Windows 2000 Boot Camp Begins

MCSE Courses Updated

A Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) is respected in the IT industry as someone with a robust knowledge of how to run a network. This reputation may be partly attributable to the rigorous exams that must be passed, which are among the toughest in the industry.

Engineers who enjoyed the pleasure of the previous testing process will love what Redmond has in store for them now. Microsoft Corp. recently announced plans for updating professionals on the Windows 2000 platform, and those tough tests get tougher.

"In general, we have totally redesigned what the MCSE looked like," says Donna Senko, director of certification and training at Microsoft. "We did not just start with the old program and change it. We did a whole overhaul."

Most notably, the MCSE program now calls for the completion of seven exams instead of six. The old program required four core exams and two electives. Certification now requires four cores, one design core and two electives. Senko says those who have taken the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) exams will recognize the new program more readily than MCSEs because there is more performance-based, hands-on testing.

If you're an MCSE already, the training group offers an upgrade program for professionals that will encompass all that is new to the program. Those who are certified will take one core, one design core and two elective exams.

The Windows 2000 track will require design skills for security, network infrastructure or directory infrastructure. The core skill set includes design, TCP/IP and scripting and emphasizes trouble-shooting.

The certification is tailored to give certified professionals the ability to design, develop and manage the Windows 2000 operating system and BackOffice server products. Beta exams are scheduled to be available next spring. The difficulty of the exams, Senko explains, "depends on when they get their hands on the product. The people participating in the beta program [for Windows 2000] will be able to migrate fairly easily. For someone that's new, we're recommending a year of experience. We expect the certification to carry a lot of weight."

MCSEs are encouraged to take advantage of a 50 percent discount on five-day and one-day accelerated Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) Windows 2000-focused training courses. Students can choose instructor-led or online training options. MOC courseware is designed by Microsoft's product groups to help people deploy, administer and support Microsoft products. More details and registration is available at the Windows 2000 certification Web site (www.microsoft.com/train_cert/win2000). Individuals can learn more about the MOC courses at the MOC Web site (www.microsoft.com/train_cert/moc).

Free TechNet Sessions for W2K

Gearing up for the release of its new platform, Microsoft Corp. is offering a free series of TechNet briefings in about 250 cities worldwide to deploy, manage, support and optimize solutions based on Microsoft Windows 2000. There are six sessions, which will run from October to December.

Course offerings include how to efficiently manage a Windows 2000 Professional environment; how to design a Windows 2000 Server-based networking infrastructure and interoperate it with Windows NT Server 4.0; how to migrate Windows NT 4.0 directory services to Windows 2000 Active Directory; how to effectively use the Terminal Services component of the Windows 2000 Server operating system; how to set up a reliable Web server using Internet Information Services 5.0 and Windows 2000; and how to create secure, Web-based business solutions based on Windows 2000 Server and IIS 5.0.

"TechNet is a program that was created 15 months ago to make IT professionals more successful at their jobs," says Rosa Garcia, director of the TechNet program. "They wanted to learn about Microsoft products without the hype and the opportunity to interact with Microsoft professionals."

There are three training tools used by TechNet: the events and technical sessions where IT managers can learn directly from Microsoft professionals; a Web site that hosts internal and external documentation for free and encourages feedback; and a monthly TechNet CD-ROM disk that includes updates on every piece of content Microsoft produces.

In April, Microsoft announced it was investing $40 million dollars into training aimed at educating professionals about Windows 2000. Garcia says this free offering is a development of that effort. "We believe that by investing heavily in IT training, it's going to be a win-win for them and Microsoft," she explains. "They will be much more comfortable with Windows 2000 when it's ready. For us, the product will be better and more reliable. It will be easier to maintain. We want the customer to know every detail we have changed so they can get 100 percent of the features in there."

One feature is Active Directory. Garcia says it will be the most difficult aspect of the new platform to learn. She explains that planning is essential to implementing Active Directory successfully, and she hopes that through the training, professionals can begin the planning for implementing Active Directory -- a process that could take up to a year -- and then implement the technology when they're ready.

But is Microsoft concerned that difficulties such as this could be so daunting that IT just decides not to use the technology at all? "We hope that the IT managers will be so excited about the technology [that they will] encourage their employees to get training in these technologies," Garcia expounds. "That's why we're making the training as available as possible."

TechNet can be reached via the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com/technet .