The fourth quarter of 2016 was a busy time for Microsoft, announcing three new, streamlined expert (MCSE) and developer (MCSD) certifications.
The new MCSE certification tracks — for Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, Mobility, Data Management and Analytics, and Productivity — align end-user certifications with those for Microsoft solution partner professionals.
The new MCSD certification track — App Builder — focuses on skills validation for web and mobile app development.
At the MCSA level, the Cloud Platform certification became the primary path for Azure certification.
The new certifications, particularly the MCSA Cloud Platform, the MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, and the MCSD App Builder, seem to be aimed at increasing the numbers of IT professionals certified on Microsoft’s cloud offering, but how are they going to connect to existing Microsoft training and certifications?
Let’s look at what Azure now has to offer in terms of certification and how these new offerings will help you succeed.
Why is the Cloud Important for IT Pros?
The cloud is a fact of life for most enterprises and cloud-trained professionals are in great demand. Microsoft designed their cloud certification overhaul to assist IT professionals in learning more and helping drive the deployment of customer solutions onto Microsoft’s cloud platform.
Out with the Old, In with the New
Because of these new tracks, some MCSE and MCSD certification exams are going to be retired on March 31, 2017. After that date, you’ll find them in the Legacy section of your Microsoft transcript.
Microsoft Certification Overhaul
If you’ve ever obtained a Microsoft certification, the structure and prerequisites have stayed the same. You must still first earn an Associate-level (MCSA) certification in your track, and then you have to pass the corresponding MCSE exam(s).
The exciting aspect of these new MCSE credentials is that they don’t require recertification every three years, and you advance from MCSA to MCSE or MCSD with only one additional exam.
Here’s the catch (kinda). “Current” is a moving target in the new Microsoft vernacular. Since the new MCSE and MCSD recertification exams are tied to a software or platform version, your certification will always be listed as “Active,” and therefore current, as long as the software or platform is current. Therefore, your certification never expires (until the system changes, of course).
Every year, you may “recertify” with a new elective exam, and each one of those MCSE certifications will also be “current” until the technology goes away. In a sense, if you have one MCSE, then you’ll always have one active MCSE, but “current” actually means “recertifying” with a new elective exam every year.
For instance: In 2021, you’ll still have an active MCSE on record for 2017. If you didn’t recertify in 2018, 2019, 2020, or 2021 with a new elective recertification exam, then you’ll have a four-year gap in active certifications, which isn’t bad (you’ll still have the first MCSE), but it’s not good.
Employers will certainly conform to the newly introduced certification track, so we recommend that you recertify every year to remain current and active in Microsoft learning throughout your career.
This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every three years to prevent your certification from going inactive.
With their new certification structure, Microsoft seems to be emphasizing the importance of keeping current in rapidly changing technologies. The new paths provide a great space to learn about Azure and build your expertise and credibility.
Hopping on the Cloud
CBT Nuggets offers three training courses designed specifically to prepare you for the Azure-related Microsoft MCSA Cloud Platform certification. You need to take and pass two of the following to earn the MCSA:
- Exam 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions (no course currently offered by CBT Nuggets)
- Exam 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions (no course currently offered by CBT Nuggets)
- Exam 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions: CBT Nuggets course Microsoft Azure 70-532
- Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions: CBT Nuggets course Microsoft Azure 70-533
- Exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions: CBT Nuggets course Microsoft Azure 70-534
From here, the most cloud-centric path that you can take is earning your Microsoft MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification. You have the option of taking exams on developing, managing and architecting Azure solutions, along with some exams on the process of operating and deploying a private cloud for your organization. This path will put you right on track to becoming a cloud guru, and we can help you take the first steps.
Another path that could help you achieve cloud success is the new MCSD App Builder path. Although this path focuses on building skills for web and mobile app development, there is some emphasis on working with Azure to make this happen and using the cloud to ease up on the hardware needed to make your app ventures become a reality.
Along with our CBT Nuggets courses, MVA offers some courses that you can take as preparation or as an additional topical review. The MVA courses can bolster your learning and confirm that you retained the material taught by our Azure expert, Ben Finkel.
With the continuing industry push toward the cloud, the demand continues to grow for Azure-trained professionals working in systems and network administration, user support, engineering and architecture, and DevOps.
The restructuring of the Microsoft and Azure certifications provides a new and effective way to learn the latest about Microsoft technologies. It emphasizes a change toward ongoing education and encourages current MCSD and MCSE holders to take electives and remain up-to-date on their certification transcripts.
If you’re planning to take on the cloud and pursue the new MCSD and MCSE tracks or the MCSA Cloud Platform track, your first step is to start learning. Start training today!
CBT Nuggets has everything you need to learn new IT skills and advance your career — unlimited video training and practice exams, virtual labs, validated learning with in-video quizzes, accountability coaching, and access to our exclusive community of professionals. Learn more about the CBT Nuggets Learning Experience.
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