You have passed your A+, Network+, and maybe some Microsoft or Cisco exams, what else can you do to extend your IT education and add to your resume of certifications? CompTIA offers a certification that takes your hardware skills and network skills learned in A+ and Network+ to a more advanced level. This is the function of the Server+ certification.
The Server+ Certification
Many of CompTIA's certifications are geared to show a foundational, and sometimes entry-level, set of knowledge and skills. The Server+ is one of CompTIA's certifications designed to assess middle to advanced level skill sets. It is designed to show higher-order skills for technicians or network administrators who will need to maintain server functionality. Having the Server+ certification validates your installation, configuration, upgrading, maintenance, troubleshooting, and disaster recovery skills with server technologies and network operating systems.
In typical IT infrastructures, the people who work with servers and networking hardware need to have a more advanced skill set. Because much of a business's mission-critical information typically exists on servers, most IT departments prefer people with more experience and higher knowledge levels to be the staff who configures and maintains these critical business machines and their operating systems.
CompTIA states that this certification "validates the knowledge and abilities of individuals with 18 to 24 months of experience with Industry Standard Server Architecture (ISSA)". As you can see from CompTIA's recommended experience requirements, and from the knowledge that the Server+ certification tests for middle to advanced skill levels, you should be a practicing technician or network administrator to truly succeed at this exam. It may be possible to pass the exam without this experience level, but experience will certainly help your chances for successfully completing the Server+ exam and for on-the-job success once you pass the exam.
What's on the Server+ Exam?
Now that you have a general understanding of what the Server+ certification is about, let's take a look at what is tested by the Server+ exam. The following table breaks down the seven domains this exam covers and the percentage those domains comprise of the total exam:
|Domain||Percent of the Exam|
As with all CompTIA exams, subject matter experts (SME's) were gathered to construct the Server+ exam and the seven subject domains. For a comprehensive list of what CompTIA requires see www.comptia.com. Also, with any certification you are considering, be sure to visit the exam vendor's web site to stay current with exam objectives. Exam content on any exam can change without much advance notice. Don't get caught not knowing about new or updated content that an exam will require you to know! The following list will briefly cover some of the items found in each domain:
- Installation — Domain one has two major areas. First, the Server+ exam will test your knowledge of pre-installation activities. This section includes knowing how to plan an installation, verify hardware compatibility with the network operating system, verify power systems, and verify all cables and components are available for installation. Secondly, domain one will require you to know how to install hardware using ESD best practices. Items like boards, drives, cabling, memory, and processors must be installed correctly and safely, and Server+ will examine your ability to do this.
- Configuration — The second domain examines several areas centered on configuring your server hardware and network operating system. Configuring the server's BIOS, hardware drivers, RAID, external peripherals, and the network operating system after installing it are among several topics covered. This domain also examines your knowledge of establishing a server baseline and your abilities for documenting your server configuration.
- Upgrading — In domain three, you will be required to understand how to upgrade items such as the server's BIOS, hard drives, processors, memory, system monitoring tools, peripherals, and UPS systems, among other things.
- Proactive Maintenance — In this domain you are required to know techniques for maintaining your servers. The topics for domain four include performing regular backups, creating server baselines and compare performance of your servers to the baselines, set SNMP thresholds, perform physical housekeeping and hardware verification, as well as establish remote notification.
- Environment — Domain five requires you to understand how to keep a secure and an appropriately configured physical environment for your servers. Topics include, limiting access to server rooms with appropriate locks and identification systems, establishing anti-theft devices on equipment, appropriately configuring temperatures, humidity levels, and ESD handling, plus placement of fire suppression equipment and back-up generators, among other items.
- Troubleshooting and Problem Determination — Domain six holds critical topics for knowing how to effectively diagnose and fix problems with your servers. Topics include being able to effectively narrow down issues to locate problems, use the troubleshooting tools found in multiple network operating systems, identify bottlenecks and/or misconfigurations of upgrades, determine if a problem is hardware, software, or virus related, as well as read and monitor troubleshooting logs and monitors.
- Disaster Recovery — Domain seven covers topics that can make or break your network and the existence of your business's critical data. In this domain the Server+ exam will require you to know how to plan for disaster recovery and how to restore your servers should disaster strike.
The following list has some general facts about the Server+ exam that will help you as you consider whether to take this exam and what to do in order to register for it.
- Both VUE and Prometric testing centers offer the Server+ exam. You can contact VUE at www.vue.com and Prometric at www.2test.com. The exam code you need for registration is SK0-001.
- There are no prerequisites required to take this exam, but it is advised to have completed the A+ and Network+ certifications successfully or have equivalent experience.
- There are 80 multiple choice questions, a passing score of 75% is required, and you have 90 minutes to complete the exam.
- The Server+ exam is offered in English and Japanese at this time.
- If you have disabilities, notify the testing center you will be attending at least 30 days ahead of time with your disability documentation and they will make every reasonable effort to make accommodations for you.
The Server+ exam is a great way to increase your knowledge and visibility as a middle level to upper level technician. Working with a company's information infrastructure is a critical and highly visible job. Being able to install, configure, maintain, and monitor the server infrastructure that holds a company's critical data is both a critical and rewarding position for only the most highly trained and qualified computer technicians and networking personnel. Find multiple training guides or cram books, take classes as needed, find ways to gain hands-on experience, and take lots of practice exams. Do these items and you will be well on your way to grabbing a Server+ certification!