It may be time to update your Microsoft certification strategy. This summer, Redmond made two major certification announcements. Both announcements affect most IT professionals seeking Microsoft accreditation.

A new security exam is on the way
IT professionals have many opportunities to prove their Windows security expertise. Several Windows exams already test candidates on security topics, and other exams (Exam 70-220: Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network and Exam 70-227: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000, Enterprise Edition) specifically test security design and configuration skills.

Soon, IT professionals will have another security exam to add to their resumes. Microsoft is preparing a new exam that will complement the security design test. Now in development, Exam 70-214: Implementing and Administering Security in a Microsoft Windows 2000 Network will test a candidate’s ability to:

  • Implement, manage, and troubleshoot baseline security.
  • Implement, manage, and troubleshoot service packs and hot fixes.
  • Implement, manage, and troubleshoot secure communication channels.
  • Configure, manage, and troubleshoot authentication and remote access security.
  • Implement and manage a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Encrypting File System (EFS).
  • Monitor and respond to security incidents.

Reviewing the topics covered, it’s clear that Microsoft is preparing an exam that will test real-world security expertise. Introducing such an exam is an intelligent compromise that helps bridge the gap between those who want to see security tested on each exam and those who desire a separate Microsoft certification track. By expanding its security certification options to include a test covering actionable, identifiable, and reproducible security tasks and processes, Microsoft answers the demands of IT professionals who have been seeking just such a tool to prove to employers that they possess the skills necessary not only to design and implement a secure Windows network but also to maintain security and respond appropriately to new threats as they arise.

The exam should be available in beta form in November. Candidates passing the 70-214 exam will achieve MCP status. Exam 70-214 will also count for MCSA and MCSE elective credit.

New rounds of exams slated for retirement
In keeping with its promise to provide advance notice that exams are retiring, Microsoft has announced that nine exams will be retired on June 30, 2003. The retiring exams are:

  • Exam 70-056: Implementing and Supporting Web Sites Using Microsoft Site Server 3.0
  • Exam 70-057: Designing and Implementing Commerce Solutions with Microsoft Site Server 3.0, Commerce Edition
  • Exam 70-080: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 by Using the Microsoft Internet Explorer Administration Kit
  • Exam 70-081: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5
  • Exam 70-085: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft SNA Server 4.0
  • Exam 70-088: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0
  • Exam 70-091: Designing and Implementing Solutions with Microsoft Office 2000 and Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications
  • Exam 70-098: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows 98
  • Exam 70-105: Designing and Implementing Collaborative Solutions with Microsoft Outlook 2000 and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5

A quick review of the retirement list reveals no surprises. All of these platforms have been updated with new versions or essentially replaced by other products.

Eckel’s take
If you’re working toward MCSA or MCSE certification, pay close attention to both of these announcements. The new security certification tests real-world skills, and it’s sure to become one of the most popular electives. While plotting your MCSA or MCSE progress, remember that the nine exams listed above will retire on June 30, 2003. I recommend that you avoid them on your way to MCSA or MCSE status, choosing instead current exams (particularly Windows 2000 and XP flavors) that are not slated for elimination.