MCITP: Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2 (and other R2 Virt Certs)

As many of you know I spend a lot of time working in, consulting with, and teaching virtualization.  Because I am such a strong believer in certifications I was proud of the three virtualization certs I previously held – two Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certs and one VMware-centric cert, VMTraining’s Certified Virtualization Expert (CVE).  Without sitting VMware’s VCP courses there wasn’t much more that I could have done.

I was really excited to hear that the good folks at Microsoft – and I don’t know if these decisions were made by the product team or by Microsoft Learning – decided that with the advent of the 2008 R2 products (Server, Hyper-V Server, VMM) they would change the cert model; there are now three exams:

70-659 TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
70-669 TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization
70-693 PRO: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator

Now let’s be clear: most IT pros are not going to specialize in ALL of these… and to be clear none of these exams are pushovers.  Just because you have a server or five running Hyper-V does not mean you are going to be able to pass.  There are dozens of technologies that will be required, including Hyper-V (R2), SCVMM (R2), App-V, Med-V… Remote Desktop, Failover Clustering, Server Core, PowerShell, and more.  You have to know storage (iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SANs), Live Migrations, Quick Migrations, and all of the requirements for these.  You have to understand Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO Tips), which means you have to at least have a basic understanding of System Center Operations Manager.  It also, by the way, requires a bit of knowledge of VMware – especially the requirements and procedures for managing ESX by VMM.

Now with all of that being said, there are three separate certifications that you can work towards;

  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization
  • Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2

The two MCTS certs are great because they are task-based.  The MCITP is a little more advanced – the PRO exams are not meant to be harder than TS exams, only different, and aimed at a different job role.  However passing that exam itself doesn’t earn you a certification.  You need to pass (in this case) both the TS exams in addition to the PRO exam in order to earn the cert.

Now here’s the kicker: the only mention of the MCITP exam on the Microsoft Learning website (http://mcp.microsoft.com/mcp) is on the page outlining the three exams that qualify toward it.  There does not appear to be any mention in the MCP Newsgroups about it.

In addition to all that, as of this writing (May 2, 2010) my MCP Transcript indicates that I have passed all three exams, the MCITP cert is NOT listed (the two TS certs are).  The Logo Builder tool does not give me the option to create the new logo.  I assume that this means that it is a brand new certification – while the 70-659 and 70-693 exams were released to GA on February 12th and March 31st respectively, the 70-669 exam was released on April 29th (three days ago).  I have heard of cases where the certifications are not actually released until after the exams are (it happened with one of the Windows Vista MCITP exams).

(I felt a little silly when I was discussing virtualization learning with a CPLS the other day and mentioned this cert, and she came back and told me she couldn’t find any mention of it!)

Does any of this mean you should wait?  Not if you are prepared… and I will reiterate that you should not take preparation for these exams lightly.  I would also suggest that you take advantage of one of the MSL Second Shot opportunities… so that if you don’t quite pass then you can try again for free.

If you do spend a lot of time in the virtualization world, and especially if you want to stand out to your organization or clients with regard to virtualization and VDI, then this is a great cert to work toward.

Good luck!

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