Friday, December 28, 2012

74-324 Administering Office 365 for SMB Review

I’ve just completed the 74-324 Administering Office 365 for Small Business and I’d thought I’d let people know what it is like.

 

Firstly, I believe it is a much better exam for SMB Resellers to attempt before doing the full 70-321 Deploying Office 365 or 70-323 Administering Office 365. Unlike the 70-321 and 70-323 the exam is much more ‘SMB’ focused. This means that it doesn’t deal as much with the high end enterprise features and combinations of Office 365 environment, especially where it comes to full blown complex hybrid scenarios. SMB Resellers who have worked with Office 365 should be far more comfortable with the questions on offer.

 

That however does not mean the 74-324 exam is easy. Much like SBS exams, to pass you are going to need to know ALL the Office 365 components. You simply can’t skate by just knowing Exchange. The biggest challenge I see for most resellers is going to be SharePoint. The SharePoint questions I found to focus more on the core features of SharePoint rather than some of the high end enterprise features but you will still need to know SharePoint well.

 

I did find it important that you have a good knowledge of the rights and roles in Office 365. Especially, what each role bestowed on the holder. This can become some what complex when you mix Office 365 Administration, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online rights together. My advice is that you need to spend the time mapping all these out and understanding exactly what power each has.

 

In some ways this exam is more difficult than SBS exams because with SBS the best answer is normally to use a wizard. This is not the case with Office 365, so it is kind of like SBS without the wizards. You’ll need to know how to create users and assign them rights for all the services. However, if you work with the product that shouldn’t be too tough.

 

Importantly, you are going to need to know some basic Powershell commands. You won’t need to know the breadth or depth you would for the other exams but you will need to know then. Again, if you have been working intelligently with Office 365 you should be very familiar and comfortable with Powershell but make sure you do some review before you attempt the exam.

 

So, all in all I think this is a fair exam to test Office 365 knowledge for SMB administrators. To pass you are going to need to know each product in some depth, you are going to understand assigning rights, Powershell and some elements of co-existence and hybrid set ups. However, you will not need to focus on the advanced features of Office 365 as you did with the other exams.

 

Most importantly, the exam will challenge most SMB resellers so don’t take it lightly. Ensure you work your way through the Jumpstart for Office 365 SMB videos and then do some practice questions. Like all Microsoft exams, when you are actually taking the test, read ALL of question TWICE and eliminate the options that don’t make sense first. Simply have general knowledge that is convey by the Jumpstart for Office 365 SMB videos is NOT enough to pass this exam. You REALLY need to do a range of typical questions to give a feel for what is likely to be asked during the exam.

 

If you have worked with Office 365 for about 6 months, watch the Jumpstart videos, do 8-10 hours study and then some preparation questions I’d be very confident that you’d pass. However, as I said this exam is tougher than any SBS exam you may have done so don’t approach it lightly if you want to pass!

 

Here’s a list of training resources that may help:

 

Administering Office 365 for Small Businesses Exam (74-324) - http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?ID=74-324

 

Office 365 for SMB Jump Start - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/video/office-365-for-smb-jump-start-01-office-365-overview-and-infrastructure.aspx

 

Office 365 Jump Start for IT Pros - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/video/office-365-jump-start-01-microsoft-office-365-overview-for-it-pros

 

Microsoft Virtual Academy - http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/Home.aspx

 

Office 365 Virtual labs - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/hh699847.aspx

 

Microsoft e-learning - http://learning.microsoft.com/Manager/BrowseResults.aspx?qry=Office+365&nav=trainingtype%3aE-Learning&btn=1