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Getting the most from OCS Master

Getting the most from OCS Master

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This post was written by Rajeev Krishnan who attended Rotation 1 of OCS Master. In it he shares his hints and tips on getting into and surviving the program.

Rajeev is a Senior Consultant for Microsoft Global Services in India.

I was one of the fortunate people to have been invited for the alpha rotation of OCS Masters held early this year in Redmond.  Fortunately for me I received the right support from my organization and the program committee that enabled me to attend this 3 week training.

This is important to note, since when you are attending the OCS Masters, there is absolutely no time to do any official work. You need to come to the Masters training with the complete understanding that for those 3 weeks you will be cut off from your office work, your customers and to an extent even with your family.  Therefore gaining the support from your organization and family is really a key to doing well in the training.

My flight time to the training venue in Redmond from India was ~ 24 hours. I felt the strain of the jet lag in the first week of the training. If you are flying from outside the US, it may be advisable to reach at least 2-3 days earlier and reduce (not avoid J ) the stress of this intensive training program.

The Master’s training is intense and stressful. It is intense because this is the most comprehensive technical training on OCS 2007 R2 that you will ever find. The content is very much deep dive therefore you get to learn so many new things, especially the internals of OCS 2007. In some of the earlier blogs you would have read more on the sessions and the lab setup. It’s all superb and you will have the best instructors for the session, people who either developed the product or who those that have worked extensively on OCS for years. You will also find great external instructors who for example have developed RFC’s. The knowledge imparted is invaluable and therefore be prepared to learn a lot of new things through the 3 weeks.

It will be stressful because the training will cover all areas of OCS 2007 R2 including voice and video. Since OCS R2 has wide capabilities, the 3 weeks of training will cover all such areas.  Therefore a lot of content will be shared with you in the 3 weeks which will appear stressful given the breadth you will have to cover. You should remember that this training is not a voice only training hence you will be learning a deep dive on everything about R2 apart from voice and video. As mentioned in some of the earlier blogs, classes run Monday through Friday and on Saturdays you will spend the day  building your own labs.  That pretty much leaves you with a Sunday however most likely you will be spending the Sunday preparing for your Monday exam. So you will soon realize that the entire 3 weeks can really be hard work.

I would also like to point out that you would need to have knowledge on the earlier versions like OCS 2007 and LCS 2005 as well, since some of the sessions will be covering topics related to migration, differences between R2 and earlier versions.

My class had a very good mix of attendees. We had participants who were from the Product Group, Premier Field Engineering, Development and from Consulting like me. You will probably find a similar mix when you attend your masters. Having such a diverse audience makes the classroom discussion very interesting. Apart from the sessions, I learnt a lot of valuable things from such discussions. I believe this is a great place to always ask questions on areas where you need clarification. Everyone in the room benefits with these discussions & Q&A.

Having given you now a fair idea on what the 3 weeks will be like; I thought I could share some of my experiences with you that may help you to succeed in this training.

1.      Having only a sound theoretical knowledge around OCS will not be enough to succeed in this program. Since there will be lab based exams, you will need to also have hands on experience around OCS 2007 R2 and earlier versions.  Having experience in deploying OCS will be a key advantage. Work out a development plan if you feel that you need to ramp up on any one of these areas before you sign up for the Masters.

2.      Spend a good amount of time in going over all the pre requisites reading material before you arrive for the Masters.

3.      If you haven’t yet taken the OCS 2007 MCP exams, this will be a good time to do it. You are required to clear the OCS TS exam prior to attending and I recommend that you take the Voice Specialized MCP exam before you sign up for the Masters.

4.       Once you arrive at the program reach out to the other attendees and form your own study group. I found having a study group immensely useful as we would often test each other, revise the content, and seek clarification from others. I think the study groups are good for helping you prepare for the written exams.

5.      Take time every night to revise the content that was discussed on that day. If you leave everything to the Sunday for studying, you may find that you do not have enough time to go through all the content for the Monday morning exam.

6.      As has been said in earlier blogs, the logistics provided is simply great; however you could still take down your own notes and use those notes when you prepare for the exam.

7.      Try to be in the class at least 5 min earlier from the start time of 8:00 AM. Obviously coming late will not be liked by the PM, however since the class starts always on time, you may stand to lose out on information if you arrive late. Maybe the information that you missed could turn up as an exam question therefore try always to be early in class. NEVER be late for the exam!

8.      Remember, if you have never worked or deployed OCS before, you will find it difficult to complete you labs on time. This may mean that you spend more time of the weekend in completing it and less time preparing for the exam. You will also find it difficult to clear the exam based labs. It may be very difficult to learn deploying OCS in these 3 weeks and hence it’s better not to come here for the training with such assumptions. Therefore consider point 1 mentioned above.

9.      You cannot really prepare for the lab based exams in these 3 weeks. The only way I believe that you will clear this exam is by using your experience around OCS deployments gained in real world.

As I said I was fortunate to attend this training where I learnt so many new things about OCS and also it gave me an opportunity to meet and network with other attendees.

I was also fortunate to clear the OCS Masters and I know the tremendous value MCM brings to my local organization. Therefore in the investment that you make for the Masters is really worth and I could only encourage you to take it.

I have tried to share some information on how you could succeed in this program and I hope that there will many more MCM’s in OCS.

Rajeev Krishnan

 

Comments
  • Awesome information that correlates to the other feedback I've heard from Jens' blog and others!

    I'm ready! ....ready to be humbled, that is. Anyway, back to my lab and reading! I'm excited and honored to be attending next month.

  • What voice specialized exam are you referring to?

  • Hi Brian

    Rajeev is referring to the UC Voice Specialisation exam - see https://partner.microsoft.com/40097390 for more info. It is based around the Voice Ignite content and the exam is voucher based. I have recently dropped this exam as a pre-req for OCS Master until further notice as it is not widely available and this was causing some folks difficulty.

    Adrian

  • The following post was written by Keith Hanna (UK MCS) - a graduate of the first rotation of OCS Master.

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