Any logic taking a 2008 exam first?

GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
I've worked 16+ years in IT support, but since my initial MCP's on Windows Server 2000 gained back in 2005 I've done virtually nothing on the certification front since. Losing my job a year ago finally made me realise that while my employers haven't wanted or pushed me to update my certifications in line with my experience, now I'm unemployed (again) it's hard to get interviews for jobs at the levels I need to go for without a raft of up-to-date certifications on my CV (Resume for the Americans).

So I started with a Cisco CCNA which I'm close to sitting, and now I'm starting to look ahead at what to go for next. I've thought about VMware VCP6-DCV but it looks like I have to go on a course before I can sit an exam, so financially I'm going to need a future employer to put me through it. That then leaves me with Microsoft certification, but as per the title I'm not sure if there's any sense in sitting 70-646 (Windows Server 2008 Server Administration) before looking at 2012. My dilemma is based around the fact that I'm more familiar with 2008 than 2012 having only done a couple of Server 2012 installations when I was looking into MDT, but I've administered a 2008 environment.

Ultimately I want to achieve MCSA server 2012, but would having a Server 2008 administration certification on my Microsoft Transcript improve my employability with those companies still using 2008, and my intention to continue onto 2012 help with companies planning to migrate in the (near) future?

Comments

  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,161 Mod
    Let's look at the path you're thinking about: MCSA 2008 and then upgrade to MCSA 2012.

    The Pros:
    • Two mid-level certs in four exams, (versus three exams for just the 2012)
    • A longer "history" on your resume, showing your sysadmin skills aren't just being refreshed with the latest OS
    • The 2008 exams are divided up by technology: one exams covers Active Directory, one exam covers infrastructure and networking, another covers design and planning. The 2012 exams mix it up a bit more, may be easier to focus on one topic at a time.
    -
    The Cons:
    • The 2008 exams are aging and Microsoft could schedule them for retirement as early as this year.
    • More exams to reach the same end-goal of MCSA 2012
    • Most organizations have either upgraded to Windows Server 2012 R2 already, or will soon start looking at the fast-approaching Windows Server 2016
    -
    Here's my own $0.02 on the matter: if you have the time and the interest, do both now. The retirement date hasn't been announced yet, so the MCSA 2008 is still 'current' as far as Microsoft is concerned. There's a lot of overlap between the certs, a lot of things stay the same even with a new OS and new features, so your time isn't wasted learning about AD, DNS, and DHCP on 2008. The worst thing that can happen is that the beta for MCSA 2016 will be coming out right as you're finishing up, so you can hit it as well while all this stuff is still fresh in your head. The most current MCSA will look good your resume, both will look better. The only real reason to skip over 2008 at this point, in your situation, would be the desire and need to get up to date on 2012, specifically, as soon as possible.

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  • GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Slowhand wrote: »
    Let's look at the path you're thinking about: MCSA 2008 and then upgrade to MCSA 2012.

    Thanks for the input, just what's going round in my head too in that having 2008 and 2012 on my transcript (list of exams passed) has got to look better to employers. Only thing you've misread is that I only plan the one 2008 MCP exam to show I can administer 2008 (installation is a given and will probably never happen now unless repairing a faulty server that for some reason needs it). I do however want to get MCSA on 2012 as I missed out back in the day on 2000 as one of the exams was too hard, but I've had years of hands-on experience since then so it should be easier relatively.
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,649 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I tend to put myself through that sort of punishment. And now that I am doing consulting, it appears to present that "longevity." I was in a similar boat having completed my MCSE 2000 in 2002 and didn't do anything for about 7 years (which is when I did my CCNA). I started a new job and they had me get my CISSP and then encouraged me to update my MCSE (they were suggesting 2003, but would have been fine with 200icon_cool.gif. I decided to do 2008 and then turned around and immediately upgraded it to 2008. It all just depends on what you want as the end result and how much effort you would like to put in. Honestly, with 2008 being older, you could probably sit it with relatively little study time, especially if you do have considerable experience. If you do study, I don't even know what I would recommend... study for 2008 specifically, or study for 2012. It's not like they are going to ask you things that are specific to 2012 in a 2008 exam, since it wasn't around yet... so you shouldn't have a hard time differentiating how the newer material applies. At least, that is my thought process.

