I remember the day that I earned my first senior certification, the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) on Microsoft Windows 2000. It was a proud day for me, May 27, 2005. I would later earn my MCSA on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (June 30, 2006), and I was thrilled beyond belief. Interestingly, although my original goal when I set out to get certified was to earn my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) on Windows 2000, it would take me several years – in fact, until December 16, 2010 – to become an MCSE, and by that time the Windows 2000 cert exams had long since been retired, and I settled (quite happily) for earning it on Microsoft Windows Server 2003.
The story behind why there was no MCSE on Windows 2008, and why Microsoft Learning transitioned these certifications (the MCSE is still the most recognized certification that Microsoft has) probably has many branches to it, but only one of them involves me, The Montreal IT Professionals Community, and Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, or the Quebec Order of Engineers.
In mid-2006 organized communities of IT Professionals were still in their infancy. I was the president of the Montreal IT Professionals Community (www.mitpro.ca) which was, as near as I could tell, the only organization at the time dedicated to furthering the careers of IT Professionals throughout the province of Quebec. It seems that the Quebec Order of Engineers (OIQ) was worried that people would confuse MCSEs for actual Engineers, and on April 23, 2004 Judge Claude Millette of the Court of Québec agreed, penalizing Microsoft $1,000 (IT Business.CA, April 23, 2004). In mid-2006 (MITPro was founded in January of 2005) I received word that Microsoft had exhausted the appeals process, and had issued a statement that MCSEs in the province of Quebec were to stop using the title Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.
As the representative of the largest organized body of IT Professionals in the province, I realized the relevance of this decision, and sprang into action. Leveraging my contacts at Microsoft Canada, Culminis, and anyone who would listen I made it clear that this decision – to bar IT Pros in one province from using their credentials while permitting those elsewhere to do so was not only discriminatory, it would be actionable. Of course at this point I did not hold the credential myself, but that was not relevant to the discussion.
I do not know what effect my actions had (I was a very loud voice at the time, but only one voice) but I do know that within a short delay Microsoft backtracked a bit, saying that the MCSE certification would be discontinued, and that going forward (from the next version of the technologies) there would be a new certification… which nobody had decided on yet, but would end up being the Microsoft Certified IT Professionals (MCITP) program.
One benefit of the new program that was introduced to replace the MCSE program was that rather than having one primary certification that encompassed everything, there would be senior certifications for each specialty… although we would also be able to create combined logos where it made sense – so in my case, I have my Server certs, my Windows 7 certs, and my Windows Vista certs each grouped together.
I remember giving several user group presentations on ‘The Next Generation of Microsoft Certifications’ around North America. It was great because I was involved in creating so many of the exams back then, and I was able to get a clearer understanding of how certifications (the MCTS and MCITP) would map out.
With the announcement last week by Microsoft Learning, all of what I did know has now been upended, with yet another Next Generation of Microsoft Certifications. In fact not only are they making changes going forward, they are also going back to the older certs and renaming them. So:
Going forward Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts (MCSE) will be solutions based rather than product based. So the first one (in my bailiwick) will be called MCSE: Private Cloud. This will require the Core certification (in this case MCSA: Windows Server 2008) plus two exams – 70-247 (Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012) and 70-246 (Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012). Until it is retired (on January 31, 2013) Exam 70-659 can take the place of exam 70-247 for this cert.
You may have noticed that I have not made any mention thus far of the MCTS exams. That is because going forward there will be no equivalent to the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). Microsoft Learning is doing away with the whole concept of taking a single exam to earn a certification. They had discussed doing this earlier (or at least they discussed requiring multiple exams to earn an MCTS) but until now it has not happened. In any event, that day is here!
By the way, for those of you who previously held the cert MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008, you will be happy to know that you are now officially a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2008. The requirements for the MCSA are exactly what they were for the old MCITP: SA (70-640, 70-642, and 70-646).
It is not uncommon for Microsoft Learning’s MCP site (https://mcp.microsoft.com/mcp) to have a few hiccups in the transition between old and new, and this time is no exception. I have noticed a number of cases there this is true.
1) As of this morning my MCP Transcript does show both certs, even though they are in all respects that same. I do not know if they intend to leave it as is, but I should think that if they are identical then it need only appear the once. As you can see, the Certification Numbers(introduced with the new transcript format last year) for the two as well as Achievement Dates are unique.
2) My Logo Builder no longer shows that I am an MCSA (v1) or MCSE (v1) but has renamed both of those in line with the new (v2) program. However it does allow me to build a logo for the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator, and under that the only platform listed is Windows Server 2008 Core. I assume that in the near future this will be remedied, but for the moment I am satisfied that My MCSA now spans the server technologies in which I am expert, from Windows Server 2000 to Windows Server 2008 R2.
This may be the only time and place you ever see this logo… I am reasonably sure it is a blip, and already the site will create it but will not allow me to Build it.
So what’s next for me? Obviously I will start studying to take the 70-246 exam to get my MCSE: Private Cloud. What’s next for you? That is up to you… but Private Cloud solutions are certainly an exciting place to be working for the next few years, and if you are not in the cloud then you will eventually be left behind.