Microsoft Exam 74-132: Designing a Portal Solution with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies

An old portal friend of my just emailed mailed me asking how I prepared for 74-132.If you are not aware as of yet, Microsoft has put out two “cert” tests based on portal technologies.Yes, that is what I wrote, portal technologies. These are not test strictly about SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and/or Windows SharePoint Services but more about using Microsoft applications and servers to create collaborative portals.Also you should note that neither of these test at this time can be used as electives towards a Microsoft certification path. Ouch! But fear not, they do apply towards a Microsoft Partner competency.I am notsure but I believe this exam is only available to partners.Having studied for and taken a multitude of Microsoft tests I have to admit that 74-123 so far has proved to be the most challenging test for myself to date.

You probably have guessed that I have taken this test and yes I did pass this test.I took the exam more then six months ago and at that time there were no study guides, books or notes other than the prep guide located on the Microsoft site.So how did I prep for this exam? WellI was lucky enough to get free pass on one exam, one of those pay for one and you get one free retake. That was all I needed. Simply enough I scheduled the free exam one day knowing I would blow it big time to simply understand what type of content I could expect.I have a decent amount of portal and collaboration experience in my background. I have designed, deployed, configured and extended SPS2003 and WSS2.0 in many different environments from small to large. Even so, I was sti;; one or two questions away from passing on my first blind attempt.But out of that “free” look at the test I was able to glean what the exam was really looking for.

This exam covers the full gambit of Microsoft technologies, which product(s) are right for specific scenerios and how to install, configure and design not only a single product but a system or products integrating to form the portal.Here is a list of technologies covered by the exam:

  • Windows SharePoint Services
  • SharePoint Portal Server 2003
  • Content Management Server
  • Commerce Server
  • Project Server 2003
  • Microsoft Solution for Internet Business (MSBI)
  • Internet Security and Accelerator Server
  • Microsoft Office Suite – including InfoPath and Project

I am sure there were more items then these listed above but these really stick out. There was a question or two about the connectors between products and there might have been one or two questions where BizTalk Serverfell into the mix.To be fair the test was heavy in questions involving WSS and SPS and expected you to select the right products based on the requirements. The more difficult questions for myself included Content Management Server, Commerce Server, MSBI andISA Server since I was primarily dedicated to SPS2003 and WSS 2.0.a

So where did I pick up the extra points to make the second test a definite win? To start with I did a lot of research on Content Management Server using the basic books and hands on approach. I did some internet research on ISA server – specifically on how to set up and configure a secure extranet scenario. I also followed up with some internet research on MSBI and Commerce Server.From there a quick reschedule of the test and a pass with a decent score. Of course the second time around had different questions but the same general feel.

Overall the exam was interesting, it generally does cover portal technology and not specifically on an single product. There were some questionable questions for a “design” exam.As a designer I think it is fair to known that ISA Server is the preferred solution in an extranet scenario but I am not yet convinced that I need to know the down and dirty set and configuration of this particular server. I would look to the ISA experts to provide and implement this particualr server.

I never took the second exam: 74-133 – Customizing Portal Solutions with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies (including Microsoft Content Management Server) . I change employers and have been too busy with product development, the next version of Office and cool technologies such as WinFX. Maybe I will just head out and give it a whirl.

Hopefully this will help my friends and others to prep for this test. I would be very interested in feedback on your experience with 74-132 or 74-133.