With SQL Server 2012 out, there is going to be another shift in SQL Server certifications. Microsoft is pushing hard on cloud solutions and it is reflected in all materials related to new certifications. There’s new naming, changed certification path and a recertification requirement. Let’s go through it one by one.
First of all, all MCTS (Technology Specialist) certs are replaced by MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate). It is going to demonstrate that a person posseses a core set of skills in SQL Server 2012 and requires to pass three exams:
- 70-461 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
- 70-462 – Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
- 70-463 – Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
It is a first step in SQL Server 2012 certification and as you can see, the hype about big data is reflected here in data warehouse exam which previously belonged to BI track. My feeling about it is that it is definitely going to create confusion even for seasoned DBAs who will now have to learn a lot of SSIS just to keep their credentials for a product. On the other hand, introduction of exam of querying is definitely a step towards scripting and possibly automation as Microsoft also makes a lot of noise around PowerShell. Combining those two skills – querying and PowerShell – gives a lot of options for administrators regarding remote task execution or monitoring.
The name MCSA itself reappears as there used to be a certificate for systems adminstrators by that name (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) in the times of Windows Server 2000 and 2003 and there are lots of people having it. This may probably lead to a kind of confusion due to the naming (“which MCSA are you? old or new?”).
Now let’s see what changes in MCITP. The IT professionals will now be MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Expert) – again a name is reused, since it used to be an Engineer, not an Expert. To become a new MCSE you would either have to be an MCSA in SQL Server 2012 and pass two more exams, or MCITP in SQL Server 2008 and pass three exams. There are only two MCSE tracks for SQL Server 2012 (compared to three MCITP flavours in SQL Server 2005/2008):
- Data Platform – requires to pass
- Business Intelligence – requires
My first thought about Data Platform was that two separate worlds are being brought together (DBA and developers – don’t forget data warehouse skills :D), which is actually good. I know a few people doing DBA stuff who are absolutely uninterested in honing their scripting skills or getting to know even the most basic and commonly used DMVs. On the contrary, I worked with developers who were completely oblivious of security or performance matters. I understand the purpose of one Data Platform cert – it proves that you are a well-rounded professional with experience and knowledge of both aspects of database-related work. I’m just wondering whether a generalization like that – one cert to rule them both – is not too big.
If you are a MCSE: DP, there’s no quick telling if you’re a great DBA, fantastic developer, both or – worse – none. Previous MCITPs could give you a hint, but not a proof – have a certification actually proves only that you passed the exam, yet in reality you may suck – and MCSE: DP raises the level of uncertainty even higher.
Speaking of MCITP – if you have one in SQL Server 2008, you may apply for upgrade to MCSE by passing three exams:
- 70-457 and 70-458 – transition from MCTS to MCSA (transition to MCSA is the same regardless of whether you’re on DP on BI track)
- 70-459 – for DBA/developers or 70-460 for BI people
Finally, if you become an MCSE, you are bound to recertify after three years, which is actually good – you may not work with SQL Server anymore, forget most of stuff or learn thousands of new things and this is the way to prove it to entire world.
Time-wise – as stated on exam pages all 70-461 to 70-467 are going to be available on June 11th, and the upgrades (457 – 460) are scheduled to be available in August (no exact date available yet). However, I expect that due to all those changes SQL Server 2012 certifications will not be as popular as they were in 2005/2008, mostly due to preparation you have to go through (3 big exams for start, 2 more for higher perk). Personally I agree with Paul Randal’s opinion that it’s MCM (now it’s going to be MCSM) that only truly matters, since no other SQL Server exams tests your actual knowledge.
My plan is to upgrade to MCITP DBA on SQL Server 2008 (still :D) and seek the way up to MCSE: DP (undecided yet). I can’t procrastinate with it for too long – SQL Server 2008 certifications are gone in July 2013 (I might do it as with 2005 – earned my MCITP on a penultimate day).