Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Top 5 MCSA: Windows Server 2012 revision resources you could be missing out on


By Sarah Morgan


As well as qualifying you to take on the role of computer systems administrator and network specialist, the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 cert also opens up your progression through to the MCSE certifications.

It’s the cornerstone certification that proves you know what you’re doing when it comes to the Windows server environment. Specifically, it’s your first step towards earning an MCSE: Server Infrastructure or MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure certification, advanced and specialised certs that really set you apart as a high level IT professional . Find out which MCSE certification suits your role here.

To get the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification you’ll need to pass three exams:

  • Exam 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
  • Exam 70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012
  •  Exam 70-412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

And to give you the best start possible in these tough exams, we’ve compiled some of the best resources to help you get this career boosting qualification.


1. 90 Days to MCSA


Microsoft wants to skyrocket your IT career and their 90 days to MCSA project will do just that.
3 one-hour videos, covering all 3 exams and presented by Microsoft certified trainers form the meat of the content here. But don’t approach these with the idea that they are your only revision tool. They are by no means all-encompassing and you’ll certainly have to read around to get the broader knowledge you need.

However, these resources are great. As they are created by Microsoft, you can expect the information to be accurate and reliable. Plus, the presenters are certified Microsoft trainers, so they know what they’re talking about.



Each video is also equipped with its own mini-forum where students can discuss their revision, examination and technology questions. These are very active forums too. Just a cursory glance shows that this is an active and participatory forum with official moderators and an active user base. If you have any nagging questions, about one of the three exams, this is the place to go.

That’s not all. Each exam is also accompanied by an individual wiki page. On it, you’ll find detailed curriculum relevant to each of the three exams, including links to the exhaustive Microsoft TechNet library, in which you’ll find even more information.

You’ll also find handy whitepapers, detailing individual features and functions in great depth. This will help get you the in-depth knowledge you need to get the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification. 

As some of this wiki is contributed by members of the community, Microsoft make it clear that they do not provide any endorsement on third party resources.


2. Microsoft Virtual Academy


Microsoft provides some high quality and varied Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 courses on their Virtual Academy.  You’ll find 31 courses including topics like virtualisation features, efficient networking management and new storage capabilities.
















The courses themselves are well produced 20-30 minute videos presented by Microsoft evangelists,
experts well-experienced in their chosen technologies. These videos can also be downloaded in both high and medium quality – we recommend getting all of them onto your tablet or laptop for a quick revision fix whilst on the commute or elsewhere.

Microsoft complements their Virtual Academy with a support forum. If you’re struggling with something, just ask and one of the official forum moderators is sure to answer.


3.  Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2 – ISBN: 978-1118289426


Before you take on training or start revising, make sure you become familiar with the Windows 8 / Server 2012 R2 interface. Without this prior basic knowledge, you will undoubtedly struggle on training courses and it will make your revision hard-going. Luckily, Mastering Windows Server 2012 is one way of getting up-to-speed.

Even in this age of virtual academies and video tutorials, you can never underestimate the power of a good book.  This one comes highly praised with a 4.5 star rating on Amazon (out of 37 total reviews) and glowing recommendations from our very own Firebrand Windows Server 2012 instructors.

This book gets you up to speed on the new Windows Server 2012 R2 features like Hyper-V and Storage spaces and also includes real-world scenarios to put them in perspective. But don’t think it’s only about the new stuff; this book is designed to cover every aspect of Windows Server 2012 R2 technology.

Its’ been created by Mark Minasi, a highly regarded instructor and author, alongside a team of Windows server experts led by the equally prolific Kevin Greene. Minasi is well-known for his straightforward approach to writing and his ability to make even the most complicated technologies easily understandable.

You can find this great book in paperback and kindle on Amazon for £26.99 (at the time of writing).


4. MCSA Exam study guides 70-410 / 70-411 / 70-422 by Keith Mayer


To help you prepare for your three Server 2012 R2 exams, Keith Mayer, Microsoft senior technical evangelist, has released three comprehensive study guides packed full of useful resources.
Each study guide includes hands-on exercises and resources to build your confidence with the updated R2 exam topics. Keith has over 20 years of experience and it shows. Each of these three guides contains everything you need to get up to speed with all the changes made to the Windows Server 2012 in the past year.

Plus, every study guide is brimming with links to videos, downloadable exam objectives and step-by-step tutorials. This is a collection of resources and industry insight that only a seriously experienced Microsoft technologist could compile.

Check the exam guides out here:


5. Firebrand Learn


Firebrand learn gives you access to a range of free digital learning resources like: Firebrand Official Course Material, practice tests and exercises.

As part Learn, we’ve uploaded Firebrand’s entire MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 course material online. It’s available for free, for everyone.

This resource was compiled by our Firebrand Instructors, professional consultants who know the material inside out.

Access your Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 courseware instantly on Firebrand Learn.

Some extra tips

Before you take on the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 exams, we strongly recommend you get hands-on experience with the software itself. It’s not enough to just get ‘book-smart.’ See if you can get Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise on your PC and use Client Hyper-V.

Additionally, if you happen to have an extra computer, download Hyper-V Sever 2012 R2 and use this to build your lab.

Thirdly, you can try out an Azure trial – here’s a guide for that. But if you don’t have the time to build your own lab, you can get unlimited lab access during your Windows Server 2012 R2 course with Firebrand.

And lastly, don’t underestimate the exams. You can never revise too much!

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.