It Begins!!! My Journey to MCITP:EA, Messaging, and CCNA

cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
Well...It's official. I have been on the job as a Full-Time Messaging Architect for a little over 3 weeks and just received my marching orders on what certifications my company wants me to get for benchmarking my skills. Keep in mind, I have been working as an Independent Consultant/Architect for the past 3 years. But....I Have no official training or certs to speak of. Everything I have done in my 15 year career has been self-taught. Get a job. Learn new skills. Get a new higher paying job. Learn new skills. Get a new higher paying job.

Everything worked out well for the first 14 years. Made some good money. Started raising a family. Then all the contract work dried up. And the economy went into the tank. I only worked 3 out of the last 14 months and I am still standing...somehow. After 6 interviews with this company, I was finally hired as a RTH. Apparently, everyone here is hired the same way. They believe in my skills and I have shown the first few weeks on the job that I know what I am doing. But now I need to have my skills measured and show that I know the "official" or "Best Practices" way of doing things. Better yet, I need these certs so if I find myself looking for work again (I hope not), I have something to show people instead of saying "Read my resume and ask me anything you want." So here I am. Busy as hell with two small kids, 10+ hour work day, and my wife of almost 11 years. Need to find a way to juggle everything.

On to the Certs I have to obtain. As of right now, the list goes like this...

MCITP: EA
MCITP: Messaging
CCNA
If I have time - Net+, Sec+

Keep in mind, this list could start changing. Once my Exchange 2010 Migration project finishes by year end, I am apparently going to start training for a Citrix Migration. I need these tests out of my way quickly.

Figure I will use this forum as a way of keeping myself honest. Not to mention a few of you keeping me honest as well.

First up...70-640. I have full access to the SkillPort CBT Training Classes and Books24x7. Going to start there. I will eventually have to get a desktop for labbing. Right now I have my HP Laptop at home which I will make due with. I also have a nice i7 Desktop here at work which I can maybe use from time to time for some labbing or set for remote access from home.

I am going to take everyone's advice and focus on my CBTs, 2008 R2 Unleashed, Mastering 2008 R2 and the Self Study Kit from MS Press. Looks like I have access to all 3 from Books24x7. Not a big fan of the Books24x7 interface though. Wish they had an app for my iPad. Might just have to bite the bullet and buy one or more Books from Amazon or B&N for the Kindle/Nook Apps.

I am going to post on this thread at least twice a week to show what I have been working on in the hopes that some of you have some advice. I might also post some of the things that have kept me from working on my certs...

Thank you all in advance for reading!
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Comments

  • chopstickschopsticks Posts: 389Member
    Hello there, good to see you are having a great plan!

    My plan didn't work out as expected last year due to work-related issues. So this year, I am making some slight changes in my study plan but to continue focus in getting myself certified in Microsoft and Cisco products. Let's work towards our goal! Cheers!
  • amplifyamplify Posts: 17Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm planning MCITP: EA and CCNA this year as well, hoping to take 70-640 next month. Then WGU next year to finish that elusive college degree.

    Best of luck!
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    My plan didn't work out as expected last year due to work-related issues. So this year, I am making some slight changes in my study plan but to continue focus in getting myself certified in Microsoft and Cisco products. Let's work towards our goal! Cheers!

    Cheers indeed! I hear you on the getting sidetracked part. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.
    I'm planning MCITP: EA and CCNA this year as well, hoping to take 70-640 next month. Then WGU next year to finish that elusive college degree.

    As much as I thought I should be messaging first, I decided to go the 70-640 route instead. I figured with as much Exchange work as I do from day to day, that stuff would remain fresh. Haven't had to deal with Win2008/AD things exclusively in about 3 years. Hoping that as I brush up on my Infrastructure the rest of my day job will become a little easier.

    I just requested an info packet from WGU the other day. Going to seriously consider it after this year.
  • BlackmonkeydogBlackmonkeydog Posts: 6Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    Cheers indeed! I hear you on the getting sidetracked part. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.



