Tag: MCSA

CertificationOpen Source

LFCS: Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator Certification

The Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) certification from The Linux Foundation is a full Linux certification for verifying and validating your Linux Operating System skills. Linux is the #1 operating system for web servers, cloud computing, smartphones and consumer electronics. It’s been growing very rapidly over the years, and even Microsoft has fully embraced Linux for running workloads in the Microsoft Azure cloud.

The IT industry is increasingly seeking out IT Professionals who have Linux Operating System management and administration skills. This certification will help you validate those skills to help advance your career. Read More

Certification

Exam Finder Helps Search Microsoft Certification Exams by Technology

There are many different certification exams from Microsoft covering all the different technology areas. There are also many different certification paths like the newly redesigned MCSE and MCSA certifications that are made up of multiple certification exams. Unfortunately, the list of Microsoft certification exams can be a bit cumbersome and difficult to search through on the official Microsoft Learning site. For this reason, I have created a simple, open source, Microsoft certification exam finder tool.

The Build Azure Exam Finder allows you to search and filter through a list of Microsoft certification exams. It works by having all the exams in the list assigned Tags that you can easily filter on to find the exam(s) you’re looking for. You can filter on a combination of technologies or larger certifications like MCSE and MCSA to find the exams you’re looking for.

You can access the Build Azure Exam Finder tool here: http://exams.buildazure.com

The tool currently includes 31 exams in the list, and I’m planning on adding more soon to fill it out to contain a nice list of the various Microsoft certification exams available. I hope this tool helps others discover the certification exams and larger MCSA or MCSE certification paths that fit their expertise and knowledge areas. I was inspired to build this simple tool by many of the Microsoft certification questions people have been asking me through this blog and elsewhere online, as it helped me realize that there’s a real discoverability problem in how Microsoft present the certification information on the official Microsoft Learning site.

Additionally, the Build Azure Exam Finder tool is fully Open Source and hosted on Github (https://github.com/BuildAzure/ms-cert-finder). It’s built very simply using HTML, JavaScript, and the Bootstrap CSS Framework. This keeps it simple, lightweight, and most importantly, very easily to contribute to.

Certificationdatabase

New MCSA: Azure Database Development Certification from Microsoft

There have been many changes to the Microsoft certification program lately. Among these changes have been brand new MCSA and MCSE certifications, including MANY new exams. Among these changes is the recent addition of the MCSA: Cloud Database Development certification.

Update May 27, 2017: Microsoft announced that they’ve renamed the MCSA: Cloud Database Development certification to MCSA: Azure Database Development.

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Big DataCertificationData Sciencemachine learning

New MCSA: Machine Learning Certification from Microsoft

It seems there is constant news on the Microsoft certification front. Last fall, Microsoft shook up the entire MCP program with some amazing changes to how Azure certifications are integrated in the tracks, as well as the ability to renew MCSD and MCSE certifications annually with an elective exam. Now they are continuing to expand with new certification targeting the extremely popular realm of Machine Learning. The all new MCSA: Machine Learning certification is being added as an option to earn!

Update May 27, 2017: Microsoft announced that they’ve renamed the MCSA: Data Science certification to MCSA: Machine Learning.

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ArchitectureCertificationDevelopmentInfrastructure

Microsoft Azure Certification Exams Get Major ARM Refresh

Over the last 2 years, since the 3 core Microsoft Azure certification exams were originally published there have been a tremendous amount of changes to the Microsoft Azure platform and ecosystem. These 3 core exams targeted towards Architecture, Infrastructure, and Developer roles were originally published before Azure Resource Manager (ARM) existed and fully covered Azure Service Manager (ASM). Not only has ARM been released since then, but also a very large number of new Microsoft Azure services have been released too! Newer services like Azure Functions, Logic Apps, DocumentDB, and others weren’t covered on these original exams.

However, these core Azure certification exams have been updated a couple times over the last 2 years. This has kept them relevant over the years, but the most recent previous update was published in March 2016, and it didn’t even full cover Azure Resource Manager (ARM) as well as a few other features and services. Since that latest update was about 8 months ago, it really is time for another refresh, and hopefully one that add much more than the last.

