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Ten Things You Need to Know to Pass Exam 70-667

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This article describes ten things that you need to study in order to pass exam 70-667. Although this article is far from being a comprehensive exam guide, it outlines subjects that warrant a second look. In some cases the items on the list show up in multiple questions. In other cases, the items are easy to accidentally overlook even though they are listed in the exam objectives.

Even though Microsoft’s stated objectives for Exam 70-667 (TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring) are fairly straight forward, I wanted to provide a list of ten things that you should brush up on before you take the exam. The items on this list are all here for various reasons. Some are often overlooked by those who are studying for the exam. Others are things that Microsoft hits especially hard, and you might see multiple questions related to those items. In any case, just remember that this list is only presented as a tool for helping to make sure that you are ready for the exam. There is no way that you can pass Exam 70-667 by studying only the items on this list. With that said, let’s get started.

1. Monitoring and Logging

The subject of monitoring and logging is addressed in multiple exam objectives. Microsoft expects you to be able to tell what is going on with your SharePoint servers and to be able to use logging information to troubleshoot problems. Some of the areas in which you will need to be familiar with monitoring and logging include:

  • Analyzing ULS Logs
  • Using installation logs and event logs to identify installation problems
  • Configuring SharePoint Logging
  • Setting SharePoint monitoring levels
  • Generating health reports
  • SQL Server Reporting Service Integration
  • Generating administrative reports
  • Generating Web analytics reports
  • Interpreting usage and trace logs

2. Patch Management

Patch management is one of those exam topics that is easy to overlook. As is the case with other Microsoft server products, you can use WSUS or third party tools to deploy patches, but there is more to patch management than that.

SharePoint 2010 contains a dedicated user interface for patch management (you can also use PowerShell cmdlets). You can use this interface to show patch status or to defer upgrades.

3. Crawl Rules

Since SharePoint is a content management system, it stands to reason that you can expect to see a lot of questions related to searching. As such, it is important to make sure that you understand crawl rules.

Crawl rules are designed to tell SharePoint which paths to include or exclude when crawling content. For the exam you will need to know how to create, edit, reorder, and delete crawl rules.

You should also expect to see some questions that ask you to troubleshoot indexing related problems. For example, if a question tells you that item permissions are being ignored in search results then you should know that a crawl rule has probably been set to crawl SharePoint content as HTTP pages rather than as native SharePoint content.

4. Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is always a big topic on any Microsoft server exam, but it simply isn’t enough to say that you need to know how to backup and restore SharePoint. Most of the questions on the exam assume that you are working in a large, distributed environment in which roles and databases are scattered across many different servers. This tends to complicate the disaster recovery effort because you will need to know how to protect and recover individual components. Some of the things that you will need to know how to do include:

  • Export SharePoint lists
  • Export SharePoint sites
  • Attach a database
  • Detach a database
  • Backup and restore the content, search, and service application databases

5. Service Accounts

A good number of the questions on Exam 70-667 focus on SharePoint deployment, and it is likely that you will see some questions related to service accounts.

The biggest thing to remember about service accounts is that a service account should have exactly the permissions required for performing the task at hand—nothing more, nothing less. SharePoint 2010 uses service accounts for several different tasks. If you use the same service account for each task then the account will accumulate excessive permissions (because the permissions required for each task are different). This poses a tremendous security risk.

In order to avoid having service accounts becoming a security risk, Microsoft recommends the use of multiple service accounts. In fact, there is a list of all of the service accounts that you could be using with SharePoint here. Not every deployment will use all of these service accounts (there are over a dozen of them), but you should at least be familiar with them.

6. Remote BLOB Storage

YOu will likely encounter several questions related to optimizing SharePoint’s performance. You should pay particular attention to the subject of configuring Binary Large Object (BLOB) storage and caching.

The reason I wanted to mention this is although you may very well encounter questions related to remote BLOB storage, SharePoint 2010 does not even include a remote BLOB storage feature. Remote BLOB Storage capabilities (often referred to as RBS) are made available through a feature pack for SQL Server 2008. This feature pack allows you to move BLOBs (essentially, large files) from your database servers and onto commodity storage. The general guideline is that remote BLOB storage should be used if SharePoint’s content database exceeds 4 GB in size.

7. SharePoint Solution Packages

SharePoint solution packages are typically thought of as a feature for developers. They allow server customizations to be packaged in a way that allows them to be deployed in a simple and consistent manner. A SharePoint solution package might include things like template and site definitions, Web.config files, or .NET assemblies.

Microsoft does not expect you to know how to create SharePoint solution packages, but you do need to know how to deploy them. SharePoint solution packages can be deployed either through the SharePoint Central Administration tool or by using the Add-SPSolution cmdlet in the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell. You need to know both methods for the exam.

8. Authentication

Another topic that you should spend some extra time studying is authentication. SharePoint supports numerous authentication methods, and you need to understand when it is appropriate to use each type of authentication. There are four main authentication types, and each includes multiple authentication methods. The supported authentication types and methods include:

  • Windows Authentication—Windows authentication includes basic and digest authentication as well as NTLM, Kerberos, and anonymous authentication.
  • Forms Based Authentication—Forms based authentication is used by LDAP and by custom and third party membership and role providers.
  • Token Based Authentication—Token based authentication can be based on the Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 (ADFS 2.0), Third party identity providers, or LDAP
  • Claims Based Authentication—Claims based authentication is a new authentication method that was introduced in SharePoint 2010. It is based on the Windows Identity Foundation and can be used with any supported authentication method.

9. Sandbox Solutions

I also recommend spending some time studying sandbox solutions. These are essentially solutions that are designed to run in an isolated (sandboxed) environment. This is important because in a large SharePoint farm or in a multi-tenant (hosted) environment, solutions need to be deployed with the assurance that they will not impact other solutions, services, or the server or farm as a whole.

Like SharePoint Solution Packages, sandbox solutions are primarily thought of as something for developers. For this exam, Microsoft does not expect you to know how to create a sandbox solution, but you do need to know how to deploy one through the Site Actions | Site Settings | Galleries | Solutions menus.

10. Know the Terminology

Back in college I had an English professor who was really big on semantics. She was always insistent that things be referred to by their proper names and that there was to be no slang used in her classroom. At the time I thought that she was crazy (actually I still do), but when it comes to taking the 70-667 exam there is something to be said for semantics.

As someone who has done quite a bit of technical writing for Microsoft, I learned early on that Microsoft uses very precise language when describing product features. This rigid use of semantics isn’t just present in Microsoft documentation; it is also found on nearly all of the Microsoft certification exams.

Perhaps nowhere is this truer than on the SharePoint exams. There are a lot of terms that Microsoft uses for various SharePoint components and features that are totally unique to SharePoint. Learning the proper names for the various components and features will go a long way toward helping you to do well on the exams. After all, it is difficult to answer a question correctly if you don’t fully understand what is being asked.

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