TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Road To Certification: Revisited

Volume Number: 24
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: Certification

The Road To Certification: Revisited

Increase your knowledge and build credibility on the way

by Doug Hanley

Introduction

In a previous series of articles, we looked at Apple's IT certifications and hardware certifications. We examined reasons for and benefits of getting certified, as well as the testing experience and the changes Apple made to its IT certifications with the release of Mac OS X Leopard. We looked at the new Macintosh Technician certification, designed for technicians at Apple Authorized Service Providers, as well as Apple's Pro Apps certifications for Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio. While we did cover the new Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) 10.5 certification, we were not able to look as deeply into the topics covered on each of the exams required for ACSA certification and what resources are available to help you prepare for them. Those resources are finally available including Apple Authorized Training Center classes and books. We will also discuss upcoming Snow Leopard Certification, which should be available after its release next year.

Apple Certified System Administrator

Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) is Apple's highest IT certification. An ACSA is recognized as having an in-depth knowledge of Mac OS X's technical architecture, and the ability to design and maintain networks. An ACSA should be able to enable, customize, tune and integrate Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server and other Apple technologies within a multi-platform environment.

ACSA certification has undergone a few changes over the years. When the certification first launched for Mac OS X 10.2, it required passing two exams that were based on concepts covered in two five-day classes - one focused on client and one on server. With Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) it became a credit-based system with a minimum of 7 current credits required to be an ACSA. Now with Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5), there has been a change that I believe is for the better. To achieve ACSA 10.5, you now need to pass four exams: Server Essentials, Directory Services, Deployment, and Advanced System Administration. I feel this is a more challenging and rewarding certification. In this article, I will tell you about the courses and books available to help prepare for those exams.

Preparing for the Exams

The best way to prepare for any of the ACSA exams is to take the associated class at an Apple Authorized Training Center (AATC). You can find the nearest AATC at: http://training.apple.com/locations. You could also prepare by reviewing the Apple Training Series book published by Peachpit for the particular course, but you will be more thoroughly prepared by participating in a class. The classes are a combination of lectures and hands-on exercises designed to reinforce the concepts covered in the course. All of the exams are now available as well as the associate books and courses. Also available are the Skills Assessment Guides and Sample Tests, which can be downloaded as PDFs at:

http://training.apple.com/certification/acsa

Directory Services

In January's issue we discussed in detail what is involved in the Server Essentials course. Now we will look at the other three areas of study: Directory Services, Deployment, and Advanced System Administration.

In the four-day Mac OS X Directory Services v10.5 (Leopard 301) course, students learn how to effectively configure Mac OS X computers to access directory services, and how to configure Mac OS X Server to provide directory services in a mixed-platform environment. The course itself focuses on both Mac OS X as a directory service client, and Mac OS X Server as a directory server. Cross platform solutions will be emphasized in both instances. Students using Mac OS X learn how to use network accounts and Kerberos authentication with any common directory service, such as Apple's Open Directory, Microsoft's Active Directory, or an industry-standard LDAP server. In working with Mac OS X Server, students learn how to run a robust, scalable directory system using Apple's Open Directory service. Students also learn how to use Mac OS X Server to augment an existing directory service infrastructure.

The following is an overview of how your time will be spent in the class. You begin by examining the Local Directory Service, and move on to accessing an Open Directory System. Open Directory is the LDAP directory service model implementation from Apple. You will learn how to properly bind to an Open Directory Server and troubleshoot authentication issues. The class then covers working with 3rd party LDAP servers, including Active Directory from Microsoft because it is important to learn the different ways you can integrate your Mac clients into other directory systems. By the third day, you are configuring your own Open Directory system and learning how to distribute the load through replicas of your system. Finally by the fourth day, you are connecting your server into Open Directory and other directory systems. All along the way, you are learning more about the underlying services and processes involved.

Having a solid understanding of directory services and how they are implemented and integrated in Mac OS X is crucial to deploying multiple servers offering varying services all tied to the same directory structure. You will need this deeper understanding if you want to move beyond stand-alone deployments of Mac OS X Server.

The reference guide used in the class is Apple Training Series: Mac OS X Directory Services v10.5, by Arek Dreyer (ISBN: 978-0321509734).

Deployment

Speaking of Deployment, there has to be a better way to install the operating system and software on multiple machines on your network than using a DVD or CD, right? Well that is exactly what is covered in the three-day Mac OS X Deployment v10.5 (Leopard 302) course. The first section of the course focuses on solutions for deploying software, ranging from individual files to complete system images to multiple machines. Students get hands-on experience using tools such as Apple Remote Desktop, Disk Utility, PackageMaker, and System Image Utility, and leave knowing the pros and cons of various deployment solutions. In the second section of the course, students apply what they have learned and create a full deployment plan that includes testing, deployment, auditing, and maintenance. How to create a multi-tiered Software Update Server, and third party solutions are also discussed to augment your deployment plan.

