Took 71-643 – what a beast!

Just took the 71-643 beta yesterday, it is a beast of sorts. My prep was the virtual lab sessions and installing 2008 Terminal Services (playing with RemoteApps – although RC1 broke it by requiring SP1 on Vista), installing WDS, and looking at the differences in IIS7. I obviously was not as well prepared as I should have been. The upgrade exam was much easier and less detail.

To top it off Hyper-V was also heavily featured after IIS7, TS, and Clustering. With our virtualization platform of choice being VMware and Hyper-V just being released on Monday, I am questioning the subject since even when the OS is released Hyper-V is still perhaps 180 days away from its release. To me, Hyper-V is more of an OS infrastructure technology not an application infrastructure, so it should be included in that exam if not in a separate exam by itself like Sharepoint should be.

The questions that somewhat amazed me were related to “Configure Storage.” Somehow they related Windows 2008 Server application infrastructure to configuring RAID levels and dynamic disks within disk manager. The objectives of the exam can be found here (http://www.microsoft.com/learning/exams/70-643.mspx). From them, I can say I definitely need to focus on:

* IIS7 – know the appcmd command forward and backwards. The major changes (the interface, authentication, difference in security in which web apps run under) need to be understood

* Terminal Services – you must know it (Session Brokers, Gateways, RemoteApps) – it’s changed a lot, so expect a lot of questions on the new technologies. It just so happens to be some of the best improvements to Server 2008. I knew the RemoteApps piece, but Gateway and Session Broker need to be studied more.

* Hyper-V – at least install it, and play around with the new Hypervisor interface

* Clustering – specifically NLB since we do very little with it. The failover clustering questions I didn’t notice a lot different from 2003.

* Sharepoint 3 – upgrades, configure it,

* Media Services- I really didn’t see too much different between 2003 & 2008, so if you knew 2k3…

Mind you these are just my weaknesses as reflected by the exam and its objectives not related to the number of questions on the exam. It’s good to have the holes exposed in your knowledge early. I am not sure from a personal perspective if I will take this exam again or 70-649. 70-649, while being a larger test, doesn’t cover some of the techologies that I may be weakest, such as Sharepoint Services or Hyper-V.

What that will lead to from an employer side is not being able expect a common set knowledge of everyone who has MCTS – Window 2008, Application Infrastructure certification. 70-296 had the same objectives of 293 & 294, but it is not the case here. I am not sure this is the wisest course for brand new certifications. It would seem to be starting off on the wrong foot.

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