Tag Archives: certification

This morning I had a cup of coffee and MCSM: SharePoint

Not a bad way to start the day.

We’re using the Paulig Cupsolo –coffee maker at our training facilities in Helsinki, and even though I don’t normally like super industrial coffee, I’d say this little machine outputs pretty decent java. While sipping my first (huge) cup of coffee I also learned that all existing Microsoft Certified Masters on SharePoint 2010 can now start using the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Master: SharePoint branding. I knew about the grandfathering policy for MCM, but I’m very happy to be able to use and share the branding of future SharePoint certifications. If you’re interested in my experiences on achieving MCM, or ramping up for MCSM: SharePoint 2013 (for which I’ll need to upgrade), stay tuned – I’ll be posting thoughts and tips on those in the near future.


Also worth noting is the fact that the following exams are now visible on Microsoft Learning, but the actual exams are still dated for early February 2013:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012
  • Exam 70-331: Core Solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Exam 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

Anyone can do the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 Upgrade exam today. It’s available at Prometric – go take a look. We’re running a Prometric certification day once a week on Thursdays in Helsinki, Finland – see details (in Finnish, sorry) here.

The definitive guide to SharePoint 2013 certifications

[Update: This article was updated on 4th of February, 2013 to reflect the latest changes to the SharePoint 2013 certification program]

SharePoint Server 2013 Preview RTM bits have been out and available for testing and kicking tires for a few months now. While there’s a lot to learn with regards to all the new and great stuff we’re seeing within the product, there’s also going to be a lot of ramping up for developers and IT Pros if they want to achieve any of the certifications Microsoft will offer for SharePoint 2013.

So what’s available for SharePoint 2010?

First, a brief reminder on what’s available for SharePoint 2010 today.

For developers, there are two certification exams:

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Application Development (70-573) is the first major developer certification for SharePoint 2010. I always say it’s fairly tough and requires developers to have true hands-on experience with the platform. The preparation material is available for classroom-based trainings, and is typically delivered as a 3 to 5 day course.

The second developer exam is Microsoft PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications (70-576). This is more of a high-level approach, and concentrates less on hands-on “Let’s just code that in Visual Studio” and more on the design and architecture aspects of the overall solution. It’s definitely one of my favorite exams, and the accompanying course material is also high on my list of “must reads”.

After passing these two exams (the 70-573 and 70-576) you get to call yourself a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): SharePoint Developer 2010.

For IT Pros, there are two certification exams:

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Configuring (70-667) is the first major IT Pro certification for SharePoint 2010. It’s a huge collection of IT Pro things one has to understand, ranging from installing and setting up SharePoint to configuring the more complex features within a farm. There’s a classroom-based course material available, of course (the B-version of the 10174-material got a slight facelift, mostly because of Office 365 and SP1).

After completing the MCTS-exam, IT Pros can then continue with Microsoft PRO: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator (70-668). This is aligned with the MCPD-exam for developer in the sense that it’s less hands-on, and more theory, best practices and do’s and don’ts. Here’s the course material topics. When you pass the two IT Pro exams (70-667 and 70-668) you get to call yourself a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP): SharePoint Server 2010.

Each preparation training course of these four exams can be completed by self-studying, learning on the job and/or attending a classroom-based training.

What about SharePoint 2013? What’s available and what’s not?

So the story with SharePoint 2013-based certifications follows the same a slightly different rajectory we had with SharePoint 2010.

As of today, we have a total of 4 training courses available. These are:

FIrst Look Clinic: What’s new for IT Professionals in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 – it’s a 3 hour clinic, rather than a traditional training. I’d argue this is almost a full day training, since it took more than 3 hours just to skim through. Since it’s a very early look at SharePoint 2013 there’s not certification alignment for this clinic.

The second one is First Look Clinic: What’s new for Developers in SharePoint 2013 and it’s also a 3 hour clinic. More like a day, although there’s no labs available within the course material.

The third one is SharePoint 2013: IT Pro Ignite training. It’s a 3 to 5 day classroom-based training, including hands-on labs. It’s not widely available but does give you a deeper look and knowledge into what’s possible with SharePoint 2013 for IT Pros. As you might have guessed, the fourth course that is available is SharePoint 2013: Developer Ignite training. Also 3-5 days, lots of labs.

