The information about review board questions is still too vague and hazy? You need a specific example? OK, here we go...

Automatic software updating is one of the critical knowledge areas for any infrastructure architect. Grab a marker and sketch your proposed architecture for the planetary-scale patch dissemination service. It has to be fast, effective, massively scalable and capable of patching up to a billion of globally connected computers every month. Think Windows Update service on steroids.

Sketch the conceptual design of proposed system with enough detail to enable the discussion around the following questions:

  • How many physical tiers would you design into a proposed architecture? Why?
  • What non-functional (systemic) qualities of the system would be the most important? Why?
  • What traffic properties would you expect? How would you measure the patterns and how would you make the system adaptable to unforeseeable spikes?
  • What is your signalling strategy to inform all subscribed computers on time without choking the distribution?
  • What is your preferred patch dissemination strategy? What would be good alternatives? Why?
  • Compare the patch distribution system with traditional content distribution (such as Web content). What are the major differences?

Try to VERBALIZE the answers. Be short and to the point. Keep the structure of answers and balance the conceptual view with enough of supporting details. Would you be persuasive and influential enough to satisfy a picky CIO of massive ISP and the group of his closest advisors?

Now go and read the following article: http://research.microsoft.com/research/pubs/view.aspx?tr_id=1129.

MCA candidate facing the review board should be able to know, understand and explain most if not all of the concepts described in this paper. Especially if the candidate claims that the operations (SMS, WUS and MOM) is his core technology discipline.