My MCM self-study labs and a couple of hints about the exam process

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Hi there,

One of my new’s year resolution was to study for the MCM exam and last February I was able to manage to write the exam and I passed, and now somehow I should go back to my LAB to start studying for the MCM LAB Exam. Since I’m planning to do that I would like to share with you a few hints about my study process so it may help yours as well.

Important: I couldn’t get approval from my company to join the MCM training in Seattle and that is the only reason that I decided to go for the MCM certification without the training. I do believe that the value of having the training is way better than the certification because you will learn more from the source (the training facility and instructors are top notch) besides of the networking with your peers that are also interested in the same goals. If you have the opportunity to go for the MCM training, please don’t think twice, go!

Of course I can’t and I wouldn’t comment any technical questions about the exam but the exam is harder than any other exam that you have ever done for Microsoft certifications in the past (I’ve been writing exams since NT 4) and I’ve been working with Exchange since version 5 and before getting the results I wasn’t sure if I had passed.

In my humble opinion a good hint to pass the Knowledge Exam is that you must have a really good experience with the product and a deep understanding of the architecture and how the pieces fit together. The experience portion shouldn’t be just managing an environment but also performing transition between versions, troubleshooting and so forth.

In order to study for the MCM Exam I created 4 (four) scenarios in my personal LAB to help my self-study process (I have a really good set of servers powered by Microsoft SCCVM and Windows Server 2008 R2). Bear in mind that the exam requires a lot of knowledge, so you should know how to enable a feature and the most important how it works which means that having a lab similar to mine is not enough, you should go deeper on the technical side and try out all features to be more prepared for the exams.

Here are my labs Smile and as you may have guessed all of them are related to Gaucho culture on their names Smile

LAB #01: Pampa Revolution

In this LAB I’m using just 5 servers with 8GB RAM in average and I have a Front and Back Exchange Server 2003, a Domain Controller, and I have two Exchange Server 2010 (SP1 and after while an upgrade to SP2 to be honest) performing CAS/HUB and Mailbox roles.

The objective of this lab is to test the entire process to migrate from Exchange Server 2003 to 2010.


LAB #02: Porto Alegre a new frontier…

In this LAB I used a single DC and I use a LTM (Local Traffic Manager virtual applicance from F5) and 2 Exchange Server 2010 (SP1 and SP2) with all three roles installed on them and a third Exchange Server just for Unified Messaging. Also I have Lync Server and a DPM Server.

My goals for this LAB is to test integration between Exchange with other Microsoft products such as Lync and DPM and also test the Load Balancing using F5.


LAB #03: Montevideo: Rise of the DAGs

In this LAB I have 2 DCs, 2 File Servers, 4 CAS/HUB servers, 4 Mailboxes and a couple of clients and finally a TMG.

The objective of this exercise is to build the DAG in a DR environment and test all possible *-over scenarios and see how the client experiences the issues.


LAB #04: The cloud is not the limit

In this LAB I have only 2 Exchange Servers and a couple of servers required to do Office 365 integration and 2 clients. Also I have a TMG server responsible to segment the network in two network and the only way to reach each segment is through routing at TMG level.

The objective for this LAB is to test the integration with the cloud and also between two different Exchange organization (each segment has its own forest and Exchange organization)


Well, you won’t find answers or even clues about the exam itself but I hope my personal lab used to study will help you out. Have a good luck and may the force be with you!

Now, it’s time to rebuild my Lab and start my journey to perform the Lab Exam Smile

Anderson Patricio
Twitter: @apatricio

Written by Anderson Patricio

Anderson Patricio is a Canadian Exchange Server MVP and MCSM (Solutions Master) and he contributes to the Microsoft Community with articles, tutorials, blog posts, forums and book reviews. He is a regular contributor at, and (Portuguese).