Finally, the Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 course was released for public use. A book is coming out in April from MS Press – see details here.

The first exam for anyone wanting to be fluent with developing solutions for SharePoint 2013 is Programming HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 (70-480). This exam was released August 20th, 2012. The accompanying preparation material is available (see here). This is a mandatory certification exam for the upcoming MCSD: SharePoint certification.

The second exam we already have details on, is for IT Pros: Core Solutions for SharePoint Server 2013 (70-331). Availability for this exam was scheduled for February 5th, 2013 and as of February 2nd, the certification exam was available from Prometric.

The third exam is also for IT Pros called Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013. It’s also available since February 2nd, 2013. Together with 70-331 and 70-332 you are two steps closer to being an MCSE: SharePoint.

The last requirement for MCSE: SharePoint (for IT Pros) is MCSA: Windows Server 2012. You can either complete this requirement with a single upgrade exam (70-417) or do all three certification exams: 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412.

The upgrade eligibility is for those who already hold a valid MCSA, or MCITP certification, such as MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010.

Anything else?

We are still missing the two SharePoint 2013 developer exams – more info on those when they become available.

You bet! Plenty to read, you should start from here, here and here.

Happy studying! Smile

I’m now an MCSA–again?

Having just written about the latest changed to Microsoft’s certification program, I was immensely happy to receive this email yesterday morning:

Congratulations on earning your Windows Server® 2008 Core certification! We hope you enjoy the benefits of your certification and of membership in the Microsoft Certified Professional community.

Wait, what? I thought I was already a certified Windows Server 2008 guy, with both the necessary MCTS-based certifications and MCITP for Enterprise Administrator. I’ve kind of lost track on all the different Windows Server-certifications, there are simply so many available.

A quick peek at the MCP site reveals that nothing has changed with regards to actual certifications I’ve taken:


Clicking on my transcript, I see that I do indeed have the new MCSA, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification:


What about my previous MCSA from 2003? It’s still there in my transcript:


What this means is that I get to keep my existing MCSA from 2003, and I’ve also earned the new MCSA for 2012. In time, my old MCSA will still be visible but will eventually lose value while the new MCSA gains in popularity. This probably takes a few years for HR managers, recruiters and managers to realize that MCSA is new, and not 9 years old.

Microsoft certification reboot–what changed and what do I do now?

On April 11th, Microsoft announced that the current stack of certification programs will be rebooted (or reinvented). Say welcome to your new certification overlords – the MCSA, MCSE and MCSM:


MCSA and MCSE sound vaguely familiar. Oh yes, MCSE has been around since Windows NT 3.1, and MCSA became available for Windows Server 2003. Good times.

The key different is that MCSA, MCSE and MCSM are dubbed cloud certifications. The old MCTS, MCITP and similar certifications are still alive and well. That is, until new versions of Microsoft server products are being released and old exams are aligned with MCSA and MCSE in the future. 

MCSA explained

MCSA stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. It’s an entry level certification program for people who are looking for their first job in IT. So definitely not someone who has already completed plenty of Microsoft certifications.

The old MCSA, or Microsoft Certified System Administrator, is no longer available. Even though the new MCSA shares the same acronym, it’s totally different and should be considered as a different breed. What they do share, however, is the fact that MCSA is required for the new MCSE – just like before.

Currently, MCSA is available for these two products:

MCSA: Windows Server 2008

For Windows Server 2008, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • 70-640: Windows Server 2008: Configuring Active Directory
  • 70-642: Windows Server 2008: Configuring Network Infrastructure
  • 70-646: Windows Server 2008: Server Administrator

MCSA: SQL Server 2012

For SQL Server 2012, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • 70-462: Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
  • 70-463: Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

There’s also a similar certification path for MCSA: SQL Server 2008, but I find little interest in doing that now that SQL Server 2012 is widely available.

What about MTA?

