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Dan Pilling our manager here on the DPE team has thrown down the gauntlet and has said that he can’t be beaten in the Windows Server 2012 Game! I told him not to be so silly and that this was a rash comment considering how awesome you folks are in the community and how clued up you all are on Windows Server 2012 and for some reason he doubted me! It’s time for us all to prove him wrong!
At the moment Dan has 2650 Points and rising… He’s a Tier 1 on the leader board!
Now it’s your turn to show him what you can do… Show him how pitiful his 2650 points are and let’s see how high up that leader board you can get!
If you do pass Dan then let me know! I’ve said to him that he’ll have to find something nice to give to the first person to beat him and he has agreed! So it’s GAME ON!!!!
Try Windows Server 2012 now
Find out more about Windows Server 2012
Paul Sanders was the very first person in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region to pass his Private Cloud MCSE and we thought it would be good to track him down and find out a bit about how he prepared for the exams and the work environment that supported him in his learning and certification. Feel Free to follow Paul on Twitter or follow his blog.
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Hi, I’m Paul Sanders and I’m a Technical Consultant for ANS Group, a leading technology solutions, managed services and cloud provider based in Manchester UK.
Congratulations on becoming the very first Private Cloud MCSE in the EMEA region including the UK!!!
Thank you, I’m incredibly pleased and proud to be the first in the UK and that all my hard work paid off.
Who do you work for and what do they do?
I work for the award-winning cloud expert ANS Group in their Manchester head office. Since joining the company they have given me a platform and great level of support to build my skills. It’s an exciting and fast paced environment and ANS Group has experienced 80% year-on-year growth since 2009, currently turning over £45m we are on course for continued growth. We specialise in providing managed compute, storage and network infrastructures that can either be built on-premise or as a cloud-based solution.
With over 16 years’ experience in building, installing and managing complex technologies, ANS Group are considered as experts in the data centre and the provision of managed services. Our fully managed services are in addition to our substantial enhanced services and mean that we control and manage our client’s infrastructure, providing enterprise class SLAs ensuring our client’s infrastructure is safe and secure. By selecting ANS Group our customers are accessing our wealth of experience, freeing them from the hassle of having to maintain and update their infrastructures, giving them time to focus on and grow their businesses.
As part of our significant planned growth we are building and investing massively in Microsoft as part of our cloud and we have an amazing team of consultants that work with all the leading edge technology. I’d urge any strong Microsoft guys looking to work with the best, to come and apply for a job at ANS it’s always exciting and they let talent flourish.
Ps. You can follow ANS Group on Twitter and Facebook.
How did ANS Group support you in getting your certification?
ANS Group deals with all the Bleeding edge technology and I have been given the ability to work with all the newest Microsoft products in conjunction with ANS Group’s i3.0 (FlexPod) infrastructure. Not many people get this level of exposure and support, and working in the team that I do means failure is not an option!
How does your certification benefit ANS Group as a whole and more specifically help you with your day to day work?
ANS Group is at the absolute forefront of Private and Public cloud, so being the first MCSE in Private Cloud means we continue to have the edge on design and delivery of our cloud solutions.
What does your certification mean to you?
With the IT landscape constantly changing, together with the significant growth and awareness around the ‘Cloud’ buzz, it’s vital to adapt my skillset both on a personal level and as an ANS employee, in order to meet the current and future needs of business’s IT systems. I have found the new MCSE path offers a greater outlook on hybrid systems that other certifications do not offer.
Both certifications and hands on experience go hand in hand in today’s industry. The MCSE certification guarantees both employers and customers that I am an expert in my field, with an extensive background for the key technologies required to successfully deploy and consult on the cloud.
The big question really is how did you do it? Let’s break that down into some bite sized chunks…
Where did you go to find the key information for learning the right things for the exams?
There is a considerable amount of information out there on the internet to help understand the subject and prepare for the exams. The first port of call will always be the Microsoft Learning & Certification pages. I spent a lot of time reviewing the ‘Skills Measured’ for the individual exams, focusing my efforts on the sections I hadn’t had the greatest exposure too. This made life considerably easier when writing my training plan as I knew exactly what to focus on and for how long.
I also found an online challenge called 60days2mcse which was a valuable resource. It has been set up by a number of Microsoft enthusiasts called ‘The Krewe’ who set a 60 day challenge to pass all 5 exams. The community started blogging about their experiences, giving each other a helping hand and pointing people to useful blogs and material. It’s a really great community and definitely worth joining in :)
Did you get any specific training? If so from where?
With the certification being so new, there weren’t many official courses. However, I did manage to get useful workshops from our ANS Group Microsoft Partner manager that went into great depth of System Centre and related technologies, which was a real help.
What books helped you out?
As the exam was new, training books were hard to come by. As most of the theory behind the products remain the same, I used the previous version material (SCOM 2007 R2 for example).
Did you use forums, Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites such as Quora? If yes how did you use them?
I’m amazed how people used to pass exams before the world of social media! It is all about setting up the searching for the right #tags. My twitter client is currently setup to search for #sysctr, #60Days2MCSE, #opsmgr, #scom, #sccm etc. These give you quick access to the latest information as soon as it is released. You find key members of the community will blog about the latest technology the moment it happens.
