!
Anyway, I now find myself in 2010, a new year, and have decided to set a target of exams to take and (hopefully!) pass and qualifications to aim for this year. Just to remind you, I don’t work for Microsoft or Microsoft Press, so my recommendations are totally impartial and also they are my opinion and don’t necessarily represent their opinions. Have you made any certification goals for 2010? Here I will outline my goals and although I can’t expect to keep up such a high exam rate as last year, I am not going to be lazy. Why not make a plan and write in and let me know what you’ve decided on. Also, feel free to ask me about the exams and certifications that I am planning.
So you can probably tell from my certification history that I like networks and servers! One thing that has always played a very marginal role in my day-to-day working life is Microsoft SQL Server. Microsoft SQL Server, as I’m sure you know, is a relational database server. I first encountered it when I was an infrastructure analyst in 1999, where I mainly supported Microsoft Windows NT 4 Server (Up to service pack 5 or 6 by this point, I think!) and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5. My Database Analyst colleagues were handling Sybase, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server.
I don’t remember the version in use at the time, but it may have been version 6.0 or 6.5 and its latest incarnation is 2008, (the same as the latest Windows Server version). It has come a long way since then and is now the third largest enterprise relational database worldwide, based on market share, just behind IBM in second with Oracle on the top spot. (Source: http://download.microsoft.com/download/6/C/D/6CDC123B-A159-438C-BBAD-7750EE5D0D67/IDC-Server%20Workloads%20Forecast.pdf) I’ve always been able to perform simple tasks such as database maintenance plans and backups and restores on Microsoft SQL Server, but I want to be able to show to prospective employers that I can delve a bit deeper into Microsoft SQL Server 2008.
So I have decided this year to gain, at least, a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist in Microsoft SQL Server 2008. The exam is 70-432, “TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance”. The study tools that have set me in good stead so far have been the Microsoft Press Self-Paced Training Kits, so I see no reason to change the winning formula. They usually have a voucher in them for a small discount off the exam fee. The Self-Paced Training Kit for this exam is “MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-432): Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 – Implementation and Maintenance”. Depending on how I get on, I may decide to progress on to the Microsoft Certified IT Professional Database Administrator, which is another exam, 70-450, “PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Server Infrastructure using Microsoft SQL Server 2008”, for which there doesn’t appear to be a Microsoft Press book. I will cross this bridge when I get there, I think!
Have you taken these exams yet? Have you got any tips for me? Or have you, like me, decided to do these two exams this year? Let me know and what study plans you have.
I see Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as a key product for Microsoft and one that I need to be able to support, maintain, and develop. What do you think? Do you have other tips or recommendations?
My other goal is to keep my Microsoft Exchange Server skills current by certifying in the newest version, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. There is information here about training on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010: “Microsoft Exchange Server – Training Portal”.
There is information in the above link about Special offers, Events, Training resources, Books from Microsoft Press, and Learning Snacks. Now Learning Snacks are new to me and are short presentations on popular topics. This link shows the Learning Snacks available for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.
There don’t appear to be a huge number of Microsoft Press titles on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 as yet, if the Learning Catalog is anything to go by, but I’m sure that exam and certification titles are just round the corner. I heard from one of the authors of the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 books, one Orin Thomas, that the 2010 books are very much in the pipeline. (Devon here: Indeed we’re working on the Training Kit for Exam 70-662, for example, and on an Exchange Server 2010 Best Practices title.)
And that’s my plan. As with Microsoft SQL Server 2008, maybe even more so, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is the lynchpin of the Microsoft product catalogue, and I can only see it increasing its install base as these newest versions have so many more features and are aiming at businesses of all sizes, from SMEs up to large enterprise organisations.
Have you got a learning plan for 2010? What exams do you want to take? Please get in touch if you would like to share your plans and any tips you may have.
P.S. from Devon: Microsoft Learning just announced the return of Second Shot!
Second Shot is available worldwide except India and China Prometric Testing Centers only.
Second Shot is available Worldwide at Prometric Testing Centers only.