Last week I talked about the Active Directory, Configuring (exam 70-640) certification.
Today I want to move ahead and talk about another popular Server 2008 certification — the MCTS Network Infrastructure Certification.
This is not necessarily the “next” certification in line, as you can complete it before the Active Directory exam. However, it does make sense to take exam 70-642 after passing 70-640, because you will need some knowledge of AD before understanding everything on the Network Infrastructure exam. So taking 70-640 before 70-642 would be my suggestion.
70-642 Exam Details
I haven’t had the chance to take this exam yet, but I heard from a couple of people who took it that there were about 45-50 questions and the passing score is 700. Since this exam is similar to the Active Directory exam you will have enough time to go through the exam once and still be able to go back and review your marked questions.
What marked questions am I talking about? Well, just like I mentioned in my last post, you can put a check mark next to a question that is long, or more difficult, or one that you’re just not sure about and skip it the first time you go though the exam. Once you complete the rest of the exam you can go back and review your marked questions.
I usually go through the exam really quickly the first time, answering all of the obvious, easy questions and marking the longer, more complicated ones. Then I go back and review all of my marked questions. It’s a method that I found works well for me and allows me to still finish the exam ahead of time. Feel free to give it a try.
One more thing, beware of changing your answers on questions that you already answered on the first round. Chances are your instincts were right the first time, so don’t second guess yourself. I’ve been in this situation too many times; changing correct answers to incorrect ones after going through the exam the second time.
My suggestion — go with your gut and don’t second guess yourself.
70-642 Exam Topics
As for the topics, there are 5 main topics covered on the Network Infrastructure, Configuring exam. Here’s a breakdown of the main topics that are covered:
- Configure IP Addressing and Services (24%)
- Configure Name Resolution (27%)
- Configure Network Access (22%)
- Configure File and Print Services (13%)
- Monitor and Manage a Network Infrastructure (14%)
You will be tested heavily on all types of network configurations: IP Addressing, name resolution, and network access. Make sure you spend some extra time studying these areas (I know I will) to make sure you cover all of the subtopics listed on this page.
Where Should You Start?
As for any certification exam preparation, you need 2 things:
- a good information source so you can learn all of the theory — whether it’s a book or video training
- a testing environment — so you can put your theory into practice
If you’re going to use our Network Infrastructure training videos to prepare for this exam, then I can tell you right now that you will need several machines to follow along and successfully complete all of the hands-on exercises.
Does that mean you have to go out and buy several computers? Absolutely not!
All you need is one machine with about 2GB of RAM, some decent hardware space (120GB shouldn’t be too hard to get, right?), and come free virtualization software – Microsoft or VMware — it’s up to you. Just make sure you get the free version.
Then, on your physical machine, create 7 virtual machines and install 7 trials of operating systems (by the way, trial = free). If you create your test environment this way you won’t have to spend any money and you’ll be able to practice, get some experience, and follow along with all of the videos in our Network Infrastructure course.
There’s no need for a super-charged, pimped out, mega machine that can support all your 7 or 8 virtual machines at the same time. Most of the time you will use up to 2 virtual machines at a time, so just make sure you power off the ones that are not needed for a specific task.
And remember, creating a virtual environment so you can learn from it works well with a book too (in case you don’t go with our video training). You can still get all of the benefits of a virtual environment and use it for practice.
Virtualization is getting more and more popular and chances are, once you pass your exam you will be working on a lot of virtual servers.
What About Experience?
Microsoft recommends that you to have “at least one year of experience implementing and administering a network operating system in an environment that has the following characteristics:
- 250 to 5,000 or more users
- Three or more physical locations
- Three or more domain controllers
- Network services and resources, such as messaging, a database, file and print, a proxy server, a firewall, the Internet, an intranet, remote access, and client computer management
- Connectivity requirements, such as connecting branch offices and individual users in remote locations to the corporate network and connecting corporate networks to the Internet”
My suggestions is to follow the courseware, learn how to configure everything, perform all of the tasks, and do all the troubleshooting necessary to make sure your machines talk to each other the way they are supposed to. This way you will be able to build your experience level as you would in a real work environment.
Applying your knowledge is important, so make sure you practice. Break and fix your network — that’s the best way to learn. It will also help you to become a troubleshooting expert.
What Are the Benefits of Passing This Certification?
Definitely job security, maybe a promotion, a nice raise, or even a better job. And if you don’t have a job, then you will have a better chance of landing a pretty good position.
The Network Infrastructure and Active Directory, Configuration certifications are a great beginning to a successful career in IT.