As I have mentioned before, I owe the original MCSE a lot. It has allowed me to change careers into IT and has helped me build my experience and ‘move up’ as an IT professional for almost a decade, before working as a Civil Engineer again. I have other certifications, but having those three MCSEs (on Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003) has been extremely beneficial. Will this vendor-specific certification again establish Microsoft as the premier technical certification provider? Why did Microsoft bring the MCSE back?
A bit of history
Let’s go back in time a little bit. When Windows NT Server was the dominant server in the workplace, you could get an MCSE in Windows NT. Then Windows 2000 was released, and in a bid to establish Windows 2000 Server in the corporate world, the company released a new MCSE based on Windows 2000, and offered certified individuals an upgrade path in order to make the transition easier, with less exams to pass than the first time.
In 2003, as Windows 2000 Server was replaced by Windows Server 2003, Microsoft again provided an upgrade path to the new MCSE based on Windows 2003. An MCSA was also offered, whereby you could pass fewer exams to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (at the time, the MCSE was called Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer).
The power of a brand
Then something funny happened: the tech giant decided to replace the MCSA and MCSE by the MCTS ( Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist) and MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional). So when Windows 2008 Server was released, there never was a corresponding MCSE 2008 certification. Microsoft geeks everywhere went ‘huh?’ while the company explained that the focus would now shift to the new certifications. But the question remained: why to retire the MCSE, four letters that had so much brand recognition everywhere? You could arguably ask any IT recruiter or hiring manager about the MCSE, and they knew immediately what you were talking about. But the MCITP ? Not so much.
The MCSE is back…or is it?
Finally, then, Microsoft is bringing back the MCSE. Technically, only the four letters ‘MCSE’ are back: they stand now for Microsoft Certified Solution Expert, while the MCSA – which has also been resurrected – is now called the Microsoft Certified Solution Associate. Hmmm, can you see what’s missing here? Could it have to do with the uproar a few years back that, to become an ‘Engineer’, you needed a Bachelor’s degree and possibly professional licensure, and not just a few exams and a glossy certificate?
Microsoft is saying that the MCSE has been ‘reinvented for the cloud’. Whether the new MCSE becomes as popular as the old one remains to be seen. However, even if it does – and I do hope so, for the original MCSE has, again, been of huge benefit to me personally – it will remain what certifications have always been: a proof of your knowledge, but not in any way a substitute for experience. Your foot in the door!
Are you happy the MCSE is coming back? Indifferent? Do you think it’s too late? Sound off in the comments!
(Thanks to @doblerco for the link to the article mentioned in the first paragraph of this post).