    As for everyone deploying 2012... they are, but I still sees tons of folks on 2003, let alone 2008... that is what they are migrating from, so it is good to have knowledge of the "source" platform.
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  • GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
    powerfool wrote: »
    Honestly, with 2008 being older, you could probably sit it with relatively little study time, especially if you do have considerable experience...

    As for everyone deploying 2012... they are, but I still sees tons of folks on 2003, let alone 2008... that is what they are migrating from, so it is good to have knowledge of the "source" platform.

    I do have plenty of experience on 2008 and so would just study a little to refresh myself on each of the topics covered on the chosen exam before sitting it. That would (should) give me a more up-to-date certification more quickly than if I take a 2012 track, and 2008 is probably still relevant for many employers that haven't got around to migrating yet.

    So on the face of things I think I will sit a single 2008 exam before starting on MCSA Server 2012. Thanks for all the input so far.
  • alan2308alan2308 CISSP, MCSA 2008, MCSA 2012, CCNA R&S, CCNA Security Ann Arbor, MIMember Posts: 1,854 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I don't believe that the 70-646 alone gets you anything. The 640 and 642 get you an MCTS, though that's probably not going to be on HR's checklist in many companies. I'd do the entire MCSA 2008 or just skip it and do the MCSA 2012.

    Think about it this way. Your idea is 4 tests for one MCSA. Doing the 2008 then the 2012 upgrade is 4 tests for two MCSA's.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    alan2308 wrote: »
    I don't believe that the 70-646 alone gets you anything. The 640 and 642 get you an MCTS, though that's probably not going to be on HR's checklist in many companies.

    I'd have to agree. The 70-646 will just get you an MCP, which won't list a technology. And you have (presumably) MCP already. The MCTS is unlikely to be sought for, but could make a conversation point in an interview. The 70-642 is probably the easiest of the three.
    I'd do the entire MCSA 2008 or just skip it and do the MCSA 2012.

    Think about it this way. Your idea is 4 tests for one MCSA. Doing the 2008 then the 2012 upgrade is 4 tests for two MCSA's.

    This also makes a lot of sense, the only caveat is that the upgrade exam is, by all reports, difficult. 2012 also has more emphasis on powershell and core installation - to the point that you can be expected to know three or four ways to do the same task.

    I'm on this path myself, and I am considering doing the 410, 411 and one of the optionals (office 365 or hyper-v) instead of the 417 upgrade. But that is likely to happen 2nd half this year.
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  • GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
    OctalDump wrote: »
    alan2308 wrote: »
    I don't believe that the 70-646 alone gets you anything. The 640 and 642 get you an MCTS, though that's probably not going to be on HR's checklist in many companies. I'd do the entire MCSA 2008 or just skip it and do the MCSA 2012.

    Think about it this way. Your idea is 4 tests for one MCSA. Doing the 2008 then the 2012 upgrade is 4 tests for two MCSA's.

    I'd have to agree. The 70-646 will just get you an MCP, which won't list a technology. And you have (presumably) MCP already. The MCTS is unlikely to be sought for, but could make a conversation point in an interview. The 70-642 is probably the easiest of the three.

    All valid points, but to get MCTS I'd have to do 640 and 642 and both really relate to installing and setting up 2008 which I don't imagine is such a sought after skill anymore. 646 on the other hand relates to administering 2008 day-to-day which is still a skill in use, and it will show up on my transcript as Windows Server 2008 even if it doesn't move me from MCP to something else.


    OctalDump wrote: »
    I'm on this path myself, and I am considering doing the 410, 411 and one of the optionals instead of the 417 upgrade.

    Doing all three 2008 exams would of course upgrade me to an MCSA, but if I too didn't fancy the upgrade exam, or worse failed it, then I'd have given myself more work to get to MCSA Server 2012 without any additional effective benefit.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Doing all three 2008 exams would of course upgrade me to an MCSA, but if I too didn't fancy the upgrade exam, or worse failed it, then I'd have given myself more work to get to MCSA Server 2012 without any additional effective benefit.

