Will new Microsoft certifications be tough enough?

Microsoft is giving its certification program a total makeover to reverse a perception among IT professionals that the MCSE and MCSA designations are devalued credentials compared
with Good Old-fashioned Experience.

Whether its new program wins over more than just the Microsoft partner community -- vendors, consultants and integrators -- remains to be seen, however.

Many IT professionals still do not equate increased productivity with the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) certifications. For that reason, Microsoft will have to design a certification that is truly on an expert level, in the vein of Cisco Systems Inc.'s Cisco Certified Internet Expert (CCIE).

McGlinchey said Cisco's CCIE is unusual in that if you've got one, it brings a good job and a lot of money. "It's an expert level that you just can't fake," said McGlinchey, who has an MCSE for NT, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 and is also a Microsoft Certified Trainer.

Microsoft's changing technologies pose a challenge

The CCIE credential is a combination of tests that build on one another, so if someone has a CCIE, he or she can usually work through and resolve all network issues. Microsoft has a tougher job, since its operating system and related software continually change. With Cisco, most protocols are proprietary, which means they can remain constant. In cases where there are changes, they are generally just enhancements.

The new Microsoft exams coming out in support of the SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 launches in November target specific functions. For example, there are three tracks for database administrators and six tracks for developers. Microsoft will also be revamping its IT professional exams as Longhorn gets closer, said Al Valvano, lead product manager in Microsoft's Learning division.

Aguilera said Microsoft now has more scenario simulation than in the past, although it's application specific. He thinks that a well-rounded employee is more valuable than one, for example, who knows SQL Server 2005 but can't help out with Exchange Server should a problem occur. In such cases, Microsoft's drive to be more specific "could backfire," he said.

Posted By: R.v.KirubaKaran
Microsoft Certified Professional


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