“It’s Like Drinking Water from a Fire Hose”

I have heard this saying for many years, but could not understand the significance (or truth) of the statement until I began my technical studies. There is so much ‘stuff’ that you can learn in the technical field; and when you finally choose an area to study, then there is more ‘stuff’ to choose and learn in that area. And on top of that, there is ALWAYS new information, new breakthroughs, new technology, new terminology, new updates on old ‘stuff’; and you, as a ‘techie’ want to know it ALL! The truth is there is so much exciting technology out there, but you can’t learn it all. You must decide a general interest area and go from there; so we’re going to take a 10,000 foot view of the technical landscape. Yet, even from this view, we’ll not have time to talk about other learning areas like Azure, Big Data, Database Administration or Sharepoint 2013 BI; but we’ll cover as much as we can.

Hopefully, after this 10,000 foot view, you will see where your technical interests might lie. Personally, as I was interested in Business Intelligence, the Database Fundamentals was the path I chose when I decided to take my first Microsoft exam. We won’t talk about actual exams at this point, but the information contained in the exam ‘areas’ will assist you as you make a decision on your study path.

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Tracks

Microsoft has entry level training and certification exams in three fundamental areas: IT Infrastructure, Database, and Software Development. Within each of these areas are different knowledge exams that help you learn core knowledge. I won’t go into detail for each of the specifics, but I’ve included a link for you later in the blog so you can research these areas at your leisure. So before we get ahead of ourselves, what exactly is IT Infrastructure anyway?

Techopedia.com explains IT Infrastructure as follows:
“IT infrastructure refers to the composite hardware, software, network resources and services required for the existence, operation and management of an enterprise IT environment. It allows an organization to deliver IT solutions and services to its employees, partners and/or customers and is usually internal to an organization and deployed within owned facilities.

Typically, a standard IT infrastructure consists of the following components:
• Hardware: Servers, computers, data centers, switches, hubs and routers, etc.
• Software: Enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), productivity applications and more.
• Network: Network enablement, Internet connectivity, firewall, and security.
• Human users, such as network administrators (NA), developers, designers and generic end users with access to any IT appliance or service are also part of an IT infrastructure, specifically with the advent of user-centric IT service development.
• All components that play a role in overall IT and IT-enabled operations. It can be used for internal business operations or developing customer IT or business solutions. “

Three Major Subject Areas

IT Infrastructure : For folks wanting to build a career in desktop or server infrastructure, or a private cloud computing.
349: Windows Operating System
365: Windows Server Administration
366: Networking
367: Security

Database: For folks wanting to build a career in data platform administration or Business Intelligence
364: Database

Developer: For folks wanting to build a career as a software developer.
361: Software Development
362: Windows Development
363: Web Development
372: .NET Fundamentals
373: Mobile Development
374: Gaming Development
375: HTML5 App Development
379: Software Testing

My Particular Path

As you can see, there are lots of options for you to explore, so I encourage you to check out the links and do your own research. As my interest is Business Intelligence, I chose Database Fundamentals. We’ll talk about certification much later in the blog series. For right now, I want you to take time to research the three major areas: IT Infrastructure, Database, and Developer. Once you decide on one, then drill down and examine the learning areas. Find out if you’re interested in software testing or security, business intelligence or Windows Server administrator. Remember ‘drinking water from a fire hose’? Once you know your areas of interests, it should ‘turn down the water pressure’ a little bit.

Where Do I Begin My Studies?

You’ve got some research to do. You’re learning your way around; so have fun on this journey.

1. Start with a general overview of the different facets of Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) with this link to Microsoft. You’ll see three tabs: IT Infrastructure, Database, and Developer.

MTA Certification Tracks

2. When you click on a tab, a dropdown box will show you what exam(s) are included in this area.


3. Click the box entitled ‘Exam’, then scroll down to ‘Skills Measured’; this section provides you details of information you will need to master in this subject area. Expand each area and find out what you are expected to know in order to master a certain area of study.  Then begin work on one area; start small but start somewhere!  Build on your new knowledge, one topic at a time.


Terminology, Terminology, Terminology Again!

Remember when I told you the importance of using the correct technology in a tech savvy environment? Be sure to visit  Technopedia.   At this site you’ll learn the newest terms and definitions, top tags and buzzwords, and much more. In fact, I’ll probably hang out here a while myself! So start clicking!

Join me next time as we explore three major FREE learning sites and one ‘really low cost’ but excellent training site.   Until then!

Susan Schneider lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her wonderful husband Steve. She enjoys sailing and is a ‘wanna be fisherman’, and loves all things BI.  See more information under the ‘About Me’ section.  Remember to sign up for new blog notifications:  Go to  Subscribe2 on the sidebar and sign up!