    Ah, ok. So you want the 646 more for the knowledge than for ticking a certification box. That's fair enough. The 646 is a good exam in that it brings a lot of the technical skills and knowledge together into actually building solutions. That skill is probably more valuable than the technical skills - being able to put together a solution is more important than administering a technology.

    As far as how that looks to employers, I don't think many will pay much attention to your transcript (I might be wrong, employers might be more considered where you live) and just want easily digestible bullet points like MCSA 2003, MCSA 2008, MCSE etc etc etc.

    I think the way to do it, is to list the 2008 skills in the resume, and then discuss the exam in the interview as a sort of "proof" or validation of those skills.

    As for other pathways, yeah, you could spend months (years) doing just Microsoft certifications and end up with an impressive list. But it sounds like you have a broader path in mind, Vmware, Cisco etc. which is probably going to do more good than two or three or four MSCA's.
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  • GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
    OctalDump wrote: »
    As far as how that looks to employers, I don't think many will pay much attention to your transcript (I might be wrong, employers might be more considered where you live) and just want easily digestible bullet points like MCSA 2003, MCSA 2008, MCSE etc etc etc.

    I think I'm looking at it on an even more granular level than you. Personally I don't think half the people that see the transcript will have any idea what MCP, MCITP, MCSA, MCSE are, I think they'll just scan through it and see 2008 and 2012 and take from that I know how to use both versions.

    Having not got past MCP I don't know whether all three Server 2012 exams (410, 411, 412) will still be listed separately once I achieve MCSA, but I guess even if it appears as just one of each 2008/2012 I can still discuss where I'm at and what I did to get there.
    OctalDump wrote: »
    But it sounds like you have a broader path in mind, Vmware, Cisco etc. which is probably going to do more good than two or three or four MSCA's.

    Yes, I like the broader requirements of running a small(ish) IT department rather than the more specialist skills in particular areas required as a 3rd-line engineer or consultant in a larger enterprise. Having enough knowledge to set up and support the network infrastructure as well as set up and maintain the servers for a few hundred users is more my area of interest.
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,161 Mod
    GDaines wrote: »
    Thanks for the input, just what's going round in my head too in that having 2008 and 2012 on my transcript (list of exams passed) has got to look better to employers.
    I don't know if employers are going to care about the individual exams, it tends to be the big certs that get the buzzword-hits and that they've actually heard of.
    GDaines wrote: »
    Only thing you've misread is that I only plan the one 2008 MCP exam to show I can administer 2008 (installation is a given and will probably never happen now unless repairing a faulty server that for some reason needs it).
    I'd say that if you've got the knowledge to pass the admin exam, you've got the background to knock out both the 70-640 and 70-642 fairly easily, seeing as how they're essentially prerequisites for the more design-focused 70-646.
    GDaines wrote: »
    I do however want to get MCSA on 2012 as I missed out back in the day on 2000 as one of the exams was too hard, but I've had years of hands-on experience since then so it should be easier relatively.
    Oh yeah, the infamous "Beast". The only piece of advice I can give here is that, if you look at an exam as "too hard", then you don't actually have the knowledge that training and studying for it would give you. That's not a knock against your skillset, it's a fact, and covering that material can only help you.

    In the end, if you're thinking about skipping the full MCSA 2008 and only wanting to do the 70-646, I'd say don't waste your time. Similar material is covered in the combination of 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412. I'd also strongly recommend having you look at the MCSE: Server Infrastructure if you feel that your skillset is beyond the average MCSA level.

    My advice from earlier still stands, if you're going to go through all three MCSA 2012 exams, you might as well double back and do the three 2008 exams and then the upgrade. The upgrade is broader than a stand-alone exam, but shouldn't be too difficult since you just spent all that time going over the MCSA 2008 material. There are lots of people on this forum who passed the 70-417 with little or no studying at all once they'd done their 2008 work, which overlaps a LOT with the 2012 features.

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