We also (still) have MTA, or Microsoft Technology Associate, which is relatively new and aimed mainly for students. For MTA, the following certifications are currently available – and unchanged with the announcement of other certifications:

image(Source: http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/3/4/134DF526-4D88-42A0-BF9F-78B23B6942F8/MTA_CertPath_Poster.pdf)

MCSE explained

MCSE stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. It follows MCSA, which is a prerequisite for achieving MCSE. It comes in two flavors:

MCSE: Private Cloud

The Private Cloud track includes both Windows Server 2008 R2 and System Center 2012 products, so it’s not going to be a walk in the park to complete.

You’ll need to pass the following certifications:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
  • 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

A recertification exam (apparently just one) is required every three years.

The second flavor is MCSE: Business Intelligence:

This is a continuum for MCSA: SQL Server 2012 and required the following certifications:

  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012
  • 70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with SQL Server 2012
  • 70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with SQL Server 2012

There’s also a second path for MCSE: SQL Server, and it’s called MCSE: Data Platform. Key different with Business Intelligence-path is that this is more developer oriented and requires the following certifications:

  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012
  • 70-464: Developing SQL Server 2012 Databases
  • 70-465: Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server 2012

You can also upgrade to MCSE: BI or MCSE: Data Platform, if you already have MCITP: Database Developer 2008 or MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 completed.

Most of the exams for MCSE: SQL Server 2012 flavors are available from June 2012.

Retiring exams

A lot of older certifications are being phased out in the coming months. For a complete list, see here.

What about MCSM – what’s that then?

MCSM, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, is the successor to MCM, or Microsoft Certified Master-program.

This is the highest (technical) level one can attain for select products, including SharePoint, Active Directory, Lync, Exchange and SQL Server.

MCSM is coming with wave 15 of the new products – thus, MCSM: SharePoint would be available when the next version of SharePoint is released. The prerequisite for any MCSM is the new MCSA. So if you currently have MCITP and MCSD for SharePoint, you’ll have to upgrade or pass the future SharePoint certification exams and then you can continue to MCSM.

The ‘old’ MCM track is still alive, and existing Masters get to keep their certification.

What should I do now?

You don’t really need to do anything at the moment. If you are currently pursuing any of the available MCITP or MCTS certification tracks, keep going. You can upgrade to the newest versions and become an MCSE in the coming months. For certain products, such as Exchange, SharePoint and Active Directory, there’s nothing new to offer yet since the new versions are not released yet.

Further reading

To read up on the MCSA, check out the new MCSA introduction site. There’s a similar one available for MCSE also.

The illustrated guide to mastering SharePoint

Imagine that this circle contains everything about SharePoint – all tools, methodologies, customization techniques, tips and tricks:


By the time you’ve used SharePoint as an end-user doing things like document management, search, populating content to your My Site and similar, you know a little:


By the time you’ve installed SharePoint Designer, made some modifications and used a few third party tools to modify your SharePoint configuration, you are on your way to mastering SharePoint:



You start studying for 70-667: Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist: Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Configuring certification exam:


You successfully complete MCTS: SharePoint 2010 Configuring, and also pass 70-668: PRO: SharePoint 2010: Administrator certification. You are now MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010 and pretty capable surviving all IT-related things on SharePoint:


You feel there’s more to SharePoint than just IT-stuff. You start practicing customization and development for SharePoint with Visual Studio 2010, and eventually pass 70-573: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: SharePoint 2010 Application Development certification exam:


Life is pretty good now. You can configure most aspects of SharePoint, you can troubleshoot your way out of almost anything you encounter, and you know how to create new functionality and customize existing functionality. Finally, you take the time to study and pass 70-576: PRO: Designing and Developing SharePoint 2010 Applications and become a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer for SharePoint. You’ve got MCITP and MCPD now:


People start referring to you as “the guy who knows SharePoint” and random people email you about their issues with SharePoint. And you are happy to help, or charge for your time helping others. You take pride in the fact that you’ve conquered SharePoint.

Then you decide to embark upon Microsoft Certified Master: SharePoint 2010 – and months later, you pass the exams:


You now master everything that is SharePoint! During the process of becoming a Master, you’ve found new ways and techniques for doing things, and thus expanded the sphere of knowledge. That’s the little dimple at 9 o’clock.