Luck is in our favor, as Microsoft will be publishing another new update / refresh to these 3 core Microsoft Azure certification exams on November 22, 2016. This update will include major ARM updates, including the removal of the old Azure Service Management (ASM) APIs, as well as the inclusion of Azure Functions, Logic Apps, DocumentDB, and other newer Azure services.

Microsoft will be publishing another new update / refresh to these 3 core Microsoft Azure certification exams on November 22, 2016.

For a full listing of the new exam objectives on these exams, see these links:

In addition to these 3 core Microsoft Azure exams, there have been 2 additional Big Data focused exams released. These 2 exams have been out for about a year now, and are not getting updated right now. I would expect these to be updated sometime in the next few months, perhaps. Here’s links to further information on these 2 Big Data focused exams:

Also, Microsoft recently announced some major changes to the Microsoft Certification program that greatly embeds the Azure exams into the various certification tracks. Along with these announcements was the release of the brand new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification,and a few Microsoft Certified Solution Associates (MCSA) certifications it builds on top of.

There’s been lots changing technology-wise, as well as many major certification changes lately!

Happy studying!

CertificationDevelopment

Azure Developer Exam (70-532) Gets ARM Refresh

It’s been about 2 years since the 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification exam was first release. Over that time there’s been a couple updates to keep it relevant with the ever changing landscape of the Microsoft Azure platform. The previous update was released in March 2016, which is a very long time when it comes to the cloud. The good news is that another update is on it’s way, and this time it will be including a full update of adding Azure Resource Manager (ARM) to the exam, in addition to many other new features and services. This update looks to be bringing the 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions exam back to relevancy and not so outdated as it’s been for nearly an entire year now. Read More

ArchitectureCertification

Azure Architecture Exam (70-534) Gets ARM Refresh

Spec_Arch_AzureSol_logo_BWIt’s been about 2 years since the 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions certification exam was first release. Over that time there’s been a couple updates to keep it relevant with the ever changing landscape of the Microsoft Azure platform. The previous update was released in March 2016, which is a very long time when it comes to the cloud. The good news is that another update is on it’s way, and this time it will be including a full update of adding Azure Resource Manager (ARM) to the exam, in addition to many other new features and services. This update looks to be bringing the 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions exam back to relevancy and not so outdated as it’s been for nearly an entire year now. Read More

CertificationInfrastructure

Azure Infrastructure Exam (70-533) Gets ARM Refresh

MS_Azure_Infrastructure_SolutionsIt’s been about 2 years since the 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions certification exam was first release. Over that time there’s been a couple updates to keep it relevant with the ever changing landscape of the Microsoft Azure platform. The previous update was released in March 2016, which is a very long time when it comes to the cloud. The good news is that another update is on it’s way, and this time it will be including a full update of adding Azure Resource Manager (ARM) to the exam, in addition to many other new features and services. This update looks to be bringing the 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions exam back to relevancy and not so outdated as it’s been for nearly an entire year now. Read More

Certification

MCSD: App Builder Certification

Along side the Ignite 2016 conference, Microsoft announced some changes to the Microsoft Certified Professional program. These changes outlined 5 new MCSE and MCSD certifications, along with MCSA certifications to go along with them. One of these new MCSD certifications is the new MCSD: App Builder certification. This certification requires 3 exam to be passed to earn, and it also will get you an MCSA certification on your way to earning the full MCSD: App Builder certification. This post gives a brief explanation on the exam that are required and / or qualify for the  MCSD: App Builder, as well as the MCSA certifications you can earn on your way to obtaining the full MCSD! Happy studying!

On the path to earning the MCSD: App Builder certification an MCSA certification will first be earned.

MCSA Foundation

On the path to earning the MCSD: App Builder certification an MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) certification will first be earned. It’s really good to have a milestone along the way, instead of having to pass a ton of exams before claiming any single certification title / credential. Additionally, instead of just a single MCSA to earn on the path to MCSD: App Builder, there are 2 tracks to choose from based on your unique combination of expertise and interests.

The list of both MCSA certifications and their required exams are as follows:

  • MCSA: Web Applicationspass both of the following exams:
  • MCSA: Universal Windows Platform – pass both of the following exams:
    • 70-483: Programming in C#
    • 70-357: Developing Mobile Apps

As you can see the MCSA foundations for the new MCSD: App Builder certification require you to pass 2 exams. While not an extensive set of choices, the tracks to pick are either Web Application development or UWP (Universal Windows Platform) App development.

