27 Feb 2013


Microsoft’s ALM Certification–Part 1 of 3

Welcome to the first of a three part series I’m writing to help readers learn about Microsoft’s new ALM certification and the three exams required to gain this certification.

In this article I’ll introduce you to the new Microsoft Certified Solution Developer: Application Lifecycle Management certification and then focus on the 70-496 exam. The second article will focus on exam taking tips and then look closely at exam 70-497. The final article will cover exam 70-498 and how to make the most of your new certification.

Microsoft Certified Solution Developer: Application Lifecycle Management


At the ALM Summit in Redmond in February 2013, Microsoft publically announced the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer: Application Lifecycle Management certification. While the certification has been available for a couple of months, this was the first public announcement. It was also confirmation of the re-birth of the MCSD certification which had previously been retired in favour of the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) in the 2010 timeframe.

The MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management certification requires the successful completion of the following three exams.

  • 70-496: Administering Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012
  • 70-497: Software Testing with Visual Studio 2012
  • 70-498: Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio 2012 Application Lifecycle Management

These exams can be taken in any order but we’ll walk through them in numeric order over this three part series.

Exam 70-496: Administering Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012

On September 25th 2012 Microsoft released the Administering Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 exam. This is the third release of an exam focusing on administration and configuration of TFS with the two previous exams focusing on TFS 2010 (exam 70-512) and TFS 2005 (exam 70-510).

Microsoft Learning provide a dedicated page on their website for each exam and you can find details of this particular exam at http://examcr.am/TyAYs3

While the specific audience for this exam is described on the exam page, I would summarise this from experience by saying that this exam would be well suited for the “TFS Guru” or “TFS goto person” within your organisation. Remember this exam is not for people that just use TFS to support their development, but rather it suits the person that installs, configures, customises and maintains the health of your TFS server infrastructure.

Exam Details

Exam code: 70-496
Exam title: Administering Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012
Release date: September 25th, 2012
Pass mark: 700 (70%)
Questions: Approximately 45 questions
Time: Approximately 145 minutes

Exam Preparation Best Bet

If you’ve got limited time or you’re feeling pretty confident, I’d suggest you focus on the TFS 2012 Installation and Administration guides. These are both freely downloadable CHM files, available on the Microsoft website at http://examcr.am/10Ln5E4

Download both CHM files and read them to ensure you understand the majority of the information covered. Look for knowledge gaps and focus in on those areas for your study. For example, you may have a single combined application tier/data tier configuration in your office. You will still need to know how to install and configure a TFS infrastructure comprising load balanced multi-server TFS configurations.

Exam Preparation – a closer look

The 70-496 exam comprised four key topic areas. These areas are well described on the Microsoft Learning exam page but let’s take a look at how we can focus our study using the free, online MSDN library.

Install and Configure Team Foundation Server (25%)

This topic covers the following high level areas.

  • Install Team Foundation Server
  • Configure the application tier
  • Migrate and upgrade Team Foundation Server
  • Install and configure Lab Management
  • Install and configure multiple build agents and controllers

Much of the information for this topic can be found on the MSDN Library under a topic titled “Installing Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio ALM”. Make sure you read all child nodes underneath this topic on MSDN.

Manage Team Foundation Server (26%)

This topic covers the following high level areas.

  • Manage Team Project Collections
  • Configure for backup and recovery
  • Monitor server health and performance
  • Operate Lab Management
  • Manage security
  • Manage reporting for Team Foundation Server

The MSDN Library link for this exam topic is titled “Administering Team Foundation Server”. Remember to read all child nodes underneath this topic on MSDN.

Customize Team Foundation Server for Team Use (24%)

This topic covers the following high level areas.

  • Configure a team build definition
  • Manage build execution
  • Modify a process template
  • Configure a team project
  • Apply Work Item customizations
  • Create Work Item queries
  • Configure client connectivity to Team Foundation Server

There are a couple of MSDN Library links for this exam topic. Try looking at “Define Your Build Process” and “Customize Process Templates

Administer Version Control (25%)

This topic covers the following high level areas.

  • Create and manage workspaces
  • Configure version control proxy
  • Configure team project version control settings

The fourth and final exam topic area also has two primary locations on MSDN for you to focus your study. Firstly look “Using Version Control” and then “Team Foundation Version Control Command Reference

Exam Preparation – Online Webinars

My colleague, Nick Hauenstein and I, are running a series of free online exam preparation webinars to help people get ready for the exam. You can find out more about these and register online at http://www.quicklearn.com/exam-cram

Good all-purpose resources

The following two books represent great resources, not just for the exams but for anyone working with or supporting Microsoft Team Foundation Server.

ProALM thumbnail Professional Team Foundation Server 2012
Authors: Ed Blankenship, Martin Woodward, Grant Holliday and Brian Keller.
ProTFS thumbnail Professional Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio 2012
Authors: Mickey Gousset, Brian Keller and Martin Woodward.

That concludes part 1 of this series. See you next month for the second instalment which focuses on exam 70-487: Software Testing with Visual Studio 2012.