Maybe you still crave more. Is this it? What can you do to fill those small gaps you feel are things you should know better? You cancel your summer vacation and start ramping up for Microsoft Certified Architect: SharePoint 2010. Finally you become an MCA:


You’ve expanded the whole sphere of knowledge, going beyond the currently existing knowledge. You excel in everything related to SharePoint: the hard technical challenges, the development adventures and the business side of things. Still, there seems to be a boundary that is just beyond your grasp.

You can now spend your days and evenings trying to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Or alternatively you can go outside, enjoy the sun, spend time with your family and be confident that whatever SharePoint throws your way, you’ll survive.

Official training material for SharePoint 2010 updated for 2012: Includes Office 365

learnMicrosoft is currently updating their existing IT Pro-targeted certification training material. The current version was released shortly after SharePoint Server 2010 was released around May, 2010.

First, let’s take a quick recap on the current offerings.


For IT Pros, this is available today:image

10174 is the entry-level training, and 10231 is a more high level approach to designing SharePoint platforms. They are both excellent in terms of real life content and labs.

For developers, this is available today:image

These follow a similar pattern to the IT Pro training: 10175 is the entry-level training and 10232 is less hands-on, more design-focused.

Out of these four trainings, the one with the most content and depth is definitely 10175 for developers. After that comes 10174 for IT Pro’s. If you are serious about SharePoint, complete all 4 trainings and then complete all 4 certification exams that accompany them:

Certification exams for IT Pro’s

  • MCTS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Configuring: Exam 70-667 (skills measured, preparation materials)
  • PRO: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator: Exam 70-668 (skills measured, preparation materials)

Certification exams for developers

  • MCTS: SharePoint 2010 Application Development: Exam 70-573 (skills measured, preparation materials)
  • PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications: Exam 70-576 (skills measured, preparation materials)


The first one to receive a well-deserved update is 10174 Configuring and Administering SharePoint 2010. The updated course introduction page lists the following changes:

  • SharePoint Online and Office 365 module added
    • Introduces Office 365 and SharePoint Online
    • Provisioning Office 365
    • Administering SharePoint Online

Time required to deliver the course has not changed – still 5 workdays. We’ve been delivering this training over a period of 3 days, or sometimes 4 days: Friday through Wednesday. A consecutive five day training tends to be too much for a lot of people, and leaves little time to reflect and try out new things.

The addition is still welcomed, though. Office 365 and especially SharePoint Online are critical pieces of the productivity platform, and it’s great to see some technical content being added to the traditional course materials.

The updated content touches upon the most important topics, such as sandbox solutions, setting up vanity domains, setting up a public-facing web site and a brief overview on setting up single sign-on with Office 365.

The material is currently in beta, and available for download for MCT’s. To get your hands on the latest and greatest of the training material if you are not a Microsoft Certified Trainer, attend a local or remote delivery of the 10174 training.

On doing SharePoint certifications and becoming a Microsoft Partner

Not too many moons ago, a lot of IT people bickered on the value of certifications. Granted, the old days of obtaining MCSE for Windows Server 2000 are long gone, and maybe times were a bit different. It seemed like everyone + their dog had MCSE, and it diluted the value of actually having studied and passing the certification exams.

SharePoint certifications explained

Certifications for SharePoint are something that I’m actually happy to see and work with. For the uninitiated, there’s a total of four “real” certification exams, with the outcome of two actual certifications:

Certification Exam Prerequisites
MCTS: SharePoint 2010, Application Development 70-573 None
MCTS: SharePoint 2010, Configuring 70-667 None
MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010 70-668 70-667
MCPD: SharePoint Developer 2010 70-576 70-573

So if you are an aspiring developer, you should do 70-573 and 70-576. For the IT Pro, you should do 70-667 and 70-668.

In addition, the following certifications are highly useful for partner companies and certain individuals:

Certification Exam Notes
MCTS: Windows 7 and Office 2010 Deployment 70-681 Counts as credit for MCITP: Enterprise Administrator. Also, a requirement for partners doing deployment and planning services
MOS 2010 TBA Exam scheduled for release June 2011. See details

Microsoft Certified Master

If you pass all four of the core exams (70-573, 70-576, 70-667, 70-668) and ache for more knowledge, consider MCM – or Microsoft Certified Master. It’s by no means cheap ($18,500 + $125 + other costs, such as unbillable time, travel expenses etc).

