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New Windows Server 2003 exam focuses on data center

Microsoft has teamed up with Unisys to produce a certification exam for IT professionals who want a credential that includes experience with high-end servers.

Microsoft has teamed up with Unisys Corp. to produce a certification exam for IT professionals who want a credential that includes experience with high-end servers.

The exam, which is completing its beta test this week, is called "Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Solutions in the Data Center." A final version of the exam will be available in late October, said John Vivola, program manager for Unisys Data Center Certified Professional Program.

It is considered an elective for the Microsoft Certified System Engineer for Windows Server 2003 certification track.

Vivola said the exam's objectives are around implementing and managing server hardware and resources in a high-end computing environment. "These situations are really a marriage of hardware and software," Vivola said. "Hence, the specialization."

The companies decided to create a data center specialty because they recognized not all MCSEs are created equal. Just because MCSEs are certified to work in a Windows shop, it does not mean they have the skills to support products in the data center, he said.

"When you think about lost revenue for an hour of downtime, it can be millions," Vivola said.

At least one IT manager who participated in the beta exam sees the test as a way to distinguish his MCSE as he upgrades his certification to the Windows 2003 platform.

Jim Purcell, manager of IT security and standards at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tenn., said that as Microsoft software moves into the back office, the certification could help him understand the issues surrounding the backup and reliability requirements of these platforms.

The TVA is not yet using Windows Datacenter Server, but is considering a variety of options as it looks to consolidate some of its servers. The energy company is a Windows shop with numerous traditional Unix applications.

Microsoft is committed to increasing its presence in the data center. Most of the Datacenter versions of the Windows software are on Unisys ES7000 servers.

A few hundred people participated in the beta. Though the test is owned by Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys, it will be given in the same locations as all other Microsoft certification exams. It will cost $150.


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