MCSD Revisions on Tap

MCP Magazine has learned Microsoft is in the midst of revising MCSD certification track requirements.

Officially, though, Microsoft remains tight-lipped about any changes. “The MCSD is definitely being revised for .NET,” said Tina Koyama-Wasser of Microsoft’s Skills and Certification group. “That’s all we can say for now.”

The current MCSD track consists of four exams: three core and one elective. The former requires candidates demonstrate their expertise in solution architecture and desktop and distributed applications development (implementing C++ 6.0, FoxPro 6.0 or Visual Basic 6.0). The latter requires proof of skills with various Microsoft development tools. Currently, close to 18,000 individuals hold the MCSD certification.

According to sources, the revised MCSD certification track would cover more ground than the present track, with a seven-exam framework: five core and two elective. The new exams would cover C++; Visual Basic; C#; and a new version of FoxPro, FoxPro 7.0. An emphasis on .NET would be seen on exams covering Web Forms and Windows Forms development, while .NET-specific questions could appear on the Solution Architectures exam (Exam 70-100 in the current MCSD track). The new MCSD set of tests also could feature a case-study-based Component Design exam, plus a developer version of the Highly Available Web Solutions exam that soon will be part of the MCSE program.

Two regular MCP Magazine contributors, both MCSDs, view the suggested new track in a negative light. “This...shows that Microsoft certification is driven by marketing,” said Mike Gunderloy. “When Windows 2000 came into being, Microsoft made it so that current MCSEs have to recertify for Win2K. Now, Microsoft’s marketing people have been given new marching orders—push .NET—and it looks like we might end up with an MCSD track that reflects that.”

Paul Brown echoed these comments, saying the suggested track makes it appear as if Microsoft is “forcing .NET down people’s throats.” He thinks Microsoft could approach a revised MCSD track in a more even-handed way, for example, offering two versions of the Solution Architectures exam—one concentrating on .NET and the other on conventional architecture.

“All MCSD candidates would still have to take the Solution Architectures exam,” Brown explained, “but they’d have a choice. They could focus on what’s most important to them in their work.”

Brown also thinks having seven exams in a new MCSD track, vs. the current four, would put an increased burden on MCSD candidates. Not only would it take longer to earn the MCSD following an expanded track, but also the dollar cost of preparing for and taking seven exams would add up.

“Face it. Up to now people haven’t exactly been breaking down the door to get the MCSD,” Brown said. “If you make it even more difficult and expensive to earn, I think you may end up hurting the certification.”

Gunderloy questions if a new MCSD track, or for that matter, the existing one, is really the best way to certify developer skills. If Microsoft is “truly serious” about ascertaining proficiency using its developer tools, he said, the company would simply test each MCSD candidate’s ability to write code.

“Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be possible to conduct this kind of testing on a mass scale,” Gunderloy said. “It would be just be too expensive and labor intensive. But it would be the right way to judge a developer’s skills.”

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Aug 20, 2003 zvina Zimbabwe

If its not broken, why fix it (or throw it away for that matter). Just as we're getting to grips with the novelty of exchange 2000, there's a "new improved version" withe the same advantages as its predicessor over exchange 5.5 (which worked darn fine if you ask me). So where does it all end. Its pretty hard to convince finance at budget time that we need new software to replace the existing one. Still, its pretty fun to spend all those sleepless night trying to figure out why you're gnashing with the configs. And yes, we are human so " forwards ever... backwards Never"

Mon, Jul 28, 2003 Chris Tampa

Once huge problem with I.T. in many organizations is that it isn't connected properly to the business goals of the organization.

If I were the CEO and my I.T. director urged me to invest big money to upgrade my systems for the purpose of gainfully employing the I.T. staff, I'd throw him or her out into the street.

If you are in I.T. you need to make strong BUSINESS CASES to the management to get them to spend money!

Mon, Jul 21, 2003 Ranjit K Patel New Delhi

I want to remove MS Exchange Server 2003 from window 2003 Standerd server....

Plz How ?

