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Cut the Mustard: Pass the SMS Exam

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Systems Management Server has always been one of those cool applications that we all sort of talk about, but none of us ever really do. That should change. SMS allows us to perform hardware inventory, software inventory and metering, and (the biggie that SMS is most known for), software rollouts and remote troubleshooting. Read this article to get insider advice on passing the SMS exam.
Joseph Phillips writes a weekly column on professional certification for InformIT. See all of Joe's articles at Joe's author page.
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Systems Management Server has always been one of those cool applications that we all sort of talk about, but none of us ever really do. That should change. SMS can make us the cool one in the group—okay, maybe not...but it definitely can make our role as an administrator much easier.

So, what exactly does SMS do? SMS allows us to perform hardware inventory, software inventory and metering, and (the biggie that SMS is most known for), software rollouts and remote troubleshooting. This exam will test your knowledge on each. As a bonus, 70-086 is an elective exam on your MCSE trek for Windows 2000. The exam is broken into six sections:

  • Planning

  • Installation and Configuration

  • Configuring and Managing Resources

  • Integration and Interoperability

  • Monitoring and Optimization

  • Troubleshooting

You'll need plenty of hands-on experience with each of these categories to pass the exam. This article will examine each of these objectives in detail, and offer some guidance on how you can prepare to conquer this exam.

Planning

As with most Microsoft exams and parts of your life, you'll need adequate time to prepare and plan. This exam is no different. You need to be able to design an SMS environment within any given situation. You also have to be able to plan on server installations and configurations—which means you'll need to know the hardware and software requirements to install network configurations (think routed networks), and which features of SMS can be installed (think custom versus express installations).

Also part of the Planning objective is the ability to design an SMS site hierarchy. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, take into consideration WANs, international issues such as language and time differences, and the overall speed of the network.

The Planning objective continues with a concern for security, of course, on SMS servers. Who can administer your SMS servers, anyway? And how will you create those accounts?

Finally, you'll need to be able to interoperate with good old SMS 1.2 or, at the very least, upgrade from SMS 1.2 to 2.

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