MCSE Server Infrastructure
This page provides a brief guide to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) Server Infrastructure certification path. Obtaining your MCSE demonstrates that you have achieved the globally recognised standard for IT professionals. Such certification indicates your skills in running modern data centres, with skills in identity and systems management, virtualisation, networking and storage. Earning an MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification will set you apart from the field when applying for such jobs as information security analyst or computer support specialist. Note that this certification requires a recertification exam every three years.
The Certification Process
In order to obtain MCSE: Server Infrastructure certification you will need to pass two separate exams, in addition to having passed the exams necessary to earn an MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification. These exams are arranged separately from any training courses offered, further information on any individual exam can be seen by clicking on the corresponding title.
- Exam 70-413 Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
- Exam 70-414 Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
Preparing for the Exams
MCSE exams comprise of between 40 and 60 questions, drawn approximately equally from each section of examinable material. These exams are between 3 and 4 hours long. It is recommended that you should err on the side of over preparation to prevent any weaker areas resulting in a mark that is not high enough to provide a pass.
For further information on Microsoft exams in general, take a look at the Microsoft Certification exams page.
GBdirect offer the full range of Microsoft approved courses aimed to provide the skills and knowledge required to earn this certification. The courses offered are:
- Microsoft Course 20413 - Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
- Microsoft Course 20414 - Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
These courses will help prepare you for the exams but may not provide you with everything you need to pass them. To ensure a pass we would recommend as much hands-on experience with the product as possible, in addition to further reading from either Microsoft instructional material or reference texts. Performing practice labs detailed either in Microsoft Press books or following the procedures on the TechNet can also be greatly beneficial, practice tests are also available from some companies, notably Transcender, MeasureUp and Kaplan SelfTest. We welcome any reviews of your Microsoft Certification experience, if you feel that you know of an improved learning method then please do get in touch.
Official Microsoft Materials
Microsoft provides some online materials on each exam page itself, notably the TechNet entries along with any other information relevant to each individual segment of the exam, these links can be found in the "Skills measured" section of each exam page on Microsoft's site.
The Microsoft Virtual Academy contains a large amount of free resources ideally suited to correcting any particular weaknesses. For this certification path there are three recommended learning programmes.
- Windows Server 2012: Identity and Access
- Windows Server 2012 Training: Networking
- Windows Server 2012: Storage
Microsoft also hosts a wiki and small forum for each individual exam, the wiki for each exam helpfully lists the available learning materials, in addition to the links to each TechNet article pertaining to each element of the exam. The forums tend to be slightly underused but do still contain the odd piece of valuable information.
Microsoft Press provides a number of books aimed at those taking the exams required for obtaining this certification, unfortunately as of yet not all have been published and some have received somewhat mixed reviews.
As of yet the only Microsoft Press book available for either of these exams is Exam Reference 70-413. It would appear that this book is best treated as a revision guide of sorts, as it goes into very little detail on any topic in particular, rather providing a basic overview of the material contained within the 70-413 exam. As such this book must be used at the very least in conjunction with the TechNet articles to serve as a detailed learning tool, however it is still useful for identifying areas of the exam to work on further.
Non-Microsoft Press Books
Windows Server 2012 Inside out While this book is not aimed at people seeking to obtain a certification this is regarded as an excellent reference work, covering the vast majority of Windows Server 2012, therefore it could potentially be useful for providing some highly in depth coverage of more technical elements of the exams.
Windows Server 2012 Unleashed This reference work receives largely favourable reviews, being marked as a highly in-depth guide to the workings of Windows Server 2012. Therefore while not aimed at any exam in particular, this book provides an easy to understand yet detailed view that will greatly aid in increasing your overall understanding of both the product and examinable material.
We welcome reviews and views of any text you have personal experience with, likewise if you feel we have missed off a more valuable study aid please do get in touch.
The Techexams.net forum is one of the most active and helpful for those taking exams leading to either the MCSA or MCSE certification.
CBT Nuggets produce videos for both exams in this certification path, Exam 70-413 contains 11 hours of video material, while Exam 70-414 contains 8 and a half hours. While these videos are fairly expensive they do come very highly recommended.
A wide variety of blogs are available detailing both exam specific tips and general advice on Windows Server 2012, while this is by no means an exhaustive list the following blogs could prove useful in obtaining your certification.
- The TechNet Windows Server Blog This blog can help keep you up to date on potential changes to Windows Server and other interesting articles.
- The ACE team Blog Used by Microsoft as their general certification tips outlet this blog can potentially be useful although some of their videos can prove rather irritating.
- Susanibach's Blog This blog is no longer updated; however the Microsoft Certifications section does in fact contain a fairly large amount of content detailing learning strategies and what exactly is required to pass the exams.
- Leandro Carvalho - MVP Virtual Machine With a focus on virtualisation this blog comes from a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and focuses a basic guide to Windows Server 2012 in addition to various learning resources.
- Working Hard In IT This blog covers virtually all areas of Windows Server 2012 from a hands-on approach, which can greatly aid in consolidating learning and real world experience. This blog is also written by a MVP and with a simple post categorisation system can quickly be used to find guides on a particular area.
- Aidan Finn, IT Pro This is primarily a Hyper-V blog, although it does cover other areas of Windows Server. In addition to this the blog features a recommended reading list for virtualisation purposes as well as some guides to various features.
A practice test for Exam 70-413 can be bought from MeasureUp
What if I fail?
Don't panic. You will be able to see and your test result and the areas you felt weakest in, focus on content areas where your performance was weakest and areas with a high percentage of questions. Once you feel ready you can reschedule your exam. The following text is taken from Microsoft's exam security policy and details their exam retake policy.
Exam retake policy
- If a candidate does not achieve a passing score on an exam the first time, the candidate must wait at least a 24-hour period before retaking the exam.
- If a candidate does not achieve a passing score the second time, the candidate must wait at least a 14-day period before retaking the exam a third time.
- A 14-day waiting period will also be imposed for the fourth and fifth subsequent exam retakes. A candidate may not take a given exam any more than five times per year (12 months). This 12-month period would start the day of the fifth unsuccessful exam retake. The candidate would then be eligible to retake the exam 12 months from that date. In order to take a given exam more than five times per year, a candidate must submit a request and obtain prior permission from Microsoft.
Excellent, you've passed
As with other Microsoft exams passing a certification exam will lead to an update to your account on the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) site, allowing you to share copies of your exam transcripts to prove your certification to potential employers. In addition to this you will gain aces to the tools to create and download certification logos upon completion of the certification as a whole.
MCSE, Salary and Contract Rate
A recent survey of IT jobs offered across the UK reported the following statistics on the average earning of salaried and contract workers holding MCSE certification. The UK average salary for an MCSA is £42,000, with the average salary for the City of London being £45,000. A breakdown of this shows 90% are offered a salary of more than £26,000 while 10% are offered more than £55,000. Contractor daily rates were also surveyed and the UK average was found to be £325 per day and £350 per day for London. The further breakdown of these figures shows that 90% are offered a daily rate in excess of £175 while 10% are offered more than £425. Further details can be found on the IT Jobs Watch site.