Microsoft's Exam 70-282 "Designing, Deploying, and Managing a Network Solution for a Small- and Medium-Sized Business" focuses on Windows Small Business Server 2003 (SBS), a special version of Windows Server on which Microsoft has steadily increased effort and investment since the platform was introduced for Windows NT in the late 1990s. The exam shows that Microsoft continues to up the ante for SBS and that its repeated efforts may pay off.
The theory behind SBS is that while small businesses need a sizable collection of services and capabilities -- including Web, e-mail, database, file and print sharing, secure Internet access and so on -- their budgets and human resources don't fit an enterprise model of "one service, one server." Instead, SBS bundles a collection of common services and capabilities that most small- to medium-sized businesses want, in an environment that's supposed to be easy to install, configure and maintain. Actual implementation and practice have slowly converged on this ideal. It's possible that with SBS for Windows Server 2003, Microsoft may have finally released something that small and medium sized businesses can implement, deploy and manage themselves (or with a modest amount of outside help).
The exam's objectives certainly support this notion. They emphasize analysis and planning skills, starting with needs assessments, hardware and software selection, then moving to solution design for messaging, collaboration (groupware), connectivity, management, business continuity planning and design and detailed hardware specification.
Once you demonstrate your understanding of sound design and configuration requirements, the exam moves on to other topics. These include:
- Installing and configuring SBS for Windows Server 2003, including new installs and migrating from earlier SBS versions, configuring security, networking and messaging/collaboration components.
- Supporting and maintaining SBS for Windows Server 2003, including working with key management consoles, working with client computers, backup and restore, and general troubleshooting.
- Expanding SBS for Windows Server 2003, including adding member servers, and planning for and migrating applications into that environment.
- Installing and configuring Windows Server 2003, which covers issues related to migrating from SBS to the full-blown Windows Server 2003 environment.
What you've got here is a potential recipe for building and deploying affordable and powerful Windows-based services for the biggest sector of the business marketplace -- small- and medium-sized businesses which outnumber enterprises by tens to hundreds of thousands. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can deliver on the promises inherent in the SBS model and to learn if the Windows Server 2003 implementation does the trick. If so, savvy MCSE candidates who work as consultants in service firms, or who offer IT and technical support to small- and medium-sized businesses, should find this exam to be a useful elective as they complete that certification.
Ed Tittel has been a writer since 1986, is series editor for Exam Cram 2, and writes regularly on cert topics for various TechTarget Web sites.
This was first published in November 2003