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March 23, 2015  4:30 PM

Win Free Training for Life with Firebrand

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 Free Training for Life

Today marks the launch of Free Training for Life – a unique competition – where one person will win a lifetimes free access to Firebrand’s 180+ courses.

Used to its full potential, the prize offers a career and life changing opportunity. The winner can access training to develop the most in-demand skills on cutting edge technology. This level of professional development creates opportunities to pursue new and exciting job roles, secure that coveted promotion and  ultimately boost future earning potential.

What can you do with Free Training for Life

The possibilities are virtually limitless, but here are just a few scenarios:

Build a career with Microsoft Certification

As a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner, you can access the full range of certification tracks. Train from MTA, through MCSA and right on to MCSE or MCSD. Develop the skills to administer Windows Server 2012 , deploy and manage a hybrid cloud with Azure and System Center 2012 or even create modern web applications and services using Visual Studio 2014.

Learn the skills to become a Security Expert

So you can administer and manage your organisations technology assets, with Free Training for Life go one step further and learn how to protect them by taking EC-Councils Certified Ethical Hacker Certification.  You’ll develop knowledge of the techniques and methodologies used by hackers to attack your systems and networks, then learn how to defeat them. In time you can work towards the gold standard certification for information security professionals, (ISC)2’s CISSP certification. A certification like this can help you to become a CIO.

Climb the Networking  ladder with Cisco

Develop the skills to begin a career in Networking  working with Cisco technology and climb the ladder to Senior Network Engineer earning up to £60,000 a year. With Free Training for Life this is all possible by following the Cisco certification path. Start out with the CCENT and then move on to the CCNA (Routing & Switching) certification before achieving the Cisco CCNP (Routing & Switching).

Enter Free Training for Life Today

So what are you waiting for? Enter Free Training for Life today for your chance to win the prize worth an estimated £1 million.

It takes just two seconds to enter at –

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. His works are widely published, featuring in high-end publications including TechNet, Entrepreneur and TechRadar. At the beginning of 2015 Edward was named in Microsoft’s IT Pro New Year’s Honours List.

January 6, 2015  4:57 PM

IT Certifications to target in 2015

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors
CEH, cloud, Data scientist, IT certfication, Windows Azure

The IT Industry moves quickly. To stay current in 2015, you’ll need to align your skills with the most popular existing and emerging technologies. And what better way to prove your skills by attaining the certifications associated with these technologies. Check out this list of IT certifications to target in 2015.

Microsoft Azure Certification

Demand for cloud skilled professionals has reached an all time high. The IDC predicts that this demand has far outstripped supply with an estimated 7 million cloud related jobs being left unfilled by the end of 2015. Put simply anyone who can demonstrate cloud skills is hot property.

Microsoft released two specialist cloud certifications at the end of 2014 for IT pros looking to demonstrate their abilities with Microsoft Azure. They are:

Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions  – aimed at Developers, attaining this certification will demonstrate the skills required to taking your existing Web and Windows Store Applications and expanding their functionality by deploying them on the Microsoft Azure platform.

Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions – attaining this credential shows you have the skills to migrate existing on-premise infrastructure to the Microsoft Azure platform. Demand for professionals attaining this certification is likely to skyrocket in 2015. With Windows Server 2003 End of Service looming, businesses have little option but to migrate to their infrastructure to the likes of Azure or face huge financial consequences.

CEH Certification – Certified Ethical Hacking

Recent high profile hacks of Sony and Google continue to highlight the importance of implementing robust cyber-security practices.  The financial impact of a single data breach can cost upwards of $1 million, not to mention the damage this does to a brands reputation. As a result, much like with cloud, the demand for professionals who can demonstrate cyber-security skills is at an all time high.

The CEH certification from EC Council is hugely popular and is renowned for being the worlds most advanced ethical hacking course. Attaining this certification you will demonstrate you have the skills required to boost any organisations cyber-security stance. You’ll learn how to penetrate networks and computer systems using the same methods and techniques as hackers. By doing so you can identify and patch weaknesses, making your organisation resilient to cyber attacks.

