Tag Archive for certification

Index of Tekhead.it Blog Posts on Amazon AWS

I wrote my first blog post on AWS in February 2016 and the series is growing pretty quickly, so I thought it was worthwhile indexing all of the current posts and providing an updated list as this grows.

Hopefully, this should make these posts a little easier for people to find in the future!

Anyway, enough gabbing, on with the posts and links:


Podcasts

I was kindly invited by Scott Lowe to join him on the Full Stack Journey podcast, to discuss learning AWS and cloud architecture. The episode can be accessed here:

AWS Certification

bill was study Certified SysOps Administrator

AWS Tips and Gotchas Series

Random AWS and Cloud Related Posts

Also, just in case I forget to keep this page updated:
http://tekhead.it/blog/category/aws/

AWS Tips and Gotchas Blog Posts

Windows Server 2012 MCSA Upgrade 70-417 Study Guide and Exam Experience

Sat and passed the 70-417 exam this week so thought I would get a few thoughts down for the benefit of the handful people who may still be planning to sit it. Yes, I know it’s Windows 2012, and I am writing this in 2016, but I’ve been a bit busy the last few years doing “other stuff”. 🙂

Preparation Materials

The list of materials I used to prepare for this exam were relatively few, and were certainly very inexpensive!

  1. Upgrading Skills to Windows Server 2012 Jump Start on Microsoft Virtual Academy – not massively in depth, but a great introduction to the new features in 2012.
  2. What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2 Jump Start on Microsoft Virtual Academy – again, a good overview on the new changes. This of it as the foundations on which to build your new skills!
  3. Pluralsight training: Dipped in and out of the 70-410 / 70-411 / 70-412 courses for areas I needed additional knowledge. The quality of course material on Pluralsight is second to none and they are always my go-to video training provider. The only shame is that they don’t have a specific 70-417 course, which you can get on their biggest competitor (CBT Nuggets).
  4. Pluralsight: Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Infrastructure.
  5. Exam Ref 70-417 Upgrading from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012 R2 (MCSA) by J.C. Mackin. This was by far the single most effective aid to learning all of the new features, as well as passing the exam! If you only have time to use one study aid, this is the one to invest in. It’s also only just over a tenner! I will definitely be investing in these official guides for my future MS exams (if I do any – see below!).
  6. Followed the blueprint on the MS 70-417 site, to confirm that I had a reasonable understanding of each of the areas tested.
  7. Spent a number of hours installing and configuring as many of the different new / updated features in Windows 2012 R2, on my home lab (Intel NUC Nanolab). In terms of getting to know what the different configuration options and processes are, this is invaluable!

Exam Experience and Tips
This exam is unlike most other MS exams (or indeed other vendor exams) in that it is broken down into three distinct sections, covering each of the three equivalent exams (70-410/411/412). Once you complete each section, you cannot go back to the previous one. Personally this is not a massive issue for me as my exam technique is to answer and move on. If I’m unsure, I go with my gut feeling as this is probably more likely to be right than anything I come up with spending 10 minutes wavering back and forth between answers!

Taking this three section element a step further, your final grade is actually based on the lowest score of each section. Worse still, if you don’t meet 70% in any one section, even if you ace the other two, you fail the exam. No pressure then! I believe it varies, but I had less than 60 questions, roughly split three ways between the sections.

Everyone is going to have their strengths and weaknesses but I personally found the middle section the trickiest, passing by relatively small margin, but the first and last were not too bad.

It felt to me like the typical mixed MS bag of easy marks from simple questions, and the insanely difficult “how would you know that one setting or feature unless you had implemented it in some obscure use case”. This is perhaps where I feel sometimes MS exams are not very realistic, and don’t actually test your real world understanding / skills. This has become even worse in the past few years, as you are now expected to memorise literally hundreds of PowerShell commands, many of which you will probably never use, or could check using the ISE when you need to.

