Tags: Windows Server 2008, MCTS, MCITP, exam expirations, exam retirement, mcsa, mcse, Windows Server 2012, certification lifecycle, private cloud
In response to a recent post, blog reader Zappy asked,
I am new to Windows Server certifications and I currently hold none. I am thinking of getting certified but I am not sure if I should begin with Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012. I have a fair amount of experience in 2008. What would you suggest?
The knee-jerk response is “Forget 2008; study for the cert that will have the longest shelf life.” However, there are a few factors to consider before writing off a 2008 certification entirely. Those factors are:
- the number of exams required to earn a certification
- the desired time frame for earning a certification
- the user’s level of experience with 2008 versus 2012
- how soon the user can expect 2012 to be the standard in his or her particular industry
For the sake of demonstration, I’m going to look only at Windows Server certifications, and not specialties such as Lync, .NET, SharePoint, or Exchange. (You can find more information on those certification paths here.) I’m also going to stick with entry-level and mid-level certs, since you’d be earning those anyway as you blaze towards the MCSE or MCM.
(Remember: These recommendations are for someone who, as of late 2012, has not yet taken any Microsoft exam and needs to factor exam retirement dates into a certification strategy.)
Do it now: Be off like a shot
No matter which path you decide to pursue, do it now. The perfect time to buy your first Microsoft exam voucher is during the Second Shot promotion. That means that if you take an exam between now and May 30, 2013 and fail it, you can sit for a free retake. You can buy Second Shot assurance for a single exam or for a multi-exam voucher pack (which typically earns you a bulk discount on exam fees as well).
It only takes one
Remember that passing one certification exam, even if it’s part of a multi-exam certification track, earns you the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) credential. As a member of the Microsoft Certification Program, you have access to MCP Flash emails from Microsoft, and you can share your transcript with others to show your progress towards a specific certification.
Single-exam certs: testing the Microsoft waters
In the “need a cert now” category, you can obtain a Microsoft certification with just one test — and it will count toward a higher-level certification, should you choose to pursue one. However, one-test certs are only offered for Windows Server 2008. The three server specializations are:
- 70-640 – Earns the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuration
- 70-642 – Earns the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
- 70-643 – Earns the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuration (retires July 31, 2013)
Remember that these exams include Windows Server 2008 R2 material, so you absolutely must be familiar with R2 before sitting an exam.
Our recommendation: if you’ve never sat for any Microsoft test and don’t know what to expect, combining Second Shot with a one-test cert might be the perfect low-stress entrance strategy, even if it “only” earns you an MCTS Server 2008 credential. If you go this route, choose either the 70-640 or the 70-642, since these also count toward the newly fledged MCSA in Server 2008 (more on that in the next section).
70-643 alone is not relevant to the MCSA 2008, so look at the exam’s objectives, and only choose it if you need this certification in your current job (and your boss is paying).
Three to five exams: not all middle-tier certs are created equal
Things get a bit murky as you move up the Server 2008 certification ladder. Having divided Generation 2008 certifications into five MCTS (entry level) and three MCITP (mid level) exam tracks, all covering different job roles and skills, Microsoft recently collapsed the varied tracks back into a revised MCSA, and added the upper-tier MCSE options. However, the MCITP tracks are still active. Depending on the track, each MCITP will either be phased out in July 2013 or rolled into the new generation of certifications.
You can obtain an MCITP in a Windows client or in Server 2008 R2 by taking three to five exams. The three server paths are Enterprise, Server Admin, and Virtualization Admin.
- The MCITP: Server Administrator requires three exams. None of these exams is scheduled for retirement in 2013.
- The MCITP: Virtualization Administrator requires three exams. These exams retire July 31, 2013.
- The MCITP: Enterprise Administrator requires five exams. These exams retire July 31, 2013.
Earning the MCITP: Server OR the MCITP: Enterprise automatically snags you an equivalent MCSA: Windows Server 2008. However, Server can be earned in only three exams, while Enterprise takes five. A MCSA: Server 2008 plus the 70-417 upgrade exam can then earn you the MCSA: Server 2012.
The MCITP: Virtualization also allows you to upgrade to MCSA: Server 2012 — but, confusingly, you can’t upgrade it to an MCSA: Server 2008. Microsoft has dropped it from this list of current MCITP tracks; also see this blog post.
Tags: certification lifecycle, exam expirations
Editor’s note: Dates and exam numbers in this post may have changed since it was published. Please refer FIRST to Microsoft’s master list of retiring certifications: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/retired-certifications.aspx#fbid=bFimCn-qjlo. Click http://transcender.wordpress.com/category/certification-paths/ to find the latest posts by date on this topic.
Microsoft’s 2003, 2007, or 2008 technologies may still be thriving in your workplace, but Microsoft places hard limits on the certification lifecycle. It’s easy to let deadlines get away from you when you feel like there’s no rush. Are you a test or two away from earning an MCTS or MCITP? If so, be sure to go over this list of exam expirations and schedule your test well before the deadline. This will make sure you aren’t caught in a time crunch, and have to fight off a slew of fellow last-minute test-takers to get a seat at your testing center.
ETA: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for pointing out that several exams scheduled to expire THIS month, July 31, 2012, are actually listed as Already Retired and so did not appear on our initial list:
- Upgrade: MCITP SQL Server 2005 to 2008
- Upgrade MCPD Windows Developer to MCPD Windows Developer 3.5
- 70-566 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Windows Developer Skills to MCPD Windows Developer 3.5
- 70-567 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Web Developer Skills to MCPD ASP.NET Developer 3.5
- 70-568 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Enterprise Application Developer Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer 3.5, Part 1
- 70-569 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Enterprise Application Developer Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer 3.5, Part 2
Exams expiring September 30, 2012:
- Office SharePoint and Office Communications 2007
- Exchange Server 2007
Exams expiring January 31, 2013:
- Office SharePoint Server 2007
- 70-542: TS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 – Application Development
- Office Project 2007 and Project Server 2007
Exams expiring July 31, 2013:
- Windows Server 2008 R2
- Windows Server 2008
- 70-643: TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring
- 70-647: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
- 70-648: Upgrading your MCSA on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
- 70-649: Upgrading your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
- Windows Server 2003
- 70-290: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
- 70-291: Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
- 70-293: Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
- 70-294: Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure
- 70-297: Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure
- 70-298: Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network
- 70-299: Implementing and Administering Security in a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network
- Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0
- 70-521: Upgrade: Transition your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Developer Skills to MCPD .NET 4.0 Windows Applications Developer
- 70-523: Upgrade: Transition Your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Web Developer Skills to MCPD .NET Framework 4 Web Developer
- 70-536: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework – Application Development Foundation
- Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- 70-502: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Presentation Foundation
- 70-503: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Communication Foundation
- 70-504: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Workflow
- 70-505: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Forms Application Development
- 70-561: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ADO.NET Application Development
- 70-562: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ASP.NET Application Development
- 70-563: Pro: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- 70-564: PRO: Designing and Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- 70-565: PRO: Designing and Developing Enterprise Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
For a complete list of exam expirations across all certification tracks, and more information on present and future certification tracks, visit Microsoft’s Certification Lifecycle page.
Tags: exam expirations, second shot
June 30, 2010 is the last day you can take advantage of Microsoft’s Second Shot voucher program. Remember, you must actually TAKE your retake exam by this date (if you failed the initial exam), not just register for the retake by this date.
That means if you haven’t made your initial exam attempt yet, you may want to schedule that sooner rather than later, so in the very unlikely event that you don’t pass (we wish you nothing but success on your FIRST attempt), you’ll have enough time to schedule a retake before your voucher expires. Microsoft requires a 24-hour waiting period between your first failed exam attempt and its retake. Be sure to examine Microsoft’s exam retake policy to see if different restrictions apply to your particular track: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-policies.aspx
If you’ve already failed an exam and intend to use your Second Shot voucher for a retake, get it scheduled as soon as possible!
On the exam expiration front, Cisco is retiring several CCNP, CCDP, and Express Foundation track exams by July 31, 2010. That means you have just about six weeks to sit for any of the following:
- 642-901 BSCI, Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks
- 642-812 BCMSN, Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks
- 642-825 ISCW, Implementing Secure Converged WANs
- 642-845 ONT, Optimizing Converged Cisco Networks
- 642-892 COMP, Composite BSCI and BCMSN
- 642-373 CXFS, Express Foundation for System Engineers v1.2
- 642-383 CXFF, Express Foundation for Field Engineers v1.2
- 646-363 CXFA, Express Foundation for Account Managers v1.2
You can find complete information on Cisco’s Certification Exams page.