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MCSE: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

Best System Administrator Certifications For 2017
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The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification has long ruled the hearts and minds of those who work on Microsoft-based systems, servers and clouds. MCSE certifications focus on the latest technologies for servers, private clouds, business intelligence, messaging, communication and collaboration, SharePoint, enterprise devices and applications, and data platforms (SQL Server). Microsoft made some changes to its certification program in 2016, resulting in four new credentials for cloud platform and infrastructure, mobility, data management and analytics, and productivity.

But when it comes to system administration certifications in general, the brightest lights are those that address Windows Server at the enterprise and server administrator levels. While these credentials don't all specifically use "system administrator" in their descriptions (though many do, or refer to servers instead), they all fall well inside the roles and responsibilities of system administration jobs. They're also in high demand in job postings and classified job advertisements.

The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure targets IT professionals seeking to promote careers such as information security analysts or computer support specialists. Those obtaining the certification will find that the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure credential is designed to validate the skills necessary to effectively run a data center, including networking, storage, systems management, virtualization and identity management.

Note: The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) is Microsoft's prevailing mid-range IT certification. It covers most administrative job roles, including system administration at both the desktop and server levels, as well as more specialized job roles that include SQL Server and Office 365. MCSA: Cloud Platform is a gateway certification that feeds into the MCSE certifications.

System administration candidates might also want to take a closer look at the MCSE: Productivity credential. It focuses in on Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint or Skype For Business. Because communications systems and services of all kinds are so important to business, these are good areas for aspiring and practicing system administrators to specialize in.

The MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certifications exams, and most other MCSE credentials, focus on Windows Server 2016. Candidates who hold older MCSE credentials, set to expire on March 31, 2017, should investigate their options to upgrade to one of the four new-version MCSE credentials — namely: MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MSCE: Mobility, MSCE: Data Management and Analytics and MSCE: Productivity — by taking a current and relevant elective cert exam.

Though it will take time for organizations and enterprises to catch up with those new versions, there will be more opportunities for system administrators to add to their cert portfolios as a result.

MCSE: Server Infrastructure Facts & Figures

Certification NameMicrosoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
Prerequisites & Required CoursesAny one of the following MCSAs is required:
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012
  • MCSA: Cloud Platform
  • MCSA: Linux on Azure
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012
Number of ExamsOne additional elective exam is required to earn this MCSE. Valid electives include:
  • 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
  • 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
  • 70-473 Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions*
  • 70-475 Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions*
  • ID TBD Securing Windows Server 2016*
  • 70-413 Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
  • 70-414 Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
  • 70-246 Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud
  • 70-247 Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud
*Under development and not yet available
Cost per Exam$165 per exam in the USA; prices vary by location elsewhere. Exams administered by Pearson VUE.
URLMCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcse-server-infrastructure-certification.aspx

All MCSE certifications: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcse-cloud-platform-infrastructure.aspx
Self-Study MaterialsVisit the certification webpage and Microsoft Learning for practice tests, free online training, Microsoft Official Curriculum in-classroom and on-demand course offerings, books, online resources and more.

MORE: Microsoft Certs & Career Paths