Until now, the value of MCM has been two-fold: On one hand, it’s a great way of showing your expertise and mastery in SharePoint among the few. On the other hand, it’s a lot of money for something many companies fail to recognize as something special. I think the true value of MCM varies heavily based on region and the type of work you are planning on doing.

During Spring 2011 it’s been evident that MCM is gaining more recognition and thus more value for the individual aiming for MCM.

How much time should you invest?

This is a personal preference. People learn via different methods: Some prefer learning by reading or doing, others learning by listening and seeing. It’s crucial to have hands-on experience on the product rather than just literal understanding of the possibilities and features.

I normally recommend a 2 month preparation time for any of the SharePoint 2010 exams. This differs a lot as someone who has been working with SharePoint since version 2001 will have less challenges than someone who just did their first SharePoint deployment.

Studying for any of the four core exams can be done on the job, if you are prepared to invest 5 to 10 hours per week for studying.

Becoming a Microsoft Partner company

Also, while it’s nice to gain personal gratification and proof by studying and completing certifications, they are highly valuable to any company aiming to attain a Microsoft Partner competency – such as Portals and Collaboration for any SharePoint (partner) organization.

The value of becoming a Microsoft Partner as a company is pretty evident. See details here.

Training content and resources for SharePoint

Here’s my take on the available training content and resources for SharePoint. It’s worth noting that not all of these are free of charge – creating quality content isn’t cheap.

Microsoft Official Curriculums

Course 10174A: Configuring and Administering Microsoft SharePoint 2010

Originally a 5 day classroom-based course, it seems to work better as a 3 day course in Europe. Some of the labs are tedious but all content depicted here is definitely worth reading. This is the official preparation material for Exam 70-667: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring.

Course 10175A: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development

Also a 5 day classroom-based course, works nicely as a compacted 3 day delivery. The first few labs are heavily on the ASP.NET side so I suggest fine-tuning those, or replacing them with more relevant action. Some topics – like creating classic web parts and clicking BCS-stuff in SharePoint Designer – should be left out from the delivery. This is the official preparation material for Exam 70-573: TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development.

Course 10231A: Designing a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Infrastructure

Truly one of my favorite MOC’s. It’s still long at 5 days but can done in 3 to 4 days with good scheduling. Most labs are design-based, thus people wanting to get their hands dirty with technicalities of SharePoint might be disappointed. This is the official preparation material for Exam 70-668: PRO: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Administrator.

Course 10232A: Designing and Developing SharePoint Server 2010 Applications

The last one from Microsoft. It’s a good one. Challenging at best, boring at worst. Some topics slip to infrastructure issues, thus hard-core developers might feel out of place at times. This is the official preparation material for Exam 70-576: PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications.

Courseware Library

Courseware Library is the online market place for Microsoft partners to publish, purchase, review and rate their own custom material. This translates to the fact that (almost) anybody with proper credentials, know-how and time in their hands is able to publish fresh training material for others to purchase. Quality of content varies heavily, so here are the ones I’ve been using and am quite happy with:

Course  50468: SharePoint 2010 End User – Level I

Fairly light in terms of slides but overall has nice labs and is a breeze to deliver. No marketing talk, straight to the point.

Course  50469: SharePoint 2010 End User – Level II

Sequel to end user (level I). Focuses mainly on SharePoint Designer and custom (declarative) workfows. Okay’ish, if combined with level I and delivered as a 2-3 day training in total.

Course  50470: Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 for the Site Owner / Power User

This falls between the MOC’s (10174) and end user I & II. Aimed for the power user and site collection owner it does have some overlaps with end user II but can still stand on its own. Well worth the money and not too technical.

Course 50478A: SharePoint 2010 Advanced Foundation Development

A combination of both IT Pro (advanced) and application development content. Slides are quite light in terms of content so I’d see this as an additional to 10175 and 10231.