The road to the Microsoft MCSE certification begins with course 2151A: Microsoft Windows 2000 Network and Operating System Essentials. This three-day introductory course is meant to provide the MCSE candidate with the solid foundation they will need as they pursue their certification. In this article, I will give you an overview of this course, showing how it will help you prepare for all of the Microsoft exams you will be taking in the future.
Windows 2000 introduced
Course 2151A begins with an introduction to the Windows 2000 operating system. The various Windows 2000 products are explained, and features such as clustering, quality of service, and terminal services are introduced. Module one concludes with a brief introduction of networking concepts, including Active Directory.
Modules two and three continue the Windows 2000 overview, highlighting administrative tasks and tools that are used for completing those tasks. The Event Viewer, Task Manager, and Disk Defragmenter are demonstrated for you, before the topic turns to users and groups. Module three concludes with a discussion of network and NTFS security.
Networking and TCP/IP
Because Microsoft has eliminated the Networking Essentials exam from the MCSE track, a large portion of course 2151A is devoted to networking concepts and TCP/IP. Some of this discussion may overwhelm novice students, but it is meant to provide them with a solid understanding of these concepts that will come in handy in future modules.
The fourth module covers the basics of networking. Discussions on connectivity devices, network topologies, and network architecture provide you with a very good explanation of these important networking concepts.
Networking protocols are discussed in module five, and the OSI reference model is introduced. In my opinion, this is one of the more important modules of the course. An understanding of the OSI model and other topics, such as routable and nonroutable protocols, are key elements that will be touched upon again and again throughout the MCSE track.
Modules six, seven, and eight provide you with an in-depth discussion of the TCP/IP suite of protocols. Since TCP/IP is the main protocol used by Windows 2000, it is imperative that you understand how it works.
In module six you will learn about the different TCP/IP protocols and see how they relate to the OSI reference model. You will also learn how data flows down the sending computer's protocol stack, throughout an internetwork, and then up the destination computer's protocol stack, once again using the OSI reference model. This module will also introduce the concept of name resolution.
Now that you understand a little bit about TCP/IP, the topic turns to classful IP addressing in module seven. In addition, you will also learn about subnet masks and how the Ipconfig utility can be used to verify the TCP/IP configuration on a Windows 2000 computer.
Classless interdomain routing, or CIDR, is explained in module eight. You will learn how to use the scientific calculator to convert IP addresses and subnet masks from decimal to binary. This is one of the more challenging modules in the course, and my class spent a good part of the second and third day doing conversions and IP connectivity verification. Thankfully, Microsoft allows you to use the calculator to perform these conversions, eliminating the need to create your own conversion charts, which makes exam time much easier.
The course concludes with a brief explanation of the Internet and some of the concepts that are part of this technology. Newsgroups, Web browsers, network address translators, proxy servers, firewalls, and Web servers are all briefly explained in module nine. This brief introduction should serve you well as you move throughout the MCSE track and learn more advanced features of these products or services.
This course does exactly what it says it will do, mainly providing the MCSE candidate with an overview of the Windows 2000 operating system and networking essentials. The lab exercises are good, and the material is written in an upbeat and friendly tone.
If you are already an MCSE or experienced professional, and you understand TCP/IP, you could probably skip this course and move on to course 2152A: Supporting Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and Server. If you are a beginning network administrator or do not understand TCP/IP concepts, however, this course will definitely put you on the right track towards getting your MCSE certification.
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