Windows Insider

Microsoft Overhauls Desktop Infrastructure Cert

The improved and replaced cert, now available, is called MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps.

There's a new MCSE in town. Microsoft in November released the beta of a new certification: MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps. While not specifically stated as such, this new cert looks like a wholesale replacement for the last generation's MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure.

During two rounds in January and April of last year, many MCSE and MCSA certifications received widely advertised updates that added new Windows Server 2012 R2 content to existing question pools. Notably absent from last year's updates was the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure cert.

Two new exams are required to obtain the new MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps. The first is numbered 70-695 and titled "Deploying Windows Devices and Enterprise Apps." This exam focuses heavily on the topics and technologies that deploy the Windows OS to awaiting desktops. The new 70-695 sports a heavy focus on System Center Configuration Manager as a primary tool in desktop deployment.

Most notable are two objectives in the 70-415, which have been elevated to entire functional groups in the 70-695, "Implement a Lite Touch Deployment and Implement a Zero Touch Deployment." These two topics, which were only a small percentage of the 70-415, now encompass nearly 40 percent of the new 70-695.

Certification candidates familiar with exam 70-243 will see notable similarities in the new MCSE second exam, "Managing Enterprise Devices and Apps" (70-696). The 70-696 objectives prioritize the Configuration Manager and Microsoft InTune experience.

The exam also deals with deploying and managing virtual applications, a functional group, which itself is broken down into App-V and RemoteApp objectives.

It is worth noting again that none of the Microsoft announcements have specifically stated that the MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps replaces the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure; however, the alignment of each cert's objectives in combination with the latter's lack of an update suggest the old certification's days are numbered.

These changes are good. A bit of informal polling indicates the old desktop MCSE never achieved the level of attention as its more-popular cousin, MCSE: Server Infrastructure.

That lack of attention should be a bit disheartening for the shallow pool of qualified desktop administrators. Peek through any random sampling of IT organizations and you'll find plenty of server admins alongside comparatively few who focus on desktops and apps. Combine those ratios with the realization that today's mobile workforce demands desktops and apps to be delivered in ever-more ubiquitous ways, and it's easy to see how certified skills in enterprise devices and apps is an excellent way to rise above the crowd.

The topics these MCSE tests cover have a refreshingly tight focus. Take a look through the current generation's MCSE: Server Infrastructure and you'll find an overwhelming assortment of often unrelated topics and technologies. For example, the MCSE: Server 70-414 "final" exam includes objectives on everything from System Center Operations Manager monitoring, network load balancing and iSCSI and SMB 3 storage, to VMM and Hyper-V. The 70-414 exam even includes an entire functional group on identity and access solutions that spans Active Directory Certificate Services, Active Directory Federation Services and Active Directory Rights Management Services.

The 70-414 insinuation of experience across all of these far-flung topics borders on the ridiculous, and results in a pattern of study a mile wide and an inch deep. That exam tests against everything and nothing at the same time.

Now the MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps tightly frames its objectives within a well-bound charter of device and app management. One can argue that this MCSE produces a deeper, more experienced individual than does the scattershot approach of the MCSE: Server Infrastructure.

This is an MCSE of which you can definitely be proud.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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