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Understanding the new Microsoft MCSA and MCSE certifications

June 26, 2012

Today I have been sat with a collegue trying to get a grip on the new Microsoft certfication paths.  After quite a bit of discussion I think we reached a reasonable understanding of the main paths and options.

If you are reading this please note I am coming at this from my own certification status which is MCSE Windows 2003 with a “really must get that MCITP Enterprise Administrator and then upgrade to the new stuff”.

So the first thing to understand is that if you are a current MCITP Windows Server 2008 Administrator or Enterprise Administrator you are already an MCSA Windows Server 2008.  Congratulations!

Now you may be wondering…what about the MCSE Windows Server 2008?  The answer is simply that there isn’t one, although there is MCSE Windows Server 2012!  That part confused me for some time!

What if (like me) you aren’t MCITP Windows Server 2008 Administrator or MCITP Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Administrator? If you pass either of these before 31st July 2013 you will be automatically awarded both the MCITP and MCSA certifications.  After this date the MCITP certification is retired and you are only awarded the MCSA.

Okay, so now you have your MCSA Windows 2008 Server what do you do now?

The first thing to do is to upgrade your MCSA Windows 2008 Server to the MCSA Windows 2012 Server.  Exam 417 is your upgrade exam for this and you have while 31st July 2014 to pass this exam, at which point it will be retired and you will not be able to upgrade (you will have to start the certification from scratch). The exam has not been released yet, by the way.

Once you are MCSA Windows 2012 Server you can use this as the jumping off point to attain one or more MCSE 2012 certifications as follows:

MCSE Server Infrastructure (aka MCSE Windows Server 2012) – Exams 413 and 414 will get you from MCSA 2012 to this certification.  This (in my opinion) is equivelant to MCSE Windows 2003/MCITP Enterprise Administrator Windows 2008 for the Server 2012 product.  Both of these exams have yet to be released and there is currently no release date set (and what they cover is anyone’s guess too!).  Microsoft says “The MCSE Server Infrastructure certification focuses on how to design, build, manage, and run a highly efficient data center”.

MCSE Desktop Infrastructure – Exams 415 and 416 will get you from MCSA 2012 to this certification.  Again, I have no idea what these exams cover as they have not been released and I cannot find an expected release date.  Microsoft say “MCSE Desktop Infrastructure certification focuses on how to deploy and manage desktops and devices, allowing flexible, consistent and relaible access to corporate services”.

Finally there is the “black sheep” of the family…

MCSE Private Cloud – This is different because you can use the MCSA 2008 Server as the starting point (I presume MCSA 2012 will also be possible as a starting point when it is released).  Exams 246 and 247 will get you from MCSA 2008 to this certification. Both of these exams were released this month and cover the Systems Center 2012 product.  Microsoft say “The MCSE Private Cloud certification focuses on true infrastructure service capability, along with optimally managed application services within the data center”.

Finally please note the following for ALL of the new MCSE certifications (again from Microsoft)  “The <insert name of certification> certification requires a candidate to show continued ability to perform in this technology area by completing a recertification exam every 3 years“.

Hope you found this of use and please do post any further information you find here for others to see!


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