During my preparation, I also spent a lot of time on both System Center Central and the Microsoft Community Forums. Any issues or questions I had were answered quickly.
What key tips do you have for someone studying for their Private Cloud MCSE at the moment? (no giving out exam questions :P )
Hands on experience is key! There is only so much you can learn from a book. I would recommend setting yourself a mock business scenario (bring on contoso.com ;) ) and go through the building motions for building a full private cloud. As the certification requires 5 exams (3 of which revolve around core technologies) building from scratch will give you the exposure. My home lab is pretty complex, with 2 AD forests, a hyper-v and VMware clusters with System Centre on top.
What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself?
Anything else you’d like to say?
The Microsoft certification landscape is changing dramatically. The exams are becoming more relevant with an emphasis on key skills. I now hope to pass my MCSE Server Infrastructure and get myself onto one of the new Microsoft Certified Solution Master rotations when they become available.
I realise this is shameless promotion… but check out the new ANS Group website www.ansgroup.co.uk You’ll see we’re a rapidly growing company and an amazing place to work, and we’re always looking for and passionate, energetic, self-motivated and driven people to join our team.
We also asked Paul’s boss about the experience and here’s what he had to say!
“Quote from Paul’s boss” – Paul Shannon – Head of Technical Services
Having the best quality consultants in the Managed Services team is absolutely essential for ANS. Running entire customer infrastructures within an ANS platform means that it has to be extremely robust, scalable and resilient. It’s only possible to ensure this if the best people are designing and implementing the foundations. Paul is an invaluable asset along with his colleagues in the Managed Services design team at ANS. Paul’s dedication is what ensured he was the first in EMEA to achieve the MCSE Private Cloud and ensures that ANS continues to be at the forefront of Managed Services solutions.
If you would like to know more about Certification and Training make sure you are subscribed to the TechNet Newsletter as the end of September edition is all about this subject!
In the meantime why not pop over to our learning pages to find out more.
For a limited time, Microsoft is bringing back its popular Second Shot offer that gives you a free second chance to pass your certification exams. Microsoft has reinvented the IT industry’s most respected professional certification program to validate a deeper set of skills on the newest technologies. The new MCSE and MCSD certifications validate the ability to deploy, design, and optimize technologies for critical IT roles. Now you can sign up for that certification exam with confidence in knowing that if you don’t’ pass it the first time, you get a second chance at success.
You can follow Microsoft Learning in the UK as well as the latest offers from its partners on Twitter at @MSLearningUK.
Today marks a huge moment for Microsoft as Windows Server 2012 is made generally available today. The world of backend computing infrastructure has seen a transformational shift impacting the entire IT ecosystem. This transformation has been driven by the growth of devices used for smarter, more personalized applications, which in turn create an explosion of data and the need for more computing power. It is a new world of connected devices and continuous services, and it’s all powered by servers. To lead the transformation and help customers realize the opportunities of cloud computing, we are building what we refer to as the Cloud OS, an operating system that enables those smart, modern apps across a customer’s datacenter, a service provider datacenter, or the public cloud. As the cornerstone of the Cloud OS, Windows Server 2012 is the core offering for anyone building their own cloud. Windows Azure provides this same Cloud OS platform as a service. In combination we offer the most comprehensive and flexible backend platform that meets the needs of our customers and partners in their various deployment and application workload scenarios.
Built from the cloud up, Windows Server 2012 is a monumental release that is part of our company-wide effort to reimagine Windows. Here are some highlights:
1. It’s been broadly heralded as “game changer” and a major server release from press and pundits alike
2. Together with Windows Azure, it makes the hybrid cloud a reality for our customers
3. It offers disruptive advancements in networking and storage that will dramatically reduce costs and dramatically improve uptime
In the 1990s, Microsoft saw a need for a democratized server business to make client/server computing available at scale, to customers of all sizes. Today, our goal is to do the same for cloud computing. I hope you’ll join our digital launch experience to get more details on both our vision and the details of the technology.
Also launched today is the MVP YouTube Channel where you will find content created about Windows Server 2012 by our UK MVP’s Damian Flynn, Aidan Flynn Patrick Lonwds and Thomas Lee.
Simplify Windows Server 2012 deployments with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 Update 1!
MDT 2012 Update 1 is now available! This release expands your deployment capabilities with support for the latest software releases, including Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Community Technology Preview.
Download MDT 2012 Update 1.
Learn more about MDT 2012.
Assess Windows Server 2012 readiness with MAP 7.0!
Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 7.0 is now available for download! MAP 7.0 assesses the readiness of your IT infrastructure for a Windows Server 2012 deployment. This feature includes detailed and actionable recommendations indicating the machines that meet Windows Server 2012 system requirements and which may require hardware updates. A comprehensive inventory of servers, operating systems, workloads, devices, and server roles is included to help in planning efforts.
· Download MAP Toolkit 7.0.
· Learn more about the MAP Toolkit.
Convert to Hyper-V with the new Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter tool!
The Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter provides a Microsoft-supported, freely available, stand-alone solution for converting VMware-based virtual machines and virtual disks to Hyper-V-based virtual machines and virtual hard drives (VHDs)—including conversion from VMware to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012. Because MVMC has a fully scriptable command-line interface (CLI), it integrates especially well with data center automation workflows such as those authored and run within Microsoft System Center 2012 - Orchestrator. It can also be invoked through Windows PowerShell.
MVMC simplifies low-cost, point-and-click migration of Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 R2 with SP2, and Windows Server 2003 with SP2 guest operating systems from VMware to Hyper-V.
Download Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter.
Learn more about the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter.
We are really pleased to announce the winner of the Windows Server Design Competition! It was a really tough call to decide who should win this one! I never realised we had such talented design lead IT Pro’s.
The Winner of the Windows Server 2012 Design Competition is….
The judging panel loved the clean simple design and the use of the Windows logo and colour which fitted really well with the Windows Server 2012 branding! Josiah will receive his very own MicroServer with his design on it very soon!
Which looks like this when it’s on the Server!!!!
We would also like to give an honourable mention to the following designs.
The inner workings of Server 2012 by D Bremner
Mayan Server by James Clarkson
And a late entry by Chintan Vashi
If you didn’t win this competiton but are attending the Windows Server 2012 launch event then you are still in with a chance of winning one of 29 MicroServers with Josiah Allen-Litchmore’s design on them! Make sure you turn up if you’ve registered to be in with a chance to win.
Many of you who have attended our Windows Server 2012 events have also been asking if and when we are going to run the Windows 8 Camps… Well here’s the info you’ve been waiting for:
The UK IT Pro Team are back on the road delivering IT Camps to venues up and down the UK and we’re are pleased to announce the first set of dates to coincide with the launch of Windows 8.
These hands-on sessions will give you an introduction to Windows 8 for enterprise.
The agenda will be set by you, but some of the topics that are likely to be covered include:
Hugh Simpson-Wells is the CEO Oxford Computer Group. Hugh has spent the last thirty years in the IT sector, in technical roles as well as serving at senior management and board levels within public and private companies. He originally started Oxford Computer Group (OCG) in 1983 and in 2002 restarted OCG with a specialization in the area of Identity and Access Management (IAM). Since that time Hugh has focussed on the development and presentation of IAM and related material, and in particular training for business and technical audiences worldwide.
The advantages of online courses are obvious: money (and world resources) saved on travel, and flexibility to fit your timetable. Any kind of information that is needed “just in time” is perfect for this: how to create a table in Word, how create a chart in Excel, and so on. What has traditionally presented more of a challenge is information that needs a lot of interaction – perhaps because the concepts are technically difficult, or because it is hard to apply to your own specific (and complex) requirements.
Server technologies throw up interesting examples. Our area of expertise is with identity and access technologies – and no two solutions involving Active Directory, Exchange, SQL Server, AD FS and FIM 2010 look the same. Does that mean that the implementer of such a solution simply has to get into a room and discuss it (with a consultant, or in a facilitated group)?
General learning of the principles is still required of course, for example by practitioners who may not yet be involved with a specific case. Is the subject matter so technical that only a traditional classroom will do?
At Oxford Computer Group, we now run our FIM 2010 and AD FS courses in both online/on demand format, and in traditional classroom format – and the demand for the former has overtaken the latter (and that is not to say that the classroom demand has dropped significantly – demand is growing but skewed towards online/on-demand). How does this work? And can you get the same experience?
First you need a well –structured course which clearly identifies the important principles, which are applied to various scenarios, through lecture and through labs. This means that even though everyone has their own particular issues with their own particular environment, people can take the same journey and get 90% of the way to where they want to get to – the rest happens in other ways (traditionally through interaction with a teacher and other students).
Once a course is proven in the classroom, we can put it online, but with some subtle differences that make it more suitable for the online/on-demand format. The lectures must be every bit as engaging and educational as the classroom – using demonstration, and bringing in information gleaned from consultant experience, but also from actual classroom discussions. Additional material is needed to fill the “space” that is normally filled by Q&A and anecdotes – for example quizzes (which are also a break from the more didactic sessions).
A tutor must be available within a reasonable timeframe, to answer questions, enhance understanding and generally help – often this is an email exchange, but tools like Skype are vital too. However, the interaction will never be the same as in a classroom – and nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to doing labs. Hyper-V has made it possible to offer complex technical labs online, and so we provide an environment for each student – but the flow of a lab will not work if you keep having to wait for support that is not actually in the room with you. So what can be done? Well, the labs have to be tight: a task must have a clearly understood aim and measure of success – and it simply has to work (sounds obvious, but sadly this is not always the case). Also, you can offer a video demonstration of the entire lab, which can either be used as a whole learning piece, or dipped into when you get stuck.
We seem to be seeing some success, because not only is demand growing, but the number of “help me” interactions is way less than we anticipated (typically in the single figures for what would traditionally be a 4 day course).
Without actually doing a course, it is hard to get the whole experience – but this video will at least give you an idea of the lecture/demo part of it.