MCSD: App Builder

Once a qualifying MCSA certification (as listed above) is earned, the next path is to pass only 1 more exam to earn the full MCSD: App Builder certification! And, the best part is that you get to choose from a fairly long list of exams to make that happen.

Here’s the current list of Elective exams that can be taken to build on an MCSA to earn the new MCSD: App Builder certification:

  • 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • 70-487: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services
  • 70-488: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions
  • 70-489: Developing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Advanced Solutions
  • 70-354: Universal Windows Platform – App Architecture and UX/UI
  • 70-355: Universal Windows Platform – App Data, Services, and Coding Patterns
  • 70-496: Administering Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
  • 70-497: Software Testing with Visual Studio
  • 70-498: Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management

Regardless of the MCSA track you choose to start with (Web Apps or UWP Apps) you can continue on with earning the MCSD: App Builder with an exam in that topic area, or any of the other elective exam options.

Certification

Azure Certification: Where to Start? 2016 Edition

The choice of choosing which certification to obtain can be a tricky one, especially if you’ve never studied for or taken a Microsoft Certification exam before. It can also be daunting if you don’t know anyone else who has done it either. You shouldn’t let this discourage you. It may be a bit confusing, but it’s actually not all that complicated. This article outlines some of the specifics in what certification you might want to target for your specific skills or interest, as well as some tips to help on your way to getting Microsoft Certified in Microsoft Azure.

What Azure Certifications are there?

Microsoft recently announced a complete revamp of the Microsoft Certified Professional program creating 5 new MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) and MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) certifications. While these MCSD and MCSE are the “big” certifications that require passing multiple exams to obtain, there are some alternatives that only require passing 1 or 2 exams.

Here’s a list of the specific Microsoft Certifications that include 1 or more exams that cover Microsoft Azure. The list starts with the “easier” certifications that only require 1 exam to get, then it moves to certifications that require 2 or more exams to get.

The certifications above really to work on a progression where they build on each other. You take 1 exam, possibly get one of the MS certifications, then take a second exam to get an MCSA, then take the third exam to build up to an MCSE or MCSD! The additive nature of the new certification structure is awesome!

The additive nature of the new Microsoft Certification structure is awesome!

There are also a few MCSA certifications that provide foundations for the bigger MCSE and MCSD certifications that don’t specifically cover an Azure exam that are worth noting. These let you target a specific specialty, while build an MCSD or MCSE on top of them by passing a more Azure focused exam.

  • 2 Exams Required
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Web App
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Universal Windows Platform
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2016
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2012
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 / 2014
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL 2016 Database Development
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL 2016 Database Administration
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL 2016 BI Development

The new certification landscape has the Microsoft Azure cloud focused exams much more interwoven within the various Microsoft Certifications. There is now a pretty diverse set of Microsoft Certifications that include Microsoft Azure skills.. You no longer have just 2 choices (an MS or MCSD) when getting a certification that includes Microsoft Azure skills.

Microsoft Certification Roadmap

At first read the above list of certifications can be a bit confusing or even overwhelming. An image to lay out the specifics can really help out, so the below image provides a nice visual representation.

2016_microsoft_certification_paths

Each horizontal track in the image is a very specific expertise category / area. Most of these areas offer multiple options of MCSA (2 exam certifications) to start with. Then each one has a single exam path in order to build on from the MCSA certification into either an MCSD or MCSE, depending on the specific skills area.

One note about the image that will help in reading it is to look at the white dots along the colored tracks. Each dot represents a single exam, then the star represents an MCSA certification that is achieved after passing those exams. Finally, after passing a chosen elective exam the MCSA is built on to obtain a full MCSE or MCSD certification.

Attribution: This roadmap image was originally posted on the Born to Learn site.

Certification Renewals

It takes a lot of work and can take a significant amount of time to pass certain Microsoft certification exams. The amount of time and work all varies depending on the individual. Once you do finally achieve that Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) or Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification it will stay “active” until Microsoft decides to retire it. This generally doesn’t happen for a few years.

