Microsoft has retooled its MCSE certification for IT professionals to include a major focus on the cloud. The company made the changes in response to the growing movement of IT resources to cloud-based solutions. According to Microsoft-sponsored research, cloud computing may create 14 million jobs and generate 1.1 trillion in revenue by 2015. The new MCSE certificate holder is expected to have more comprehensive knowledge of both on-premises and cloud resource technologies.
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification was formerly called Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, which also used the acronym MCSE. The new name reflects the role that Microsoft IT experts play as solution providers utilizing multiple technologies and types of resources. Previously, the MCSE emphasized systems engineering with directory and network services. The heart of the new solution includes Windows Server, System Center 2012, and the Hyper-V hypervisor. As part of Microsoft’s renewed focus on competency, MCSEs can expect more difficult exams with broader and deeper coverage. They also are now required to recertify every three years in order to keep up with evolving cloud solutions and other technologies.
Microsoft’s Push to the Private Cloud
To further establish the cloud as a major area of IT, the new MCSE includes a Private Cloud certification option. The private cloud puts some of the power of cloud computing behind an organization’s firewall. Companies owning their own hardware and software can still leverage virtualization to optimize resource utilization and tracking. System Center 2012 provides centralized control of IT resources deployed across private and public clouds. Microsoft is evangelizing the benefits of the private cloud to IT organizations, citing better resource management and cost savings. Emphasizing scalability, it offers its own solution using Windows Server, System Center, and the Hyper-V hypervisor.
The MCSE Private Cloud certification stresses the deployment and management of clouds that can encompass a number of resource configurations. Even the concept of a private cloud means different things to different audiences and vendors. Some solution providers offer dedicated resources within a public or hosted cloud and call the sandbox a private cloud. Others are referring to an organization’s on-premises hosting of virtualized resources. An on-site private cloud contains the entire necessary infrastructure, and the business usually owns the resources. However, an increasingly popular configuration is the hybrid cloud in which an organization uses a mix of owned and external computing resources.
The MCSE Private Cloud Certification
When Microsoft talks about the cloud, it is often referring to a hybrid model. System Center 2012 is targeted toward users of hybrid IT infrastructures, and the MCSE Private Cloud certification addresses the operation of a hybrid data center. Within a cloud context, certificate holders must know how to set up process automation, monitor resources, implement service levels, and deploy System Center. Other topics include System Center integration, virtual machines and services, and configuring the fabric.
The Private Cloud certification requires five exams. Microsoft Certified IT Professionals, Enterprise Administrators, and MCITP Server Administrators need only take the last two exams, which pertain directly to setting up a private cloud with System Center 2012. System Center provides management of resources located in private, hosted, and public clouds. As listed on the Microsoft website, the certificate is comprised of these exams:
- Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
- Administering Windows Server 2012
- Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
- Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
- Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
As with the other MCSE certificates, Private Cloud experts must recertify competency every three years.
The new MCSE addresses both the importance of cloud computing to industry and Microsoft’s determination to stay a major player. By proactively tailoring the MCSE to business requirements, Microsoft further influences the future of the cloud. Employers and IT professionals can expect the MCSE to remain a relevant benchmark of competency in cloud solutions.