Monday 20 April 2020

Take a train ride to Azure.

For a while now Microsoft has been signalling it's intention to move towards role-based training in an attempt to test real world problem solving skills rather than the simple accumulation of facts around a specific platform or technology. This reorganization has resulted in the wholesale retirement of the old MCSx accreditation tracks which have formed the cornerstone of Microsoft training since Windows Server 3.5 launched in 1994.

The original announcement fixed the retirement date on June 30, 2020. In response to the current situation this has been extended to January 31, 2021 but this still places the cut-off within a nine month period. Any exam passed prior to the retirement date will stand for one year after the exam is retired but after that all current MCSx credentials will be stamped as inactive. From that point it’s over to the new role-based certification tracks.

Microsoft is well known for updating the training programs at regular intervals. Any network admin attempting to keep their CV up to date will know it’s pretty much a full time job so why is this change any different?

Well it’s down to the number of exams being retired and the wholesale shift to cloud technologies.

Consider this simple fact: there no longer an exam that explicitly tests for proficiency in Windows Server 2019 administration.

The official line is that

 “Windows Server 2019 content will be included in role-based certifications on an as-needed basis for certain job roles in Azure”.

The Windows Server admin exams were the cornerstone of the old MCSE but now they don’t even exist. As far as Microsoft is concerned Windows Server knowledge is still important but only as it applies to Azure cloud services.

Looking for the update to the SQL Server admin exam?  Much the same I’m afraid because you really should be using the Azure SQL Database as a PaaS.

The new Microsoft accreditation tracks are wholly and unashamedly focused on Azure and the associated cloud services such as Modern Management and Desktop Analytics. On-premise is is part of that but only as far as it supports Azure.

This change will feed into the partner channels who will need to rapidly re-skill before the cut-off date so it might be a good time to invest in training companies or get that training budget signed off.

For the traditional Microsoft IT administrator who expects to be cramming facts about Windows Server 2019 installation procedures, scaling limitations and hardware requirements it’s all going to look a little strange but the plan to sit tight and wait for the cloud to blow over is no longer an option.

There’s a general rule that if you want to get an insight into the future direction for any tech company - check out it’s training program.

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