By Randy Muller, MCT, MCTS, MCSE, CEH, Global Knowledge Instructor
So what makes a new certification "Hot"? Is it the perceived qualitative value? Or is it the possible increase in salary? Is it just the fact that so many are seeking that one particular certification? How about the governing body of the certification? Or maybe it is a combination of one or more of these? Whatever the case, there are new certifications (and some that have been completely re-written as to be a new certification) that are perceived to be the "ones" to possess and will be highly desirable in 2013.
Early in January 2012, Microsoft reintroduced the MCSA and MCSE certifications. Though the acronym remained the same there were significant changes made to the certifications. The Microsoft Certified System Engineer is gone, replaced with the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. The major change associated with this certification is focus on the breadth and depth of the technologies. The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) credential focuses on the ability to design and build technology solutions. The previous Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certifications focused on specific job roles.
Currently there are five MCSA certifications: Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8, Windows 7, and SQL Server 2012. Each of these MCSA's require several exams, such as the Windows 8 MCSA which requires two (70-687 and 70-688) and the MCSA SQL 2012 requires three (70-461, 70-462, and 70-463). One thing to keep in mind is that an MCSA certification is required for the new MCSE certifications.
This change in the emphasis of the certifications is especially apparent with the MCSE. As a holder of the new MCSE, you are expected to have a deep knowledge on a variety of technologies in addition to the primary one you have certified. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification focuses on the ability to design and build technology solutions, which may include integrating multiple technology products and span multiple versions of a single technology, whether on-premises or in the cloud. The previous Microsoft Certified System Engineer certifications focused on a specific job role. In order to earn your MCSE in most technologies, you must first earn an MCSA. For example, the MCSE: Messaging (Exchange 2013) requires that you earn your MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification as well as pass the two required Exchange 2013 exams. The MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification is required for six of the eight MCSE track certifications-so this certification will be in heavy demand as people who want to certify on the new technologies will also have to earn this certification as well. Currently there are eight MCSE certifications: Server Infrastructure, Desktop infrastructure, Private Cloud, Data Platform, Business Intelligence, Messaging, Communication, and SharePoint.
To the Cloud - that is the mantra we hear these days. The increased use of cloud computing and storage by service providers has also increased the demand for IT professionals who can build (and secure) private cloud computing solutions using common technology platforms. Seems most of the major IT players have a Cloud solution to meet the needs of the smallest to some of the largest businesses out there. But which is the right "Cloud" certification? There are several certifications that germane to our discussion of cloud Certifications.
One of the more interesting cloud certifications is the one offered by CompTIA. The Cloud Essential certification from CompTIA is vendor-neutral. This certification was originally developed by ITpreneurs and the Cloud Credential Council. CloudSchool is another vendor-neutral certification entity dedicated "to excellence in the fields of cloud computing technology, architecture, security, governance and capacity". Microsoft also has their MCSE: Private Cloud certification (one of their new MCSE's-Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert). This certification demonstrates your expertise in managing and implementing Microsoft private cloud computing technologies using Windows Server and System Center technologies. VMware has five cloud certifications ranging from the VMware Certified Professional-Cloud (VCP-Cloud) to the VMware Certified Design Expert-Cloud (VCDX-Cloud).
The CCIE Collaboration is new from Cisco and is evolved from the ten-year old CCIE Voice certification. The CCIE Collaboration certification reflects advances in networked collaboration solutions which go beyond simple audio phone calls. Collaboration is unique in its potential to affect every workplace employee, business partner, and customer. No longer just a voice call or IM session, workplace collaboration now happens in real time within a variety of integrated applications. (http://cisco.com) The new CCIE Collaboration certification will cover solutions for voice, video, IM, presence, and call centers. The CCIE Voice certification will be retired as of February 14, 2014. A current holder of the CCIE Voice designation will now be able to migrate to a CCIE Collaboration credential by taking the CCIE Collaboration written exam only.
Cisco Evolves Associate-Level Certifications, Redesigns CCNA to CCNA Routing and Switching Certification to Support Next-Generation Job Roles. The new CCNA Routing and Switching certification has been redesigned and updated with content to meet the demands of the changes of networking technology and business requirements. As more and varied devices and applications access the "the Internet of Everything" will soon wake up everything imaginable. As the network evolves and changes, becoming more sophisticated, the job roles of network engineers also continue to change.
The new CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification is a vendor-neutral certification exam that validates competency in enterprise security; risk management; research and analysis; and integration of computing, communications, and business disciplines. While there aren't any "official" pre-requisites, this certification is aimed at security professionals who have at least ten years of experience in IT administration with at least five years of hands-on technical security experience. It is expected that candidates for this exam have earned their Security+ certification (though not required). The CASP exam covers a broad range of material and if you are attempting this exam than you should have technical knowledge and skills to conceptualize, design, and engineer secure solutions across complex enterprise environments. You should also be able to apply critical thinking and judgment across a broad spectrum of security disciplines as well as propose and implement solutions that map to enterprise drivers.
EC-Council recently released the Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) v8 certification. This new certification has been designed to provide invaluable training for security professionals and organizations. The CEH v8 certification is in heavy demand by organizations and governments (the CEH is required for some US Military and governmental security jobs). Much of this course is hands-on, using the same tools and techniques that those who may attack your networks would implement. In many cases, you will scan and hack your own systems in order to see the affects these have on a working system. What makes this a unique and valuable certification is the focus of the certification. EC-Council recently earned the ANSI 10024 - the first time that a US based accreditation body has performed and certified an entity outside North America.