How easy is it to learn about servers?

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by tlvb25, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. tlvb25

    tlvb25 New Member

    Are there any short term certs that will teach me about servers and how to use virtualization on them?

    also would both a CIS or CIT degree cover this

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    Most of CIS ro CIT degree do not teach you, or it depends on the school's program curriculum. I would recommend you to do the VMWare's VCP (Virtualization Certified Professional) certification. The cost is about $4,000.00 include the exam fee.

    Other options include Windows Server 2008 Clouding, or CompTIA Server+
  3. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    I don't know that I'd pay $4K for any IT certification. Instead I'd try to find an employer that would foot the bill for you. At the very least if you pay that much make sure you have a college that will give you course credit for it.

    You could start with the very basic CompTIA Server+ certification. A degree will probably cover virtualization conceptually but I don't know that you will get your hands on the technology to learn the practical, nuts and bolts aspect of it. If you know or are reasonably sure you will be working in a Windows environment you could always do the Microsoft certs
  4. jts

    jts New Member

    I'm having a hard time thinking of a short-term way to really "learn servers." I think if you're really interested, you should build one (a server, that is).

    Might cost $600-800, depending on the rig, and a big chunk of time. So, not short-term...
    You'll need a bunch of parts: motherboard, perhaps an Intel NIC or two (onboard NICs are often not supported by VMWare ESX), a case, some RAM (more the merrier, but 8GB should be enough), a hard drive, a power supply, and so on. You might even pick up an old Cisco switch; they're cheap.

    All of this is relatively easy to do (there are a ton of guides online--"esxi whitebox" would be a good search phrase for compatibility information), and it creates the foundation for a home lab. (Tell your interviewer you have a home lab, and it communicates that you're dedicated to improving your skills. At least, I wasn't alone when I inferred that while on the other side of the table, and the applicant with a lab got the job.) N.b.: I'm not saying you won't be cursing this rig while getting it set up... but that's part of the learning process.

    There's a free version of VMWare ESXi, and it's a good way to learn. Download some ISOs of Linux distros, some demo copies of MS server OSes, and build something. Some ideas: Throw together an Active Directory VM, and integrate some open source web apps to the directory through LDAP(S). Install a wiki (MediaWiki would be a good experience). Learn about centralized log management. Try out Nagios on a Linux box. Build a firewall and make your own virtual LAN; monitor traffic from/to it with Snort. Hunt down a copy of FreeNAS and play with iSCSI and NFS. Set up proxies and reverse proxies. Learn a language or two. Make Rube Goldberg-like contraptions several layers deep. Try to break things and then fix them.

    By all means, get certified; A home lab will also serve you well, and it's probably the cheapest option for truly learning this stuff.


  5. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    That is a very open ended question. Some people might think learning "servers" is learning how to install, configure, secure and manage a Linux or Windows OS in a networked environment. That is something that a systems administrator would do on a day to day basis.
    Or you could be talking about an application server such as BEA's Weblogic server or Microsoft's IIS server. These application servers run software produced by developers coding in Java and DotNet respectively. These application servers can run on a physical machine or a VM and are typically clustered and load balanced.

    You could also be talking about a very specific application which runs as a server to clients and is deployed as a daemon process of as a web application on an application server. Examples could be SharePoint server, Microsoft Identitity Integration Services, Microsoft Active Directory, Sun iPlanet Directory Server, Oracle's WebLogic Portal and Aqualogic User Interaction Portal, Microsoft BizTalk Server or Ping Federate's Federedated Identity Management server.

    So the way I see it servers fall into three categories: physical and virtual O/S running in a networked environment, middle-ware application servers hosting multiple services, application services and suites of services providing a specific function to clients.

    In the real world, IT admins typically have to have experience in all of these but it all starts with the low level bits at the OS level so build up a VM or two running Linux on your personal computer and play with mounting drives, sharing data, adding static routes, configuring dhcp, dns etc and when you have mastered that move on to installing Weblogic or Websphere or IIS. Then deploy some services to those application servers and cluster them so that if you shoot one Weblogic in the head, the other responds with the web page that is needed.

    Good luck and have fun with it.
  6. Balios

    Balios New Member

    You're getting great advice here. The best way to learn about servers is to roll up your sleeves and give it a try. All good technical people are largely self-taught.

    If I were you, I'd pick a project where the end result is appealing. You could build a home media center, for example. Make a computer or two out of parts, install VMWare ESXi, create some virtual servers and install Vortexbox. Rip your music and DVDs, then figure out how to stream them to your mobile phone using SubSonic. Work out a backup system. Make the whole thing secure and highly available. Add MythTV to the mix.

    If you get a technical job, or even pursue a technical degree, these are things your colleagues will be doing for fun. How much fun you have will tell you a lot about whether this is an appropriate career path for you.
  7. Beagle412

    Beagle412 New Member

    I'd have to agree with everyone else on this list. Hop on Craigslist, buy an inexpensive server-grade box, download a copy of VirtualBox (open-source, free virtualization host from Oracle that can run Windows and UNIX/Linux guests) and build away. If you are able to spend a little more and get one that is capable of hosting a commercial virutalization platform like VMWare ESX or Citrix XenServer (both of which do have FREE versions available as well). you can definitely have a top-notch platform for learning both mainstream, enterprise virtualization and server OS technologies. You can usually get time-limited evaluation copies of Microsoft server OS's to learn on and familiarize yourself with as well. I particularly like the home media server idea as well - a great way to learn server computing concepts and end up with something useful and COOL! Bailos has said it best - those who do well in IT are those who do this kind of stuff for fun outside of work to some extent because we ENJOY it. That's true for any career - if you don't like what you're doing, it becomes very difficult to succeed at it consistently and over the long haul.
  8. Noelle

    Noelle New Member

    Sadly I have no more advice for this thread other than what was already stated. The best thing you can do is to grab some old hardware and use the free versions available on line to learn. Most will have a community supported site to get you going. You'll learn far more doing this on your own than a college course.
  9. loklok

    loklok New Member

    Thank you for the great information that you shared here.....
    I agree that best thing to do is grabbing old hardware and use free versions available on line to learn.....
  10. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    eBay as well as Craigslist also have older Cisco routers that you can use to setup a home network. Cisco is everywhere...
  11. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    I was almost enrolled in a USF here in Tampa, IT Networking class which had a lab. The lab seemed pretty cool. You could hook up routers, switches, hubs and linux boxes. The entire lab environment was simulated and available 24/7 online. You had to configure switches, add routes, run tcpdumps, traceroutes etc.
    I think you would learn a lot in a class like that. The IT classes were taught by actual IT professionals and not students working on a masters degree.

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