With Microsoft currently in the midst of releasing their 2012 and 2013 line of software products, System Center Configuration Manager 2012 has understandably been receiving a lot of attention. That being the case, many IT pros will no doubt decide to take Exam 70-243: Administering and Deploying System Center Configuration Manager. This article is designed to serve as a walkthrough of some of the more important aspects of preparing for this exam.
First, remember that Microsoft regularly updates their exams. Typically, exam updates add questions related to the most recently released Microsoft products or questions about functionality that was added to a product through a service pack release.
With that in mind, it is important to know that Microsoft has recently released Service Pack 1 for System Center Operations Manager 2012. This service pack extends System Center Operations Manager 2012 so that it supports Windows Server 2012. Because Windows Server 2012 is Microsoft’s latest flagship product, you can be almost certain that you will see some related questions.
Exam 70-243 consists of the following eight objectives, which are relatively closely weighted in terms of importance:
- Design and Plan System Center Configuration Manager Infrastructure (13%)
- Manage Operating System Deployment (OSD) (12%)
- Deploy Applications and Software Updates (14%)
- Manage Compliance Settings (11%)
- Manage Sites (12%)
- Manage Clients (14%)
- Manage Inventory (12%)
- Manage Reports and Queries (12%)
Design and Plan System Center Configuration Manager Infrastructure
Designing and Planning the System Center Configuration Manager Infrastructure is probably the easiest of the exam’s eight objectives. Even so, there are three main concepts that you will need to master in order to pass this objective. These include:
- Understanding the software’s prerequisites and system requirements
- Knowing how to Deploy System Center Configuration Manager in a distributed environment without saturating the available bandwidth
- Integrating System Center Configuration Manager 2012 into a business continuity plan
Manage Operating System Deployment (OSD)
This second exam objective is also relatively straightforward. It is designed to test your ability to use System Center Configuration Manager to manage operating system deployments. To answer the questions in this portion of the exam correctly you will need a good working knowledge of the Windows Deployment Services and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. You will need to know how to use the various tools to deploy a Windows operating system, both as a clean deployment and as an upgrade. You can also expect to see a few questions on servicing a deployment image, specifically with regard to injecting drivers.
Deploy Applications and Software Updates
Deploying applications is one of the biggest topics on the exam, and along with Managing Clients, carries the highest scoring weight. Don’t expect to see a lot of questions focused on basic application deployment. System Center Configuration Manager 2012 allows you to configure a number of rules governing application deployment. This is especially true with regard to device types, users, and application prerequisites. You should, therefore, make sure that you are comfortable working with these types of conditions.
Although it is easy to get hung up on creating and deploying applications, this exam also places a big emphasis on application monitoring. Make sure that you know how to monitor the deployment process and how to resolve common deployment issues.
One last hint: make sure that you know how to define a user’s primary machine. You will almost certainly see a question related to this.
Manage Compliance Settings
The Manage Compliance Settings objective is one of the areas where you can expect to see the fewest questions. For this section, you will need to be familiar with the concept of a Configuration Item. Make sure that you know how to create and import configuration items.
The other part of this exam objective deals with managing baselines. You will need to know how to build a custom baseline, and how to deploy and monitor baselines.
The Managing Sites objective might be the most difficult objective to prepare for. This objective only accounts for 12% of the exam, and yet the objective covers a great deal of material.
As the name of the objective implies, most of the material focuses on your ability to manage sites (some of this material also comes into play in the exam’s first objective as well). Therefore, make sure that you know how sites work, as well as how to configure site communications and monitor site health. This objective also places an emphasis on boundary groups and security scopes. Make sure that you know how cloned security roles work, because you are very likely to see some questions on them.
The Managing Clients objective is one of the most heavily weighted objectives on the exam. There are three main things that you will need to know with regard to this objective.
First, make sure that you are familiar with the various ways in which software can be natively deployed in Windows environments. This includes things like Group Policy Objects, logon scripts, and WSUS.
Second, make sure that you are familiar with the various types of agents and their purposes. This includes things like the software metering agent (which is used for license monitoring) and the hardware inventory agent.
Finally, make sure that you are well versed in mobile device management. Mobile device management is a huge topic on this exam, so you will need to be familiar with the ActiveSync policies that can be applied to mobile devices. You will also need to be familiar with concepts such as performing a remote wipe of a mobile device and performing mobile device enrollments.
The Manage Inventory objective is relatively self-explanatory. You must know how to compile hardware and software inventories of managed devices. One easy to overlook aspect of this objective, however, is that you will need to know how to monitor inventory data flow.
Manage Reports and Queries
The last objective involves reports and queries. System Center Configuration Manager 2012 includes numerous built in reports and you need to know how to use them, but that alone isn’t enough. You will also need to clone and modify reports and how to build custom reports. This portion of the exam also deals with queries, so make sure that you know how to perform console queries.
Remember, Microsoft certification exams pull questions from a pool of questions, so you can never be 100% certain about what you will see on an exam. However, the items outlined in this article tend to be the areas in which the exam places the greatest emphasis.