A recent Microsoft blog post announced that they are releasing five new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) and Developer (MCSD) specialties. These credentials are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. All of these changes are being made without adding addition certification exams.
(the white circles in the image represent a single exam that needs to be taken)
The five new expert certifications are:
- MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure – focusing on skills validation for Windows Server and Microsoft Azure
- MCSE: Mobility – focusing on skills validation for Windows Client and Enterprise Mobility Suite
- MCSE: Data Management and Analysis – focusing on skills validation for both on-premises and cloud-based Microsoft data products and services
- MCSE: Productivity – focusing on skills validation for Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, and Skype for Business
- MCSD: App Builder – focusing on skills validation for Web and Mobile app development
To earn each of these credentials, you must first earn a qualifying Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification and, then, pass a single additional exam from a list of electives associated with the corresponding Center of Excellence. Click on the five links above to see the MCSA requirements and the electives.
The resulting MCSE or MCSD certification will be added to your transcript and will never expire. Instead, the achievement date will signify your investment in continuing education on the technology. Every year, you will have the opportunity to re-earn the certification by passing an additional exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry will be added to your transcript. This process will replace the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every 2 years (MCSD) or 3 years (MCSE) in order to prevent your certification from going inactive.
So instead of publishing “upgrade” exams that smash topics from multiple exams to basically test you on what’s changed since two or three years ago, you will have the choice of which additional elective exam you wish to take. This new renewal method allows you to renew your certification while both staying current and learning something new.
Note that you can earn the corresponding new MCSE or MCSD certifications for 2016 without having to take any additional exams: I found out about the changes when I received an email from Microsoft saying I had two new MCSE’s: I had “MCSE: Data Platform” and “MCSE: Business Intelligence” which became “MCSE: Data Management and Analysis“. Also, passing “70-473 Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions” and “70-475 Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions” and “70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions”) qualified me for “MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure“.
Another change: The three Azure certification exams (70-532, 70-533 and 70-534) used to earn you the full MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification. However, this MCSD has gone away. The three Azure certification exams are being integrated into the brand new MCSE and MCSD tracks “MCSD: App Builder” and “MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure”.