In a recent blog post I mentioned that the traditional Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification program has been retired. Because Microsoft understands that the MCSE acronym continues to carry weight in the IT marketplace, they have rebooted the title with a new focus on their "private cloud" strategy.

In this blog post we will learn what "private cloud" means and how relevant Microsoft technologies factor into the new MCSE private cloud certifications. You'll also learn precisely what is required should you decide to pursue the title.

What is a "Private Cloud"? ^

Cloud computing refers to delivering applications, services, and disk storage over the Internet. The metaphor of the "cloud" refers to the fact that the end user neither knows nor cares what the service's back-end infrastructure looks like. Instead, the user simply knows that he or she can get to their data wherever they are in the world, provided that they have an Internet connection and a supported Web browser.

Here is a nice conceptual diagram that shows how various hardware and software components interrelate in a cloud computing architecture (image credit: Wikimedia Commons):

New MCSE - Cloud Computing

Cloud computing

Public cloud services such as Apple iCloud, Windows SkyDrive, and Dropbox are great for retail users. More robust public cloud products such as Google Apps, Amazon Web Services, or even Microsoft's own Office 365 bleed over into the enterprise space as well.

In general, however, enterprise organizations need a secure manner to deploy cloud-based services to their constituents. Thus, the "private cloud" refers to the processes of deploying and maintaining a company's own, well, private cloud infrastructure.

Here is Microsoft's vision for the private cloud:

The Microsoft private cloud moves beyond the virtual machine to drive real business value through deep insight into the applications that are delivered as services. Microsoft private cloud solutions built with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center 2012 provide the benefits of cloud computing through the pooling of resources, elasticity, and self-service, while offering deep insights into applications, cross-platform support, and the ability to extend workloads between Private, Public, and Hybrid Cloud environments.

If you cut through the marketing fluff, we can see that Microsoft intends for their Hyper-V, System Center 2012, SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to form the core of their customers' corporate cloud strategy.

Can you see where we are headed here? The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) provides a way for enterprise architects or systems administrators to validate their skills with these particular Microsoft products and technologies.

Let's now delve more deeply into the new MCSE.

MCSE: Private Cloud ^

The new MCSE is divided into two tracks: the MCSE Private Cloud and the MCSE SQL Server 2012.

The prerequisite to earning the Private Cloud MCSE is to earn the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) in Windows Server 2008 R2.

NOTE: The new MCSA completely supersedes and replaces the retired Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) in Windows Server 2003).

To earn the MCSA, you must pass the following exams:

We have a comprehensive study guide in development for the 70-640 exam here at 4sysops.

Once you've earned your MCSA and demonstrated your competency with Windows Server architecture and administration, you are ready to tackle the cloud-specific subject matter. To earn your MCSE Private Cloud title, you must pass the following exams:

As you can observe by perusing the aforementioned exam blueprints, the Microsoft System Center 2012 suite forms the backbone of Microsoft's private cloud infrastructure.

MCSE: SQL Server 2012 ^

The MCSE SQL Server 2012 certification program consists of two sub-tracks:

We can loosly define the "Data Platform" cert to be the database administrator (DBA) title, and the "Business Intelligence" cert to be the database developer credential.

The MCSA in SQL Server 2012 is a prerequisite to both MCSE SQL Server 2012 tracks. To earn the SQL Server 2012 MCSA, you must pass the following exams:

To complete the MCSE in SQL Server 2012 Data Platform, you must complete the following tests:

To earn the MCSE in SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence, you must pass the following exams:

So how do I get started? ^

According to the Microsoft Learning Web site, this is the availability of the new MCSE cert exams as of this writing in May 2012:

Exams 246, 247, 461, 462, 463, 464, 465, 466, and 467 are expected to be available in June 2012. Exams 457, 458, 459, and 460 are expected to be available by August 2012. Please check back frequently for updated release information.

You can register for the new MCSE exams by visiting the Microsoft Certifications subsite at Prometric. The Prometric site will also allow you to check the registration fees for these exams as well.

I will leave you with some free learning resources to help you get a leg up on the new MCSE cloud computing subject matter:

In my next post I will compare the new MCSE with the MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional).


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