Late last month, Microsoft released objectives for the last missing piece of its Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) credential: Exam 70-300 "Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures." The dates for the beta version of this exam will run from Nov. 4 through 8 under Exam 71-300.
The "Architecture" exam -- as it's often called in the Microsoft developer community -- has the reputation of being one of the most difficult and demanding of all MCP exams. This reputation derives from the huge body of information, and the amazing collection of details that this exam covers. This difficulty rating is reflected in Microsoft's unabashed recommendation for three instructor-led classes to help candidates prepare for this exam (One or two exam recommendations are more typical for most MCP exams):
- Course 1846: Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) Essentials
- Course 2710: Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures
- Course 2090: Modeling Business Requirements to Create a Database Using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Architect
Please note that in addition to the courses you'd expect to see -- namely, 1846 and 2710, both of which touch on key framework and .NET solution architecture elements -- that 2090 adds a database element along with Microsoft's key .NET development toolset, Visual Studio .NET.
To the core requirements carried over from 70-300's predecessor, 70-200--which covers creating solution concepts and evaluating feasibility, scope and risks, gathering and analyzing business requirements and developing specifications --70-300 adds thorough grounding in and coverage of the .NET framework, key APIs and tools, and .NET-oriented design and development techniques.
Standards and processes now also include Visual Studio .NET Enterprise templates and other .NET-specific design standards, processes, and metrics. If anything, this takes an already challenging exam and raises the bar to make sure that MCSDs understand the ins and outs and design ramifications of the .NET framework and associated toolsets. Thus, it should be both an interesting and challenging exam for .NET MCSDs.
Finally, setting beta dates for Nov. 4-8 means the exam should go live no later than January or February 2003. Also, the release of the exam objectives and specification of training courses means that pro-active .NET MCSD candidates can begin boning up for the "mother of all MCSD requirements." Those invited to the 70-300 beta may attain .NET MCSD status by the end of 2002; those not invited may still attain the .NET MCSD before the end of the first quarter of 2003.
For IT administrators, the obvious corollary to this observation is that these dates lend credibility to speculation that Microsoft Windows .NET Server will indeed be ready for release early in 2003.
Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the creator of the Exam Cram series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java, and security certifications. His team is currently at work on TICSA and Security+ study guides for Que Certification Press.