At the beginning of every year, people across the globe make resolutions on what to achieve, or what to do better, or what they want to quit doing. It’s called the New Year resolution. This is the year 2013, a time when technology is crossing boundaries and innovations meet possibilities, a year when Microsoft is consolidating on its cloud offerings with emerging new certification trends. How do you shape up for the challenges of this year? I want to show you a series of paths you can take to ensure that you remain relevant as a technology specialist and solution provider.

MCSE Training – Resources (Intense)

I am going to discuss your options, categorized depending on where you’re at, so you can make the appropriate decision:

  1. First-level technology entrants – the very basic career options and certification paths.
  2. Mid-level technology professionals – how to move up the career and certification paths available.
  3. Senior-level technology professionals – how to upgrade your current certifications to the new on-premise and cloud-based standards.

FIRST-LEVEL TECHNOLOGY ENTRANT

If you are absolutely new and you want to make a career in IT, I welcome you to the new exciting world of Microsoft offerings. I recommend you take a shot at the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification. The first good news here is that the MTA does not expire and it is a single examination course. The beauty of this is that it exposes you to infrastructure, database design or software development; it is not combined, so you have to choose your area of interest, and that is dependent on your career goals.

IT INFRASTRUCTURE

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

DATABASE

This is for those who intend to build a career in desktop or server infrastructure or private cloud computing. This is for those who intend to build a career as a software developer. This is for those who intend to build a career in data platform administration or business intelligence.
  • Exam 98-349: Windows Operating System Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-365: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-366: Networking Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-367: Security Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-361: Software Development Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-362: Windows Development Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-363: Web Development Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-372: .Net Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-373: Mobile Development Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-374: Gaming Development Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-375: HTML5 App Development Fundamentals
  • Exam 98-364: Database Fundamentals

At this level, you only have to write one exam – just one, not two nor three. But more specifically, this is tailored for young people who are in school and need to be introduced. I remember years back when someone would come into the technology center and want to study. These basics weren’t existent yet and I saw the damage such a big leap did to these young men and women who wanted a career in IT. In every batch of 22 people, roughly 10 made a breakthrough. The others couldn’t survive; it was too much knowledge, too technical, too industry-ready.

With the MTA, you get the groundwork and the confidence to face the next level, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA). Take note though, sitting for multiple MTAs doesn’t aggregate to give you anything. But it does show employers that you recognize the place of technology in business, and from here you can proceed to become an IT Intern, Networking Intern, Software Intern, Database Intern, and do other accompanying trainee programs.

MID-LEVEL TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONAL

Those at this level absolutely need to make the right decision for the year. Perhaps the previous year 2012 was good for you, or maybe it wasn’t so good. However it turned out, you are now confronted with the here and now, so what do you want to become? Let me show you what is obtainable and how you can pitch your tent in the right place.

We have what we call network infrastructure and administration. Skills that you learn at this point include, but are not limited to, the ability to plan, implement and administer a Microsoft network. It means you have learned what is required, for example, to build an infrastructure for a company housed on all floors of a 5-storey building with 65 staff. You know which cables to buy and how to crimp them, lay out the switches and routers, set up an active directory environment with proper DNS and DHCP schemes, implement group policies, configure remote access, set up your certificate authorities, create and administer user accounts and, additionally, you know how to play with messaging systems, as well as content, collaboration, and communication systems. These are probably what you have up your sleeves, and I assure you these are not ordinary skills you have learned: you have come a long way.

What you need to do now is to get the appropriate certification to match the skill level or diverse skill levels you may have. This is where the Microsoft Certified Solution Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) come into play.

In a real-world scenario, you are not going to do all of these on the job on a daily basis, but you will find situations where you have to administer these existing setups or where you have to supervise or deliver this kind of work. You may also troubleshoot cases where knowledge of intricate engineering will be required to resolve a mystery problem. This will land you job offerings such as Infrastructure Engineer, Network Support Engineer, Windows Systems Administrator, Field Service Engineer, 1st/2nd Line Support Engineer, Infrastructure Operations Engineer, etc. You will be part of a team of people on the same path and higher, and a part of projects at your level and higher, and you will gain valuable experience usable in your next career advancement phase.

