Tag: mcsd

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.

CertificationTraining

Renew MCSD & MCSE Annually by Retaking Certification Exams

In the past once you passed a specific Microsoft certification exam you were not allowed to retake that exam again, ever. After all, there wasn’t really any benefit to since you passed the exam and it counted towards earning you a specific certification. Back then the exams did not undergo any major updates or restructuring until they were retired and replace with a brand new exam on the latest technology and product releases. With the recent changes and restructuring of the Microsoft certification program, the exam are now getting updated periodically and you will now be able to retake an exam after such updates have been made.

As of March 17, 2017, the necessary changes have been put into place to allow for exam to be retaken on an annual basis. After a period of 365 days from the date you pass a certification exam, you will now be able to retake that exam again. This will allow for you to retake a particular exam, or at least the most recent update of that exam, to be used as the qualifying elective exam necessary to renew an MCSD or MCSE certification and keep it active for the current year.

Currently, the exams eligible to be retaken are:

This new retake policy is a really great improvement. It was previously assumed that only a new elective needed to be passed every year to keep the MCSD or MCSE certifications current for the given year. If this were required then you would be required to keep learning new technologies and product releases to pass an exam even if they didn’t relate to you job duties. However, by allowing already passed exams to be retaken annually, you will now be able to renew and keep up-to-date by continually brushing up and maintaining the exam skills that pertain to your daily job duties over time.

This change goes along with the other improvements being made to the Microsoft certification that are really making the program much better than it was in the past by keeping the certifications relevant and useful.

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.

Retired Exam: This exam is being retired December 31, 2017, and is being replaced by Exam 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. The exam content will be similar but different enough that Microsoft is giving it a new number to differentiate it more clearly. 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!

Certification

The New MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Certification

mcse_cloud_platform_and_infrastructure_certThere are a total of 5 Azure specific certification exams available from Microsoft currently. If you pass each of these individually you will earn a Microsoft Specialist certification for the topic/skills area the exam covers. Also, until this week if you took the 3 Azure Solutions exams you would earn the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect. Well, the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification is being retired, and instead replaced with an entirely new redesigned and restructured set of 5 MCSD and MCSE certifications. There are many changes afoot in the Microsoft Certification realm, so if you were targeting to obtain the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification you might be wondering, “What do I do now?” What ever you decide, don’t stop studying! See it through because the exams are still here, along with a clear path to proving those hard earned skills!

On the path to earning the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification an MCSA certification will first be earned.

The MCSA Foundation

On the path to earning the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification an MCSA 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 first before the MCSE, there are 4 tracks to choose from based on your unique combination of expertise and interests.

Here’s the list of the 4 MCSA certifications and the exams you need to pass to achieve them:

As you can see the MCSA Foundations for the new MCSE, while they require you to pass either 2 or 3 exams depending on the track, offer a pretty wide range of expertise paths to follow! Anywhere from Azure/Cloud only, to Windows Server 2016 or 2012, to the MCSA: Linux on Azure that is a mixture of Azure and Linux!

The New MCSE

mcse_cloudplatform_certificateOnce an qualifying MCSA certification (as listed above) is earned, the next path is to pass only 1 more exam to earn the full MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification! And, the best part, is you get to choose from a fairly long list of exams to make that happen.

Here’s the current list of Elective exam options to grow that MCSA certification into a brand new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification:

Even if you chose to focus on Windows Server 2012 or 2016 with the MCSA you earned, it’s very likely you will be mixing in some Azure / Cloud expertise and learning with the elective exam you choose to take for upgrading to the MCSE. Unless of course you go with the “Securing Windows Server 2016”, but that exam isn’t available yet so we don’t fully know what Azure / Cloud stuff might be on it; I’m guessing there’ll at least be a bunch of Private Cloud stuff given the direction that Microsoft is taking even on-premises Windows Server.

Once an qualifying MCSA certification (as listed above) is earned, the next path is to pass only 1 more exam to earn the full MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification!

From MCSD to MCSE

If you followed along the paths above for MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, you may have notices the 5 Azure specific exams, in particular the Developer 70-532, Infrastructure 70-533, and Architect 70-534 exams, and how if you pass all three you will now earn the new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification instead of the old MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification that will soon be retired.

The new MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure path replacement for the old MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect with the exact same exams looks as follows:

mcsa_cloud_platform_certStart by earning the MCSA: Cloud Platform certification by taking and passing any 2 of the following exams:

Then round out the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification by taking and passing the 1 remaining exam of the 3.

mcse_cloud_platform_and_infrastructure_certBasically, take all three of these exams and you’ll now earn the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification, instead of the (soon retired) MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect. The new certification title for the same exams is a little more ambiguous as it doesn’t specifically have “Azure” in the name. Also, there are many Developers who won’t be as interested in the new certification since it’s now an MCSE and not an MCSD anymore.

Lastly, for those disappointed in retiring the “Architect” certification, it is important to remember the “E” in “MCSE” stands for “Expert”. The gives the new certification the full title of:

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

Happy studying!

Certification

Microsoft Certification Changes and Goodbye to MCSD Azure Solutions Architect

Both Fall and Spring time each year mark times when Microsoft normally announces changes to the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) program. It was 2 years ago they started releasing the Azure certification exams (70-532, 70-533, and 70-534) and in Spring 2015 they announced if you take all 3 you’ll earn the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification. Today, coinciding with the Microsoft Ignite 2016 conference, there are some broader changes to the MCP program being announced. This article will go over what these changes are, as well as discuss some of their implications to help give a full picture of the coming MCP landscape. Read More