Tag Archives: Microsoft

Opinion: Microsoft, why are you further confusing the Windows 7 certifications?

On Friday the seventh of September Microsoft sent out an email that is bound to drive many of the Windows 7 certified IT folk to drink.  And Microsoft should have known better. Hopefully you have read my valuation of the MCITP Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator… it will help explain what the confusion really is about. But wait, there is more!  Well here is an excerpt from the email they sent out.

“Soon you will receive an email to congratulate you on your Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows 7 certification you have earned.  You may be wondering what the MCSA: Windows 7 certification is and how did you earn it.”

“In April 2012, Microsoft announced new certifications that have been re-invented for the cloud, covering on-premises skills as well as in the cloud.  As part of our efforts to grandfather our existing customers into the new program, we are awarding those individuals a new certification under the new certification program to jump start them towards an expert level certification in the program.   For individuals that have already earned the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) Enterprise Desktop Administrator or MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician, they are being granted the MCSA: Windows 7 certification.”

So, there are two Windows 7 MCITPs that are completely different certifications… wouldn’t you expect Microsoft to know better?  Guess, not, they are adding a third… that is meaningless. So how do you tell which Windows 7 certified staff knows client management and which are highly trained help desk technicians?  Wait, you can’t?  Nope… not with that MCSA. So what do they mean?  Great question!  Microsoft, what do they mean?

You know there is one other weirdness here.  MCSA was used for a decade plus to define the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator… a server certification (actually you can still get one). So, we have a “free certification” of the new models.

Confused yet?  I am.  Please Microsoft, end the confusion!

Certification Spotlight Series: MCITP Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator… how does it rate? Valuable?

MCITP

So, when you are looking at hiring or being hired in IT (or maybe more aptly named in the old days, managing information systems staff) you will always hear about certifications.  You went and decided to get one… and supposedly this blog is going to help you find some value in them, right?  Right.  Here goes the second article in the series.  It is starting with one of the least coveted, most often required and completely misunderstood certifications.

So what does the MCITP Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator certification mean?  It means you can support Windows 7, right?  Wrong.  Would you believe that the actual MCITP test doesn’t even include supporting Windows 7 systems or users in the description of skill measured?  Not even one percent.

Here is the breakdown of what skills are measured with the final test for this.  Planning and Managing a Client Life Cycle Strategy (16%); if this sounds more like planning the management of a bunch of workstations, then you are right.  Designing a Standard Image (17%); hey wait a minute, this is a major task that you do when deploying operating systems isn’t it?  Yes it is.  Designing Client Configurations (17%); this sounds like more deployment skills… maybe even large scale deployment skills.  Designing a Windows 7 Client Deployment (15%); ok, this is straight up deployment… and it actually touches on MDT and SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager).  Designing Application Packages for Deployment (17%); packaging, are you kidding, this is a major task that is often outsourced because people do not know how to do it… but wait there is more.  This section also includes deployment strategies and skills including virtualized, Remote Desktop Services, Group Policy, or software distribution (read SCCM).  Identifying and Resolving Deployment and Client Configuration Issues (19%); this should read: Windows 7 troubleshooting from the domain, forest, network, and Group Policy Object or deployment level.

So if you couldn’t find the support Windows 7 angle, you are looking at the wrong part here.  See the support skills are a building block to get to the MCITP.  They are tested in the MCTS: Windows 7, Configuring certification, which someone with this cert has to have already earned.  So getting to the MCITP includes support elements, but it really is more of a managing workstations certification than a support certification.  This certification validates your ability to deploy operating systems, desktop applications and to manage the Windows 7 client life cycle.

There actually is a Windows 7 support certification at the MCITP level.  MCITP: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician is the certification for support.

So Microsoft says the audience is: “Candidates for this exam should have a minimum of three years of experience installing, configuring, and administering clients in a Windows networked environment and also have experience deploying operating systems and applications. Candidates should be familiar with the client administration capabilities of Windows Server and with management tools such as the System Center suite of products.”  So they are expecting three years of high end, highly skilled work that just happens to be directed to workstations.

Now let’s compare this to the candidate audience for the MCITP: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician that everyone seems to be mixing up with this certification. “Candidates for this exam support end users who run Microsoft Windows 7 in a corporate environment. They should have experience using applications that are included with the operating system, such as productivity applications used in a corporate environment and Microsoft Office applications.”  Did you notice the lack of a time in the role listed?  Yep, it isn’t there.  This is a significantly lower valued certification.

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 let’s rate the certification everyone mistakenly thinks this cert is.  I would rate MCITP: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician at about a 3 on my scale.  The certification does not have a long time in the role required to master the skills and is mainly aimed at technicians able to resolve operating system issues by telephone, email, connecting to an end user’s system remotely, or by visiting an end user’s desktop.

MCITP Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator is a weird one.  The perceived value is low, possibly a 3, as everyone mistakes it for the other Windows 7 MCITP.  However, the real value of the skills this represents is significantly higher.  I would rate this certification a 5.  Additionally, if this certification is combined with a MC TS: Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying; that is a major boost.  That combination would rate as a six… and nearly any consulting firm that does Windows 7 (or 8) deployments is, or should be, looking for just that combination.

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

Certification Spotlight Series: What the heck does my certification mean?

So, when you are looking at hiring or being hired in IT (or maybe more aptly named in the old days, managing information systems staff) you will always hear about certifications.  Great, let’s get some!  So, you have a cert now.  What does it matter?  What do they really mean?  As the first in a series of articles on certification on this site, I am going to take a look at a variety of certifications and help you understand what they mean and help pin a little bit of valuation on them.  Not in cash, but in skill level.

Today we live in an age where everything we do is cataloged, blogged about, qualified and quantified. But in the end, all people can say is where you worked and what people say you have done.  Think of certifications as putting up headers or tabs in those catalogs of you.  Headers saying: yes, I can do that.  In the end, one caveat: remember when discussing certs, certs do not equal experience; certs validate experience.

So how does your certification stand up to other certifications?  To look at that we look at a variety of things.  One is how much time is expected of the certified person to work in the technology before taking their certification.   An additional view is how specialized is it? Sometimes what makes a certification different is that it is on an obscure technology.  In these cases even a low ranked certification, such as an MCTS could be valuable, for its rarity.  An example of this is the “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Forefront Identity Manager 2010, Configuration”.  Ninety nine out a hundred people have never even heard of the technology, but if you need someone to manage or implement it: it can take years of effort just to find someone.

Here is another piece to remember, when prepping for this certification can you really just study a book and pass the test?  One example is the A+.  Everything I have heard is a yes.  Granted, that is heard, I have never taken it.  On the other hand, “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Forefront Identity Manager 2010, Configuration”?  Good luck.  I don’t think 99 out of 100 people could pull it off.

And lastly, there is another component that that should always be looked at.  That is a simple question of: does this certification enhance or get enhanced by another certification?  This has to be taken into account when doing a valuation of certifications.

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.

In this series I will review many certifications.  These certifications will all be IT related in some way or another, and I will try and qualify these so you can think about what your headers will be.  One thing though, always keep that one caveat in mind: remember when discussing certs, certs do not equal experience; certs validate experience.

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

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