Microsoft Stack - SME

Hello all,

I am currently finally studying and hopefully soon writing the VCP5-DCV exam to get the other side of virtualization, at least more knowledge, on hand.

I am looking at pursuing the other areas to become even stronger in the Microsoft stack as my 'niche', such as AD, Exchange, System Center, etc. Any books or paths people recommend that are already SMEs or advanced MS professionals?

I currently have MCSA (MCITP) 2008R2 and MCSA 2012, and plans to do MCSE: Server Infrastructure for 2012 after VCP. Wondering if the best route would be to explore System Center, read advanced books in various areas (not certification oriented), setup more advanced labs, force break/fix situations and other suggestions?

Definitely would like to know your thoughts and thanks in advance. Hopefully some others have been down this path. I am looking to go this way because I tend to be a jack of all trades, but master of Windows, but need to expand on rest of the Microsoft stack I think.

I currently obtain the following in addition to above:
CCNA, Security+, multiple Windows 7, 2008R2 Hyper-V Virtualization


  • NinjaBoyNinjaBoy Posts: 968Member
    You don't mention if you have any experience. If you don't have any, concentrate on get some before you go any higher.
  • googolgoogol Posts: 107Member
    Yes, sorry. I do have about 10 years IT related experience supporting XP/2003/7/2008(R2) in various capacities in increasing responsibilities and titles. I also earned my masters in Information Systems and Technology earlier this year. I have been the sole Windows guy, lead for smaller Windows teams as well as a Windows SME in senior roles.
    NinjaBoy wrote: »
    You don't mention if you have any experience. If you don't have any, concentrate on get some before you go any higher.
  • RobertKaucherRobertKaucher Posts: 4,298Member
    My suggestion is that you pick an MCSM specialization and you begin applying yourself to the objectives for each certification in that track.

    All of the MCSM certifications have a pre-reading list which will have the kinds of resources that you are looking for on advanced topics. But as a person who has taught MCSA/MCSE 2003 level courses in the past I would first ensure that you have thoroughly reviewed and mastered the fundamental topics covered by the current MCSA/MCSE exams as deeply as possible. Nothing can ever replace knowing the basics on a deep, practical level. One reason why I state that is an argument I got into recently with a bunch of CCIP level engineers regarding how PDUs move across the Internet. They had so completely bought into the analogy of encapsulation being a like a letter in an envelope when I challenged them on the inaccuracies of the analogy it took them far to long to realize that Internet traffic was not in anyway like mailing a letter thought the US Postal Service except in the most elementary of ways and that as it applied to the discussion we had (NSA spying) that analogy failed completely.

    Those sorts of analogies are used to help people new to any given field more easily understand its fundamentals, but they need to be abandoned by experts who should see them as hindrances to understanding the internals of the system.

    Here are some links:

    MCSM Certifications

    So you want to be an AD Master, eh?
    (note the requirements have changed and you no-longer need to do the training in Redmond)

    I can't seem to locate a reading list for the MCSM DS certification, but I know that the O'Reily book on AD just published its fifth edition. I would probably start there and make sure I had no holes in my knowledge regarding any of the new features.
  • googolgoogol Posts: 107Member
    Thanks a bunch for that suggestion. I may very much go that route with Directory Services, but looks like the exams are not available yet and at least the good news is that with me going on my current route of MCSE: SI, it is the same route for MCSM: DS with regards to exams 413 & 414. I have the book for 413 and 414 is coming out later this year. I will keep my eye on the MCSM page to see when the exams are available, but as I progress through VCP and MCSE:SI, it may be available by the time I prepare for that if I do indeed go that route.

    Some prospective employers recommended other areas of the Microsoft stack, so I may consider going into other areas like Exchange, System Center/MCSE: Private Cloud, Sharepoint etc. I am getting to the point it can be difficult to maintain all technologies from Cisco to VMware to Microsoft, so I may not want to go too high like MCSM, but I do like the fact it is Microsoft's version of CCIE which that stature and respect is a personal goal of mine at some point as well.

    Thanks again and glad I finally created an account here. Would love to hear form anyone else if possible as well.
  • RobertKaucherRobertKaucher Posts: 4,298Member
    I am currently developing an 18 month plan to MCSM on SharePoint 2013. One thing to keep in mind regarding that track is that it is developer intensive. You are expected to pass at least two MCSD level tests (it wasn't clear to me from the site if the 70-480 & 70-486 are required for the MCSM, the are required for the MCSD for SharePoint). So candidates may actually need to pass 4 developer exams in that track.

    So unless you can get some professional experience with C#/ASP.NET, SharePoint might not be a good choice.

    Now if you are just talking about the MCSE level for SharePoint that is a good path. And I can see why you would want to go down one of those routes for an MCSE. And that sort of thing is completely in-line with the MCSM: DS. You learn a lot about the inner workings of AD from those mega applications that interface with them. I had to set up Kerberos delegated auth for SharePoint and SQL Server in a multiple forest, multiple domain AD environment in my current role and now I know Kerberos so well I can troubleshoot it in my sleep. Maybe I mean nightmares...

    Please make sure you post details regarding your adventures getting certified. I always enjoy reading about what others are doing and their strategies.

    And just to be clear, I'm not saying I will be taking the MCSM exams in that time frame, I will be completing the MCSD and MCSE certs in that period, but my intention is more at just prepping as if I were going to take them. I figure walking the path will be just as beneficial to me professionally.
  • googolgoogol Posts: 107Member
    Good luck with your plan and thanks for the heads up on Sharepoint. I would be looking at the lower levels of Sharepoint if anything, but probably focus on SCCM and Exchange first. Now that I have re-found this site and starting to frequent it more, I am definitely looking to post my successes and failures as well, so others can learn from them along with me.

    Thanks again for the welcome.
  • gkcagkca Posts: 243Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    "I needed a password with eight characters so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." (c) Nick Helm
  • googolgoogol Posts: 107Member
    Whelp. Makes you reconsider some things about Microsoft. I may need to specialize in something else and/or improve skills in Linux. At least my path for MCSE: SI is still good for the foreseeable future. Thanks for letting us know.
  • RobertKaucherRobertKaucher Posts: 4,298Member
    LOL, I just started a thread regarding my study plan for the MCSM SharePoint 2013. I cannot f***ing believe this.

    They literally just changed the requirements for MCSM so that you did not have to take the training in Redmond which opened the exams up to people like me. I just... I don't even know what to say. If my son were not in the room below me, I would be screaming profanities right now.
  • googolgoogol Posts: 107Member
    I hear ya man, you were all set, but happy that at least before you put a lot of time and money into it, you found this out. Could have been worse, I really feel bad for those that were deep into it, money and time invested...
  • RobertKaucherRobertKaucher Posts: 4,298Member
    The truth is, for as successful as the program is for those who are in it, it reaches only a tiny proportion of the overall community. Only a few hundred people have attained the certification in the last few years, far fewer than we would have hoped. We wanted to create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program, but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn't gained the traction we hoped for.

    -Tim Sneath

    What a crock. They only changed the requirements 1 month ago to allow people to take the exams without doing a week long rotation in Redmond that cost nearly $30,000. It wasn't successful because only a tiny number of MVPs who worked for large consulting firms could afford to take the time off to do the rotations. If they had given it a chance, it would have gained traction in the community. I think I am just going to go eat a pint of ice cream and cry... :-/
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Posts: 213Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Right there with you Robert. This really aggravates me. Finally had a purpose in mind for my 15 years of experience in Exchange & Messaging and now this...Threw my Exchange books half way across my home office the other day when I read this...

    Where you think you going to go from here? I haven't even begun to think about it myself...

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