    As much as I thought I should be messaging first, I decided to go the 70-640 route instead. I figured with as much Exchange work as I do from day to day, that stuff would remain fresh. Haven't had to deal with Win2008/AD things exclusively in about 3 years. Hoping that as I brush up on my Infrastructure the rest of my day job will become a little easier.

    I just requested an info packet from WGU the other day. Going to seriously consider it after this year.

    Can someone explain what WGU is? I've seen the acronym written many times, but still have no idea what it is.
  • PsoasmanPsoasman Posts: 2,687Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Can someone explain what WGU is? I've seen the acronym written many times, but still have no idea what it is.

    Western Governor's University. A very nice, very affordable online university. Check out these threads for more info.

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/jobs-degrees/52825-student-experiences-western-governors-university-wgu.html

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/jobs-degrees/51715-western-governors-university-questions-answers-threads-related-wgu.html

    Online IT Degree | Online Information Technology Degree | WGU College of Information Technology
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    Western Governors University is what it's called.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • ptilsenptilsen Posts: 2,835Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    It sounds to me like you experiences should actually make this certification goal fairly trivial. A less experienced professional might take 2-4 years to get what you described working fairly aggressively. I bet you'll have it all done in a year.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    ptilsen wrote: »
    It sounds to me like you experiences should actually make this certification goal fairly trivial. A less experienced professional might take 2-4 years to get what you described working fairly aggressively. I bet you'll have it all done in a year.

    Thanks for the confidence boost. Now I just have to work on boosting it myself. I have never been a good test taker. Last cert I tried for was AD back on NT 4.0 and could pass that after 3 tries. Then again, it has been 15 years or so since that test.
  • BlackmonkeydogBlackmonkeydog Posts: 6Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks!
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Erf....rough weekend. I did manage to get some VMs installed on my laptop as well as get the first 2 chapters read in the MS Self Study 70-640 book. So far nothing too outrageous in the few pages I got read. Of course I spent most of the weekend cleaning the house, taking the kids off my wife's hands for her sanity, and food shopping. I've only been working out of the house for three weeks now so I am having trouble getting used to this get up at 5:30 AM schedule. Before I used to get up around 9 AM, start working for 2-3 hours around noon and then do the rest of my work after the kids went to bed. Now, I am lucky to make it to midnight and my son won't go to sleep till well after 10. Ahh...I miss the days of working from home. But the job security of a FullTime Salaried gig is nice too.

    This whole studying thing is going to be harder than I thought.
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,739Mod Mod
    That insurance company got it right when they said life comes at you fast. Key to success is to be flexible but keep moving forward.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    OK....so it's been over a week already since I managed to last post here. Unfortunately not much accomplished. Wife needed to have some emergency surgery last week. Finally back in the office today. Managed to knock another 2 chapters off. This is going to take a lot longer than I originally thought.
  • N2ITN2IT Posts: 7,483Inactive Imported Users
    You must manage your own expectations.

    I wouldn't worry about it, one chapter at a time. Just focus on 640 at the moment. Even if you just get one certification it's better than none. I've always "tried" to take that approach and when I follow it I am much better off.

    Keep grinding and learning that's all you can ask of yourself.
  • TremiataTremiata Posts: 30Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Since you have experience maybe go at it a different way. Take a practice exam and find your weak areas, concentrate your studies on those areas until you are passing practice exams at 90%+.
  • cg1967cg1967 Posts: 11Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Good luck with the studying. I passed 70-640 last week and am now embarking on 642 with a view to taking the exam in about 3 months, assuming work/wife/kids let me get the study time in.
  • cmitchell_00cmitchell_00 Too many to name Posts: 242Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I wish you the best on the studying. You just have to find some good strategy at time management which will increase your studying. The key is to learn the material and pass the exam.
  • kriscamaro68kriscamaro68 A+, Net+, Server+, Security+, Win7 MCP, Server 2012 Virtualization Specialist, MCSA 2012 Posts: 1,186Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    cknapp78 wrote: »
    I am going to take everyone's advice and focus on my CBTs, 2008 R2 Unleashed, Mastering 2008 R2 and the Self Study Kit from MS Press. Looks like I have access to all 3 from Books24x7. Not a big fan of the Books24x7 interface though. Wish they had an app for my iPad. Might just have to bite the bullet and buy one or more Books from Amazon or B&N for the Kindle/Nook Apps.