Cloudera Certified Professional: Data Scientist (CCP:DS)

In recent years we’ve witnessed an explosion of data, bandwidth and processing power giving rise to a new breed of IT professional known as the Data Scientist. Evolving from a business or data analyst role, a data scientist helps businesses identify and address problems by analyzing data on a huge scale spotting trends and anomalies.

The demand for Data Scientists is growing rapidly with 69% of IT professionals expecting a skills gap  in 2015 according to a recent study by EMC2. Fill that gap by attaining the CCP:DS an demonstrating you have the skills to work with big data at an elite level, whilst designing and developing production-ready data science solutions.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, articles and concepts for informative infographics.

September 30, 2014  10:09 AM

Firebrand names latest winner of Free Training for Life

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Firebrand Training is delighted to announce the second winner of the Free Training for Life (FTFL) competition. A prize estimated to be worth over £1 million*.

Starting today, Mario Henkel will gain access to a lifetime’s worth of free training courses and exams from Firebrand. He’ll be able to choose from 200+ IT, security and project management courses. The 26-year-old from Aschaffenburg, Germany, currently works for ponturo consulting AG as an IT Administrator.

FTFL 2014 Winner

FTFL 2014 Winner Mario Henkel (left) with Paul Dillenburg, General Manager of Firebrand Training GmbH

Firebrand Training UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman said:

We are excited to be awarding Mario this life changing prize. We cannot wait to see him taking full advantage of this opportunity and shaping his future career. By gaining just a single certification, research shows, Mario could increase his earning power 3x over in his lifetime. Just think what unlimited certifications will do for him.

Responding to winning Free Training for Life and what it meant to him, Mario said:

This is incredible, I can’t believe I won Free Training for Life! I am still processing the opportunities this prize can create for me. I have already decided to take the Certified Ethical Hacking course first. As I’m responsible for our IT system’s security, the knowledge I gain from this certification will be invaluable in protecting the company’s assets. I cannot wait to get started.

When talking about Mario’s first choice of certification, Firebrand Training UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman went on to say:

Mario has made an excellent first choice in selecting the CEH course from EC-Council. He will come away with the knowledge to significantly boost the information security posture of his organisation. In being taught to think like a hacker, Mario will learn how best to fend off any attacks on his organisations network and systems.

Mario’s prize includes all training fees, exam fees, course books, food and accommodation, and he can take the training in any of Firebrand’s training centres across Europe.

Firebrand would like to thank all 15,000 contestants for entering Free Training for Life and wish them well in their future careers. If all entrants made the choice to take at least one certification course with Firebrand, they would increase their salaries by around £75 million** over the next year.

* £1 million is calculated based on a 25 year-old winning and choosing £15K of training a year for the next 40 years with an inflation rate of 2.5% per year. The total value of training over 40 years would be £1,011,038 million.

** Average salary in the UK for an IT role £35,000. The average salary with a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification ( is £40,000. Increase in salary £5,000  x 15000 = £75 million

September 25, 2014  1:55 PM

TechQuarters honoured at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2014

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

Firebrand Apprenticeship partner TechQuarters won the Small Employer of the Year award in last night’s Regional finals of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2014. A leading provider of IT Services and Office 365 migration, TechQuarters have fully embraced Apprenticeships with 5 of their 17 current employees being IT apprentices.

From left to right: Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor for Business Enterprise, Chris Dunning CEO of TechQuarters Tim Campbell, Mayors Ambassador for Training Enterprise

Speaking to Firebrand about what it means to win the award, Chris Dunning, TechQuarters CEO said:

“I’m really pleased we have won this award. We started with our first apprentice four years ago and it has just snowballed since then. It has helped us create a plan for growth whilst giving the apprentices a progression route through the business. This award will only serve to help us attract further apprentice talent and continue our growth.”

