Career Path: Fundamentals of IT Operations

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This collection of courses provides newcomers with the first step they need to start a career in IT. After completing this series of courses, students should be prepared to begin an entry-level IT job, such as Help Desk Technician or Desktop Support Technician, that provides additional hands-on experience. With some experience under their belt, they'll be ready to move into more formal certification programs, such as Microsoft's MCSA collection of certification titles.

Early courses in this track are intended to be vendor- and OS-neutral. However, when we need to show a specific product, courses tend to focus on Microsoft since those form the largest base of products that an IT newcomer will likely encounter. Where possible, we will eventually provide equivalent learning for Mac and Linux, the other major enterprise OS's. There's also room for a certain amount of BYOD support training for iOS, Android and other operating systems.

The target audience for this career path includes high school graduates who are considering secondary education that leads to an entry-level job in IT. This career track is also suitable for those switching into the IT industry, and who are focused on the operations side of IT, rather than the software development side.

First Steps in IT Operations

Courses in this sub-collection are designed to provide basic orientation to an IT computing environment.

Introduction to Business Information Technology

This course provides an overview of business IT, focusing on the major components, their roles within the organization and their interconnections. Major components include networking, directories, messaging, databases, storage services, clients and servers, among others. The idea is to provide a kind of map of what a general IT environment contains, and how the pieces fit together. View this course.

Essentials of IT Operations

Courses in this sub-collection provide the basic building blocks for business IT infrastructure, remaining as vendor-neutral as possible. Exam alignment is mentioned when appropriate, but course content is not restricted to exam objectives. Where exams are mentioned below, the course (or small collection of courses) should do a good job of prepping for that exam. Those exams, predominantly from CompTIA, are excellent milestones for someone pursuing IT operations as their entry point into the field.

Networking Essentials

This course explains how modern business networks operate, including both IPv4 and IPv6 concepts and examples. Topics including routing, name resolution, protocols, and more. Aligns to Microsoft 98-366 and CompTIA Network+. The 2015 revision of Network+ courses is in production. These courses do have some overlap, but this is amongst the most important material in the track, so the repetition and

Practical Networking

Follow-on to Networking Essentials, focusing specifically on the Internet, digging deeper into specific protocols, browsers, etc. This is such a big part of the modern work environment. Common business scenarios are used to illustrate concepts and functions.

Security Essentials

Security Essentials explains the basic concepts and technologies of IT security, including directories, authentication, authorization, auditing, and more. Aligns to Microsoft 98-367 and CompTIA Security+.

Technology Troubleshooting Essentials

Outlines the methodologies and approaches to IT troubleshooting, focusing on repeatable, methodical process, and the need to fully understand a system end-to-end before attempting to troubleshoot it. Also emphasizes the importance of being able to reproduce and document a problem so that higher tiers of support can work it. Strays into Microsoft-specific space for things like the Event Log as an example of collecting evidence. View this course.

Introduction to Virtualization

With virtualization being such a major part of the modern IT landscape, this course is designed to communicate the core concepts in a vendor-agnostic sense. It covers everything from server- and desktop-based hypervisor virtualization, to include specialized options like application delivery (e.g., XenApp or Azure RemoteApp-ish). Also covers concepts like thin clients. View this course.

Help Desk Essentials: Customer Interaction

This course has a soft-skills focus, including customer service, user interaction and communications, basic concepts of change management, etc. Includes some recorded help desk phone interactions with follow-up critique. This course is in production.

Help Desk Essentials: Microsoft Office

This series of courses covers the just-enough-to-get-you-started concepts and techniques for Microsoft's Office suite of productivity applications.

Help Desk Essentials: Ticketing Systems

Provides students with a basic understanding of help desk ticket systems, including the importance of proper categorization, note-taking, prioritization, and so on. No specific ticketing system is highlighted, but rather than general practices and concepts are covered. This course is on our roadmap, but not yet in production.

Help Desk Essentials: Following Processes

This course provides an understanding of the basic concepts, terminology, and practices used inside organizations that follow an IT management framework, such as ITIL or COBIT. The importance of following processes, and the skills needed to read process flowcharts, are highlighted. This course is on our roadmap, but not yet in production.

Desktop Support Essentials

Covers the core concepts of computing hardware and very, very basic Windows client support. Includes coverage of common remote support approaches and techniques (if not specific technologies like RDP or VNC). Aligns to CompTIA A+.

Server Support Essentials

Covers the core concepts of server computing in a largely vendor-neutral way. Aligns to CompTIA Server+.

Fundamentals for Microsoft IT Operations

Courses in this sub-collection move more into Microsoft- and Windows-specific demonstrations and concepts. A parallel track of Linux content can probably be assembled, as could equivalent Mac content. This content bridges the gap between the more conceptual “Essentials” knowledge and the more professional-level MCSA training materials.

Windows Operating System Fundamentals

Covers the very basics of how the Windows operating system works and is administered and maintained. Ensure there's Event Log coverage. Aligns directly to Microsoft 98-349; supports CompTIA A+.

Windows Client Administration Fundamentals

This will include some overlap with the above, but should focus on the day-to-day issues a help desk technician needs to deal with from a desktop support perspective.

Windows Server Administration Fundamentals

Covers the basics of how Windows servers work, including file and print services and other core components. Aligns directly to Microsoft 98-365; also supports CompTIA Server+.

Windows PowerShell Fundamentals

Includes the basics of working with Microsoft's command-line administration tool, up to and including moving repeatable commands into a simple script.

Microsoft Messaging Fundamentals

Covers the basics of daily administration for on-premises Microsoft Exchange, and for Office 365. Not as advanced as the MCSA material; just what a new help desk person would be expected to know. Basically an Exchange/O365 version of 98-364. Also includes the client-side pieces (e.g. Outlook, OWA) from a support/troubleshooting perspective, when is it a server problem or a client problem, etc. Watch this course.

Microsoft Database Fundamentals

Covers the basics of Microsoft SQL Server from a conceptual and demonstration perspective. Aligns directly to Microsoft 98-364.

Microsoft Collaboration Fundamentals

Includes the very basics of SharePoint, from the perspective of a new help desk person. They will learn what a site is, what a site collection is, how SharePoint authentication is set up, and other vital lessons. They will be able to verify the functionality of a SharePoint site (e.g., check IIS).

Next Steps

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Don Jones

Don Jones' broad IT experience comes from 20 years in the business, with a strong focus on Microsoft server technologies. He's the author of more than 45 technology books, including titles on administration and software development, and writes monthly columns for the industry's leading periodicals. He's an in-demand speaker at technical conferences and symposia worldwide, and is widely recognized as one of the top trainers in the Microsoft sector.