On this track, you should watch out for:

IT INFRASTRUCTURE

KNOWLEDGE AREA TESTED

EXAM CODE & DESCRIPTION

MCSA Solution Associate

  • Windows Server 2012
It shows that you have the primary set of skills across multiple solution areas in a business environment. You will learn how to install, configure and administer Windows Server, and advanced server services. Jobs you will fit into include network engineer, administrator, support specialist, etc.
  • 70-410 (Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012).
  • 70-411 (Administering Windows Server 2012).
  • 70-412 (Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services).
MCSA Solution Associate

  • Windows Server 2008
Same as above.
  • 70-640 (Win2k8 Active Directory Configuring).
  • 70-642 (Win2k8 Network Infrastructure Configuring).
  • 70-646 (Win2k8 Server Administrator)

Now, if you already have the equivalent of these skills when Microsoft changed from the old MCSA/MCSE to MCITP and have your MCITP now, and you want to bump up on the new playing field, then you don’t have to write all these exams to match up. All you need to do is go through the list I have below, and if you have any one of them, you should write the upgrade exam Microsoft has provided (Exam 70-417) to become a Windows Server 2012 certified MCSA.

Although it’s not generally considered a “smart” move to go from an MCITP and upgrade to an MCSA (most people would rather do all that’s necessary to get to the MCSE), the possibility is there however based on your choice, or in the interim.

YOUR EXISTING CERTIFICATION

(Note: “If you have ANY of these”)

UPGRADE EXAM TO WRITE

CERTIFICATION TO OBTAIN

MCSA: Windows Server 2008

70-417 – Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012

Microsoft Certified Solution Associate
(MCSA)

Windows Server 2012

MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

SENIOR-LEVEL TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONAL

Back in the days of the old MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), we differentiated between MCSE and MCSA by explaining that the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) can administer an existing network infrastructure system, but not plan or design it. This was because planning, designing and implementing such elaborate systems was not within their scope of study, even if they did demonstrate acumen. It hasn’t changed pretty much, and is why we consider anyone who can as senior-level.

So, here you are now, an MCSA Solution Associate. What’s next for you? It is time to aim at an MCSE Solution Expert. How do you do this? For most already at this senior level, it means you held some sort of MCITP before now, so the first thing you should consider is, instead of writing all the exams fresh, writing an upgrade exam as I show below:

YOUR EXISTING CERTIFICATION

(Note: “If you have ANY of these”)

UPGRADE EXAM TO WRITE

CERTIFICATION TO OBTAIN

MCSA: Windows Server 2008

70-417 – Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012

70-413 – Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure

70-414 – Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure

Microsoft Certified Solution Expert
(MCSE)

Server Infrastructure

MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

Another area you can upgrade into is shown below using the same set of credentials:

YOUR EXISTING CERTIFICATION

(Note: “If you have ANY of these”)

UPGRADE EXAM TO WRITE

CERTIFICATION TO OBTAIN

MCSA: Windows Server 2008

70-417 – Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012

70-415 – Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure

70-416 – Implementing Desktop Application Environments

Microsoft Certified Solution Expert
(MCSE)

Desktop Infrastructure

MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008
MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2
MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010
MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010
MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

I would like to re-emphasize that at this point you are still using your MCITP experience and certifications as springboards.

What about if you are planning not to upgrade? You have the requisite work experience but you haven’t been able to validate these experiences – what should you do? These are your options:

