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.

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  • MR

    Anthony, are there any prerequisites for exam 70-496?

  • Any idea when they’ll have the 2013 ones available?

  • Sourabh

    Starting June 8, 2014, the questions on this exam will include content covering Team Foundation Server 2013 (TFS).

  • FSK

    Hi All,

    Does this exam cover question only on TFS 2013 or it will ave question from TFS 2010 & TFS 2012.

  • Deepak

    Exam is based on TFS 2012 RTM version. which means some of the options like backup options via UI will not be considered as correct answer.

  • Richard Dalziel

    Can anyone please confirm here, there’s some conflicting messages being passed round.

    I watched all of the jump start videos relating to the exam and was very surprised (And a little confused) to see TFS 2013 references in the exam. The jump start videos on several occasions encourage you to NOT consider features which are in TFS 2012 Update 1 and specifically focus on the RTM.

    What’s the correct materials to study here? Is the Jump Start video now redundant?

    • Hi Richard,

      When the JumpStart videos were recorded the exam focused exclusively on the release version of TFS 2012. This is exactly what Steve and I mentioned in the video. Since the videos were recorded Microsoft have updated the exam. The updated exam now covers content for TFS 2013. One of the reasons for possible confusion is that when they updated the exam for 2013, they did not change the exam name or exam number.

      I hope this helps clarify things for you.


  • Raghu Dongur

    Hi Anthony,
    I watched your video presentation on Administering Visual Studio TFS 2012 Jump Start. It was excellent. For the 70-496 exam, what do we need to focus on? TFS 2012 or TFS 2013? or Both?
    I am a book dependent guy, so really need a good book(s) for the exam. If you suggest any latest books for this exam.

    • Hi Raghu,

      I’m glad you liked the video presentation that Steven and I did for the 2012 exam. In terms of your study for this exam now, things have changed a bit. Unfortunately there appears to be little consistency from Microsoft Learning about what is in the actual exam these days.

      If you look at the official 70-496 exam preparation page on the Microsoft website, you currently get different information depending on what country you’re in.
      For example, if you visit the US version of the page at “https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/exam-70-496.aspx” the Technology covered states “Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015”. If however, you look at the Australian version of the same page at “https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/learning/exam-70-496.aspx” it shows the technology as “Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2013”.

      I am confident that there is in fact only one version of the exam and that it currently includes content covering up to and including the 2015 release of TFS. To be safe I would recommend you study 2013 and 2015. The good news is that from an admin perspective much hasn’t changed. For example the system requirements are largely identical. I would suggest you brush up on the new Build system introduced in 2015 in case that makes it into the exam.

      Finally, I am not aware of any books for the 2015 release. Your best bets are going to be the MSDN documentation and perhaps the Wrox Press book Professional Team Foundation Server 2013.