Tackling the Scenario-Based Questions

Microsoft’s design exams are definitely among the toughest; part of the reason for this is that the questions are all based on lengthy scenarios. For example, on exam 70-219, you can expect to encounter about four scenarios, with approximately ten questions based on each one. If you are not familiar with what I mean by scenario based questions, here is an example for exam 70-297.

Sample Case Scenario

HW Inc. Overview
HW Inc. is a small company that designs women’s apparel. The head office is located in Boston. In the past few years the company’s clothing line has taken off and warehouses/stores have been opened in Phoenix, Manhattan, Tampa, and San Francisco.

Current LAN/WAN Network
All locations have a 100 MBPS connection to the head office in Boston. Each location, including Boston, is currently using Windows NT 4.0 domain controllers. HW Inc. consists of a single Windows NT 4.0 domain. Locations are connected to the head office using routers that are not 1542 compliant.

Most workstations are running Windows 2000 Professional. Some workstations in the head office are still running Windows 95. Currently, IP addresses are statically assigned by each local administrator.

Some users belonging to the sales department travel extensively throughout the country. They require remote access to client information stored within the head office. The company does not want to incur hefty long distance charges when providing this service to users.

There is a central IT group within the head office that oversees most administration. Each location has a network administrator responsible for performing day-to-day tasks.

Proposed LAN/WAN Network
HW Inc. would like to upgrade all its domain controllers to Windows Server 2003. It would also like to achieve the following:

  • Reduce the administration associated with IP addressing.
  • Reduce the administration associated with running DNS on the network.
  • Allow for name resolution for all hosts.
  • Enforce company wide security settings.
  • Implement secure remote access for members of the Sales group.

Active Directory Design Commentary
CEO: We need to maintain complete autonomy over the different locations.

IT Manager: Local administrators are responsible for performing day-to-day administrative tasks. However I would like to further limit their scope of authority so they are only capable of administering their own location.

Owner: Due to the increased demand for Internet sales, we’d like to consider establishing an Internet presence in the future. We’ve registered the HWInc.com domain name and would like to use it internally as well.

On the exam, you can expect to find all of this information on different tabs or you can view it all at once. At first these scenarios may seem extremely overwhelming. However, to ease the pain of it all, here are a few recommendations. Aside from knowing the material and being completely prepared, skim through the scenario then read it over in detail. Once you are done, you may want to skim over the questions quickly so you know what to look for. On the other hand, you may want to do this before you read the details of the scenario. Write important details down on the paper you are given and, if possible, create a quick high-level diagram of the network based on the details you are given. It is easier to reference this then trying to locate the information in the scenario. While you are doing all this, keep an eye on the time, although these exams tend to allow sufficient time to get through them.