    If you have a little money to spare check out safaribooksonline. They have an app for the ipad and have all the books you mention plus some training videos for various things. They also have video labs for cisco stuff. I would give them a try. You can get 1 month free I think if you do a quick search.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Weekly update...First day back in the office since last week. I have spent the past 5 nights working on international migrations for Exchange 2010. Nothing like having a day job that requires 6-7 hours of overnight work when half your sites are on the other side of the planet.

    As a result...not a while lot accomplished this week as far as studying goes. Managed to squeeze in another 3 chapters. Tough to read when you basically work from 10:30 PM to 4-5 AM and then are required to be on the phone during the day for status update calls at 8 AM, 12 PM, and 4 PM. Thankfully only another 3 months of migrations to go!!!! But at least the night hours should calm down now.

    Hopefully it will be a productive weekend. Although my "honey-do" list is rapidly growing as well.
  • amplifyamplify Posts: 17Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Is your pursuit of MCITP:EA affected at all by the news that Microsoft will basically be abandoning the MCITP tag?

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/general-certification/76382-microsoft-going-back-mcse-title-2012-technology-private-cloud-sql.html

    I was going to go the EA route but with this news have decided to pursue the MCSA 2008 (formerly MCITP:SA) path.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Don't even get me started on all this MCSE/MCITP/MC-WhoGivesARatsA$$ Stuff. Just when i finally decide to sit down and start getting certified after 15 years, they change this on me.

    Doesn't affect me too much this minute since I am studying for the 70-640. However, I will probably just head the same route as you and then proceed with my Messaging Certs....if they haven't changed them by then....
  • chopstickschopsticks Posts: 389Member
    Same here.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Greetings again...writing this from Houston. Traveling on business for the week. Best thing that could have happened really. I now have 5 completely free nights to devote to my studies. Flew in Monday. 4 hours on a plane allows for a lot of reading. Managed to get about half way through my studying for the 640 last week and this week so far. Hopefully I can sit for the exam in about a month.

    Corey
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Hello to everyone again. Been a long time since posting on here. Long story short....

    My plans went down the drain really fast. Wife got very sick with cancer. End result is that she beat it after 9 long months. In the mean time, my employer decided to put me back to hourly since they didn't want to deal with my wife's constant chemo and radiation treatments. Then my employer decides to cut all ties with me in September since i couldn't attend a conference because of her health. Bastards....

    Either way, it all worked out. Only spent about 3 weeks on unemployment before i picked up another Exchange Architect gig in Kansas working remotely from NJ. Have another 3-4 months on this job and likely going on their next project as well. Consultant so I am hourly but at least the rate is great.

    Anyway...time to get to the point. Because of all these issues the past year, I have accomplished exactly none of my goals. I haven't even picked up a study guide in 9 months. Time to get started. Now since Microsoft went postal and redid all of their certs, I guess I am going to go after the MCSA/MCSE 2012 path followed by Exchange 2013. Going to mix in some Net+ and Sec+ between MS Certs to keep things fresh.

    Number of questions....

    1. Anyone seen a decent AMD based vLab build for the home? Looking to keep the entire system under $1000. I haven't built a whitebox in over 10 years. Was all i did for about 7-8 years but has been a LOOOONG time.

    2. Anyone seen the new monthly programs from either CBT or Trainsignal? Wondering how they stack up against the competition. I already picked up a monthly Safari Books subscription so I have the books covered.

    Any help would be appreciated. Time to off my a$$ and get things moving in the right direction.

    Thanks,

    Corey
  • ptilsenptilsen Posts: 2,835Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    A cheap desktop, either 8-core AMD or quad-core Intel, with 16GB of RAM and consumer-grade SSDs or RAIDed HDDs should be plenty, arguably overkill. Doable for under $1,000. You can also buy a used server with similar power for under that. I don't have any specifics, but even a huge lab with ten or fifteen servers running will work on that kind of hardware. Should be doable.