One of the key concepts covered in this course are modular images. Currently, many large institutions, especially school districts do what can be referred to as monolithic imaging. In other words, they build and install everything needed on one machine and image it. Then they deploy that image. Modular imaging allows you to update parts without having to go through the entire install processes again. This has become a critical strategy for Mac OS 10.5 Leopard. Even a Leopard client machine has a local KDC, or a Kerberos key distribution center. You will run into many problems if you clone and deploy monolithic images because you now have a number of machines which all think they are the same local KDC. Because of this, you may decide the modular imaging section alone is worth the cost of the class.

The reference guide used in the class is Apple Training Series: Mac OS X Deployment v10.5, by Kevin White (ISBN: 978-0321502681).

Advanced System Administration

The Mac OS X Advanced System Administration v10.5 (Leopard 401) course builds on the foundations established in the Support Essentials and Server Essentials courses, and is designed to empower students to meet the challenges faced by administrators deploying Mac OS X Server in today's complex and dynamic data centers. This challenging five-day course equips students with in-depth and practical skills in Mac OS X technology. The course's task-based focus enhances the learning process through the use of practical examples in a relevant context.

Tasks are organized into several key knowledge domains: implementation, networking, administration, and optimization. Implementation tasks focus on aspects of installing, upgrading, configuring, and migrating existing legacy systems to more recent versions and configurations. Networking tasks concentrate on establishing solid foundations for network services, as well as connecting private and public networks securely. Students gain experience with monitoring tools and automation technologies that form the core of the administration tasks necessary to effectively administer large deployments on a daily basis. An exploration of tools and techniques relating to performance-based tasks such as optimizing services, scaling systems, and establishing high availability of services, data, and components, helps build students' confidence in their administration skills. The course concludes with vital maintenance tasks that address aspects of maintaining a system's availability and preserving the integrity of critical data.

If you are not comfortable with the command line, I strongly suggest you become familiar with it ahead of time. There is a great deal of typing required, however you do learn the underlying systems and procedures hidden behind the GUI of Mac OS X. You will definitely learn how to harness the power of UNIX in Mac OS X. The extensive use of the command line interface reveals a deeper scope of the course's subject material and prepares students to become more efficient by taking advantage of the wide variety of automation technologies built into Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server. This is a long, but worthwhile class. Combined with the other ACSA classes, the depth of knowledge and experience you will gain in supporting a Mac OS X-based network is priceless.

The reference guide used in this class is Apple Training Series: Mac OS X Advanced System Administration by Edward Marczak (ISBN: 978-0321563149).

Hitting the Road

Having sat through the instructor preparations for the Leopard courses, I am very excited about the quality of the ACSA level classes. I strongly recommend taking courses at an AATC, where you not only get hands-on experience and access to the additional materials, but also the valuable expertise of an Apple Certified Trainer and your industry peers. The other advantage is that you have access to enough computers to implement the exercises and test new ideas in a safe environment. The best trainers are the ones who actually do this type of integration in the real world. I suggest you use these criteria as you select a trainer and training center.

The Near Future of Apple Certification

Certification is a journey, and for Mac OS X, the journey continues with each new release of Mac OS X. It was announced at WWDC 2008 that Snow Leopard (expected to be Mac OS X version 10.6) will be released next year, although we don't know when exactly. One of the unique features of Snow Leopard is that the focus is less about new features and more about refinement and stability of the operating system. If you already hold a Leopard certification for ACTC or ACSA, there will only be an Update Exam for each. This creates a strong incentive to achieve your ACSA sooner than later, especially if you have started on the path.

More information about ACSA certification, classes and other preparatory materials is available on Apple's training & certification website:

http://training.apple.com/certification/acsa


Doug Hanley owns MacTEK Consulting & Training, an Apple Authorized Training Center in Las Vegas, NV. His time is divided between teaching classes and wrangling servers. He has been providing support on the Mac since the early 90's. To track him down, go to http://www.mactektraining.com or email doug@mac-tek.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Apple Security Update 2015-005 - For OS...
Apple Security Update 2015-005 is recommended for all users and improves the security of OS X. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.... Read more
Apple HP Printer Drivers 3.1 - For OS X...
Apple HP Printer Drivers includes the latest HP printing and scanning software for OS X Lion or later. For information about supported printer models, see this page. Version 3.1: The latest printing... Read more
Epson Printer Drivers 3.1 - For OS X 10....
Epson Printer Drivers installs the latest software for your EPSON printer or scanner for OS X Yosemite, OS X Mavericks, OS X Mountain Lion, and OS X Lion. For more information about printing and... Read more
Xcode 6.4 - Integrated development envir...
Xcode provides everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Xcode brings user interface design, coding, testing, and debugging into a united workflow. The Xcode... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 - Apple's lat...
OS X Yosemite is Apple's newest operating system for Mac. An elegant design that feels entirely fresh, yet inherently familiar. The apps you use every day, enhanced with new features. And a... Read more
Dash 3.0.2 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0 - Font management...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
Typinator 6.6 - Speedy and reliable text...
Typinator turbo-charges your typing productivity. Type a little. Typinator does the rest. We've all faced projects that require repetitive typing tasks. With Typinator, you can store commonly used... Read more
Arq 4.12.1 - Online backup to Google Dri...
Arq is super-easy online backup for the Mac. Back up to your own Google Drive storage (15GB free storage), your own Amazon Glacier ($.01/GB per month storage) or S3, or any SFTP server. Arq backs up... Read more
Gutenprint 5.2.11-pre1 - Quality drivers...
Gutenprint is a suite of printer drivers that may be used with most common UNIX print spooling systems, including CUPS, lpr, LPRng, or others. Gutenprint currently supports over 2000 printer models.... Read more

Vector 2 is Officially a Thing and it...
Vector is a pretty cool parkour-driven runner that's gotten a pretty decent following since it first came out - although personally I think more people could stand to show it some love. Anyway, Nekki has announced that a sequel isofficially on its... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps:June 22-26, 2015
June's Summer Journey Continues With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice,... | Read more »
LEGO® Minifigures Online (Games)
LEGO® Minifigures Online 1.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
World of Tanks Blitz celebrates its firs...
Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of World of Tanks Blitz, the mobile version of the PC tank battler, World of Tanks. World of Tanks Blitz launched on iOS and Android on June 26th last year and to celebrate, Wargaming is giving all... | Read more »
Heroes and Castles 2 Has its Own Standal...
Heroes and Castles 2 is a third-person castle defense game from the same team behind Block Fortress and Bug Heroes. It's cool, it's fun, and now it has its very own free version. [Read more] | Read more »
Formula Cartoon All-Stars Lets You Race...
Ever want to pit your favorite characters from shows like Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and Regular Show against each other in a not quite death race? Well once upon a time you could, but Formula All Stars Touch N' Go doesn't exist anymore. Hope... | Read more »
Retype - Typography Photo Editor (Photo...
Retype - Typography Photo Editor 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Retype is built out of passion for great typography and it's all about adding text to photo with style... | Read more »
Hungry Shark Evolution Celebrates Shark...
Shark Week is almost here, as is Independence Day, so naturally Hungry Shark Evolution is going to get in on the action. Yes, even the fireworks. [Read more] | Read more »
The New Trivia Crack Will Feature a Musi...
It's official: iHeartMedia (you may know them from iHeartRadio) will be in charge of providing music-related questions for Trivia Crack's upcoming sequel. Also Trivia Crack is getting a sequel. [Read more] | Read more »
Toca Life: City (Education)
Toca Life: City 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Welcome to Toca Life: City, a metropolis filled with everyday fun! Customize characters, explore exciting locations and... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

OtterBox Releases New Symmetry Series Metalli...
Otterbox’s new Symmetry Series of smartphone cases flaunts the best of both both street style and street smarts with their new metallic finishes and trusted OtterBox protection for iPhone 6 and... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $75 off MSRP
Save up to $75 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ or 11″ 1.6GHz MacBook Air at the following resellers. Shipping is free with each model: 11" 128GB MSRP $899 11" 256GB... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $260 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $260 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2799, $200 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3719.99... Read more
Save up to $400 on 2014 15-inch Retina MacBoo...
B&H Photo has previous-generation 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $400 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has new 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1899.99 $100 off - 15″ 2.5GHz... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through July 11, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available for...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for $100 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $199, $100... Read more
Newsweek Launches iPhone App
The venerable weekly news magazine Newsweek, owned by IBT Media, has announced the launch of its first iPhone app. The new app is available through Apple’s App Store and will allow consumers to read... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* TV Live Streaming Frameworks Test En...
**Job Summary** Work and contribute towards the engineering of Apple 's state-of-the-art products involving video, audio, and graphics in Interactive Media Group (IMG) at Read more
Project Manager, WW *Apple* Fulfillment Ope...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
Senior Data Scientist, *Apple* Retail - Onl...
**Job Summary** Apple Retail - Online sells Apple products to customers around the world. In addition to selling Apple products with unique services such as iPad Read more
*Apple* Music Producer - Apple (United State...
**Job Summary** Apple Music seeks a Producer to help shepherd some of the most important content and editorial initiatives within the music app, with a particular focus Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.