Monday, October 15, 2012

Goodbye MCM! Hello MCSM!

As most of you all know is that the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program is coming to an end. The last MCM rotation for Exchange Server is hold on November, 15. But what happens to the program and what do you need to do to get certified? This post gives you an overall view of what is going to change and what you'll need to do to be in the program.

First of all when I heard of this change on the MEC 2012 I was not very happy. I already had an approval to join the MCM program at the end of 2012 from my employer but due to other obligations I couldn't sign up. The best next thing for me was to wait for the MCM for Exchange Server 2013 somewhere in 2013. But…. Microsoft made the decision to change the MCM program to MCSM (Microsoft Certified Solutions Master) to fit the new certification paths. Now I wanted to know what the requirements of the new program where because I already had all the needed requirements to join the MCM program, so I did some research.

So what are the changes in the program?

How do I get certified?

At the moment? You can't. The MCSA certification is already there so you can certify on this, but there is no real preparation material available so you have to prepare yourself using the Microsoft Technet site. You also need to take a close look at what topics are questioned. If you hold one of the following certifications you can do the upgrade exam 70-417.

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008

  • MCITP: Virtualization Administrator

  • MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator

  • MCITP: Lync Server Administrator

  • MCITP: Sharepoint Administrator

  • MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator

If you don't have one of these certifications you need to do the whole certification path. That means taking the exams 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412.

For the MCSE Messaging certification it is not possible to certify yet if you're not participating in the beta program. The required exams 70-341 and 70-342 will probably be available at the end of January 2013. You can of course prepare yourself by reading Microsoft Technet and the iammec websites and creating a demo lab, but although Exchange Server 2013 is RTM (since last week) it is still not available till November 2012 (see my friend Dave Stork's blog). So you'll have to stick with the preview release which is subject to change.

And how do I get proven deployment experience?

Now Exchange Server 2013 is RTM you should say it's easy. Just sell it! But you can only sell and implement Exchange Server 2013 when you're implementing it in a greenfield (new) environment. For Exchange Server 2013 to co-exist in an existing Exchange Server 2007 or 2010 organization you'll need to have either Rollup Update for Exchange Server 2007 or Service pack 3 for Exchange Server 2010. Both updates are not released yet. There is no real date given when these updates appear but it will be somewhere in the first half of 2013.

My conclusion

Looking at all the options and variables you'll simply need to get certified before you can participate in the MCSM Messaging program. I think changing the program to have you updated you skill every 3 years is a good thing. In 3 years a lot of things change (even in service packs) and in real life you simply not use all the features that Exchange Server 2013 provides. Retaking the exams will keep you're skill level on edge, what I think is needed for an MCM or MCSM to be one.

In my humble opinion you can't get any good experience with Exchange Server 2013 until you deployed it in a co-existing scenario. Therefore I think it's a big disappointment again from Microsoft to stop the current program and have no short term solution available.

At the end this will set ME back with at least a year!

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