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Where to From Here?

Good question! It's still a little too early to tell how much weight Microsoft is going to put behind the .NET platform on the administrative side of the exams (that is, for the MCSE and related programs aimed primarily at system and network administrators). But because the company appears to be placing a large bet on .NET, it's safe to speculate that it will show up in most facets of the company's future activities, and is bound to have some impact on its certification programs as well.

In the same vein, Microsoft has also announced that it will be creating an intermediate-level administrator certification that skips the higher-level and more difficult Core Design Exams. On October 11, Microsoft announced its new MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) program. Microsoft explains this program in their Web page, "Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) on Microsoft Windows 2000;" it provides complete coverage of all related details. Here then, are the high points on this program:

  • It requires two of the current 4 Core Exams: 70-210 or 270, and 70-215 or 275.

  • It introduces a new pair of Core Exams on the topic of network management/administration — namely, 70-218 Managing a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network Environment (scheduled for release in January, 2002) and 70-278 Managing a Microsoft Windows Server .NET Network Environment (scheduled for release later in 2002, probably in the second half of the year).

  • It requires an additional elective exam (drawn from a more restrictive list than the current list of MCSE electives, which concentrates on Exchange, SQL Server, Proxy Server, ISA Server, and Windows NT Server 4.0 network management — reflecting this certification's emphasis on systems and network administration).

But wait, there's more. Just as the MCSA represents an intermediate certification for administrators between the MCP and MCSE, so also has Microsoft announced an intermediate certification between the MCP and the MCSD on the developer side. Again, for lack of official terminology, I call this one the MCSP (Microsoft Certified Software Programmer). This new credential will eliminate the requirement for 70-100, which is their notoriously demanding and difficult solutions architectures exam. As the MCSA will do with the MCSE requirements, the MCSP will probably retain the MCSD's basic core requirements. In this case, desktop and distributed exams on some specific language or programming platform (I look for Visual Studio.NET to take up its place in this pantheon, among other possible changes) skip the design component, and may or may not require an elective. Presto! Another intermediate certification is born.

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