Studying for the Office 365 70-346 Exam

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I started studying for the Office 365 70-346 exam like a week ago, and I feel like it’s been going a lot slower than expected. I have a really good background managing cloud environments (well technically on-site environments, but hosted on the cloud), so I thought I would breeze through everything. I guess I kind of am breezing through it…but the material is really dry.

I bought the “officially recommended” book to study for the exam. Usually when studying for certifications I opt for paperback books, but since this book is only 200ish pages (and I thought it would be a quick read) I went for the kindle only edition. I paid about $17.50. The release date of the book was 29 days ago, so I assume that the material is up to date. Which is important apparently, because the book itself will tell you that the material within may become out-dated at any time. I’m sure Microsoft will make money selling newer editions.

Most of the book material is actually extremely easy if you have a production IT background. Once you understand the idea of Office being hosted in the cloud, and how to replicate on-premise solutions to Microsoft servers, the conceptual stuff is cake. I think that if there is any difficulty, it will be the powershell cmdlets that need to be memorized. Chapter 3 of the book has about 10 pages that just list out cmdlets and what they do. Since I don’t actually manage an Office 365 environment for work, I’ll probably have to flashcard-memorize those commands.

I will say this: do NOT watch the free videos on the Microsoft Academy website if you are trying to prepare for this test. They are absolutely boring, and you’ll waste many hours just watching Microsoft agents spout advertisements for their product. I gave up after the first couple videos, even though my managers told me to study for the exam using that method. I believe the book and possibly CBT nuggets will be easier to digest. So far I’m about 65% done reading the book; I should finish the rest within a week and begin the actual memorization of information.

Supposedly the test will cover the below objectives.  I think that questions from objectives 1-3 will be easy after reading the book, especially since the questions are multiple choice. 4-5 might will require memorization of Powershell cmdlets and what they do. 6 will only be difficult if the test is written poorly. From my experience with “troubleshooting” questions, even if you know the material well, you have to guess what the correct answer is based on what the exam writers want. This will be my first Microsoft test. Hopefully things go well.

  1. Provision Office 365 (15–20%)
  2. Plan and implement networking and security in Office 365 (15–20%)
  3. Manage cloud identities (15–20%)
  4. Implement and manage identities by using Azure Active Directory Synchronization (AADSync) (15–20%)
  5. Implement and manage federated identities for single sign-on (SSO) (15–20%)
  6. Monitor and troubleshoot Office 365 availability and usage (15–20%)

As an MDM specialist trying to improve my skillset, I think learning Office 365 is a good lateral move. Considering the millions Microsoft is investing to keep these services up and running (99.9%!), I can see a lot of customers willing to pay good money for support.

Gmail Backup from the Google Takeout service

It’s weird how much of my life is digital. My entire life’s worth of accomplishments can be measured in 0s and 1s. That’s what went through my mind today when I backed up my entire Google mail account. I did it because I read an article recently that Google was deleting old accounts: http://www.ubergizmo.com/2015/07/google-deleting-old-unused-accounts/. Reading stuff like that makes me naturally paranoid. I’m the type of person who has everything archived since high school. I literally have book reports from high school I can bring up from my personal archives if I ever need to. At home I have about 6TB worth of hard drives that mostly store videos, but a good chunk has been used to archive my personal data as well. I even went a step forward and subscribed to the Google Drive program so that I could store my essentials in the cloud.

Since Google is getting money from me I doubt they will actually delete my account. But just in case that happens, going through the backup process is pretty easy. Google has a service called “Takeout” that lets you download all of your Google data onto a local drive: https://www.google.com/settings/takeout. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to the takeout URL above
  2. Choose which Google services you want to back up
  3. You will eventually get an email (couple hours to a couple days) that will allow you to download an entire archive of your data. This download link will only last a couple days
  4. That’s it!

I have my entire google mail archive stored in 4GB .mbox file. This is my first time dealing with this kind of file, but it looks to be a standard. When I have time I’ll actually open it up and verify that there are no issues. Nothing worse than having a backup solution that doesn’t work when you need it to.