The New Features of Windows Server 2008 that All MCITP’s Should Study

Here are the major changes in Windows Server 2008 that will help you focus on the MCITP exams.

It would be stating the obvious to say that the MCITP is harder than the MCSE; it is by a long shot. But what I found when I upgraded is that it is deceptively so. Here are the major changes in Windows Server 2008 that will help you focus on the MCITP exams. Although this is not an all-inclusive list, this should help you concentrate on the major changes that will take up most of your time studying.

Looking back on the MCITP Enterprise Administrator Cert, I can’t help but think about the differences between when I got my MCSE 2000, its upgrade to the MCSE 2003, and then the most recent upgrade, the MCITP Enterprise Admin Certification. Compared to MCITP, the MCSE was a cakewalk.

Booting up Windows Server 2008, once you make your way through the Server Manager, going to the Administrative Tools menu, you think to yourself, “Ah, they really didn’t change much.” But if you look more closely, a lot has changed.

Windows Deployment Services and many of its correlative technologies are included in the exam, like it or not. This is basically Microsoft’s answer to cloning technologies, such as Symantec’s Ghost or Acronis. And just to pre-empt the comments, I’m not saying it’s a good answer.

In this blogger’s opinion, the underpinnings of Active Directory have not really changed. What you can do with AD, however has been drastically changed. AD LDS (formerly known as ADAM) is now integrated, AD Federation Services is now integrated, as well as is AD RMS. Yes, I know those were implemented as add-ons to the Windows Server 2003/2003 R2 products, but those weren’t tested upon so much in the 2003 strain of products. They are heavily tested on in the MCITP. Also, brand new features or concepts that are AD-related include Windows Core and Windows RODC’s. Both heavily tested upon as well.

There is a definitive emphasis on Applications knowledge with the MCITP that was not there with Windows Server 2003. This means that you’ll need heavy IIS knowledge. This stands to reason, because as a Windows Admin, you will repeatedly (and quite annoyingly) go head-to-head with IIS very, very often. Implementing Sharepoint? Guess what? You’ll deal with IIS. Want to be an Exchange Admin? You’ll deal with IIS. The company wants to make a web front end for the SQL Database inventory of Inflatable Barbecue Pig Gazebos? You guessed it, you’ll deal with IIS. IIS 7, and coming soon IIS 7.5 with the Windows Server 2008 R2 release, is a big part of the exam. The interface and how IIS is configured has changed tremendously with IIS 7, so you’ll need to spend some time with it.

As a matter of fact, it is safe to say that I think Microsoft is trying to blur the lines between Admin and Developer when it comes to IIS. There are some pretty significant new directives in the config files that are specific to .NET implementations, and it behooves Admins to learn them. You’ll see this as part of the MCITP Upgrade Exam 70-649 or on the 70-643.

Network Access Protection (NAP) is a new feature you will need to learn as well. This is probably going to be your biggest challenge if you’ve never dealt with this type of technology before. It’s backed heavily by Microsoft, and now provides a higher level of security for Windows. If you provide remote access through Windows, you’ll use it because it is the replacement for IAS. There are other uses for it as well, but you will need to use it in order to understand it.

Hyper-V. Chalk this one up to the Microsoft Hype Machine. MS wants to be a player in everything the virtualization market, and Hyper-V is the technology that they think will make them so. Get your hands on this and go over the objectives. There are some questions on it.

Some of the other items of more minor interest include the new Centralized Event Logging, Performance Monitoring and Reporting, Sharepoint Implementation, High Availability (Clustering), IPv6, and Terminal Services.

Overall, I have found that the MCITP is separating the “men from the boys” so to speak. Even my illustrious colleagues who have been using/teaching Windows Server 2003 for a very long time really struggle with Windows Server 2008. Why? Well, the IT field in general is simply becoming more complex. And second of all, the Microsoft mantra of “all things to all people” really pushes an immense list of items to study, and those topics include a lot of “under the hood” improvements that can really cause problems if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Here's a hint: start reading RFC's and/or white papers on the technologies that are implemented. Too many people just study check boxes and radio buttons. Don't just study how to configure, study the consequences of the configuration.

Happy studying.

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