    Honestly, unless you think you'll gain something from the material, I would skip Net+ and Sec+, especially Net+. It is not going to add anything to your resume. If I ever bother with an MCSE, I'll probably take A+ and Net+ off. I like to recommend Net+ to entry-level systems professionals not interested in the Cisco route because it helps fill in a lot of gaps they'll have. I'm skeptical it will fill in any for you.

    If you really like the Exchange route, I would skip MCSE server infrastructure. Go MCSA: Server 2012 then MCSE: Messaging. Get Server Infrastructure after if you're still interested. MCSE Messaging is five exams, and MCSA 2012 makes up the first three of them. Great path for an Exchange guy.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    As far as the HP N40L goes...how many VMs could i reasonably expect to use per server? Obviously with Exchange (not to mention my working SharePoint and Lync) I need to be able to have about 6-10 machines running at once. And in addition the servers only max out at 8 GB RAM and is only dual-core.

    Honestly have no idea guys....just looking for some clarification.

    Although the idea of 2 of these servers running 8 GB of RAM for a little over 600 dollars is a good investment.

    Corey
  • ptilsenptilsen Posts: 2,835Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    The value is not that good IMO, at least not for these purposes. For what that system is on its own, it's good, but they idea is cheap power. Four of those = 8 Turion II core, 2GB RAM, 4 250GB HDD for $1000. For that kind of money, you could build a brand new desktop with better specs. I wouldn't try to put more than six VMs per server, and that's if they sit there doing almost nothing. Having more than two actively doing anything can quickly slow things down. I'm not saying it's unusable, but it will be noticeably slow compared to cheap alternatives.

    Going with used server parts, the first result of a quick eBay search gives you way better specs on a used Proliant:
    HP Proliant DL380 G6 2 x Quad Core 2 53GHz E5540 4 8GT s 36GB 8 x 72GB Server | eBay

    That's 8 last-gen Xeon cores (trust me, better than 8 Turion II cores), lots of fast hard drives for a really fast array or three, and more RAM than you'll ever need, for less money and work. That was the first search. There are tons like this on eBay. With some work, you could get two overkill used servers for under $1,000, just in case one dies or you want to lab something with nesting stuff (e.g. SAN or hypervisor labs).
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    My vote for a server would be a Shuttle barebone. Either an older (and slower DDR3 1333Mhz) Shuttle SH67H3 or a newer (and faster DDR3 1600Mhz) Shuttle SZ77R5. Now that gives you options as to how much RAM (16GB or 32GB) and CPU (i5 or i7) you want to put in. You could also put in a GPU for gaming if you are in to that also. Best part it will work as a VMware VCP host if you go down the route too. So it could be your main gaming PC as well as an ESXi host. You will need to add in a hard drive too but I think you could build it for under $1000 all in.

    Just a suggestion.
  • ptilsenptilsen Posts: 2,835Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    There's actually a decent combo right there on the page for that barebone: Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!

    I might top it off with an SSD. Should come right around $1,000.

    At worst, it's a good illustrator of what you can do for $1,000 or less. Parting it out with cheaper case and motherboard will get you comparable specs for even less.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Alright so I picked up subscriptions to Safari Books Online and a monthly pass to Trainsignal to cover most of my training material needs. Anything else I need I will just have to pick up. I spend a lot of time on my Transformer Infinity Tablet so the Safari Books subscription will probably be invaluable.

    Going to table to the discussion for a new lab for a while. Spent some time talking with my wife and since money has been tight because of all her medical expenses, we agreed that the best thing to do for now is to start studying for my 70-410 with what I have and assuming all goes well and I stay on track, pick up a new lab desktop in a month or two.

    Figure I can pass the 70-410 in about a month since I have been doing this for over 16 years. Going to hit the books hard today and tomorrow and take Wednesday off since my wife has my birthday party planned. Likely going to start a new thread for the individual Exams as I study for them since this thread has gone all over h3ll and back.

    Corey
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