One of the questions that came up during the Columbus Windows 8 Preview Roadshow last week involved the changes to Microsoft certifications for the Windows 8 release cycle. At the time, all I was allowed to say was that Microsoft was working on some changes, and that development was underway.
Well, now a lot of the information is out there and public – and it’s big!
“MCSE” Returns, Sort Of, and MCSD Returns
Folks who have been working in IT for long enough remember the “old” certifications that existed before the Windows 2000 cycle. The premier certifications were the MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer). I hold both of those from back then, for example.
Today, Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert – MCSE. Yes, same initials, but a completely different certification. Or more accurately, set of certifications. Meanwhile, MCSD is also back as a certification with the same definition. Both of these are on a new “Cloud” track.
MCSE: Private Cloud
The MCSE: Private Cloud certification focuses on building a private cloud in your organization (or a customer’s organization as the case may be), and monitoring and maintaining that private cloud, using the System Center 2012 suite. It builds on the existing Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA – that’s a new definition also, replacing the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator definition for that acronym) on Windows Server 2008.
MCSE: Data Platform
The MCSE: Data Platform certification (exams not quite available yet) focuses on building on-premises SQL Server 2012 data processing solutions. It is somewhat a replacement for the MCDBA certification.
MCSE: Business Intelligence
The MCSE: Business Intelligence certification covers SQL Server 2012 BI solutions (e. g. Analysis Services and Reporting Services). These exams are also not quite available yet; more details will be coming later.
What about MCSD?
Although this is primarily an IT Pro blog, I did want to at least touch on the MCSD. That certification has been reintroduced, but no public details are available at this time.
The Other Levels
Microsoft is effectively positioning the MCSE and MCSD as “flagship” “Expert” certifications but not the top level. Let’s look at what the certification site shows:
Notice we still have the entry-level “Associate” MCTS and MCSA, and the very top-level “Master” MCM and the new Cloud version, MCSM. We also have the current MCITP and MCPD certifications, although not showing under the “Cloud” banner.
Yes, when Microsoft says they are “all-in on the cloud” they are not just saying that for the heck of it. As a company, top to bottom, it’s the new world order. The certification changes are just another reflection of that; previously on this blog and in some presentations we’ve touched on the new Hyper-V functionality that is clearly cloud-related, and the new functionality in System Center 2012 for managing the cloud. Therefore, these changes are really just the Microsoft Learning reflection of this mindset.
Oh Yeah, Recertification!
When Microsoft announced their Windows Phone 7 development exam, one tidbit that was there but was not called much attention to was the fact that to maintain the certification a developer would need to recertify:
Recertification requirements for Windows Phone developers
Windows Phone technology is updated frequently. As a result, the skills required to be a successful Windows Phone developer will evolve rapidly. To ensure that developers who hold the MCPD: Windows Phone Developer certification keep pace with the evolution of Windows Phone skills, they will be required to recertify every two years. This recertification will help demonstrate the developers’ continued competence as the skills needed to develop applications for Windows Phone change. Through recertification, we can maintain the value of the certification as the technology changes. More information about this recertification requirement will be provided at a later date.
This could be seen as a “testing the waters” for the new paths announced today. The press release for example says:
The MCSE certification — or its developer equivalent, MCSD — also demonstrates an individual’s commitment to staying up to date on cutting-edge technologies because it requires recertification.
The details of this are not really fleshed out publically yet, but there’s enough time for Microsoft to sort that out before it will start to matter.
Uh Oh, More Exams!
True, this will mean more exams. However, the official Microsoft exam provider, Prometric, currently has a 2-for-1 offer available. Essentially, this offer means you can take the current exam now, and take the next generation replacement when it is available for free:
You can find more details on this at the linked site.
So Now What?
For those of us at BA, this means we will be looking at more exams (across many of our employees). For you, this means that you need to think about what your career path and goals are and start thinking about your certifications. Perhaps you can talk to your manager/supervisor about a certification goal – “if I get my new ‘Cloud’ certification will you finally start paying for my cell phone?” for example
Michael C. Bazarewsky, MCT, Old-School MCSE
Principal Consultant, Server and Security