The MCSE is back! Or as Microsoft has put it, MCSE: reinvented. Yes, Microsoft has done it again. They listened to the IT public and brought back the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD certifications. Although the new MCSA and MCSE certifications share the same letters as the old Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, they now have the new designation of Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.
The new certification tracks will be tied to all new Microsoft technologies and according to the information found on the Microsoft Learning website the MCSA is even being included in the current Windows Server 2008 certification path. It is still unclear whether an existing MCITP Server Administrator will automatically become an MCSA. There is also no information yet about a new MCSE certification for the Windows Server 2008 track. I will keep you posted about the answers to those questions as the information becomes available.
I, for one, am very excited about this change as I have been very proactive in working with Microsoft Learning about finding a way to get back to the MCSE brand that is so well known in the IT industry. There is still some confusion about the entire transition process, but once the dust settles I think the entire IT community will benefit from these changes.
The New MCSA, MCSE and MCSM Certifications
Here is the breakdown of the new certification tracks for IT professionals:
From the chart above, we can see that:
- MCTS is being mapped to the new MCSA
- MCPD is being mapped to the new MCSD
- MCITP is being mapped to the new MCSE
Microsoft has also renamed the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM).
Although Microsoft is expressing a somewhat clear mapping of how the current certifications map to the new ones, the way you achieve the new certifications is not exactly the same process. For instance, in Windows Server 2008 you could achieve MCTS status by taking any one of the many exams available. In order to achieve MCSA status you must take the 70-640, 70-642, and 70-646 exams. Microsoft explains that you will become part of the Microsoft Certified Program with the passing of any one exam and will have access to the private MCP site where you can view your transcript and progress toward certification.
There is a great FAQ section on the Microsoft Learning website. Here are a few of the questions which I would like to point attention to.
Q. Why are you changing the Microsoft Certification Program and what are the key changes?
A. We reinvented our certifications to maintain their market relevance as the industry shifts to the cloud. Microsoft Certifications now validate broader and deeper skills required to build solutions on-premise or in the cloud. We added recertification requirements to ensure that IT professionals and developers who hold our certifications are up-to-date on our continually evolving technology.
Q. Why did you change the name of Microsoft Certifications?
A. The names—Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)—were changed to better reflect the experience, knowledge, and skills that IT professionals and developers need to build and manage technology solutions that may include multiple technologies, whether on premise or in the cloud.
Q. How do these changes impact my existing Microsoft Certifications?
A. The existing MCTS, MCITP, and MCPD certifications are currently valuable in the market and will remain valuable as long as companies are using the technology covered in your certification. As new technologies are released, they will be released in the new solutions structure. Over time, the MCTS, MCITP, and MCPD certifications will retire and will transition to a legacy status. Legacy Microsoft Certifications will still appear on your transcript and will be designated as such.
Q. Will there be an upgrade path from my current MCITP or MCPD certification?
A. If you achieved an MCITP or MCPD certification that corresponds to a new expert-level certification, there will be a shorter upgrade path available to you for a limited time.
Microsoft has also included a link where you can sign up to receive information about the new exams as they become available, called First to Know.
What Do You Think About the New MCSE?
This is a change that the IT community has been crying out for ever since the MCTS and MCITP certifications were announced 5 years ago. To this day I still get students regularly asking about the Windows Server 2008 MCSE track (which does not exist – yet!). The MCSE brand is one that is so well known that it was hard to believe that Microsoft went away from it in the first place. I have never been more proud to be an MCT and a supporter of the Microsoft certification program than I am right now. Microsoft has shown that they truly care about the IT professional community, and that they are always listening to our needs.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about the new MCSA, MCSE and MCSD certifications. Leave me your comments and I will take all your feedback to my contacts at Microsoft Learning.