New SQL Server 2016 certifications
This is the eighth post in a series of twelve in Tim Fords Entry-Level Content Challenge.
Microsoft Learning recently published a change to the SQL Server (data platform) certification scheme. And without knowing the details of it yet, it looks like this change is to the better.
I have been involved in taking and helping others take Microsoft data platform certifications for more than five years. When the 2012 release came out, Microsoft Learning published two new MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) data platform certifications, both of which required the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) certification.
The SQL 2012 MCSA consisted of the following three exams
70-461, which was a grand tour of SQL, with an emphasis on querying
70-462, which was a grand tour of DBA (database administration) features, with an emphasis on the relational part of SQL Server
70-463, which was about data warehousing, SSIS (integration services), MDS (master data services), and DQS (data quality services)
In my opinion these are three exams covering a great deal of features of the product. I studied hard to pass them, especially for the DBA exam, which required me to setup labs of virtual machines in Hyper-V (take a look at my post on that topic, if you are interested. I put a link down below for it.)
But the MCSA certification suffered from a few things:
many DBA’s I have talked to had no problems with the DBA exam (though they perhaps needed to read up on some features), but typically had little or no experience with SSIS. And none of them knew about MDS and DQS.
for people working with business intelligence, the DBA exam was extremely tough. Many of the topics regarding HA/DR, such as mirroring, clustering and AlwaysOn are hardly used in smaller data warehouse/BI solutions
I guess that both the DBA and SSIS exams were challenging for “pure” SQL developers (whatever that means…)
The bottom line is that not many database professionals I know took the MCSA exam, and therefore they could not get a MCSE certification. As a side note, the two additional MCSE exams for data platform consisted solely of T-SQL topics, which didn’t really make a lot of sense for DBA’s. The two additional MCSE exams for the BI flavor did cover the right topics (but very few BI professionals could pass the MCSA prerequisite because of the DBA exam).
Fortunately, all this is now changed with the new SQL Server MCSA certifications: Now we have flavours like
Business Intelligence Development
All of these certifications now consist of only two exams, and it seems like they pretty much solve the problems stated above.
The MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development certification validates your skills in building and implementing databases across organizations, and will qualify you for a position as a database developer. The first exam 70-761 with the title “Querying Data with Transact-SQL” covers mostly SELECT queries (but with both DML and DDL in the curriculum) in great details, and pretty much looks like the old 70-461 curriculum, except for a few SQL Server 2016 features, such as JSON and temporal. The second exam 70-762 “Developing SQL Databases” covers some of the material from the old 70-465 SQL developer exam, with a few SQL Azure topics thrown into the game, as well as the SQL 2016 feature “query store.”
The MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration certification validates your skills with database installation, maintenance, configuration, and provisioning tasks, and will qualify you for a position as a database administrator or infrastructure specialist. This certification consists of the exams 70-764 Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure and 70-765 Provisioning SQL Databases. The first exam covers encryption, security, auditing, backup and restore, monitoring and AlwaysOn. The second. The second exams touch a little bit on on premises DBA skills like configuring and managing instances, and a lot on SQL Azure. This is quite different from the curriculum in the old DBA exam 70-462.
The MCSA: SQL 2016 Business Intelligence Development certification validates your extract, transform, and load (ETL) and data warehouse skills, along with those for implementing BI solutions using multidimensional and tabular data models and online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. This certification will qualify you for a position as a BI developer. Here you need to pass the exams 70-767 “Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse” and 70-768 “Developing SQL Data Models.” The first exam contains topics like dimensional modeling, data warehouse features in SQL Server (indexes, partitioning), storage design, SSIS, Polybase, Azure SQL data warehouse, DQS and MDS. The second exam covers multidimensional and tabular SSAS, MDX, DAX and administration of SSAS instances. The curriculum in the 70-767 exam seems much more relevant for a BI developer, but to me the size of the curriculum for this exam looks a bit intimidating. The second exam seems to hit it on the nail for BI professionals.
So: all in all, I think the redesign of the data platform MCSA looks promising. The content of new MCSE certifications on top of the new MCSA certifications have not been published yet. It will be interesting to see how they work out.
Thanks for reading along.
Read more about the new MCSA SQL Server 2016 certifications and exams here:
Read more about setting up Hyper-V for test labs here: