How to get Hyper-V certification — Path to becoming an expert

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Certification in a specific IT area is a big deal. New technologies arrive every single day, companies develop new software built on those technologies and users try to figure out how everything works. Certification is a great way to show that you are knowledgeable.

I’ve been seeing the need to prove my own skills on Hyper-V technology, to clarify some information in my head and maybe learn something new, too. That’s why I decided to pursue Hyper-V certification.

When I started my search in this area, I discovered that there was no resource guide that contained a well-structured set of information. I decided to make my own list as a starting point for other people who are interested in pursuing Hyper-V certification.

Why Hyper-V certification?

Besides passion, structuring existing knowledge and learning something new about technology, there are a few other good reasons for certification. Even if, in some cases, certification itself might not correlate with someone’s day-to-day experience, a candidate with an IT certification is likely to earn a 15-30% higher salary than someone without the same certification. That’s already the reason to be interested!

Hyper-V certification

Although there are plenty of Microsoft exams (see the full list), and some of them touch virtualization, more or less, there is one certification exam that’s designed specifically for admins with some virtualization (not necessarily Microsoft) experience such as being in charge of designing, implementing and maintaining a virtualization infrastructure. This exam is called Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center (74-409). Passing the exam automatically makes you an MCS (Microsoft Certified Specialist), which is one of the statuses belonging to a huge community of MCPs (Microsoft Certified Professionals). Becoming an MCP provides you with many advantages. Ready to prepare for the exam?

Hyper-V certification preparations

74-409 exam official page

First of all, I recommend an obvious first step: Visit an official Microsoft page dedicated to this exam. Read general information about the exam:

  • Available languages
  • Preparation options
  • Expectations from a candidate
  • A list of many of the topics that the exam covers

By checking this list, you should be able to find out whether you’re ready to pass the exam or if you need time to prepare beforehand.

Let’s assume the second option and take a look at the resources available to prepare you for the exam.

Offline 74-409 course

If you can afford to pay for the course, have 5 full days available and are lucky enough to have an official MS training center in your city, you are in good shape. Just sign up for an offline course, learn what you can from Microsoft experts over the 5-day period and clarify anything you need help with before you attempt the exam.

MVA (Microsoft Virtual Academy)

Unfortunately, not all of us can take an offline course and need to look at online options. The very first option is at MVA. That’s a well-known site where you can attend official Microsoft courses taught by Microsoft Pros—all from the comfort of your office or home. Simply log in, create your personal education plan, make progress in your learning by earning points and badges and do it at your own pace in your free time! Your personal dashboard will help you track the progress of your learning plan. The course recommended to prepare for the 74-409 exam is: Server Virtualization with Windows Server and Hyper-V.

Virtualization Squared

Microsoft has another portal called Microsoft Squared dedicated specifically to those who are looking for Hyper-V-certification opportunities. You will get good information there, but when it comes to the actual education, you’ll be transferred back to MVA.

Veeam Study Guide for exam 74-409

Because Microsoft Virtual Academy may not always be suitable for everyone, I suggest you download a free Study Guide. This guide was written by Thomas Orin, the courseware author for Microsoft Learning and eight-time Microsoft MVP, credentials which guarantee the content’s reliability. The great thing about the Study Guide is that you can put a PDF file on your tablet or laptop and read it at your convenience. The material is divided into eight chapters and it completely covers the exam program. Note: The Study Guide has already been met with great success in the IT community.

Additional resources

Besides that, I’ve got some extra sources which will be useful for preparations. Let me make a list of them without detailed description:

  1. A set of posters about Windows Server 2012 R2 Private Cloud Virtualization
  2. Born to learn wiki
  3. Hyper-V Overview
  4. TechNet center
  5. Microsoft Certification exam overview, typical exam question formats
  6. Video courses: CBTnuggets and Pluralsight
  7. TechNet blogs related to Hyper-V
  8. Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V best practices, checkpoint format
  9. TechNet videos
  10. Microsoft Certification exam policies and FAQs, policies and scores

Practical experience

Another important exam preparation is to make sure you have solid, practical skills rather than just a little knowledge of the theory. Use your own personal lab to try/build/install/crash things over and over and gain essential experience for passing the exam. Even if you don’t have a lab, you can easily build a lab at home where you feel free to experiment, by following a short set of instructions.

Examination

After all your preparation is complete, you’ll need to take the exam. Schedule your exam here on this exam page, or check official centers nearby. Go to the certification center on your scheduled day and a staff member will secure your personal belongings and monitor your activities during the entire exam.

During the exam, you should expect 45 questions and 120 minutes of time to answer the questions. The test includes drag and drop, multiple choice, multiple answer and “put-in-correct-order” questions. The majority of the questions are about Hyper-V 2012 R2 and Windows Server Failover Clustering. The test is not entirely focused on Hyper-V; several questions will focus on VMM 2012 R2, DPM 2012 R2, SCOM 2012 R2 and Windows Azure.

You should expect:

  • General questions such as, “What is this feature called?”
  • Practical questions such as “What is the correct order to set this up?”
  • Elaborate scenario questions such as “imagine you are an administrator of a company, your boss talks to you and ask you to….”

The maximum score is 1,000 points. The minimum score to pass is 700 points. From my personal experience, I’m not sure if each question’s difficulty is related to the amount of points, such as 22.2 points for the right answer. I’m under the impression, however, that some answers are worth more points than others.

Results of the exam will be shown right after you complete 45 questions and give Microsoft feedback on that questionnaire. If you pass, your certificate will be available on your personal Microsoft page just a few hours after you’re finished.

Results of the exam 74-409

What’s next?

If you successfully complete the 74-409 exam and become a Hyper-V-certified expert, I suggest you keep going and aim for an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) title with a certain specification (there are seven specifications). This step will expand your knowledge even further. Plus, there is a special bonus that for “MSCA Windows Server 2012” where you’re eligible to substitute one exam, such as #70-412, of your three required exams for exam #74-409. Sounds great, right?

I wish you good luck with your exams and hope to hear great news from you soon! Please share your personal MS-certification experience in the comments to this post.

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About the author
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Andrew Zhelezko is a Veeam Technical Product Analyst who gained a strong understanding of Veeam products by working initially in Veeam technical support. This practical experience has helped him speak the same language as Veeam community members. His goal is to help others realize the beauty and power of virtualization. Follow Andrew on Spiceworks.