The road to SharePoint 2013 MCSE

This week I took my first steps towards gaining the reinvented SharePoint 2013 MCSE by taking (and passing thankfully) the ‘Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Server 2012’ exam. (70-417).

Microsoft have completely revamped the certification process and personally, I believe this is an astute decision. In order to gain your SharePoint 2013 MCSE, you first need to become a MCSA in Server 2012. So, what MS are essentially saying is that in addition to understanding the application layer, you now need to have an equal appreciation of the infrastructure it’s running on.

There are two routes towards gaining your MCSA 2012, one of which is a handy shortcut, if, like me, you already hold an MCITP (SharePoint 2010).

Route 1 (New to MCSA or hold an MCTS)

Prepare yourself for the long-haul! The Server 2012 MCSA consists of three exams and around 15 days of instructor led tuition (if you have the time and budget). The exams are as follows:

  • 70-410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
  • 70-411 Administering Windows Server 2012
  • 70-412    Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

Route 2 (Upgrade your MCITP or MCSA Server 2008)

This is the shortcut route I mentioned earlier which allows you to earn your MCSA Server 2012 by virtue of sitting ONE exam. And you don’t have to hold the SharePoint 2010 MCITP, the same principle applies if you are certified in Lync, Exchange amongst others. The full list is available from the following link:

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/mcsa-windows-server-certification.aspx#fbid=aXGmuk-0q5u

Two SharePoint exams then have to be passed (70-331) and (70-332)

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?ID=70-331#fbid=aXGmuk-0q5u

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/Exam.aspx?ID=70-332#fbid=aXGmuk-0q5u

The pass mark for exam number ’70-417′ is 700 out of 1000 – I managed to scramble up to 833. My training consisted of 5-day instructor led tuition and then around 10 weeks of follow-up study using a number or low-spec Server 2012 machines in a test environment. The course itself covered all of the new features and functionality in Server 2012 and highlighted exactly what has changed since Server 2008.

As I don’t come from and Server Infrastructure background, I found the course very demanding as around 50% of the content was a completely alien to me – hence why it has taken me so long to sit the exam since attending the course. All of the other delegates were infrastructure bods with a solid understanding of Server 2008 (most held the Server 2008 MCSA). And they were happily sitting the exam on Day 5 of the course!

Additional learning resources I used consisted of the following:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Exam-Ref-70-417-Upgrading-Windows/dp/0735673047/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365091310&sr=8-1&keywords=70-417

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/ (search for ‘Server 2012’)

I will follow-up this blog post with a series of articles titled ‘How I passed Exam 40-417″. Hopefully the tips I can pass on can be beneficially to others who hope to sit this exam.