Just as your technical expertise and skills evolve over time, the Microsoft Certifications are setup to evolve along with you. For this reason, the MCSD and MCSE certifications stay current for 1 year after achieving them. Then, you can take 1 elective exam each year to keep your certification current and renewed for the following year. This allows you to show growth year over year and adapt your knowledge / skills to the ever changing technology landscape.

Instead of taking one “renewal” exam that include topics from multiple exams with update content, or requiring you to take multiple separate exams to earn a new MCSD or MCSE, the new certification structure allows you to take just 1 Elective Exam to renew and stay current. As your skills evolve over time and flow along with the pulse of the industry, you can take your choice of elective exam that fits what you need. You not only tailor your MCSD or MCSE more personally to you, but when you renew the certification each year you still have the option to keep your certification personalized to your skills.

You not only tailor your MCSD or MCSE more personally to you, but when you renew the certification each year you still have the option to keep your certification personalized to your skills.

As an example, when you’ve obtained the MCSE or MCSD certifications you have a list of up to 10 elective exams (depending on the particular MCSD or MCSE) to choose from when renewing your certification. This is a tremendous different from only a single choice of renewal exam that old MCSE or MCSD certifications have offered in the past.

Where are Study Materials?

There are many videos, articles, books and other materials available to use for studying for Microsoft certification exams. The details page for each specific exam on the Microsoft Learning site contains the list of objectives covered on the exam as well as links to books and practice exams that can be used to study.

Before I give you a big list of study materials, first here’s a list of blog posts I’ve previously published outlining the various study materials I’ve personally used to study for a couple of the Microsoft Azure Certification exams:

Here’s a list of some generally useful resources that can be used to study for certification exams and generally learn about Microsoft Azure. These resources are ALL FREE!

Here are some Exam Reference books from Microsoft Press that specifically target objectives for individual exams:

In addition to videos, articles, books, etc., it can be very useful to utilize Practice Exams. There are a couple different practice exam vendors that offer these. A couple of these vendors are MeasureUp and MindHub. Personally, I’ve used MeasureUp, but I’ve seen MindHub linked to from the Microsoft Certification site as well.

Speaking of Practice Exams; here’s a link to a Free, Open Source project I created while studying for the Azure developer exam that contains many practice test questions on the exam objectives for the Microsoft Azure developer (70-532) exam:

An important study note to be aware of is to stay clear of “brain dumps.” As I’ve outlined previous, brain dumps are cheating and violate the terms you agree to in order to take a Microsoft Certification exam.

In addition to all the free resources available and the exam reference books are training courses from online course providers too. Here’s a couple of the vendors that offer paid Azure video training courses:

There are many more vendors and resources available. The above lists are hardly encompassing, but hopefully the give you plenty of places to start.

How to take an exam?

Once you’ve studied and feel you’re ready to take a certification exam, you must then register for the exam. The exam information pages on the Microsoft Certification site for each of the exams offered contains a “Schedule exam” button. Just click this button and it’ll take you through the process of picking a date and time to take the exam.

Currently, each Microsoft Certification exam costs $165 USD to take; whether you pass or not.

There are 2 options for taking Microsoft certification exams. The main on is to physically take it at a testing center. However, if you have an isolated space you can elect to take certification exams from home (or really anywhere else) as well, or Online Proctored.

The online proctored delivery method of taking Microsoft Certification exams may not be available for all exams offered. When available it can offer a much higher level of convenience; especially if you live a considerable distance from the closest testing center. The below link contains requirements and other information necessary about the online proctored exam deliver option:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/online-proctored-exams.aspx

Exam Retakes!

microsoft_certification_boosterpackEveryone fails an exam from time to time. There can be many reasons, from not studying enough, not being quite ready enough, to just taking the exam to see if you can pass without first studying. There are MANY reasons you may fail an exam. Don’t let this discourage you from studying more and trying again!

Since it’s common for people to fail a Microsoft Certification exam from time to time, you are allowed to retake the exam again. However, you do need to pay the exam fee again for each time you attempt an exam. For this reason, Microsoft offers Booster Packs that give you a discount on exam retakes. A couple of the Booster Pack options even include a Practice Test to help studying!

Please post your own Microsoft Certification experiences in the comments. Also, don’t be afraid to post questions too. I’m always happy to help!

Happy studying!