IT INFRASTRUCTURE

KNOWLEDGE AREA TESTED

EXAM CODE & DESCRIPTION

MCSE Solution Expert

  • Server Infrastructure
5 exams in total covering modern data center, identity management, storage, systems management, networking, security, backup, etc.
  • 70-410 (Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012).
  • 70-411 (Administering Windows Server 2012).
  • 70-412 (Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services).
  • 70-413 (Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure).
  • 70-414 (Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • Desktop Infrastructure
5 exams in total covering desktops, devices, virtualization, application virtualization, remote desktop services, security, compliance, etc.
  • 70-410, 70-411, 70-412
  • 70-415
    (Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure).
  • 70-416
    (Implementing Desktop Application Environments).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • Private Cloud
5 exams in total covering , identity management, storage, systems management, networking, security, System Center, automation, service delivery, backup, etc.
  • 70-410, 70-411, 70-412
  • 70-246 (Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012).
  • 70-247 (Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • Data Platform
5 exams in total covering SQL server 2012, installing, scaling, administering, designing, implementing, querying, databases, backup, etc.
  • 70-461 (Querying MS SQL 2012).
  • 70-462 (Administering MS SQL 2012 Databases).
  • 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with MS SQL 2012).
  • 70-464 (Developing MS SQL 2012 Databases).
  • 70-465 (Designing Database Solutions for MS SQL 2012).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • Business Intelligence
5 exams in total covering SQL server 2012, installing, deploying, administering, designing, implementing, querying, databases, reporting, cubes, mining, etc.
  • 70-461 (Querying MS SQL 2012).
  • 70-462 (Administering MS SQL 2012 Databases).
  • 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with MS SQL 2012).
  • 70-466 (Implementing Data Models and Reports with MS SQL 2012).
  • 70-467 (Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with MS SQL 2012).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • Messaging
5 exams in total covering modern data center, identity management, storage, systems management, networking, security, Exchange Server – planning, designing, deploying, configuring, administering, backup, etc.
  • 70-410, 70-411, 70-412
  • 70-341 (Core Solutions of MS Exchange Server 2013).
  • 70-342 (Advanced Solutions of MS Exchange Server 2013).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • Communication
5 exams in total covering modern data center, identity management, storage, systems management, networking, security, Lync Server – planning, designing, deploying, configuring, administering, integration, etc.
  • 70-410, 70-411, 70-412
  • 70-336 (Core Solutions of MS Lync Server 2013).
  • 70-337 (Enterprise Voice & Online Services with MS Lync Server 2013).
MCSE Solution Expert

  • SharePoint
5 exams in total covering modern data center, identity management, storage, systems management, networking, security, SharePoint Server – planning, designing, installing, configuring, administering, backup, etc.
  • 70-410, 70-411, 70-412
  • 70-331 (Core Solutions of MS SharePoint Server 2013).
  • 70-332 (Advanced Solutions of MS SharePoint Server 2013).

The image below helps to visualize a schematic overview:

Click on image to enlarge

On the developer side of your Microsoft goals for the year, in view of the adoption strategies which will subsequently envelop us, it is good to aim at skill sets turning over such jobs as software developer, web developer, web administrator, development engineer, etc, at junior, intermediate and senior positions.

I foresee explosions of 3rd party apps that trends have been indicating (Windows App Store), and you will want to be in the middle of it as companies leverage and build custom solutions to meet their unique business environments on emerging mobile platforms. To achieve this, prepare for HTML5 and C#.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

KNOWLEDGE AREA TESTED

EXAM CODE & DESCRIPTION

MCSD Solution Developer

  • Windows Store Apps using HTML 5
3 exams in total covering HTML 5, JavaScript, CSS3, web storage, attributes, elements, canvas, APIs, input types, etc.
  • 70-480 (Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3).
  • 70-481 (Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using HTML5 and JavaScript).
  • 70-482 (Advanced Windows Store Apps Development Using HTML5 and JavaScript).
MCSD Solution Developer

  • Windows Store Apps using C#
3 exams in total covering C#, objects, classes, exceptions, I/O, data structures, Windows forms, etc.
  • 70-483 (Programming in C#).
  • 70-484 (Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using C#).
  • 70-485 (Advanced Windows Store Apps Development Using C#).
MCSD Solution Developer

  • Web Applications
3 exams in total covering C#, ASP.Net, Azure, web services, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, I/O, objects, classes, APIs, etc.
  • 70-480 (Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3).
  • 70-486 (Developing ASP.NET MVC for Web Applications).
  • 70-487 (Developing Windows Azure and Web Services).
MCSD Solution Developer

  • Application Lifecycle Management
3 exams in total covering C#, ASP.Net, Azure, web services, JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, etc.
  • 70-496 (Administering Microsoft Visual Studio team Foundation Server 2012).
  • 70-497 (Software Testing with Visual Studio 2012).
  • 70-498 (Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio 2012 Application Lifecycle Management).

So far, we have seen that there are many offerings and much ground to cover. In setting forth your strategies for achieving your certification goals for 2013, collaboration and participation in technical communities and forums offer a great deal in respect to challenging yourself to hit your target within time, and you should also leverage the budget and cost-saving features of the 2nd shot. And to bring my final words on this discussion, on the New Year’s resolution end, stop asking if there is an upgrade path for Windows Server 2000 Advanced Server into MCSE Solution Expert – you won’t get an answer for that.

Photo credits:

MCSA/MCSE Roadmap image – www.microsoft.com

References:

Microsoft Learning – www.microsoft.com/learning