Having now taken a whole load of BETA and Live Windows Server 2012 Exams (well, all of them), I can now see what Microsoft are doing in bringing back the MCSE.
I can only explain to a certain level as the Non Disclosure Agreement signed before every Exam and the one contained in the Microsoft Certified Trainer agreement do prevent any real details of exams being disclosed. Indeed I support this wholeheartedly. Robust and secure exams that maintain the integrity of the certifications are essential.
I have now completed the MCSE journey Private Cloud, Server Infrastructure and Desktop Infrastructure. One thing is for sure, I won’t be teaching all of these the breadth and depth of knowledge is too much to maintain at a level for me to be able to do justice to either bespoke or MOC courses.
Still I can now, for the first time, see and support the new level of examinations.
The MCSA stream is versioned (i.e. SQL Server 2012, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8) and these DO NOT need recertification. They are primarily single product focussed for the main part. Although at least 1 exam in each series does deviate into supporting technologies in detail.
Take the soon to be released 70-688 for the MCSA in Windows 8, this was quite a challenge as a BETA exam and covered all sorts of technologies that the average Windows 8 user will never have seen. The syllabus covers DaRT, MBAM, MDT, and a whole host of other Microsoft supporting technologies like Intune and Office365. It covers these in detail and you would need to have been a regular or administrative user to be able to pass this exam. The 70-687 was, however, much more straightforward. This concentrated on the Windows 8 product itself and it was refreshing to see the recent trend to making client exams very hard to pass reversed.
The Server 2012 MCSA mirrored this with 410 being straightforward and 411, 412 becoming progressively more challenging and dealing with concepts that are harder to grasp and implement.
The MCSA is a challenge. BUT the MCSE is much more. It is a whole change of direction. Let me explain.
In the old IT Pro exams you may have been required to understand that Microsoft System Center Config Manager was the only way to perform certain deployment scenarios and SCCM could be a correct answer (or a wrong one). But that was pretty much the level of knowledge required.
In the new MCSE level examinations, it is a common and regular occurrence to know the whole cloud story. As an example, to pass the Infrastructure certification examinations, you would need to have a detailed knowledge of ALL the elements of System Center 2012, how they work together and what is required to be done within them to achieve a solution.
A question could ask what elements of System Center are required to go with a scenario or how would you design the System Center architecture to provide a robust update solution, for example.
It is also in these tests that the full range of new item types are used. The most tricky of these is the BEST answer… but more of that later. (Most of my comments to exam teams relate to the BEST answer option)
There is never a better time to dive into certification of a product than a few months after the launch, especially as Microsoft are currently running their second shot promotion – Fail a test and you get 1 free retake. In effect, nothing to lose.