This month, Microsoft Learning has updated the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification exams to include new exam questions that relate to Windows Server 2012 R2.  If you’re currently preparing for MCSA certification, you’ll definitely want to check out the updated exam topics.

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To help you prepare for the new exam topics in each MCSA exam, this month I’ll be releasing a set of updated free Study Guides - one per exam each Friday - as part of an Early Experts “Free Guide Friday” series. Each Study Guide will include prescriptive resources and hands-on exercises to build your confidence with the new exam topics. 

Today’s Study Guide is focused on the new “R2” exam topics on Exam 70-410, Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012

1. Getting Started

If you’re just beginning your prep on Exam 70-410, be sure to check out our existing Early Experts study materials that target the original exam objectives for this exam.

2. What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2

After you’ve mastered the original exam objectives for Exam 70-410, get grounded in the new technical features of Windows Server 2012 R2 with our FREE eBook.

3. Target the New Exam Objectives

Before deep diving into the new exam objectives, download and review the updated Exam objective domain (OD) list.  This will help you identify and target the specific areas in which you feel you’ll need to spend your time studying and preparing.

The subsequent sections of this article provide additional recommended study resources that I personally found valuable when preparing for the new “R2” exam topics.

4. Install and Configure Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC)

Desired State Configuration (DSC) provides a new “declarative” approach for building Windows Server configurations using PowerShell 4.0.  Once defined, configurations can be applied to one or more servers to handle initial provisioning, as well as being leveraged post-provisioning for ongoing remediation of configuration compliance.

Learn more about Desired State Configuration (DSC) with these resources:

5. Create Storage Spaces and Automated Storage Tiers

Storage Spaces is the built-in Storage Virtualization solution included in Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2.  It provides the ability to leverage commodity disks and JBOD enclosures to build SAN-like storage solutions that offer high performance at a very low cost per TB.  In the R2 release, Storage Spaces also offers a new Automated Storage Tiers capability that can combine fast SSD’s with high-capacity HDD’s.  Automating Storage Tiers keeps the most frequently accessed data on SSD disks and leverages lower-cost HDD capacity for data that is accessed less frequently to further improve performance and reduce overall storage costs.

Learn more about Storage Spaces and Automated Storage Tiers with these resources:

6. Create and Configure Work Folders

Work Folders supports a new Internet-friendly "Sync Share" protocol for remotely synchronizing traditional shared folders on corporate file servers to mobile devices for disconnected access.  IT Teams can determine granular levels of access and define policies that require the synchronized data to be stored in an encrypted container on remote devices.  Data-level "remote wipe" capabilities are provided for IT Teams to be able to destroy corporate data on remote devices, when necessary, without disrupting personal data and applications on those devices.  Work Folders is currently supported on Windows 8.1 devices, with additional support expected soon for Windows 7 and Apple iOS client devices.

Learn more about Work Folders with these resources:

7. Manage Non-Domain Joined Servers

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 leverage the Windows Remote Management (WinRM) protocol for secure, multi-server remote management via Server Manager, PowerShell and RSAT tools.  Use this resource to learn how to enable remote management for non-domain joined servers.

8. Configure New “R2” Hyper-V Features

Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 includes many new features, including Generation 2 virtual machines, enhanced session mode, storage QoS, live cloning and resizing virtual hard disks for running virtual machines and MORE! Leverage these resources to learn about the new Hyper-V exam topics in this exam:

9. Deploy Active Directory Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in Windows Azure

The Windows Azure cloud platform provides two general options for configuring Active Directory on the Windows Azure cloud platform: Windows Server Active Directory running inside Windows Azure VM’s and Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) for cloud applications.  Use these resources to learn more about both Active Directory options:

Need more? Check out the official training from our Learning Partners

After reviewing these resources, if you feel that you’ll need more assistance in preparing for Exam 70-410, you may be interested in attending the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) class that is delivered world-wide by our network of authorized Learning Partners.  For preparing for Exam 70-410, the following class is recommended:

Do you have other study resources to share?

If you’ve found other study resources that were valuable to you in preparing for this exam, please feel free to share these additional resources in the Comments area below!