Many developers and system administrators have worked with SQL Server, but their knowledge of it is often limited. So how can you ensure that as a SQL Server 2000 developer, you're knowledgeable in the right areas? The answer lies in the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) SQL Server 2000 certification. This certification track helps ensure that you're adept at both SQL Server development and administrative tasks.
Do you know SQL?
SQL is the standard language for interacting with relational databases, so it's imperative that you be comfortable with it before pursuing certification. Both administrators and developers use SQL. Microsoft’s SQL version is called Transact-SQL (T-SQL), and it includes enhancements to basic SQL. Knowledge of standard SQL may be sufficient, but you should also familiarize yourself with T-SQL.
One good source of information is the Builder.com SQL Basics series. It explains the basic SQL elements in an easy-to-understand manner and is an excellent starting point.
Learn more about SQL Server
Read these recent Builder.com articles to find out more about the SQL Server platform:
- "Three recovery models for backing up your SQL Server"
- "Tune your SQL Server scripts with Query Analyzer"
- "Diagnose SQL Server performance problems with SQL Profiler"
Know everything from start to finish
The MCDBA certification indicates that the developer is thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the SQL Server system. This includes the various flavors of the software, installation, configuration, and developing solutions using the platform. The SQL Server 2000 certification is composed of the following three core exams:
- Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition
- Designing and Implementing Databases with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition
- Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
In addition, a fourth elective exam is required. You must choose one from this list of electives:
- Designing and Implementing Distributed Applications with Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0
- Designing and Implementing Distributed Applications with Microsoft Visual FoxPro 6.0
- Designing and Implementing Distributed Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0
- Implementing and Administering a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure
- Developing and Implementing Web Applications with VB.NET and VS.NET
- Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with VB.NET and VS.NET
- Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with VB.NET and the .NET Framework
- Developing and Implementing Web Applications with C# .NET and VS.NET
- Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with C# .NET and VS.NET
- Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with C# and the .NET Framework
The older elective development exams (i.e., the non-.NET ones) will likely be phased out, because .NET is now the primary Microsoft development platform.
Sitting for the exams in this certification track requires a combination of real-world experience and book knowledge. I can’t fathom a person without real-world experience receiving the certification. One jibe often directed toward certifications is the existence of so-called paper certifications. That is, the certificate holders passed the exams with no real experience. They instead passed the exam by studying training materials and getting lucky. I have yet to meet such a person with this certification, and I find it hard to believe that they exist.
The exams are comprehensive and designed in a way where guessing is almost impossible (on a consistent basis). In addition to on-the-job experience, there is an abundance of training materials available to help you further prepare for the exams.
Microsoft offers numerous self-paced training books, and an Internet search will reveal many other sources. You can also utilize test simulators to measure your knowledge in an environment similar to the actual test.
Need a test simulator?
Check out these vendors for more information on test simulators:
A good plan of attack is to take the initiative and learn everything about SQL Server. You can easily download evaluation versions from the Microsoft Web site. Once you have the software, install and configure it using every possible scenario (e.g., local, remote, etc.). Take notes and pay attention during the entire process.
Once you've set up the environment, create databases and use the various tools to learn how they work. Take it a step further by designing a logical data model and implementing it. Because SQL can be used to interact with the data, you'll want to utilize all aspects of T-SQL. You should also practice creating stored procedures, triggers, views, and functions.
Security and performance-tuning are big areas, so don't neglect them. You need to know how to let the right people in and keep the wrong ones out of your databases. In addition, the exams include various questions related to performance-tuning the server and specific applications.
Know what you are doing
SQL Server, Microsoft’s designated platform for database applications, is widely used, yet many have limited experience with it. You can stand out from the crowd by achieving SQL Server 2000 MCDBA status. Having this cert tells future employers that you know what you're doing. Earning the certificate isn't easy—the process involves many tests—so exhaustive preparation is necessary.