Passed 70-291 to become MCSA:Messaging

“Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Windows 2003 server Network Infrastructure”, also known as The Beast has been slain.
Turned out to be a cuddly bunny rather than a beast (a bit like the end of Monty Python’s holy grail only in reverse).

I had put this off for so long because I thought I was weak on a couple of areas and needed some polish, and since everyone says it is one of the hardest I wanted to be sure to nail it.
But I was in the exam centre on Friday anyway (taking my CRM Applications exam MB2-632, also nailed) and I had second shot to back me up, so I figured “what the hell, even if I fail majestically at least I will know much more accurately what to expect on this one next time”.

So I waltzed away with 889 in a shade under half the time available (105 minutes out of 215 – I know some do better than that but I was well pleased with the result). Finally gave me my MCSA:Messaging and only two more to go (293 and 294) to MCSE.

I had 47 questions, one sim and lots of pointless drag and drop exercise where you drag answers to boxes on a diagram. I hate the inaccuracy and slowness of the whole drag and drop nonsense – why not just give me a picklist on each diagram object with all the choices on so I can pick and change them quickly? Dragging onto an actual screenshot of some part of the GUI I can understand (just about) but not these pointless boxes and lists.
In one particularly bad example I could not drop onto the answer boxes, but had to drop things just above for it to work. When hovering in the right place the answer box changed to a blue background with the label “FALSE” – nicely reassuring hint from the interface designer that you are in the right place.

I got 100% on RRAS which I thought was a weak area of mine, I guess they asked the bits I did know (and there were not many questions in that area really, maybe 3 to 5, I can’t remember exactly)

Tips for anyone taking this (nothing you could not figure out from MS site but condensed version):

  • Lots of IP subnet / gateway / routing between networks type questions (no surprise for anyone there). I only had a couple which required actual calculations of subnets / hosts, but lots required good understanding of the right choices to use and where to configure them on clients / servers.
  • Lots of DNS, name resolution, additional records (A, CN, MX, SRV all that jazz), zone transfers, secondary zones, stub zones, using AD to replicate DNS round a domain and/or forest etc. So if you have only ever used “easy” AD-integrated DNS you need to read more about “real” DNS or you will fall down on this area
  • Lots more IPSEC than I anticipated, and how to use Group Policy to implement and manage it.
  • Lots of other stuff as well of course – DHCP, services, using network and performance monitoring tools…

Good luck to anyone else taking the 70-291 soon!

About ukcrmguru
I'm an MVP for Dynamics CRM, consultant, Microsoft Certified Trainer and self-confessed geek. I also lead the UK CRM User group when I'm not too busy with all that.

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