Certifications / Microsoft

Roadmap to Success: MCSE: Private Cloud

by Karin Klinger
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Published on March 29, 2016

Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

UPDATED: We updated this article May 2, 2017, to reflect relevant changes to the Microsoft MCSE: Private Cloud certification curriculum.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Private Cloud (MCSE Private Cloud) certification addresses two of Microsoft's most popular products: Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012. As more companies embrace cloud technologies, the importance of understanding the underlying products and services that make up the private cloud is critical. Generally, the MCSE: Private Cloud certification qualifies learners for roles such as cloud administrator, cloud designer, systems administrator, and more.

MCSE: Private Cloud

CRITICAL UPDATE: Microsoft restructured its certifications. The MCSE: Private Cloud certification was formally retired March 31, 2017, and replaced by the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. For more information on the restructure, please read our What to Expect from the New Microsoft Certification Paths post.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert Private Cloud (MCSE Private Cloud) certification is designed to validate and prove learners' expertise in managing and implementing Microsoft private cloud computing technologies. The MCSE: Private Cloud certification is made up of five exams, all of which are covered by CBT Nuggets training:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 70-410 with R2 Updates

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 70-411 with R2 Updates

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 70-412 with R2 Updates

  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Private Cloud 70-246

  • Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Private Cloud 70-247

While many learners complete the exams in sequence, it is not required to do so. When a learner successfully passes the 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412 exams, that learner earns the MCSA Server 2012 certification. Most learners who are successful earning the MCSE: Private Cloud take the 70-247 exam before the 70-246.

Typically, learners pursuing this certification should have 2-3 years of experience working with Microsoft products, particularly Server 2012. Learners also should be familiar with Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), SharePoint, Hyper-V, networking, and storage, as well as have a foundational familiarity with cloud management processes in order to expect a successful outcome on their MCSE: Private Cloud exam. The MCSE is considered an intermediate-level certification, so learners should have some experience before embarking on this certification pathway.

Exam Details The following exam details are applicable for each exam that makes up the MCSE: Private Cloud certification.

Time allotted for exam: 120 minutes for MCSA exams (70-410, 70-411, and 70-412) 150 minutes for MCSE exams (70-246 and 70-247) Number of questions: 40-60* Passing score: 700** Question types: Multiple choice; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue Please note that MCSE: Private Cloud certification exams may be available for online proctored delivery.Exam cost: $165 (USD) per exam Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (free resource) to guide your study and preparation.

*Microsoft does not publish the exact number of questions associated with its exams. Therefore, the number of questions a learner will see varies on a case-by-case basis. **Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn a simple 70 percent to pass the exam.

Microsoft exams have a reputation for being challenging. Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams, and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at a fraction of the cost. Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.


Microsoft MCSE certifications are valid for three years. According to Microsoft, recertification exams are currently available for all MCSE and MCSD specialties. Recertification exams cover material from the exams taken to originally earn the credential, with particular emphasis on the most recent technology and process changes. With the new elective exam structure for continuing education, learners have the opportunity to take an elective exam of their choosing each year to "re-earn" the certification.

The Next Step

The MCSE: Private Cloud certification is an intermediate-level certification, but it is vendor-specific. Therefore, learners can choose to diversify their certification resumes or delve more deeply into additional Microsoft certifications as next steps.

The MCSE: Private Cloud certification can be an excellent building block for additional certifications including:

Career Considerations Simplyhired.com/ provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the MCSE. Depending on professional experience, an employee who holds an MCSE can earn on average $69,264. Payscale.com/ reports a range of salaries for employees holding an MCSE certification between $50,363 and $146,659. It should be noted that neither Simplyhired.com/ nor Payscale.com/ have data specific to the MCSE: Private Cloud certification, but rather provide averages for any MCSE certification. Roles that are common for those holding an MCSE certification include IT manager, IT director, systems administrator, senior systems engineer, network administrator, and senior solution architect.

Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more specialized, complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provides learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA-level content.

As Microsoft describes it, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: AppBuilder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signifies how you keep up with changes to the technology.

Each year, you have the opportunity to renew the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive. Learn more about the new Microsoft certification structure.

Begin exploring other Microsoft training and certification options to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts The MCSE: Private Cloud certification demonstrates your desire to advance your knowledge, skills, and career as the industry moves increasingly to the cloud. This certification will open up career advancement opportunities that will keep your skills in demand in a rapidly changing field. Start working toward your MCSE Private Cloud certification today!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the MCSE: Private Cloud!

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