Monthly Archives: October 2012

Certification Update: MCTS and MCITP are ending, have you taken those last tests?

As many of you know, the Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS programs are ending.  This has been inferred by many of us, but the reality is that Microsoft has stated this flat out.  However, they never really made a big deal about it.  And this is going to catch many people flat footed.  Remember though that these certifications, once earned are good for life. The program is expiring but the certs are not.

The MCTS / MCITP program has a simple premise: you received a certification specific to exactly what you knew.  This was most evident in the differences between a Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 and a Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7.  They sounded the same but in reality were completely different certifications.

Here was the problem.  There were too many certifications.  They just get out of control.  For example, I am a consultant.  So, I need certifications a variety of topics.  My resume has fifteen MCTS titles on it.  It also has four MCITP.  Isn’t that a bit much?

In the old days (yes, even IT has old days, and older days), there was just the MCSE and MCP.  You could do something (nothing specific was listed) or could do everything (totally a misnomer).  Today Microsoft if trying to find a happy medium; I wish them luck, but I am not sure it is going to work as well as they think.

I have one MCSA and one MCSE from the new program.  I will say that the MCSE was hard.  And the old Microsoft test taking techniques don’t work quite as well as you would think.  It actually impressed me.  My only concern is that they are pulling away some of the advantages they used to have with the MCTS / MCITP programs.  For example: Windows 7 support does not equal deployment.  On the MCSA it does.

I am going to say let’s all give it a try.  However, if you want that last MCITP or are prepping for an MCTS… get it before they are gone.  I have included a limited list of when many of these are expiring; make sure you don’t plan your lives by it though: Microsoft may change it.

 

Some of the expiration schedule:

Expires: Thursday, January 31, 2013

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Configuration Exam 70-638

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Configuration Exam 70-630

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft Office Visio 2007, Application Development Exam 70-545

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007

 

Expires: Friday, February 01, 2013

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Enterprise Project Management with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 Exam 70-633

 

Expires: Saturday, February 02, 2013

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft Office Project Server 2007, Configuration Exam 70-639

 

Expires: Wednesday, July 31, 2013

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development Exam 70-433

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Configuration Exam 70-401

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: System Center Data Protection Manager 2007, Configuration Exam 70-658

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization Exam 70-659

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization Exam 70-669

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft .NET Framework 4, Windows Applications Development Exam 70-511

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Windows Vista, Configuration Exam 70-620

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Microsoft Windows Embedded CE 6.0, Development Exam 70-571

– Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist / MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuration Exam 70-643

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Virtualization Administrator on Windows Server 2008 R2

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Database Administrator 2008

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Database Developer 2008

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer 2008

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Lync Server Administrator 2010

 

Expires: Friday, January 31, 2014

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7

– Microsoft Certified IT Professional / MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008

Quick Comment: Active Directory 2012 USN Rollback Protection. Finally safe virtualization?

So something that doesn’t seem to be getting much press is that Windows Server 2012 brings safe virtualization and protection from USN rollbacks.  Yes, it does.  All the docs say it, but Hyper-V 3.0 and PowerShell V3 get all the press.

Windows Server tried to detect USN rollbacks, but this error… which can kill a domain was really a real danger: and regularly occurred.  The more common ways a USN rollback might not be detected are: a virtual hard disk may be selected on more than one machine or more commonly, a snapshot of a VM is restored and it has an USN that has increased past the last USN that the other domain controller has received.

So while the first scenario might lead to domain controllers not replicating changes… and make things unstable and unpredictable, and kill your forest; the second can be really bad.  Lets just say bad.  Best case is an Event ID 1988 in Event Viewer for a lingering object.  Sometimes though you have corrupt data and wipe out the domain.

So, what mas my mantra again? Oh yeah. Let’s make the new modeus operendi: just say no to “blowing up” your Active Directory.  So give Windows Server 2012 a spin and let’s hear some attempts to kill it.

An excerpt from Microsoft discusses the new feature.  Don’t forget to follow the link and read the whole thing.

Excerpt from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831734.aspx

“Virtual environments present unique challenges to distributed workloads that depend upon a logical clock-based replication scheme. AD DS replication, for example, uses a monotonically increasing value (known as a USN or Update Sequence Number) assigned to transactions on each domain controller. Each domain controller’s database instance is also given an identity, known as an InvocationID. The InvocationID of a domain controller and its USN together serve as a unique identifier associated with every write-transaction performed on each domain controller and must be unique within the forest.

AD DS replication uses InvocationID and USNs on each domain controller to determine what changes need to be replicated to other domain controllers. If a domain controller is rolled back in time outside of the domain controller’s awareness and a USN is reused for an entirely different transaction, replication will not converge because other domain controllers will believe they have already received the updates associated with the re-used USN under the context of that InvocationID.

