Sunday, August 26, 2012

Active Directory MCM: Going to Seattle

It is official. I am definitely attending the 9/9 rotation, just two weeks to orientation day. Time to book my flight and choose some lodging. But that is just logistics.

What I really need to do is get some reading done. For the uninitiated, there is a "pre-reading" list to go through to ensure familiarity with all of the topics that will be covered. If you have not taken the time to look at the list, I can safely say that there are probably over a thousand pages of Technet articles (some of them 30 to 60 pages all by themselves). If that sounds like alot, let me assure you, it IS. But if you have a passion for the technology that you are certifying in, it is actually pretty fun finding out the details of so many things that you know "just work"... well, work most of the time, because if they never broke, we wouldn't have jobs, would we?

In the Active Directory Master certification, the list of general topics include things like directory concepts, name resolution, rodc, 2008 features, authentication, AD replication, sites, migration, FRS, DFS, group policy, disaster recovery, certitificates, LDS, ADFS and RMS. Most of these are topics that any AD administrator knows something about (or should), but the great thing about the reading is that you get sucked down into some of the details that really come in handy if you are an actual engineer in the field. Even if you are NOT looking for a Master certification, this reading could make you a much better technician.

You can find the reading material here

So after about  weeks of part time reading, I am a little over halfway through the reading material, and I have the next two weeks to read full time. Fortunately, I have not run across many new concepts, mostly technical details that I was not previously awareof. I have no doubt that I have only seen the tip of the iceberg in that regard. Hopefully the rest of the iceberg does not rip a hole in my skull and make my brain start leaking...

If anything of note comes up before I get to Seattle, I will be sure to add an update. And I would like to hear your MCM tale if you have one.

"The problem with internet quotes is that no one has verified the source" -- Abraham Lincoln

- Peter Trast, MCITP EA, MCITP DBA, MCT LinkIn with Peter

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Microsft Certified Master for Directory. Let the adventure begin!

Excellence takes effort. Time. Resources. Desire.

Sometimes, it may seem to make sense that we only work as hard as it takes to stay employed, or maybe get that next raise -- or maybe just avoid that next reduction in force. I worked for 16 years in a profession that I just fell into. Like many 19 year olds, I had dreams that weren't terribly realistic (and those ARE important), so I needed a "job" to tide me over. So I joined the Army, learned how to "fix" helicopters, and then worked as an "aviation technician" ( a top rated one, it is fair to note) while I awaited my dreams of fame as a musician to materialize.

This may shock some of you, but that just didn't pan out like I expected. Luckily, I had a great work ethic and had continued to develop in other areas, like computer technology. I had started becoming an IT professional without even knowing it. Many of my coworkers saw it much more clearly than I did and, fortunately, told me so.

So 10 years ago I decided to become a full time IT professional. I had a friend who was trying to help me get a job and quoted what sounded like a very nice salary. Fun job making good money? What's not to love??

Now the last two have been a couple of crazy years full of amazing projects and difficult service calls, preceded by four great years of consulting part-time while passing on my knowledge of Microsoft-based network infrastructure to career changers, and it has all been so worth it! It has culminated in my acceptance into the Microsoft Certified Master Windows Server 2008 R2 Directory program and I could not be more grateful and excited, especially since my company, ALexander Open Systems, just became a National Service Integrator partner. Yes, Johnny, that is a big deal.

I do not know where this process will take me exactly, or whether I will attain the shiny title of "Master" at the end (I would really like to think so), but I do know from all of the other experiences I have read about, I will have been exposed to deep product knowledge presented by the best of the best. I will undoubtedly become a much better technician, maybe even a better consultant just by mere association with those who will run the gauntlet with me. The certification is certainly difficult to get and only goes to those who truly have the skill level of a Master, but even if it eludes me, hopefully only temporarily, I will have gained many things that make the two weeks of 16 hour days worth it. Heck, Army basic training was 13 weeks of 16 hour days (and some nights of interrupted sleep for guard duty) full of loud, angry men shouting at me while trying to manage some fairly difficult tasks, and that went pretty well. I think I might rather enjoy this.

If you are not familiar with the program, it does take a bit of doing to get it all put together. First you have to determine if YOU think you might be qualified. The program description and other related information can be found here:

You can follow a link from there to find out more about the specific certification that you are interested in. There will be some prerequisites that you must meet, which usually include the number of years on the subject matter that you are an expert in, what parts of the subject matter you should know best, plus a minimum set of certifications already attained in your chosen field.

If you meet those criteria, you can follow another link to apply. This usually entails a fee similar to the one you pay for taking a certification exam and submitting your transcript of certifications for review and approval. This is only the first part of the applicaiton process and usually only takes about a day. If you are approved, now it gets a little more intense.

Next, you will likely need to submit some project docs that you have authored to show your detailed expertise. These will be reviewed to see if they support your claim of expertise. If the program manager approves of these, you are in the program. Now you have to pay your fee, the big one, which I am about to do, and get scheduled. Getting on the schedule is the final confirmation for attending which I hope to complete in the next day or so.

The rest of it is all hearsay for me, but I expect to fly out to Redmond in September and spend two fun filled weeks of Active Directory adventure, and I plan on sharing as much of the experience here as they will allow. Good, bad or ugly.

More to come shortly. Wish me luck. I hear it comes in really handy...

"The problem with internet quotes is that no one has verified the source" -- Abraham Lincoln

- Peter Trast, MCITP DBA, MCITP EA, MCT LinkIn with Peter