As part of their strategic push into cloud computing, Microsoft has recently introduced a new line of certifications, aimed at fostering a base of expertise centered on cloud computing technologies and solution design, involving the creation/re-invention of several Microsoft certifications.
The flagship of this new certification framework is the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, or MCSE. Many who have followed Microsoft certifications over the years will recognize the initials, because this isn’t the first time that Microsoft has offered a certification called the MCSE. In fact, the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, also called the MCSE, was one of the most popular certifications ever offered by Microsoft.
But there are significant differences between the two certifications. Whereas the old MCSE focused on server-based administration and technologies, the new MCSE takes more of a multi-disciplinarian approach to solving business IT problems, with a strong focus on cloud computing, database administration, and business intelligence.
Today’s version of the MCSE certification breaks down into two general categories and three individual tracks that can be followed to achieve MCSE certification.
MCSE for Private Cloud
This is the closest equivalent to the old MCSE, in that it focuses on the server & operating system, but with a twist. The new MCSE is truly focused on the cloud, specifically private clouds managed with Microsoft System Center 2012. The MCSE for Private cloud is based on the completion of the following:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Completion of the MCSA is a pre-requisite for all MCSE tracks.
- Exam 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 – System Center is Microsoft’s cloud management platform, allowing administrators to create and manage multi-hypervisor cloud environments.
- Exam 70-256: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 – Related to the exam above, this exam tests the candidate’s ability to perform ongoing administration tasks in a System Center 2012-managed environment.
MCSE for SQL Server 2012
In addition to the MCSE for Private Cloud, and in conjunction with Microsoft’s impending release of SQL Server 2012, Microsoft is offering the MCSE for SQL Server 2012. The two tracks for certification in this category are:
The MCSE: Data Platform. The MCSE Data Platform certification demonstrates the ability to build and manage data solutions based on SQL Server 2012, in both traditional ‘on-premise’ and cloud-based environments. The MCSE Data Platform certification is based on successful completion of the MCSA for SQL Server 2012, plus two additional tests:
- Exam 70-464: Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases –Tests the ability to build and implement databases, and perform common administration tasks such as planning and creating database files and indexes, stored procedures, managing transactions and locks, etc.
- Exam 70-465: Designing Database Solutions for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Tests the ability to architect and design database solutions, involving the planning and design of the database environment, including objects, servers, and storage.
MCSE: Business Intelligence. The MCSE for Business Intelligence is specifically designed for IT professionals and DBAs that work on Business Intelligence (BI) projects for enterprises. As such, the tests for the MCSE Business Intelligence have a different focus as well. As with the MCSE for Data Platform, Candidates still must complete the MCSA for SQL Server 2012, as a pre-requisite, and additionally complete two certification exams. Those exams are:
- Exam 70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 –Covers the creation of multi-dimensional models, OLAP cubes, and information displays.
- Exam 70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Tests the candidate’s ability to architect and design database solutions, involving the planning and design of the database environment, including objects, servers, and storage.
More details on the MCSE and other recently released certifications are still forthcoming from Microsoft. But, given the bet that Microsoft (and the rest of the industry, for that matter) is placing on cloud computing, it’s very likely that the new certifications will not only replace the existing Microsoft certifications, but will also remain in place for a long time to come.