With Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will revoke certification from MCSEs who don't adhere to the new Windows 2000 (Win2K) certification path, you might want to consider the deal training centers are offering for Course 1579: Accelerated Training for Updating Support Skills and Designing a Directory Services Infrastructure for Microsoft Windows 2000. The deal is part of a $40 million training promotion that Microsoft announced in April of this year. The special pricing expires on December 31, 1999, so you must register for the class by then to qualify.

Course 1579 focuses on an audience already familiar with Microsoft’s existing network OSs (NOSs). The requirements associated with the special pricing are specific, and training centers are enforcing them. To qualify, you must currently work for a Microsoft Certified Solution Provider (MCSP), be a current MCSE, or have received a special training voucher from Microsoft.

This accelerated course covers the following subjects:

  • Introduction to and installing Windows 2000 (Win2K)
  • Exploring, implementing, and administering Active Directory (AD)
  • Implementing DNS
  • Deploying software using Group Policy
  • Managing file resources
  • Implementing security
  • Configuring remote access
  • Supporting DHCP and WINS
  • Managing dynamic volumes
  • Implementing disaster protection
  • Upgrading a network to Win2K
  • Overview of Win2K directory services
  • Planning the AD namespace
  • Delegating and managing administrative authority
  • Planning the organization of a domain
  • Implementing a domain
  • Managing AD replication
  • Using AD sites to manage network traffic
  • Maintaining and optimizing AD
  • Deploying Win2K directory services
  • Controlling schema modifications
  • Synchronizing directories in Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 and Win2K
  • Upgrading directory services from Windows NT 4.0

If you think that looks like a lot to cover in a 5-day instructor-led course, you're right. Microsoft characterizes the course as an "intensive five-day course designed for the seasoned network professional" that gives you "10 days' worth of training delivered in just 5, with additional modules to be completed each evening." Microsoft recommends this course if you have:

  • Completed Course 803: Administering Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, or have equivalent skills and knowledge.
  • Completed Course 922: Supporting Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Core Technologies, or have equivalent skills and knowledge.
  • A thorough understanding of DHCP, WINS, IP subnetting, and routing.
  • Experience supporting networks and end users.

People I’ve talked to who have taken the instructor-led version of this course have really enjoyed the learning experience, in part because the student knowledge level is often higher than what you might experience in Certified Technical Education Center (CTEC) classes. All too often, certification classes include people with vast knowledge and experience with Microsoft’s NOSs mixed in with others making career changes who have difficulty navigating the desktop, let alone the course materials.

The instructor-led version of Course 1579 isn't your only option. There's an online version that might be a better fit for those of you who simply can’t take a week to sit in class. I have chosen this route for a number of reasons. First, I made several attempts to take the class at a local training center, but the scheduled times always conflicted with my teaching schedule. Second, with my employer's limited training budget, I need to find the best deal I can to get approval for the expense. Third, the college is considering offering distance learning, and I want to experience the process myself to see how well it works.

The instructor-led version of Course 1579 costs about $1000. In selling the class, Microsoft is saying that it's subsidizing 50 percent of the retail training cost. Go to Microsoft's Web site to sign up. The registration process requires that you provide qualifying information (your MCP number, your company’s MCSP program number, or a voucher number).

The online training version of the course appears to cost significantly less. For example, I’ve selected Training Associates, a Microsoft CTEC that's offering Course 1579 online for $300 (50 percent off the $600 retail cost). Enrollment perks include a course content CD-ROM, a free copy of the Microsoft Press Windows 2000 Training Kit, and a free exam voucher (worth $100). My class starts December 6. With my semester break from the college running from December 18 to January 24, I'm sure that I’ll have enough time to devote to the class. Because the class runs for 8 weeks, I should have time to digest the material at a reasonable pace, something I’ve had difficulty doing in those 5-day classes. I’ll keep you informed about my progress.