Server 2012 Certification Paths

by QuickCert on October 10, 2012

Microsoft has announced changes to its Certification Tracks for Windows Server. Some of these changes incorporate a reincarnation of certifications that retired several years ago. Microsoft has brought back the MCSA and the MCSE in their certification learning environment. Not quite the same as what some of us remember them being. MCSA now stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate instead of the old name Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. The new MCSA focuses more on the ability to design and build technology solutions where as the previous version of MCSA focused on a specific role. The MCSA is a prerequisite to earning the MCSE and is the starting point to proving you have the foundational set of skills to begin your technology career. Of course MCSE, which now stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. MCSE in the past stood for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. The MCSE also focuses more on the ability to design and build technology, same as the MCSA. It takes it a step further by including multiple technology products and can span multiple versions of a particular technology as well.  It demonstrates your commitment to the technology, the certification and the industry by having to recertify every three years as well. The reinvention of their certificaitons has taken place to maintian their market relevance as the industry shifts to the Cloud. The certifications do a better job of validating, providing a broad and deep skill set required for on-site as well as cloud solutions.

There are also quite a few certs and exams retiring July 2013 and 2014. These will be discussed as well since they play a part in why you should consider moving towards 2012 certs for Server.

These changes and reinventions are quite confusing. Since, they are not the same certifications that once dominated the MS landscape. They are different and yet probably the grandchildren of the MCSA/MCSE tracks we all came to know for the Server 2000/2003 operating systems. I will be going into more detail and try to lift the fog that has descended amonst everyone concerning the reincarnation of sorts. Also, what you can do to earn them moving forward. Hopefully, clearing up any questions. If not or if I created more questions than answers, please drop me a line and let me know how I can assist you further.

Let’s get started with the Server 2012 certifications and upgrade paths. I am going to start with a few background items. Things to consider while the paths are layed out before you. The first is this: the upgrade to 2012 Server is Exam 70-417. This exam is a direct composite of exams 70-410, 411, 412. It is pulled directly from these three exams. I will list the percentages each of the three play in 417 a bit later. The point is if you learn these three, you will be prepared for the 70-417 exam as well. If you come across no training items for 417, don’t be discouraged. Simply study three I listed previously above: 70-410, 70-411, 70-412. Many companies if smart will not create a course based on 70-417 for this reason. Personally, I would prefer to study the individuals that comprise the one upgrade exam. I feel composite exams when studied always leave things out. Even if you have been working in the industry for the last several years, studying the three and sitting for the 417 exam is still your best bet. Of course, there are exceptions to this. Unfortunately, they will not be covered here for the time being.

Another thing to consider is this: MCITP Enterprise Admin and MCITP Server Admin both automatically get the MCSA Server 2008 certification. This is important as this is an actual certification you earn for having one of these two previous certs. It is a freebie of sorts. One of the important pieces to the puzzle is, the MCITP Enterprise and Server Admin certs are retiring July 2013. Exams 70-643, 70-647 are as well. Exams 70-640, 70-642, 70-646 are not retiring July 2013. This is how the MCSA Server 2008 certification is earned actually. I know what you might be thinking. If 70-646 is one of the exams not retiring but 70-647 is, then how does a MCITP Enterprise Server certification earn the MCSA Server 2008? Very good question. Anyone who has earned the MCITP Enterprise cert is given credit since they have passed everything except 646. You are given the 70-646 needed to qualify. I know confusing. The MCSA Server 2008 certification is a prerequisite for the MCSE Private Cloud. Something to keep in mind later when Private Cloud is discussed. On a side note, you will continue to earn MCTS certs when passing 70-640 and 70-642 until April 2013. Up to this date, when the MCSA 2008 is earned a MCITP Server Admin is earned. After April 2013 though, the MCITP Server Admin is no longer earned by doing this. Then in July the full retirement of the MCITP Enterprise and Server Certs will take place. Then you will only be able to earn the MCSA 2008. Based on the information at hand, the MCSA 2008 will need to be available for the MCSE Public Cloud cert. How long that will remain a fact is anyones guess at this point.

