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Microsoft revamps IT certifications for cloud, requires recertification

Get ready to recertify: Microsoft detailed changes to its certification platform, with a focus on the cloud.

Microsoft this week detailed sweeping changes to its certification program and positioned its agenda toward the cloud. For IT pros, the change entails time and money for recertification.

The new, but familiar, flagship certification for designing cloud infrastructure is called Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).

The shift signals some acceptance of cloud computing in an industry which once had a "visceral reaction to cloud," said Greg Shields, senior partner at Concentrated Tech and contributor.

Microsoft has also integrated cloud computing features into System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 in a way that should make IT pros more comfortable with cloud. With SCVMM 2012, Microsoft distilled the idea of the cloud to "something you can create…it's a button in the top right-hand corner," Shields said.

Other certifications include Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM), which represent a starting point for IT job seekers and the "highest bar" of skills, respectively.

Microsoft’s revamped certifications

In one way, what's old is new again: MCSE, a once-popular certification eliminated in favor of Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP).

It's not clear whether the value of Microsoft certification has diminished, but the updates probably won't inspire the type of certification-craze that happened during the late '90s, Shields said.

But the new MCSE certification does require recertification. Certifications hold value over time and demonstrate current knowledge of its product, the company said.

The recertification process will cost money -- about $150-per-exam in the U.S. -- but Microsoft’s certifications cost less than new certifications from vendors such as VMware, according to Shields.Microsoft also offers a two-for-one deal, where IT pros can get a voucher for a next version exam after completing a current version exam In terms of preparation, the company says it might take weeks to prepare for a certification exam with prior hands-on experience. 

Without prior experience, it may require months of preparation. Microsoft’s old certifications are still valid and will remain valuable as long as companies are using that version of the technology, according to the company. In two years, however, older certifications will transition to "Legacy" status, it said.

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