NEW ORLEANS -- Windows Server 2003 certification is a driving curiosity, but not an imminent necessity according to IT pros attending MCP magazine's TechMentor conference and expo.
Microsoft recently announced new certification tracks for Windows Server 2003, which were based on an extensive job task analysis survey that involved more than 2,500 people in 100 countries, said Microsoft certification product manager Ken Rosen at a Wednesday night panel "Ask Microsoft: New Certifications for Windows Server 2003."
Rosen called the new Windows Server 2003 certification requirements "the most valid, relevant certification tracks we have ever introduced."
Based on a "job task matrix" developed during their research, Microsoft said that it found a 60% overlap in the duties of MCSAs and MCSEs. The new certification curriculum has been designed to avoid redundancy and equip students with a training mix that's better suited to the realities of everyday tasks.
Joel Yoker, a Microsoft certification planner, said that the company expected a gradual adoption of the new certification by Windows professionals. Redmond will allow existing MCSEs and MCSAs to take the Windows Server 2003 upgrade exam as many times as they want until they pass. New exams for the MCSA will be available in early August and for the MCSE later that same month.
Most of those in attendance at this week's conference said that they were more interested in familiarizing themselves with the new platform than planning for immediate certification on it since their company-wide deployments may still be years away.
"I want to get an overview of the 2003 environment as a whole, and figure out how it will relate to my responsibilities in the next few years," said Jane Wright, a security expert from the Tennessee Valley Authority. "Upgrading my MCSE is a long way down the road yet."
For admins planning an early certification upgrade path, the reasons to go for the new credential were personal. Rob Frenier, a systems administrator for Siemens Building Technologies, is already MCSE-certified and eager to learn more about Windows Server 2003 because his company is an early technology adopter. He said that Siemens' Active Directory rollout included a network of more than 300,000 users and is one of the largest AD deployments in the country.
But Frenier said that his interest in advancing his MCSE status to Windows Server 2003 is not yet a job requirement. He wants to stay current in anticipation of a company-wide migration to the new platform, which could happen as soon as next year.
MCSA Joe Currenti is a network administrator for Englehardt Systems in New York and is part of a team that is responsible for the everyday workings of a commodities trading floor. Currenti has no plans to attend any of the Windows Server 2003 sessions at the conference, but he will be taking certification upgrade classes when he gets back home (as soon as they are offered).
"I like to stay abreast of current certifications for my own personal interests and to create my own niche," he said.
David Borges is a network engineer for Bosch Rexroth in Michigan who is working on adding a Windows Server 2003 MCSE to the existing MCP at the end of his name. Borges expects his company to eventually migrate to 2003, and he has downloaded a copy of the beta in order to stay ahead of any corporate decisions.
"I can't make mistakes when the time comes. I am impressed with the beta and want to stay one step ahead of the decision makers at the company."
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