For example, the following illustration shows the sequence of events that occurs in Windows Server 2008 R2 and earlier operating systems when USN rollback is detected on VDC2, the destination domain controller that is running on a virtual machine. In this illustration, the detection of USN rollback occurs on VDC2 when a replication partner detects that VDC2 has sent an up-to-dateness USN value that was seen previously by the replication partner, which indicates that VDC2’s database has rolled back in time improperly.

A virtual machine (VM) makes it easy for hypervisor administrators to roll back a domain controller’s USNs (its logical clock) by, for example, applying a snapshot outside of the domain controller’s awareness. For more information about USN and USN rollback, including another illustration to demonstrate undetected instances of USN rollback, see USN and USN Rollback.

Beginning with Windows Server 2012, AD DS virtual domain controllers hosted on hypervisor platforms that expose an identifier called VM-Generation ID can detect and employ necessary safety measures to protect the AD DS environment if the virtual machine is rolled back in time by the application of a VM snapshot. The VM-GenerationID design uses a hypervisor-vendor independent mechanism to expose this identifier in the address space of the guest virtual machine, so the safe virtualization experience is consistently available of any hypervisor that supports VM-GenerationID. This identifier can be sampled by services and applications running inside the virtual machine to detect if a virtual machine has been rolled back in time.”

Certification Spotlight Series: MCSE: Private Cloud … how does it rate? Just buzzwords or real value?

So, you’re looking at the next generation of IT certifications are you?  You want a cert with all the new buzz words.  Right?  Let’s sit down and take a look at the point of the spear for these new Microsoft certifications.  The new MCSE: Private Cloud. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert.  Yep, one of the new ones.

Part of the allure of this test is that it has the new buzzword phrase: private cloud.  Does it really deserve it?  In all honesty, it does somewhat.  However it is way more than just private cloud though.  This covers private cloud, systems management, disaster recovery, operating system deployments, etc.  So, this cert can grab onto a lot of buzzwords.  And those buzzwords can mean a lot.  They can mean interviews, promotions, sales or even introductions.  They cannot be emphasized enough.

The only thing that is really off on this certification is the MCSE in its tittle.  The MCSE is by far, the most recognized industry certification in the world.  They are attempting to bring it back because the MCITP just didn’t get the reputation the MCSE had.  Additionally they are trying to modernize it.  Remember, in the United States of America, that the MCSE, which stood for Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer was awesome.  “Systems Engineer” and “Senior Systems Engineer” are traditional titles.  In some parts of the world, “Engineer” is a protected term.  As such, Microsoft tried the MCITP… but what was the title to with that?  “IT Professional?”  What does that mean?  Microsoft is fighting back, so now you have the “Solutions Expert.”  Microsoft is showing that they are in tune with the industry.  I guess we can all live with it, right?

Oh, but there is a catch.  The new MCSE requires a recertification cycle.  Something Microsoft has threatened but never before pulled off.  Every three years you have to recertify.  I wonder what the tests will be for it.

So what is the audience profile?  “With Windows Server 2008 and System Center 2012, and soon with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 SP1, you can build your Microsoft private cloud solution and gain the automation and flexibility you need for your IT infrastructure, now and in the future. Do you have experience with these technologies? Are you ready to begin the journey to cloud computing with a Microsoft private cloud implementation? Become Private Cloud certified and prove your knowledge and skills in managing and implementing Microsoft private cloud computing technologies.”  Hmmm…. Not much of a profile.  However, you begin to see that this is heavily about buzz.  Really, it is a System Center admin who has engineer experience and virtualization experience who wants to spread their wings.  Honestly, I would expect most people who go for it to have five to ten years of experience.

For my reviews I will be rating certification on a 1-10 scale.  Ten will be the highest, with one the lowest. So, on a ten scale, with MCM, CCIE and JNCIE at the top as a ten, and Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), A+, CCENT at the low end as a 1.  Well, I hope you weren’t waiting for me to rate those six certs… they just were rated as my baseline.

How would I rate these?  First off remember that this certification takes anywhere from five certification tests to seven certification tests to earn.  That is massive.  As such I would rate the real value here as around a 7.  However, with the current buzz, and the plain visibility of those buzz words, the perceived value is through the roof.  As such the perceived visibility here is going to be at least a 9, yes, a 9. I know this is incredibly high.  However, I can’t think of a certification outside my 10 point certs (CCIE, MCM) that even compare to the salivation that occurs with those buzzwords.  So, I think the perceived value will drop, but for now: grab the value.

What do you think?  And what certification would you like me to take a look at and grade next time?

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