Mon, Jul 7, 2003 Eric USA

The suggestions that companies should spend hard cash on upgrades just to "fuel future technologoical growth by all vendors", or "insure that IT workers have something to do which means they can hold on to their jobs and make money to spend, thereby furthering the economy in general". A responsible company needs a reason to upgrade. They must be feeling a pain that will be eased by the upgrade. The best reason that I have heard for enterprises to consider migration is server consolidation. Estimates are that Exchange 2003 scales to more than three times to number of users as compared to 5.5 on NT 4.0. That org with 100 servers could find themselves running on only 20 Server 2003 boxes with a similar reduction in admin cost.

Sat, Jun 28, 2003 Sam Chicago

I hope Exchange 2003 has more stability than Exchange 2000.We used a front end server back end Cluster Configuration and spent many hours fixing Active Directory and Exchange 2000 problems.Microsoftsaid INTERGRATION, how about the WWE live in your data center.

Mon, Jun 23, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I waisted about 6 months trying to get the active directory to work. Now I just found out that in order to run exchange 2000 properly I need an extra server. Talking about saving money. like you mentioned above Microsoft need to make a product with the choice of using active directory or not.

Sun, Jun 22, 2003 Mike Ohio

I think you'll see things pickup. In many cases the hardware running 5.5 is getting pretty old and hardware replacement will drive the upgrades.

Sun, Jun 22, 2003 NetNut IL, USA

While it's nice to deploy new products from time to time, I’m simply not a fan of "upgrading for the sake of upgrading." Although I do hone my cert skills by using the 120-, 180-day evals of products, the increased feature set of the newer MSEX products have not provided a substantial reason for rollout... yet. In my particular org, we use our e-mail server for fairly basic e-mail services – so the cost of CALs, beefed up hardware, software assurance, and the products themselves are more than our total ROI (but YMMV).

Sat, Jun 21, 2003 Andrew UK

investing in upgrades isn't as simple an issue as you may think for larger organizations. For the most part it isn't the lack of desire that is stopping a lot of enterprises from taking the next step on the upgrade path, but a lack of funds. Upgrading an org with several hundred servers can cost a very large wedge of cash, and if there is no justifiable reason to replace a perfectly good mail system with another, more expensive, perfectly good mail system, then the cfo's will be more than hesitant to spend the money. With this in mind, I can see a good percentage of organizations remaining on 5.5 for the foreseable future.

Fri, Jun 20, 2003 Steve Syracuse

Amazing. There are as many as 60 percent Exchange users still on 5.5. They should get on with it and invest in upgrades. They'll be happier with the product and help to fuel future technologoical growth by all vendors, not just Microsoft. Not to forget that these upgrades in software also insure that IT workers have something to do which means they can hold on to their jobs and make money to spend, thereby furthering the economy in general.

Mon, Jun 16, 2003 Bobbie IPMC, Ghana

I believe in new technology and this goes hand in hand with migrations. Who was not happy with windows '95?

Mon, Dec 2, 2002 K.Potgieter South Africa

I am just on the brink of finushing my MCSD, and I'm pretty dissapointed that the .NET has come out, and they're pushing it. It has taken me so long to just get my MCSD and now it feels as though I've got to start again! Personally I think I'm going to stick with my current MCSD(when I pass the last exam!) To Be honest, because Microsoft has introduced so many more exams for .NET, I am actually thinking of doing another language.. pretty sad, I like VB, but when Microsoft pressures you to do so much more, what can I do? I tend to agree with most developers, There's NO way I'm doing 7 exams!

Wed, Nov 28, 2001 T. Schaffer Portland, OR

I got to echo the sentiments of other commentors...I'd never waste my time with seven exams. I was MCSD with VB 5 but could not find the time to squeeze in another four exams for VB 6. Seven will NEVER happen for most folks!

Fri, Nov 16, 2001 Gregor Suttie Scotland

I am currently doing my MCSD and only require the SQL 200 (229) exam to get the certification. Does this mean I will have to get .Net certfied within a year of getting the current MCSD to keep the status ??

Tue, Oct 16, 2001 Scott Collins Austin

It seems to me that forcing NET down developer's throats will hurt Microsoft. Developers will be responsive to what is practical and useful, and we'll see the MCSD certification devalued by both developers and employers before we see developers surrender their better judgment to Microsoft's marketing group. In addition, requiring 7 exams is outrageous. I think the idea of providing a "NET Track" as an option is the correct source. Keep the current four-exam format, but modify 70-100 for either NET, or the standard exam.

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