Article

Windows Server 2003 certification: Should you wait a while?

David Pye, Assistant Site Editor


IT Pro
Ed Tittel

Timing is everything and, while the new Windows Server 2003 credentials are going to be integral in the near future, many users are hesitant to invest their time and money in a certification or upgrade they may not really need right away. In part two of this article, our resident certification expert, Ed Tittel, says "why bother?" in regard to NT 4 certification, and he offers more advice on whether you should wait to become Windows Server 2003 certified.

SearchWin2000.com member: I have five years' experience as an assistant network administrator. I want to get certifications. Should I wait until Windows Server 2003 and new certifications are out? Or should I start studying and taking the existing MCSE core exams, then take the upgrade exam when it becomes available?

Ed Tittel: If you wait, you'll be unable to finish your MCSE until the end of 2003, at the very earliest.

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I would urge you to factor your employer's upgrade history into your planning. If they've upgraded to Windows 2000 in the last 24 months, they're unlikely to upgrade again for at least another 24 months. If that's the case, go with Win2k exams. If they're on an early-adopter track, only then would it be worth the wait -- and even then, that might hold back your chances at promotions or raises longer than you would like. If that's the case, do Win2k now, then take the upgrade exams later. Only if waiting confers tangible benefits should you consider waiting at all.

SearchWin2000.com member: I currently hold an MCSE in Windows 2000. I was under the impression that when Exchange 5.5 retires, I would lose that cert. But after reading through the Microsoft site, I believe that is not the case. I took the 240 exam and the security exam to get my cert. Am I correct in assuming that I need only the two upgrade exams to get my 2003 cert and that the Exchange exam is not necessary?

Ed Tittel: Yes, you are correct -- unless something else changes between now and when you complete those upgrade exams. Microsoft can (and all too often will) change the rules along the way. Barring such a change, however, you need only 70-292 and 70-296 (when they become available later this year, probably in September or October) to upgrade your MCSE from 2000 to 2003 status.

SearchWin2000.com member: Ideally, I'd like to take the Exchange 5.5/Proxy 2000 as electives. However, I know that these exams are being phased out sometime in 2003. First, can you tell me when in 2003 they will be stopped? Second, can you tell me whether they still count toward my MCSE if I pass them now but don't finish the other units until, say, the end of 2003?

Ed Tittel: By Proxy 2000, I assume you mean 70-227 Internet Security & Acceleration Server. That is a safe topic and should stay viable for at least another couple of years. I recommend against Exchange 5.5, however, since Exchange 2000 will itself be supplanted in the second half of 2003.

Exam 70-227 is not scheduled for retirement. If you mean 70-088 Proxy Server 2.0, however, it is scheduled to retire on June 30, 2003. Because they are listed among the acceptable electives, they should remain valid until the Win2000 credentials are replaced by Server 2003 credentials. But this probably won't occur until some time in 2004. Microsoft has already announced it will be offering upgrade exams so that MCSAs and MCSEs don't have to repeat the entire test regime to upgrade their credentials from Win2k to .NET.

SearchWin2000.com member: If one of the exams I took for the MCSE 2000 certification expired (70-080), do I need to take another exam to keep my certification current? I plan on taking the upgrade exams for 2003 at the end of the year.

Ed Tittel: No, you won't need to replace a discontinued exam to upgrade from MCSE 2000 to an MCSE on Windows Server 2003. If you check out Microsoft's 'Exams scheduled for discontinuation' page, you'll find this phrase in the first line of text there: 'No candidate requirements to retain certification' in the context of exam 70-080. Thus you can complete your MCSE on Windows 2000, using 70-080 as one of your electives, and still take the two upgrade exams to qualify for the MCSE on Windows Server 2003.

SearchWin2000.com member: As an MCSA in Windows Server 2003, what do I need to become an MCSE?

Ed Tittel: You'll need three more exams to finish your MCSE, because, by taking 70-210, you've met the client OS core requirement.

  1. You must still take 70-216 to meet the core networking system requirements; you already have 70-215 and 70-217 to finish out that requirement.

  2. A designing exam to meet the core design requirement will be needed; 70-219, 70-220, 70-221 and 70-226 are all acceptable. I recommend either 70-219 or 70-221, depending on your job focus.

  3. You will also need to complete one more elective exam (70-218 counts as one, but you still need another).

See Microsoft's MCSE requirements page for the details.

SearchWin2000.com member: I passed the MCSE 4 series 70-067, 70-068 and 70-073 -- the last over two years ago. With the Network Essentials being granted by my CNE experience, I was planning to finish with the Exchange 5.5 and the SQL 7 tests. Now it is too late for the Exchange 5.5. Can I still qualify for the MCSE 4 certification? What course of study would you recommend to complete an MCSE?

Ed Tittel: It's not too late to qualify for an MCSE on NT 4, but it's getting close. My question to you is, why bother? NT 4 is heading for oblivion soon, and you might want to think about Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 MCSEs instead. You'll find those requirements clearly spelled out on the Microsoft Web site.

About the author:
Ed Tittel is a principal at LANWrights Inc., a network-oriented writing, training and consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. He is the creator of the Exam Cram series of books and has worked on more than 50 certification-related books on Microsoft, Novell and CompTIA, as well as on information security and Sun-related topics. He is a member of the NetWorld+Interop faculty, where he specializes in Windows-related courses on security and performance topics. Tittel is also a contributing editor to Certification magazine, a columnist for CramSession.com, a writer for numerous TechTarget Web sites and series editor for Que Certification's Exam Cram and Training Guide books.

Click here to go back to part one.

If you would like to ask Ed Tittel -- or any of our other experts -- a question of your own, click here.

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