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Should admins take Microsoft's new solutions framework exam?

Microsoft's new developer-oriented 70-301 Exam Preparation Guide aims at IT professionals of all kinds. But is it really worth the effort for Windows IT admins?

Microsoft's new developer-oriented Exam Preparation Guide for 70-301 "Managing, Organizing, and Delivering IT Projects...

by Using Microsoft Solutions Framework 3.0" aims at IT professionals of all kinds. But is it really worth the effort for Windows IT admins?

The answer is a qualified maybe. But only if you are responsible for planning, designing, deploying and maintaining applications or customizations built using Microsoft Solutions Framework methodology using Microsoft .NET tools and technologies.

Surprisingly, Microsoft is pitching this exam for a broad audience: consultants, technology workers, developers and project managers, according to the company's audience profile. It is most applicable, however, for IT professionals working in the context of Windows server systems like SQL Server, SharePoint, IIS and Small Business Server.

Despite this development leaning, the exam counts as an elective toward both the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certifications.

Two courses have been created to support this exam:

1. Course 1846: Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) Essentials: Microsoft's project management methodology includes an analysis of business needs and investments, team construction and building, project risk assessment and management, and project management of solutions developed according to its models across the entire life cycle, from project startup though the phases of scoping, planning, developing, stabilizing, and deploying solutions.

2. Course 2710: Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures: This advanced course follows up on MSF models and skills and focuses on .NET-based solution architectures including assessing and analyzing business needs, describing, documenting, and scoping potential solutions, creating conceptual, logical and physical project designs. It also deals with matters related to a solution's user interface, data modeling and security specifications.

Bottom line: this exam is really a better fit for admins interested in working on development or solutions projects than for those associated with day-to-day IT infrastructure administration.

If you have questions or concerns about MS certification, or suggestions for topics you'd like to see covered, please e-mail me at

Ed Tittel is a long-time certification follower. He's series editor for Exam Cram 2, a popular assembly of cert prep books from Que Publishing, and a contributing editor for Certification Magazine. He also covers certification topics for, and numerous other TechTarget Web sites.

This was last published in November 2004

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