MCTS: 70-659 Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization Exam Prep and Study Guide

So having passed my VCAP exam last week, I barely have time to catch my breath before getting fired into the 70-659 Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization exam, which I am taking with my free 70-659 exam voucher! As usual I have summarised my prep materials / study guide below for anyone interested.

As with many MS exams, the first thing that happens when you look for some study materials for an exam is that you have to trawl through all the search results peppered with spammy brain dumps etc, to find any nuggets of actual material useful to those of us who actually want to learn the subject, very annoying! To be honest there isn’t a huge amount of information out there, but the best of what I found / used has been is condensed below:

  • Official Microsoft Exam Page
    Links to all official source material, exam reqs, etc
  • Official MS E-Learning Collection 10215
    I find the MS official training a little dry (some might say tedious!), but it does cover all the basics and the lab simulations are useful, if a tad flakey… 15-20 hours training for £120 is cheap compared to classroom learning, but does depend on you being a little more disciplined, and buying the books would work out cheaper if you are on a tight budget.
    UPDATE: If you are an MS partner then use the following link and code to get the 70-659 and 70-669 training for FREE for 2 months (subscription ends July 31st)!
    Collection 10215: Implementing and Managing Microsoft Server Virtualization [Code: 8062-COL10215-1445]
    Collection 10324: Implementing and Managing Microsoft® Desktop Virtualization [Code: 8430-COL10324-8932]
  • Mastering Microsoft Virtualization by Tim Cerling & Jeffrey Buller
    Not actually read this yet but it comes recommend by many other people. I always recommend if you are going to buy these books, buy them on Kindle. Why kill a few trees for a book you will only read once or twice, and have it clog up your book shelves for years to come. Also it’s cheaper on Kindle!
  • Mastering Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 by Michael Michael & Hector Linares
    I haven’t read this as yet, mainly due to time restrictions, but plan to do so for the 70-693 MCITP Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator exam. If you do have time it is recommended reading. VMM 2012 is now out as RTM, though I assume the exam is still based on 2008. No sign of any 2012 books as yet, but I’m sure they’ll be coming soon.
  • Mastering Hyper-V Deployment by Aidan Finn
    Again I haven’t actually read this one yet so can’t review at this time, but I plan to for the 70-693.
  • Virtual Training Boot camp for Exam 70-659 TS: Windows Server 2008 R2 VirtualizationFree!
    A welcome offer from MS to get partners interested in Hyper-V by offering what is in effect a full 70-659 course, crammed into 2 days of LVCs (Live Virtual Classes) using Microsoft Office Live Meeting. Mine was run by a QA trainer called Paul Gregory, who was very friendly and competent. If you do a Google search for the exact title above, you may even find the slide decks from this course… 😉
    It was a great offer, so I also recommend you keep an eye on the MS Events website for future similar offers. I believe they have some Windows 8 Tech days coming up shortly…
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy CoursesFree!
    For a free resource these courses are superb! There are many hours of training available, and MS encourage you to watch more (via a bit of obvious geek-tosterone based competition / ranking) you are awarded points for each course you complete, which can then be tracked and compared to other people in your own country and across the world. Be prepared to wade through the marketing BS (particularly for the overview-type presentations), but a very good resource either way.
    Note: there is quite a bit of repetition in the courses, so I will try to highlight as I go, which are the best use of your time (unless of course you’re a rank whore, in which case do them all!). The courses I completed are as follows:

    1. Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals – The Platform
      A good intro to Hyper-V where all of the features are translated for VMware-trained folk such as myself, presented in a fairly informal manner.If you don’t watch any of the other videos, watch this one! 11 videos @ 20-30 mins each.
    2. Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals – Management
      A continuation of the previous course. There’s a lot of marketing material in this related to systems which may or may not come up in the exam, though depending on your experience with the MS System Center range of products, this may be of use to you. Personally I’m used to products like BMC Patrol, Tivoli Netcool/OMNIbus, HP Openview, Altiris DS/NS etc, so this was quite interesting for me.
    3. Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals – VDI
      I would say this would be more useful for the next exam in the MCITP track (70-669 TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization), but is included in this list for reference. I will probably take this later when I have some time.
  • Microsoft Server Virtualization Training by TrainSignal
    I haven’t actually used this one but a few people recommended it to me, and the TrainSignal courses are usually of a pretty high standard. The only drawback is that it’s nearly $300, but that’s still way cheaper than a live course.
  • Blog Post Series by Joseph Yedid
    This series covers a number of different subjects based on the exam outline / “skills measured“, which are very much like VMware exam blueprints, minus the links! These posts are also mirrored by Ruth Morton’s Technet blog.
  • Technet Blog Series by Chris Avis
    Another great series of posts going into the detail for everything you need to know. The above link goes to the most recent post which can then link you to all the others. His first post also has a load of other study resources linked off it which you should check out!
  • Official MS Virtualisation Blog
    If you’re a VMware person, hold onto your hat for some serious politicking, but there is some interesting content if you have time for a browse.
  • Exam review by Matt McSpirit
    A few useful tips here on the exam itself, and what to study.
  • Hyper-V White Papers by Aidan Finn
    This site is run by MS MVP Aidan Finn, who has co-authored a load of books on MS products.
  • Build a Home Lab
    I cannot recommend this enough. The best way to learn Hyper-V is to play with it, that way you have seen the ins and outs, the great bits (like Dynamic Memory), and the downright ugly ones (like simply setting up SCOM to then get PRO working – use SQL Server 2008, not R2, as R2 doesn’t work properly without a load of fiddling)!
    My home lab runs under VMware Workstation 8 on Windows 7 64-bit, with an Intel Core i7 920 and 24GB of RAM. I run 2 Hyper-V hosts, one is full fat 2008 R2 Enterprise, and the other is Hyper-V Server. Clustering is not officially supported, but does work, and this way you get to practice both worlds (GUI and CLI).
    To get Hyper-V to run like this you need to do a couple of fixes to your hypervisor VMs when you create them. See Velimir Kojic’s blog postfor more info on this, but the headline points are:

    1. Enable virtualisation of VT-x/EPT. This is the same as you would do for virtualising ESX/ESXi under Workstation 8, allowing nested 64-bit VMs.
    2. Add the following line to your VMX files:
      hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = “FALSE”
  • More to links to follow…

Please feel free to submit any worthwhile links to study materials and I will include them above.

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