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Leopoldon posted a topic in MCSEIt’s not often that a certification announcement garners enough buzz to get a couple minutes’ mention in a large conference keynote, but that’s exactly what happened this week at Microsoft Management Summit 2012. During the MMS Day 1 Keynote “Microsoft Private Cloud. Built for the Future. Ready Now,” there was not only mention, but promotion of the new MCSE: Private Cloud certification. People are talking about it In addition to mention on the main stage at MMS there have been numerous emails, blogs, twitter conversation, and all around buzzing about Microsoft bringing back the MCSE. Any time you can have so much chatter bringing attention to a certification is a good thing, people are excited. Only time will tell if that excitement converts to people obtaining the certification, but it’s a good start. Increased Clarity While the clarity at launch and the direction Microsoft is taking the MCSE is still a little “cloudy,” the clarity of the certification pyramid for MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSE: Data Platform & MCSE: Business Intelligence are much clearer than the MCITP offerings for Windows Server 2008. A week doesn’t go by where we don’t get a perspective learner contacting us asking, “What’s the difference between MCITP: Server Administrator and MCITP: Enterprise Administrator,” and “Which one should I go for?” I wish there was an easy answer for that. Even I question, “Why doesn’t one funnel into the other?” It sort of does, but not really. That was part of the simplicity of the MCSA/MCSE. One was just the first step to the other. It’s good to see that part being brought back. The pyramid is simple. First become MCSA, show you have the foundational knowledge. Second, move up and become a MCSE. Show that you know how to take all the foundational knowledge coupled with expertise on different platforms and make them all work together. Third, if you’re that achiever-type and want to be crowned king of the IT Mountain, you have the MCSM or Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, showing you’ve got as much or more knowledge in the arena as the Microsoft product engineers. Increased Value to Cert One thing I’ve noticed about certifications, like Cisco’s program that require regular recertification, is they hold their value more in the workplace. There is a place and time for recertification and the two places it makes the most sense in are when technologies inside the certification evolve (Security is a great example) and high skill, high impact, niche type information is known. Look at the Cisco CCIE certification and the fact that someone holding that certification is probably going to have a lot of access and power in a network. I would want to know that their keeping up on the technology, compared to a more entry-level person/certification. Additionally, the MCITP certification never got to the value level of the old MCSE. In TechRepublic’s 2011 Salary Survey the MCSE average base salary was higher than their MCITP: Enterprise Admin counter parts by 4% ($83,234 to $79,824). I would expect the familiar branding of the MCSE, new technology knowledge, and the recertification process will help boost the value up and beyond the old MCSE. Branding From the start, Microsoft took backlash when they changed the name of their flagship certification track from MCSE to MCITP. There was a ton of confusion that still exists today. You’ll even run into fan boys that refuse to reference it any differently, but that can all stop now. With the return of the MCSE Microsoft has revived one of the most beloved and valued brands in the certification arena. It ranks right up there with the A+, CCNA, and CCIE for most well-known certifications in the IT field. Besides being beloved and valued, it’s just better marketing. It rolls off your tongue much easier than MCITP and in a world of acronyms, simpler is better. Additionally, the MCTS and MCITP certification took credibility hits early in their existence. People complained they were too easy, and people who had the certs couldn’t actually perform the jobs expected by those who carry the certification brand. Over the past 3 years Microsoft has taken many steps to combat this as well as cheating on the exams. The exams have gotten much harder and representative, but the MCTS and MCITP brand still suffer from the perception. With the rebranding to the MCSA/MCSE, Microsoft has the opportunity to thwart that perception and regain the previous glory and value of the MCSE certification program. Real World Solutions Focus This is hands down the best change to the Microsoft certification map they made with the new MCSE. Microsoft states, “The new certifications align to real world solutions rather than specific products.” The certs are no longer just product specific, but merge products and expertise to be more consistent with what you’d be doing on the job. Let’s be honest, you can be great with a product like Exchange, but if you don’t know how it integrates with SharePoint, Lync, Active Directory and the like you’re not truly an expert. In today’s world of budget cuts there is a real probability that you won’t be working on just a single facet of a network, like server backup operator, and instead be handling parts of the whole environment. As you may know, here at TrainSignal scenario-driven education is what we’re all about so I’m really excited to see Microsoft make this shift. I’ve already noticed with the SQL Server 2012 MCSEs that you need to have passed the administration tests as part of the MCSA. To get your MCSE: Data Platform you need to pass exams covered both developing and designing SQL Databases. That is much better-rounded than the SQL 2008 MCTS and MCITP program where everything was in silos. The same is true with the MCSE: Private Cloud. It’s not just System Center you need to know. You need to have passed the MCSA for Server 2008 proving you have the understanding to really deploy a private cloud environment including the server VMs configuration. This is all exciting stuff and I look forward to all the new information in the coming weeks from Microsoft. At the same time it’s not all good, so make sure to check out 5 Ways Microsoft Screwed Up Bringing Back the MCSE.