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