The MCSA Server 2012 is comprised of Exams 70-410, 411, 412. Things are starting to come together somewhat. What will be shown is how you get from the MCSA 2008 to the MCSA 2012. Then to the three MCSE cert choices. These are Server Infrastructure, Desktop Infrastructure and Public Cloud. If you wanted to upgrade your certification to MCSA Server 2012 then you would take the upgrade exam 70-417 (remember it is a composite of 410, 411, 412) and any one of the following certifications:

  • MCSA Server 2008
  • MCITP Virtualization Admin
  • MCITP Enterprise Messaging
  • MCITP Lync Server Admin
  • MCITP Sharepoint Admin
  • MCITP Enterprise Desktop Admin

Any of these plus Exam 70-417 earns you the MCSA Server 2012. These short upgrade paths are only available for a limited time. How limited I don’t have information answering that question. Not sure, if they will require another step in between or if they will remove the upgrade exam altogether. I do know, the 70-417 exam is retiring July 2014. I am basing the limited time frame on this date for now.

The MCSE Server Infrastructure provides validation in your abilities building server infrastructure solutions. Skills of this nature are needed in the new modern data center. Having this certification will also help your level of expertise and skills stand out for virtualization, storage, networking, systems and identity management. To earn the MCSE Server Infrastructure you first need the MCSA 2012 Server and also pass the 70-413 and 70-414 exams. In order to upgrade to this certification you will still be required to pass the 70-413 and 70-414 exams but in addition to these the 70-417 exam must also be conquered. The first step to begin your upgrade run must start with having any of the following certifications under your belt:

  • MCSA Server 2008
  • MCITP Virtualization Admin
  • MCITP Enterprise Messaging
  • MCITP Lync Server Admin
  • MCITP Sharepoint Admin
  • MCITP Enterprise Desktop Admin

The upgrade path is a bit misleading. If you need the MCSA 2012 Server and exams 413/414 then why mention the upgrade at all I wonder? To earn the MCSA 2012 Server cert (discussed earlier) is earned by passing the 70-417 exam and the same certs in the bulleted list above. I am not sure why they don’t simply refer to the process in this manner. Because, you must have the MCSA 2012 Server in order to earn the MCSE cert anyway.

The MCSE Desktop Infrastructure provides the necessary validation and/or proof of your remote desktop services, application virtualization and desktop virtualization skills. This certification also gives you the ability to show your skills with deployment and management of desktops and devices in addition to providing access from any location all while maintaining compliance and security. To earn the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure you need to begin with the MCSA 2012 and pass the following two exams: 70-415 & 70-416. If you intend to upgrade from a previous certification to the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure then you would need to begin with the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop  Administrator 7 certification and pass the following three exams: 70-417, 70-415 & 70-416.

The MCSE Public Cloud is proving your knowledge and skills in management and implementation of Microsoft Private Cloud technologies. To earn your MCSE Private Cloud you need to start with either the MCSA 2008 Server or the MCSA 2012 Server. Both qualify as starting points. Then you must pass both of the following exams: 70-246 and 70-247.

The number of job postings for cloud services/industry is growing rapidly and as a result the number of qualified workers available for these positions is not keeping up the pace. Having skills like these will put you to the top of some of those lists. Cloud Services is one of the fastest growing industries right now. One of the best reasons to consider these certifications is college credit. For more information on earning credits click the link and take a look http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/college-credit.aspx

Evals, Trials & Additional Learning Resources:

With all the new updated certification path information, you are fully prepared to conquer the changes Microsoft has made concerning Windows Server 2012. Some say it is nice seeing MCSE and MCSA tracks again. Some aren’t. Me? Well the names have never been the important part. If the industry is understood and Microsoft grasps this understanding, the focus will be on the skills we need for success. Time will tell who is right. I am not confident on retiring Server 2008, MCITP: Virtualization and other things next July. Having two server cert tracks at a time gave us options. We like options. Companies having the money to upgrade to the newest and greatest is still an issue after all these years. My hope is some time in the future, this will be understood. It isn’t about the certifications. It is about using their software and needing the skills to do so. Unfortunately, there has always been a gap between what you need to pass a cert exam and what you need to know to be success on the job. Here is to all of you who pass and become certified. Reach out via email or comment if a learning plan/mentoring is desired. Every successful story is a win for our industry.

Please let me know if you would like to see something more concerning all the certification path changes from Microsoft.  I would be happy to update you with more information and answer any questions you may have as well.