Friday, October 1, 2010

How to Pass 70-668

So today I passed 70-668. The PRO exam of the SharePoint 2010 Administrator series. And I can't tell you how relieved I am.
I was kind of panicking about this one. Mainly because I had no idea what to expect. The planning guides on technet are horrendously theoretical and you get tangled up in links beyond links in no time. The supporting course is not even finished yet and nobody can tell you what the format will be.
Let me assure you, it will not require a BSc in Taxonomy and governance planning to pass the exam.
It is mainly scenario driven and the questions are pretty straight forward. If you have sat  the 10174 SharePoint 2010 Administration and Configuration course you will have a good foundation to build upon.
From there you have to spend some more time configuring the different farm scenarios. No point in practicing how to use the Wizard! Do it manually and configure each component in your farm. Especially Search!

What to focus on? The most important part is knowing the hardware and software requirements for SharePoint 2010, how to upgrade to 2010, and how to build a small, medium and large farm. Especially how to distribute load of all components correctly in the farm, from Excel Calculation to Search crawling, indexing and querying. Know your Database Mirroring, Failover and Disaster recovery scenarios and know your network configurations and setups for IIS, authentication and firewalls. Most importantly it is hands on experience that will help you pass this exam. Not theory. So get stuck in and start building distributed farm environments. A lot of knowledge from building 2007 Farms will be easily translated into 2010 Farms, with the addition of new distribution capabilities due to the new service architecture.

If you are looking for a course that can help you prepare for this exam, I suggest you sit the Mindsharp/Combined Knowledge SharePoint 2010 Administrator Course. That covers the grunt and most important aspects of configuring and maintainting a best practice SharePoint Farm. Even the 2007 version of this course will give you many of the basic skills which can be translated into 2010 by extra studies. The Mindsharp/Combined Knowledge material is top notch and the trainers back it up with real world experience and vast pools of knowledge. You will never sit a Mindsharp/Combined Knowedge course with a trainer who does not know SharePoint inside out.

If you can't get hold of a Mindsharp/Combined Knowledge course in your area, then sit the Microsoft 50047 Advanced SharePoint 2007 Administration course. That covers all the important Enterprise setups that 5060 and 5061 ignore and gives real advice on farm configuration, disaster recovery and performance considerations. 50047 does assume that you have sat 5060 and 5061 or have equivalent real world experience. After sitting the course you then have to start applying the concepts to 2010 and get your hands dirty with how the 2010 service model can be configured and distributed in a farm environment.

One last tip (Probably the most important one).  Read the questions and possible answers before reading the scenario. That will speed up the process and keep you focussed on the task at hand. Most questions can be answered by just reading one single section of the scenario. So identify the section the question relies on, answer the question in your head and then skim the rest of the scenario to make sure there is no other piece of information that could invalidate your chosen answer.

Some lnks to get you started:
70-668 Syllabus:

SharePoint 2010 Resource Center (good list of the most important technet articles you will require)

Hands on courses to upskill fast:
3grow combined Knowledge SharePoint 2007 Administrator course taught by your's truly

Microsoft 10174 SharePoint 2010 Administration taught by your's truly:

Microsoft 50047 SharePoint 2007 Advanced Administration:

More good resources on passing this exam collected by Matt Menezes: