Apr 15, 2012

New certification Paths

Interestingly,  I got an email on 11th from a friend of mine inquiring about the certifications Microsoft is offering.  I know that Microsoft was planning to bring new set of certifications.  So While writing the reply when I checked the site, I found out the Microsoft has just updated the info.

Microsoft has done a major restructuring of the certification program related to SQL Server and related technologies.  Its look like Microsoft believes that, the current program was developed couple of years ago and should be changed to meet the current market trend.  Microsoft is placing a lot of weight on cloud side.  According to Microsoft, this trend will eventually applied to other areas (such as Development and Windows Administration) as well. It is divided into more granular form.

From remarks I see many have worried about the name change: Earlier we had MCSE for Microsoft Certified Software Engineer,  and it moved to MCDBA, later it changed into MCITP and now we are back to MCSE (Microsoft certified Solutions Expert) (Yes, the world is round but not fully round).  Most of the HR firms will find it difficult to keep updating their staff and recruitment process.  I still see vacancies referring to MCDBA certification, which was the certification for SQL Server 2000.

For the DBAs the biggest change is narrowing tracks of database Development, database administration and Business intelligence.  Actually to pass the first level (MCSA) you need to pass three exams:  70-461 (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012), 70-462 (Administering a SQL Server database)  and 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012) . It means every database professional who wishes to have a certification should know BI stuff and administration stuff as well.

Let me warn you about this exam:  These are not easy exams. 70-462 talks about many advanced stuff including using trace flags, DBCC commands, TDE, Clustering, extended events and always one. Similarly, 40-463 includes Data Quality Services, advanced stuff on SSIS (Fuzzy actions, Optimizing performance etc.), package configuration, Deployment, Using PowerShell, SCD type 2 and Master data Services.
I remember someone telling, that he would score more on the Business Intelligence exam if he is permitted to take dice to the exam hall.  :)  I am sure BI guys may have the same sentiments towards the administration exam too.

Ultimately, if the exams are harder, will many people take the exam?  There is fear that it may encourage many people to use brain dumps rather than studying for the exam.  Also, many people will try to go for classes, and memorize that is being said, rather than studying on their own.  It could be true.  Additionally, the cost of gaining a certification is also increased (the price for each exam was increased last year; and you need to pass more exams as well) which may create more reluctant DBAs (Some companies reimburse the exams if their employees pass the exam which may be an incentive.)

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