Review of the new Office 365 beta exams

Just over two years ago I sat the first round of Office 365 beta exams and did a blog post about my experiences and thoughts.

In the past week I sat both new beta Office 365 exams 71-346 and 71-347.

The first exam 71-346 was Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements. Overall I felt this exam was quite focused. Like the title says you need to be across how to provision and manage identities as well as understand the minimum requirements for Office 365 and related components.

My tip for this exam? Be VERY familiar with DirSync and ADFS from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012 R2. Also refresh your memory of what the minimum requirements are for all Office 365 identity services.

The second exam 71-347 was Enabling Office 365 Services.

I felt this exam was poor in that it covered far too many areas and expected far too much memorisation of things you wouldn’t normally remember. My view is that the only people who would pass this exam are people who study to pass this exam – not real Office 365 pros. I use Office 365 every day for customers. Two colleagues who did the exam with me also use Office 365 every day for our customers. Between the 3 of us we were honestly amazed how many things you needed to have memorised to do this exam.

My tip for this exam? Only sit it if you absolutely have to pass it for employment purposes.

Also similar to my previous post about the Office 365 beta exams – my view is that the content is far too varied for any one IT pro to know.

The same person who understands what Office Telemetry is, how to deploy it and manage it, is not the same person who knows how to perform Exchange and Lync PowerShell cmdlets.

Why do I think this? Because it’s reality. My company Paradyne is all about Office 365 deployment – we do it every single day of the year and across multiple types of customers ranging from SMBs to multi-nationals and universities.

My SharePoint lead knows his PowerShell cmdlets and GUI very well, but knows very little about Exchange, Lync, or Office Pro Plus – command line or GUI. Why? Because he doesn’t need to. Yet he is a specialist in SharePoint Online. The same goes for my migration specialists. They know AD & Exchange well, but know little about SharePoint or Office Pro Plus. And the same for my Office specialist – he knows deployment capabilities and methods extremely well, understands features of Exchange, Lync and SharePoint, but would be lost remembering PowerShell cmdlets for any of them. Our PowerShell specialist understands the concepts of Exchange, Lync and SharePoint GUI but spends his day writing and running PowerShell cmdlets, and knows nothing about Office deployment.

No one person should know everything that is tested in these exams – it’s just not practical knowledge.

I come out of these exams with the same views as last time:

  • Testing should not be about how much you remember. Instead it should be about how much you actually know (knowledge is not the same as memorisation) and how you can figure things out.
  • I do not believe there should be two Office 365 exams to rule them all. Instead Office 365 functionality should be more present in traditional on-premises exams. I do feel there should still be an Office 365 exam about the service as a whole, but that:
    • DirSync and ADFS questions should be part of Windows Server exams
    • Exchange Online questions should be part of Exchange Server exams
    • SharePoint Online questions should be part of SharePoint Server exams
    • Lync Online questions should be part of Lync Server exams
    • Office deployment questions should stay as part of Office exams

If you want some more detailed breakdown please read Paul Robichaux’s review of the exams.

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