Microsoft Second Shot Exam Vouchers Now Available


Second Shot is available for single exams and featured certification packs until May 31, 2013

For more info and to get your voucher, visit http://aka.ms/secondshot .
Spread the word on Twitter with hashtag
#SecondShot.

Certification: SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Exams are Now Available


The following SQL Server 2012 upgrade exam are now available:

Exam 70-457: Transition Your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012, Part 1

Exam 70-458: Transition Your MCTS on SQL Server 2008 to MCSA: SQL Server 2012, Part 2

Exam 70-459: Transition Your MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 or MCITP: Database Developer 2008 to MCSE: Data Platform

Exam 70-460: Transition Your MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer 2008 to MCSE: Business Intelligence

A New Era in Microsoft Certification


Today Microsoft released details of it’s new certification program which is designed to address the growing need for IT Pros and Developers to have skill sets that run both broad and deep.

At first glance it appears that Microsoft has simply reintroduced acronyms used in previous certification streams (such as MCSD , MCSA and MCSE) however this isn’t so and it’s important to understand that these acronyms now represent new certification structures and requirements, not just a renaming of terminology.

So What Has Changed?

As you can see from the diagram below, the new certification program consists of three core levels:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) / Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)

You will also notice that Microsoft has introduced recertification as a requirement of MCSD/MCSE level certifications.

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Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Associate level certifications validate the core skills required to work with a technology at a beginners level.  They also represent the prerequisite certifications required to obtain Expert level certification. 

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) & Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

The Expert level is Microsoft’s flagship set of certifications validating that skills obtained are relevant in the constantly changing tech environment. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) is the destination for established IT Professionals who have expertise working with Microsoft technology solutions.  The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) is the destination for established Developers who have expertise developing solutions with Microsoft tools.

As previously stated, Microsoft has also introduced recertification as a requirement of this certification level.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)

This certification is for the select few who wish to further differentiate themselves from their peers and achieve the highest level of skills validation.

Example: SQL Server 2012 Certification Path

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Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Prerequisite: No certification prerequisites exist however Microsoft recommends that candidates have at least 2 years experience with the technology being tested.

There are three exams required to obtain the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 certification:

SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Path

Please Note: SQL Server 2008 certification exams will be retired in July 2013 and exams 70-457 and 70-458 are expected to be available by August 2012.

Candidates who have achieved an MCTS on SQL Server 2008 will be able to earn the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 certification by passing two exams:

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

Prerequisite: MCSA: SQL Server 2012

The MCSE level consist of two platforms (Data and Business Intelligence) and there are two exams (per platform) required to achieve MCSE certification:

MCSE: Data Platform: 

MCSE: Business Intelligence Platform:

SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Path

Please Note: SQL Server 2008 certification exams will be retired in July 2013 and exams 70-457, 70-458, 70-459, and 70-460 are expected to be available by August 2012.

Candidates who have achieved an MCITP on SQL Server 2008 will be able to earn an MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence Platform certification by passing three exams.  This upgrade path will also earn the candidate the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 certification.

MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 / MCITP: Database Developer 2008

MCITP: Business Intelligence 2008

Microsoft Certified Solutions Master

The MCSM level consist of two platforms (SQL Server and Intelligence):

MCSM: Data Platform

Prerequisite: MCSE: Data Platform

  • Exam 986: MCSM Data Platform Knowledge
  • Exam 986: MCSM Data Platform Lab

Full requirements are still being finalised.  More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/MCSM-sql-server-data-platform.aspx

MCSM: Intelligence

Prerequisite: MCSE: Business Intelligence Platform

  • Full requirements are still being finalised however this level of certification will require the completion of Lab-based and Technical exams

Microsoft Certified Architect

Prerequisite: MCSM: SQL Server and MCSM: Intelligence

MCA: SQL Server

  • Full requirements are still being finalised

Offers and Promotions

Microsoft, in conjunction with Prometric, has released the following offer and promotion to assist candidates with achieving MCSA and/or MCSE certification.

Certification SKU Offer

If you purchase a set of exams to achieve MCSA or MCSE certification, you will receive a 15-20% discount (depending on the number of exams in the set) off the purchase price.

Two-for-One Promotion

Purchase and take a full-priced exam before 30 June 2012 and you will receive, at no cost, a voucher valid for a MCSA or MCSE exam in the same technology.  More information about this offer can be found here.

Additional Information

Microsoft Certification overview page: http://aka.ms/MSCerts

Microsoft Certification overview video: http://aka.ms/MSCertsVideo

MCSE information page: http://aka.ms/MCSE

MCSE video on YouTube: http://aka.ms/MCSEvideo

MCSE Data Platform: http://aka.ms/MCSEDP

MCSE Business Intelligence: http://aka.ms/MCSEBI

The New MCSAs and MCSEs, Your Questions Answered:

 

SQL Server 2012 Beta Exams Are Now Available


Just checked Prometric and all the SQL Server 2012 Beta exams are available for booking. Perfect timing as I’m attending SQL Connections in Las Vegas at the end of March and have also signed up for the 2 day pre-conference workshop on SQL Server 2012 Update for Developers. Woot!

Certification: Yes….No….Maybe!


I read an interesting article by Paul Randal the other day on whether certification was worth it (How valuable are certifications) and it got me thinking about whether Microsoft was serious about certification or does the program exist purely to “keep people happy” (and to drive sales of MOC).

Over the years Microsoft has been criticised for taking far too long to release certifications relevant to current technologies and for not doing enough to stamp out cheating (which devalues certification).  Microsoft has also come under fire for releasing certifications but not releasing relevant study material (Self-paced Training Kits, e-Learning and classroom training etc.).  Unfortunately these “issues” have further contributed to the belief that certification is a waste of time.  Well, it appears times are changing.

Relevant and Up-to-Date Certifications

Microsoft Learning has listened to suggestions from certification candidates and is addressing the need for relevant and up-to-date certifications by ensuring it offers both training and certifications to enable IT Pros and Developers to develop and validate their skill.  One example of this effort is the recently announced Private Cloud Certification (Beta in April 2012) and the upcoming Private Cloud Jump Start course.  Another example is the recently announced SQL Server 2012 certifications (Beta in March 2012) and the SQL Server 2012 Developer Training Kit BOM.  For me though, the most exciting aspect of Microsoft’s change in direction is recertification.

Recertification is Microsoft’s way of ensuring that certifications remain meaningful and valuable, and that a person continues to demonstrate competence in a given technology even as the technology changes through service packs, revisions, and new product version releases.

Recertification is currently required for MCPD: Windows Azure Developer and MCPD: Windows Phone Developer certifications (every two years) and for Professional-level SQL Server 2012 certifications (every three years).  Hopefully Microsoft will make recertification a requirement for all technologies.  

Exam Security

This is a difficult area to address and unfortunately cheating will exist as long as certification exists.  That said, Microsoft has implemented a number of strategies to combat cheating and has even gone as far as publishing real-life stories of piracy and cheating.  Exam security is not limited to cracking down on brain-dumps, theft or impersonation though.  Take the MCM program for example.

A few years ago Microsoft released the MCM program which in my opinion addresses some of the criticism it received for not stamping out cheating (and the devaluation of certifications) as these certifications can’t be gained through study alone (thus ruling out the use of brain-bumps) as they contain a practical (lab) component. Significant security measures have also been implemented to ensure the integrity of the MCM is maintained and that people sitting exams are who they say they are.

As with recertification, I hope Microsoft extends lab based exams to all certifications and also implements the same MCM security related measures for all exams and certification candidates.

Need to report suspected cheating or piracy?  Visit the Microsoft Certification Exam Policies site or send an email to TCTips@microsoft.com

Conclusion

I’ve always been passionate about certification and at times have been frustrated with the “perception” that certification is a waste of time because they become out-dated and that anyone can pass a certification exam by downloading a dump. 

Microsoft appears to be listening to suggestions and heading in the right direction with some of the initiatives they’ve implemented and I hope they continue to refine and release additional initiatives/incentives to ensure certifications retain their relevancy.

Have questions about Training and Certification?  Pop by the Training and Certification and Born to Learn forums where dedicated members will gladly point you in the right direction.,

SQL Server 2012 Certification Nearly Here


UPDATE: As per this thread on Born to Learn (SQL Server 2012 Certifications), beta exams will go live mid-March 2012.

While reviewing threads on the MSDN Training and Certification Forum, I read a reply from Nilkamal0007 in relation to a question on SQL Server 2012 certification. What caught my eye about this particular reply was that Nilkamal0007 provided links to exam content published in Microsoft’s exam catalogue; something I didn’t know had been published.  So what does this mean?  It means that the Beta cycle for these exams is close to going live.

I don’t know the exact release dates for the new SQL Server 2012 certifications (or when the beta period actually begins) however the exam catalogue does show the following:

Published: June 8, 2012 (In development)

70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Published: June 11, 2012 (In development)

70-464: Developing a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
70-465: Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server 2012

Published: June 12, 2012 (In development)

70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server
70-462: Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
70-463: Building Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Platform

Master-Level Certifications

The first exam for the new SQL Server 2012 Master-level certification is scheduled to be available in beta version in June.

Looks like I better get my study cap on Smile

SQL Server 2012 Virtual Labs


Want to play around with SQL Server 2012 but don’t have an environment to play around in?  Check out the following SQL Server 2012 Virtual Labs:

SQL Server 2012: AlwaysOn Availability Groups (SQL 142)

In this hands-on-lab you will learn take advantage of the new AlwaysOn features in SQL Server 2012. You will learn how to implement High-Availability and Data Recovery using SQL Server 2012 Availability Groups.

SQL Server 2012 – Working with Contained Databases (SQL 145)

In this lab, learn how to implement Contained Databases in SQL Server 2012.

SQL Server 2012 – What’s new in Manageability (SQL 147)

In this hands-on-lab you will learn about new manageability features in SQL Server 2012. You will learn how to take advantage of new features in SQL Server Management Tools, PowerShell, and features that will increase your productivity.

SQL Server 2012 – Installation and Configuration (SQL 149)

In this hands-on-lab you will build out a network environment that includes a Domain Controller, an multiple instances of SQL Server 2012.

SQL Server 2012 – Security and Compliance (SQL 150)

In this in hands-on-lab you will learn how to implement security and compliance in SQL Server 2012.

SQL Server 2012 – Upgrading to SQL Server 2012 (SQL 151)

In this hands-on-lab you will learn on how to upgrade to SQL Server 2012.You will learn how to use SQL Server Upgrade Advisor and Distributed Replay to upgrade a SQL Server 2005/2008 database to SQL Server 2012

SQL Server 2012 – What’s new in T-SQL (SQL 152)

In this hands-on-lab you will learn about the new T-SQL enhancements for SQL Server 2012.You will learn about new scalar functions, T-SQL constructs and how to take advantage of these new features.

SQL Server 2012 – Installing and managing SQL Server 2012 on Windows Server Core (SQL 153)

In this hands-on-lab you will learn how to deploy SQL Server on Windows Server core, and how configure connectivity and management of a Windows Server core based installation.

SQL Server 2012 – What’s new in Data warehousing and EIM

In this hands-on-lab you will learn about the enhancements in SQL Server 2012 for Data warehousing.

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