June 14 2017

Create certificate from CSR on a Microsoft Certificate Authority using command line

Do you have a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) from a device with which you need to create a certificate from a Microsoft Windows Certificate Authority?  This is actually pretty straight forward.  On a domain machine, launch a command prompt and save the CSR into a file on that machine (CSR.REQ in the example below).  Then just use the command:

certreq -submit -attrib "CertificateTemplate:WebServer" CSR.req cert.cer

You’ll get a prompt to select the issuing CA you want to use.  Substitute WebServer for whichever template you need to use.  You then have your certificate – cert.cer.



April 8 2016

Microsoft MCSE Private Cloud recertification – exam 70-981

As you may know, the current iteration of MCSE certifications require recertification every 3 years.  For the Private Cloud stream, this requires an exam – 70-981.  I sat and passed this today.

Something that seems not to be published widely is that you can recertify some MSCE streams without sitting an exam – from https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/learning/certification-exam-policies.aspx

Q. Is it possible to fulfil the requirement without taking a recertification exam
A. Yes. Candidates can now get recertified by taking a series of courses with Microsoft Virtual Academy. Read the list of available certifications, required courses and additional details to get recertified through Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Preparation for the exam is difficult – there are no study guides or reference material – you are just ‘expected to know’.

My observation is that it is basically a mix of the 70-246 and 70-247 exams, not really any new material – pretty disappointing, some of the questions seemed familiar so I wouldn’t be surprised if the exam content has just been reused.  The main areas covered are:

  • System Center Operations Manager
  • System Center Service Manager
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • System Center Orchestrator
  • System Center Data Protection Manager
  • System Center App Controller
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • Azure portal

Would I sit this again? Probably not.  While I’m sure the intention for recertification is well placed, it just seems like a money-grab – $206AU for the exam fee.  There are no benefits to me as an IT professional apart from keeping the certification active – I haven’t learnt any new skills or gained any additional knowledge – I’ve basically sat the same exam that I sat 3 years ago and in that time there has been significant change to the System Center and Azure offerings but this wasn’t reflected in the exam.



October 14 2014

Leverage browser caching and add expires headers for Azure hosted WordPress

After a recent move to Azure, I was doing some performance testing for this blog via gtmetrix.com.  My reports were suggesting to ‘leverage browser caching’ and ‘add expires headers’ to improve my performance gradings.



This is usually straight forward to implement; it is simply a few lines added to the sites .htaccess file – either manually or by one of the many WordPress plugins that will update it for you:



Even after this was implemented, I noticed that it wasn’t making any difference to my performance reports – which got me thinking about Azure and that it would be running IIS in the backend and not Apache – and of course IIS doesn’t use the .htaccess file, it uses web.config instead.

After reading a few articles about translating .htaccess content to web.config, I was ready to go.  Using FTP, I edited the web.config file in my root directory and added the following lines:

<clientCache cacheControlMaxAge="28.00:00:00" cacheControlMode="UseMaxAge"/>
<add extension=".php" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="00:01:00:00" />
<add extension=".ttf" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="28:00:00:00" />
<add extension=".gif" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="28:00:00:00" />
<add extension=".jpg" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="28:00:00:00" />
<add extension=".png" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="28:00:00:00" />
<add extension=".js" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="28:00:00:00" />
<add extension=".css" policy="CacheForTimePeriod" kernelCachePolicy="CacheForTimePeriod" duration="28:00:00:00" />

The configuration forces files to be cached on the client side for 28 days and 28 days on the server side except for .php files, which is only 1 hour.  I re-ran the performance grading reports and received a much better score!

Useful links:


March 30 2013

Exam 70-247: Config & Deploy Private Cloud with SC2012

Today I took and passed the 70-247: “Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012” exam as part of my track to obtain the MCSE: Private Cloud certification.

I found the exam reasonably challenging. The exam focused mainly on VMM & App Controller, a fair bit of DPM, SCSM & SCOM and a little bit of App-V and SCORC.

There is an MVP who has broken down his experience of the exam – http://blog.scsmfaq.ch/2012/07/06/private-cloud-exam-70-247-my-experience/ – I would agree  with the breakdown however my exam was 62 questions and included 2 large case studies.

I’d recommend a very good understanding and experience with VMM & App Controller, and at least a good logical understanding of the remaining technologies before sitting this exam.




March 27 2013

Exam 70-243: SCCM 2012

This week I had a bit of free time so I booked and studied up for the Microsoft exam 70-243: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

I successfully passed the exam and achieved another certification – ‘Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager’.

I felt the exam was one of the easier Microsoft exams I have sat (especially the SCCM 2007 one), I really think that anyone that has deeply used the SCCM 2012 product for 6 or more months would feel quite comfortable sitting this exam. Without giving away too much (I’m under NDA of course), I personally studied and would recommend having a good understanding of all areas covered under the ‘skills measured’ section of http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-243#fbid=YEjNtAwNtTv?tab2 . I am lucky enough to have a good exposure to all of these areas in my profession.

Here are some more good links related to exam 70-243:

Good luck!