This week, Microsoft took the opportunity to streamline its technical certifications by releasing five new MCSE and MCSD specialties, each aligned to a corresponding 'Center of Excellence'. According to its 'Born to Learn' article, these new certifications will be leveraged by the Microsoft Partner Network to "identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers."
The five new certifications now offered are:
- MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (covering Windows Server and Microsoft Azure)
- MCSE: Mobility (covering Windows Client and Enterprise Mobility Suite)
- MCSE: Data Management and Analysis (covering on-premises and cloud-based data products and services from Microsoft)
- MCSE: Productivity (including Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, and Skype for Business)
- MCSD: App Builder (covering web and mobile app development)
A prerequisite Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification must first be attained prior to sitting an additional exam, chosen from a list of electives, in order to obtain the desired MCSE or MCSD qualification.
This time around, Microsoft has changed the way that individuals renew their technical credentials. Previously, the company required individuals to sit exams every two or three years in order to keep their certifications active. In contrast, the new certifications won't expire once obtained but can be optionally renewed on an annual basis, signifying "your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence."
As part of the transition, those holding the following certifications will automatically receive the corresponding new certification for 2016:
- MCSE: Server Infrastructure
- MCSE: Private Cloud
- MCSE: Data Platform
- MCSE: Business Intelligence
- MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
- MCSE: SharePoint
- MCSE: Communication
- MCSE: Messaging
- MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management
- MCSD: Universal Windows Platform
- MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect
- MCSD: Web Applications
- MCSD: SharePoint Applications
With Microsoft having moved to a rapid release cycle for a number of its products, it would make sense that its certifications must keep pace as well. However, those impacted will ultimately have to weigh up the benefit of renewing their certification against the difference in knowledge in addition to time and cost.