Wednesday, March 12 2014
Keywords: TFS 2012, Team Foundation Server 2010, TFS 2013, TFS 2010, TFS Certification, 70-496, 70-512
how to master Team Foundation Server Administration, and how to ace the TFS certification exam!
I became the TFS Administrator of our company's Montreal division on January 2011...working on TFS 2010 at the time...I have to admit that at first I was reluctant to take precious time away from my beloved database realm and give it instead to a version control software. But only soon after, I started to see that TFS was not Microsoft Source Safe (the previous Microsoft version control app prior to TFS)...it had a lot more to offer than mere source control...such as Work Items and Automated Builds etc.
Even more interesting to me, was the fact that TFS's data was stored on top of SQL Server...that neither the data nor the DDL scripts of SQL objects were encrypted...I had full access to query any data I needed...the reporting tool that comes with it is Microsoft Reporting Services...and it also uses SharePoint. These characteristics are naturally quite appealing to a DBA.
I spent hundreds of hours learning and mastering TFS in 2011...which eventually lead to my certification. Every now and then I am asked how to learn TFS Administration...and how to pass that exam...here's how I achieved it:
- I read this book cover to cover: Professional Team Foundation Server 2010 by Ed Blankenship & Martin Woodward...They also have a TFS 2012, and a 2013 book...all available in online book stores.
- Microsoft® Visual Studio® RTM Virtual Machine. The Visual Studio RTM virtual machine is a single virtual machine image that contains fully installed and configured copies of Visual Studio Ultimate and Team Foundation Server. Three versions of the image are available, one each for the three current Microsoft virtualization platforms—Virtual PC 2007 SP1, Windows Virtual PC, and Hyper-V.
If you are serious about learning TFS in-depth...and about acing that exam like a real master...I highly recommend you take the time to install this VM. Here is a link to download the 2010 version. And here is a link to download the 2012 version. And finally here is a link to download the 2013 version.
- Actually Installing and Updating and Uninstalling TFS Server on test environments...rather than only learning about it.
- Hands on experience with production servers...nothing teaches you TFS faster than having to solve a problem on an actual live server for an angry impatient client.
- Lots and lots of Google searches...
- Spent lots of time on the phone talking to dedicated Microsoft TFS Support staff...mostly from India...and I have to say I learned a lot from the guys...one of our TFS servers was experiencing a special double-domain-identity crisis and we had to open a ticket with Microsoft support...which was quickly escalated to the highest levels...and then I spent about a couple of months of back and forth with them...amongst the best things I learned from them was about the internal job management system of TFS...how to manually run the active directly synch jobs etc...mostly all undocumented stuff.
- Configuring Lab Management series found here
- In TFS 2010...You have got to master the TF Command-Line Utility Commands inside out...learn about them here
- For the exam, you must also know every single TFS Command line tool, these are not to be confused with TF.exe Command line I mentioned above...you will end up using most of them in real life actually...amongst the most useful are TfsConfig and TFSSecurity...you could find more about them here
- Microsoft's Administer Team Foundation Server page
- TFS Videos online...like on Youtube etc.
- Download, install and learn to use TFS Power Tools (FREE): Search online for Team Foundation Server xxxx Power Tools where you replace xxxx by version of your TFS (2010, 2012, 2013 etc). Depending on the version, you could perform various extremely useful set of actions such as Subscription to email alerts, Backups, Best Practices Analyzer, Check-in Policy, GUI Process Editor allowing you to edit your work item process templates, a very easy way to backup and restore your work item templates and much more.
The very last time I performed a major disaster recovery process on a production TFS server was on December 2013...where I had to recover data from last night's backup...and restore the databases and the incremental log files...and bring up a new server. I managed to do so with absolute no data loss...neither to source control...nor to work items. Being a DBA definitely gave me the edge there: not only I was comfortable with the data recovery and restore part...but also I was used to the adrenaline rush that came with DR...A person can read all the books they wish on the subject of DR...but nothing teaches you better administration than an actual disaster! Why am I telling you this? Because you need to plan for disaster...in fact you need to simulate migrating your TFS server to a new machine about once or twice a year. It could be a long process depending on the size of your databases and the test phase could take a week actually the first couple of times you perform it...try to take notes of all the necessary steps in a way that you understand it...and this will make it quicker the subsequent times.
I invited you to read a synopsis of the TFS 2010 DR process in my article on this subject...even if you are using a higher version of TFS server, reading my article should help give you an idea. One thing for sure, to be a TFS admin you would need a solid understanding of Backing up TFS databases.
Written by Ramin Haghighat