In terms of tips, my number one suggestion is that you definitely make sure you know all of the key PowerShell commands required by the blueprint / exam guide. Beyond that practice as much of the configuration as you can in your home lab, as you will be expected to know which “nerd knobs” to turn and buttons to click to achieve some activities.

Closing Thoughts on the Current State of Microsoft Exams
I have stated this openly previously, but I will say it here again. I strongly object to the concept of certifications which are linked to a specific product version, having an expiry date. There is absolutely no benefit to the individual, or indeed the industry to have someone take the same exam over and over again every couple of years, and any particular version is only “current” for 3-5 years anyway.

Do employers of vocational degree graduates expect you to go back to University every couple of years and re-take your finals to prove you understood the content? Of course not! They take your degree as proof that you understood the subject matter at the time, and that you have gained skills and experience both from that time and subsequently.

The other joke here is that the technical certifications themselves do not actually prove that you truly know how to do the job anyway, especially with the prevalence of brain dumps, and IMHO are only a gateway and aid to recruiters. Unless you’re a contractor, the further you progress in your career, the less potential employers actually seem to care about these certifications anyway. They appear to me to be seen as a “nice to have”, but your experience and skills are far more important.

For this reason I have decided that even as a self professed certification junkie, it is very unlikely that I will take my new MCSA 2012 and upgrade it all the way to the MCSE, largely due to the 3 year time limit and re-certification requirement. I would far rather spend my limited time learning other new technologies (for example AWS, Docker, Vagrant, etc) with or without certification, and using those new skills to progress my career.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the new Microsoft is making a great many positive decisions under Satya Nadella’s leadership, but the organisation’s decision to expire certs is not one I can get myself behind.

Congratulations to the VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide Winners!

The VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide (with DVD) by Paul McSharry

Firstly, congratulations to the winners of the signed VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide competition!

Thanks very much to everyone who entered, and particularly to Paul @pmcsharry, who kindly provided his book and at draw time added a second copy for another lucky winner, as well as the London VMUG @LonVMUG for providing the VMware View book!

For those of you who haven’t seen the book before, I recently did a review, which is posted here: VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide – Book Review

The prize list is as follows:

Prizes will be posted this week; good luck with your exams and let us know how you all get on!

VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide Competition

The VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide (with DVD) by Paul McSharry

Well here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… a chance to win a signed copy of Paul McSharry’s VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide!

If you haven’t already heard of it, I recently did a review of it here.

To summarise, I can whole heartedly recommend the book, not only as a key component in your VCAP5-DCD study, but as an excellent reference resource for designing vSphere infrastructures out “in the wild”.

To enter the competition, simply retweet the following:

 

One runner up will also receive a copy of VMware View 5: Building a Successful Virtual Desktop by Paul O’Doherty.

That’s it!

Thanks to Paul McSharry (@pmcsharry) for providing the VCAP5 book, and London VMUG (@LonVMUG) for the VMware View book!

The obligatory Competition Terms:

1. You don’t have to follow me on twitter and this will make no difference on whether you are in the draw or not, but feel free to follow me if you like! 🙂
2. Winners twitter handles will be drawn from a hat by my 3 year old daughter on Sunday 23rd February 2014 and will be notified by twitter within 48 hours
3. Winners to provide postal details for sending of the prize after the competition (I will get this out within the week if you send me your details quite quickly, but please allow up to 30 days for delivery, especially if you are not in the EU!)
4. This is only for a bit of fun, so I obviously wont use your details for anything other than sending you the book. I will not spam you, etc.
5. Although I will be paying the postage of the book out of my own pocket, I am happy to open it up world wide, so don’t worry about your location before entering (though if you’re in an Antarctic research post, I am happy to deliver the book by hand if you can fund my travel!)
6. One entry per person only please (no fake twitter accounts!)
7. No cash alternative is available, remember this is just a private competition for a bit of fun, I am not a multinational corporation with loadsa money! 🙂
8. If for some reason a winner chooses not to accept either the primary or runner up prize, a replacement name will be drawn at random via the child+hat methodology as before

 

%d bloggers like this: