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  1. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

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    Hey, Just stumbled across this forum, read a couple of threads and now I'm here to stay.

    Let me just introduce myself and my situation . . .

    I am 19, currently working as a Systems Support Technician, that basically revolves around people ringing from the company and saying "I can't login" or "outlook gives me an error" and then me connecting via VNC, PC anywhere or remote conenction or desktop via administrator tools in Windows XP.

    I'm quite up to date, can change passwords for exchange accounts, can use Remote desktops, build a PC, can connect to servers, arrange backups, track IP addresses down all kind of basic stuff too be honest.

    It's a pretty small company, we are in house support for our parents company which has like 250 employees and I just secured this job (been working here for 1.5 months now) right from college after studying Hospitality and Catering and a Level III Advanced BTEC software practitioner course. So am I 19, just stepped onto the career ladder, not really got any IT qualifications or certs, slowly gaining experience through employment.

    If I'm honest, I get paid pittance, 10k a year after tax but I live at home so it ain't too bad but I see jobs that seems to be pretty much the same as mine offering salaries of say 17/18/19k upwards and I think, I should be earning that.

    granted, this company is pretty quiet mostly, it's slowly getting bigger and it's not really hard work because I enjoy anything to do with IT.

    So here's the catch . .

    I just enquired to CompuTeach about studying MCSA, £2500 cost in a hope to get some respected sort of certification/qualifications/PROOF behind me.

    then I stumbled on this site and now I am thinking I should not be forking out that much or will that course make a difference ? is it worth the money ? am I being taken for a ride etcetera etcetera.

    So basically, OPEN MY EYES, I want to go far in the IT industry, I love doing it, but where can I go ? and which paths are available. What would you do ?
     
    Certifications: MCITP:VA, MCITP:EA, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP:EST7, MCITP:SA, PRINCE2, ITILv3
  2. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Hi & welcome to CF :)

    You can do what the majority of us here have done, either self-study for the certs or contact your local college to see if they do the Comptia/Microsoft courses and exams (they would normally be cheaper than alot of the private training companies).

    I would recommend doing the A+ and the Network+ first of all, these can be self-studied out of a book and a couple of old PC's. I say this, not to knock your experience, but to help you build a solid knowledge base for the higher certs (eg the Network+ will help you alot with the 70-291 and any other networking cert, like the CCENT/CCNA for example).

    While you may see jobs for £17k - £19k upwards, having only 1 1/2 months experience, realistically you're not going to see wages like that for a while. As you're on about £10k after tax, so I assume you're on just over minimum wage, how about seeing if your employer would put you on a NVQ program? A few NVQ programs incorporate other Professionals certifications like the ACA, Network+ and/or the CCENT/CCNA. The NVQ 3 program is sits at A Level level and the NVQ 4 sits anywhere from HNC to degree level (depending on the modules you take).

    It's good you want to go far, just remember

    Hope this helps :)

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  3. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

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    Thanks for the response. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job, The wage does me too be honest. It's a nice smallish company that fits in. So it's all on a personal experience rather than "That's whatshisname from IT"

    Well, we (we being me and my manager) had been looking for training for me to gain some formal qualifications. I am in Manchester and we are pretty quickly running out of options in terms of a qualification that includes something I didn't do in my BTEC Advanced. Plus the company are reluctant to fund me given that the last geezer did one half way through without a word, so they lost out.

    Anyone have any experience of government funding, i'll presume for adults it would be classed as.

    I don't expect a top notch job from the start, I am just interested in where to go as early as possible so that when I have say 2 years experience, I also have the certifications/ qualifications to back it up, to make my CV really stand out.

    Would doing an MCDST be the best thing first ? or would 2 years as help desk make up what that can offer eventually ? and just go to MCSA/E ? or even a CICSO certification ?

    What are the typical costs, self studying to attain these ?

    EDIT

    About the NVQ. I have equivalent of 3 A Levels or a HND basically as a Software Pratitioner.

    also have a NVQIII in Catering haha
     
    Certifications: MCITP:VA, MCITP:EA, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP:EST7, MCITP:SA, PRINCE2, ITILv3
  4. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    Cool :)

    I would say that the MCDST is a great start, yes 2 years of helpdesk is better but in 2 years time you want to say "I've done this, I've done that, here's my certs" after all I've known people who have years of experience on the helpdesk just answering and logging calls, I also know people who have worked on helpdesk actually fixing things. Hence why professional certifications should reflect what you do in regards of your job role and responsibilities. After that then go onto the higher certs, the MCDST actually counts towards the elective of the MCSA. As for Cisco certs, do you actually work with Cisco kit? If no, then I would say no. If you work with Dell switches or HP switches do their certifications.

    Typcial costs? Well it does depend on what you use to study and if you pass the exam first time round or not (note: MS is currently doing their free second shot promotion at the minute). I can't give an answer to this, maybe someone else can.

    Sorry mate 3 A level's aren't equal to a HND, the HND is 2 levels higher than the A levels (no matter how many), lol :lol:

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  5. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

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    BTEC National Diploma not a HND sorry. 18 Units in total that came to the broad equivalent of 3 GCE A levels.

    yea I just did some reading and a MCDST seems the right place to start. Don't really work with CICSO products at all, mostly dell.

    Good point about needing both the experience and the certification, that made a lot of sense and is greatly appreciated.

    So I decided, I am going to start with MCDST, I've been lucky to get my **** in the door of the industry. Where do I go from here, how do I begin ?

    First thing would be possible take a practice of the 271 test ? see what result it is, then buy books around that result to plug the gaps and brush up etc ? I don't know, I'm new to it all
     
    Certifications: MCITP:VA, MCITP:EA, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP:EST7, MCITP:SA, PRINCE2, ITILv3
  6. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

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    Also, I pass one test, then pass the second, what happens to get me the MCDST certification ? do you do both tests at the same place and they combine it ?

    or do you just have 2 certificates which add up to the MCDST ?

    Do you write off and receive a separate certificate sating you are now a MCDST ? I'm confused about the actual physical part of it.

    So in the end of you 3 certificates ? do you send your 2 passes off to MS and they send you a certificate back ? what happens basically.
     
    Certifications: MCITP:VA, MCITP:EA, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP:EST7, MCITP:SA, PRINCE2, ITILv3
  7. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    A thread where my experience becomes useful, loving this place more and more! :p

    westernkings - I totally see where you're coming from. I also work in quite a small IT department for a company that up until recently paid me about the same as the wage you're currently on. My background is also quite similar so hopefully I can provide some much needed advice to you.

    I've very recently completed my HND in Applied IT, which is the next step up from your BTEC. Depending on how much you like working at the moment, and the fact you already have your 'foot in the door' so to speak if I were you, I wouldn't attempt to get any 'full-time study' qualifications yet.

    Instead, I'd stay at the company. As you said yourself, you're quite happy there so use the time to self study. Don't get dragged into paying over the odds for some training company when you can study for the same qualification for a fraction of the cost off your own back.

    As wagnerk suggested, A+ and Network+ is the way to go, followed by MCDST... just bear in mind though that network oriented problems will start to rear their ugly heads more and more so it's better to be prepared.

    On a seperate note - I don't particularly like networking myself but I still cracked on and got a CCNA qualification earlier in the year to make my CV more appealing. Hell, I even got First Aid qualified because the opportunity arose. Just remember...Qualifications which broaden your knowledge don't hurt, they're all good in their own way.

    I wish you the best of luck :)
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  8. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Congrats on getting your start in IT! Your first job is likely the hardest... after you build experience, it's a lot easier to find employment. :)

    In my opinion, you're in a great situation. Getting an IT job in a smaller company requires that you wear several hats, often doing jobs that newer techs don't usually get a chance to do! This will help you to build some very solid experience. If you're fine with the salary, my advice is to stay there - you're getting great experience at a young age.

    Besides... you might not realize how good you've got it. I've heard PLENTY of stories where an otherwise-happy tech is lured by jobs paying higher salaries... then, after switching jobs, they end up in a bad situation and become miserable. Be patient; the money will come naturally over time. :)

    You don't need an expensive training course. Sit down with some books and some hardware/software and start studying. If you need assistance, you've got hundreds of people available to help you on this very forum... some of whom ARE IT trainers and authors... so you're really not losing anything there, in my opinion.

    This is the perfect time for you to be pursuing the A+, Network+, and MCDST while you build the real-world experience that ALL employers desire (even more so than certifications). Continue to work while studying for these certifications in your spare time (or during slow times at work, as you described in another thread).

    Personally, I'd recommend doing them in order of A+, Network+, and MCDST... but if you want to do the MCDST first, there's really no harm in it. :)

    If you're interested in practice exams, I'd recommend getting one that offers three or more exam "forms" - meaning, three exams that have no duplication between them. Some people recommend taking practice exams over and over and over until you can score 100%. I disagree. Doing this might reinforce concepts in your head... but it's not a good indication of how you'll do on an exam. Why? Each exam can only test your ability the first time you see a batch of unique test questions. After you've seen the questions once, the exam can no longer accurately gauge your ability to pass the "real thing".

    Therefore, I'd recommend that you study first... THEN take your first practice exam - Exam A. Study your weak points, then take Exam B. Do ***not*** take Exam C until you think you're ready for the real thing. Taking a practice exam over and over and over until you can score 100% might After all, you won't see those exact questions on the exam.

    So... short story long, you've only got three shots with most practice exams to determine whether you're REALLY ready for an exam. Make the most of them by studying BEFORE you take the first one. :)

    Welcome to the forums, WK. I hope you become an active forum member!
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  9. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Don't confuse certificates and certifications. When you pass an exam, you just pass an exam. Each certification requires that you pass certain exams to achieve the certification. When you achieve a certification, you can send a request on Microsoft's site for the paper certificate, but it's not required - the certification, not the paper certificate, is the important thing. ;)

    You do NOT get a certificate for each exam... only for each certification.

    When you pass 70-271, you become an MCP. Which, in itself, doesn't mean much other than "I've taken one Microsoft exam". When you also pass 70-272, you have completed the requirements for the MCDST certification.

    Okay, let's say that someday, after getting the MCDST, you decide to take 70-290. What do you get after passing it? Nothing. 70-290, by itself, won't give you anything extra; you don't become an MCPx2 or an MCPx3. After you complete all the exams in a track, such as the MCSA, you are granted the certification.

    Getting one certification doesn't remove the other certifications you have. For example, I'm an MCP, an MCSA, an MCSE, and an MCSE+I (the latter of which is no longer available).

    Microsoft's exams are taken at Prometric centers. Prometric will send your exam results to Microsoft, and Microsoft will keep track of your certification progress. Thus, you can take your exams at any combination of Prometric centers.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  10. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    This is not entirely true. The knowledge IS great... but getting advanced certifications without the appropriate level of experience can actually harm, not help, your chances of getting an IT job.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  11. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

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    Thanks for all the help guys.

    I am going to hopefully progress with the A+ and Networking route then onto MCDST.

    I have been on the Comptia website and it is a bit complicated in all honesty with regards to what needs to be done.

    So if I was to leave right now and start the ball rolling, what sites would I go to, what would I buy ? I'm a complete idiot when it comes to this.

    First thing is the A+, I did a practice test or 2 from the comptia website and got 9/10 if that means anything ? I don't know if it does. But there were apparently 4 tests to take to get the A+ ?
     
    Certifications: MCITP:VA, MCITP:EA, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP:EST7, MCITP:SA, PRINCE2, ITILv3
  12. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    As has been suggested a lot of times in the forums the general rule of thumb for a lot of people is:-

    A+, Network+, MCDST ...

    Just bear in mind that this may not be ideal for everyone. Yes the above method will ensure you get a decent understanding from the ground up, but you may have already gained a lot of what's needed for A+ in your current job. Suffice it to say, you could just jump straight to MCDST self study if that's what you want to do...

    Saying that though, it doesn't hurt to pick up the other qualifications if you're going to pass them easily (bar the exam cost) :)


    As for what you'd buy I'll direct you to the pinned post for A+ here.

    Network+ info can be found in the relevant section of the forums (or if you're lazy... here

    All three qualifications are capable by self-study alone. Just pick up a couple of good books (from the links above) and get to work.

    Best of Luck. :)
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  13. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    Thanks for the clarification BosonMichael. :)

    As the OP was dicussing qualifications with relatively similar difficulties I didn't think it was necessary to mention it.

    I purely meant that certain qualifications can be beneficial to progress within a career, just be careful with which ones you pick.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  14. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Qs, although you can learn a lot while studying for a certification, certification isn't designed to teach you new things; certification is designed to show an employer what you can already do. Thus, if you "have already gained a lot of what's needed for A+ in your current job", by all means, you SHOULD pursue the A+. Getting the A+ validates the skills you already have. And, if you truly already know the stuff on the A+, it shouldn't take a lot of time to study for it. If it does take a lot of time to study for it... then there's probably foundational knowledge in there that you *needed* to learn to become a better tech.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    That is incorrect. The MCDST, MCSA, MCSE, CCENT, and CCNA are not "qualifications with relatively similar difficulties". The MCSA is more advanced than the MCDST, and the MCSE is more advanced than the MCSA. A tech with less than a year of IT experience supporting desktops might not have much trouble with the MCDST... but they certainly would with the MCSE. Thus, a tech who is just starting out absolutely shouldn't pursue advanced certifications such as the MCSA, MCSE, CCENT, and CCNA.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  16. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    For books, I'd recommend the following:
    A+ All-in-One Exam Guide, Sixth Edition by Meyers
    PC Technician Street Smarts by Pyles (tripwire45!)

    Since you mentioned that you were interested in practice exams... most of the practice exams you'll find on the Internet are braindumps, which are illegal collections of test questions from the real exams. Avoid them like the plague. Stick with legitimate practice exam providers - since I work for one, I'll list several of them:
    PrepLogic
    Self Test
    Boson
    Transcender
    MeasureUp

    Keep in mind that the cheapest is not usually the best; you tend to get what you pay for. Bad training is worse than no training at all. The best way to figure out which one is best for you is to download demos from ALL of them and see which one you think provides the highest-quality practice exams.

    Purchase them directly from the vendor; resale or transfer of practice exam products is a violation of the single-user license... so eBay'ed copies aren't legal. Might as well pirate them for free, if you wanted to go that route... but you'd be taking food from my kids' mouths if you did. Just sayin. 8)

    If you find another practice exam vendor on the Internet, and you want to check them out to see if they're legit, use CertGuard's CertSearch tool.

    There are 4 A+ exams, but you only have to take 2 of them. Everyone has to take the A+ Essentials exam, 220-601. Then, you can choose one of the other three exams as an "elective" exam. Most people take the A+ IT Technician exam, 220-602.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  17. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    Totally agree with you. ^^ Maybe I didn't make myself crystal clear but I think WesternKings got what I was trying to say. :p Picking up the certifications will make you more attractive to a potential employer and therefore it is a good thing!
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  18. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    Maybe this was misunderstood too. As WesternKing is only 19 and has "just stepped onto the career ladder, not really got any IT qualifications or certs, slowly gaining experience through employment." I was referring to the A+, N+ and the MCDST exclusively. I assumed this was obvious due to very limited experience and qualifications held, combined with the advice others had given (that MCSE was too high a qualification to start with etc) and WK's knowledge of 1st line support in his current workplace. My apologies.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  19. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Just sayin'... you can't assume that people already know that the MCSE is too high up. In truth, most people DON'T know, particularly those who are new to IT. :)

    Just tryin' to keep people safe, ya know? Overall, your advice is solid, and I'm glad you've decided to become a contributing forum member. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  20. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    Got it. I'm glad to be here too :)

    :alc
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA

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