The SharePoint Connections event out in Las Vegas was pretty fun.  However, it seemed as though the classes were not quite as informative as previous years and I found myself in sessions where the information provided was pretty basic and straightforward.  I think it wasn’t so much that the conference was “dumbed down” as it was that I’ve been exposed to much more information in the last several years in regards to SharePoint 2010 as I’ve set up, maintained, developed and administered various SharePoint farms.

The end result is that I started looking at some of the more advanced training available.  From a philosophical perspective, I’ve never really put much stock in the idea of the Microsoft Certifications.  My thoughts on the subject were for the most part either you know it or you don’t, and you can generally gauge a person’s skill level within the first five minutes of talking to them during an interview.  I was especially put off on the idea of certifications when I had a friend of mine pass a series of certifications by memorizing the answers from a brain-dump site.  He asked me to help him prepare for the certification exam by quizzing him on the questions and he would respond correctly with the letter corresponding to the correct answer, but couldn’t tell me what the actual text of the correct answer was.  As a person who has had the responsibility of hiring people, it certainly lowered my valuations and expectations of what a certified individual’s talents actually were.  So, what’s changed my mind?

On the face of it, my belief that certification just proves you were able to answer questions on a test has not changed.  But, what has changed is that I’ve seen the effort Microsoft has put into making certifications valuable not only to the potential employer to see that the candidate proves they know what they say they know, but also it gives the candidate themselves access to some of the higher levels of training and communities of peers, which you’ll need to pass certifications for in order to attend.  I particularly like the advanced certifications they offer in regards to the Microsoft Certified Master on SharePoint (MCM) and the Microsoft Certified Architect on SharePoint (MCA)

So I’m drinking the Kool-aide and gearing up to start taking the exams which will lead to eventually achieving an MCA on SharePoint.  In order to to this I’ll need to get the MCM first, which requires that I pass 4 of the Microsoft Exams before entering the program to get the MCM:

The first step is to start preparing for the Exam 70-667 TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring.  The Audience Profile for the exam seems pretty straight forward:

Candidates for this exam typically have more than one year of experience configuring SharePoint and related technologies, including Internet Information Services (IIS), Windows Server 2008, and Active Directory, and networking infrastructure services.

The minimally qualified candidate typically:

  • Is an IT administrator who implements and maintains SharePoint Online or an on-premise deployment of SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1.
  • Is proficient with IIS 7.0, DNS, Active Directory Domain Services, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as these technologies relate to SharePoint.
  • Is proficient with the infrastructure and security of Windows Server 2008 or later.
  • Has experience with business operations for IT, including data backup, restoration, and high availability.
  • Has experience with Windows PowerShell 2.0 and command-line administration.
  • Has a basic understanding of single sign-on and Active Directory Federation Services 2.0.

I was fortunate to be at the book signing at SharePoint Connections for a couple of books that seem to also be great overviews and study guides for the 70-667 exam:

Professional SharePoint 2010 Administration

SharePoint 2010 Administration Instant Reference

So a big thanks to Todd Klindt and Steve Caravajal for signing the Wrox “Professional SharePoint 2010 Administration” book.  And a big thanks to Randy Williams for signing my “SharePoint 2010 Administration Instant Reference” book.

As I work through each book and study for the 70-667 exam I’ll continue to blog about it and give my opinions on the books themselves and the various things I’m doing to study for the exam.  At the end (once I pass) I’ll let you all know what worked, what didn’t, and where I think I got the most valuable content.