So, last week I sat for the Microsoft Lync 74-322 "Advanced Design & Deployment" Beta exam. It was tough. I obviously am under NDA, but several other lync bloggers have discussed their experience, and mine was the same. Without having a viable "blueprint" it was a little blind, and the time constraints add some pressure, but it wasn't unreasonable considering the "level" this exam is geared toward. It definitely is a difference between the MCITP - much higher expectations. I got through all the questions, but my time ran out before I could review all of them that I marked - so that was a bummer. My gut-feel is that I did not pass. I wasn't as prepared as I could have liked and probably don't have as much experience as I should have for this 300-level exam.
So, why this post?
Well, back when I took the Microsoft Lync 70-664 exam, I had already completed several Lync deployments. I had done both Standard and Enterprise and even begun working / training a buddy at work in Lync. He didn't need much hand holding - he's sharp and picks up quickly. I passed and got a reasonable score. The blueprint was great, and I had previously read the Lync Unleased paperback. This is a great test for testing your skills in the initial "config" and "comprehension" of the Lync ecosystem.
So, fast forward several months, and I took the Microsoft Lync 70-665 exam. By this time, several customers were in full production - in Education, Nonprofit, and Healthcare markets - and we were in the middle of a couple more large pilots and projects. My buddy at work had done two installs on his own and was deeper technically in some areas than I was. Yay. I passed again and got a reasonable score. Like before, the blueprint was great. It really helps to study that way. This is a great certification for testing more of your design and administration skills (and not just your cursory configuration understanding). Reading the Mastering Lync book helped - and re-reading/skimming it for the 74-322 beta was invaluable.
Fast forward to today. My buddy at work has also passed the 664 (MCTS) and 665 (MCITP) exams for Lync. We're having more and more opportunities with the product and are trying to find more people to bring alongside us to grow our practice. Just this week did another large multi-site/multi-state healthcare customer come online with full Enterprise Voice.
Microsoft Lync isn't going anywhere. It's growing like crazy. Coupled with Exchange Server for Unified Messaging and more advanced Auto Attendant options, Lync is a very viable - complete end-to-end communications platform - for many companies. If you are looking at a new "phone system" - consider Lync. If you are looking for better internal communication - consider Lync. If you are wanting to host Web Conferencing (with dial-in options) - consider Lync. If you already have an Active Directory Ecosystem, adding Lync can be simple. Like any IT project, complexity can skyrocket as you consider high availability, recovery time/point objectives, full scope of communications, network connectivity etc.
That's what I value about the Lync certifications. They really make you think through all of that before you can pass a test. Passing a test means you have at least curory understanding of the technology and questions to ask while designing, etc.
For those of you just getting started:
- Lync Unleashed is great (link above)
- Mastering Lync is great too (link above)
- The #lync Twitter stream has great conversations
- The NextHop Technet site has a great list of Lync contributors to the community
- The Technet Social forum is a great site for reviewing community answers
UPDATE: I passed! Holy cow I passed! Now, with 2x MCITP: Lync Server engineers - and with my passing of 74-322 - we (Mirazon) qualify for an advanced communciation competency. How fun!