“Hand on heart, I am sincerely amazed with their professionalism, reliability, responsibility and capabilities that our apprentices possess. It’s a great thing, to work with them on a daily basis and see them grow. Not to mention the phenomenal addition they make to the business as a whole.”

As the provider of TechQuarters apprentices, Firebrand Co-Founder Stefano Capaldo spoke about the award. He said:

We are delighted for TechQuarters, and the apprentices they hire. The support they provide their apprentices, and their continued commitment to the programme is worthy of this recognition. As CEO, Chris really understands the value apprentices can bring to the business, especially when you invest in their development. Having already supplied three apprentices to TechQuarters, we are relishing the opportunity to provide more and help grow their business further.

Having won the Regional Finals, TechQuarters will now go on to compete at the National Finals which will be held later this year. If successful, the company will be recognised as the UK’s leading Small Employer for Apprenticeships. They will also feature in the prestigious annual Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, published later this year in partnership with City & Guilds.

Speaking about Firebrand’s IT Apprentices currently employed by TechQuarters, CEO Chris Dunning also said:

The apprentices add an incredible amount of value to the team, without them, TechQuarters wouldn’t be where it is today. Each of our apprentices have said that they are gaining many new skills and confidence in the way they work since starting at TechQuarters, and some are even outperforming other employees.

This award is recognition of TechQuarters’ continued contribution, commitment and success through their Apprenticeship program with the support of Firebrand apprentices.

Since launching in 2012, Firebrand has now helped more than 100 young people pursue a career in IT through its Apprenticeship program. 99% of Firebrand Apprentices remain in full time employment upon completion of the one-year programme.

For enquiries about hiring an IT Apprentice to grow your business head to

July 31, 2014  10:58 AM

New SQL Server certifications: What you need to know

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April 1st, 2014, saw the release of SQL Server 2014, Microsoft’s cloud first data platform. Latest in a long line of relational database management systems, SQL Server 2014 boasted a range of new and improved features. This included greater performance through In-Memory OLTP,  increased availability and data protection and improved customer value for mission critical applications and hybrid cloud.

Such were the enhancements that Microsoft made significant amendments to the SQL Server certification track.  These changes divert from the transition to Microsoft SQL server 2012 from SQL Server 2008.

For those wondering if you’re affected by the changes, the following FAQ’s will guide you:


Q. When will the new MCSA: SQL Server 2014 certification launch?

A. At present, Microsoft have no plans to offer a new MCSA certification for SQL server 2014. As a majority of the updates relate to more advanced features of the system, it’s the MCSE track that has been affected.

Q. Will the existing MCSA: SQL Server 2012 be affected by these changes?

A. The short answer is no. Those considering, or working towards, the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 need not worry. The certification and its associated exams (70-461, 70-462, 70-463) are unaffected by the launch of the new platform. The MCSA: SQL Server 2012 will remain a prerequisite for the MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications.

Q. How does SQL Server 2014 change the MCSE: Business Intelligence & MCSE: Data Platform credentials?

A. In case you missed it, the Microsoft Official Curriculum was already updated in April 2014, shortly after the new platforms launch. Associated SQL server 2014 topics were then integrated into the existing exams for the MCSE: Data Platform (70-464/70-465) and MCSE: Business Intelligence (70-466/70-467).The exam numbers remain unchanged.

Anyone who achieved the SQL MCSE credentials prior to these exam updates will not be tested on new features of SQL Server 2014 until the time of re-certification. By which time we’ll probably be working with SQL Sever 2016.

Q. What if I’m already working towards earning an MCSA/MCSE certification. How will updates to the technology affect me?

A. Fear not, Microsoft advise you to continue your path to certification, regardless of the SQL certification level you are pursuing. Anyone working toward the MCSA can continue unaffected. As I mentioned earlier, the MCSA: SQL Server 2012 remains on offer without any alterations.

If you are currently on track to earn either SQL Server related MCSE , all you need do is make a minor course correction (excuse the pun). Ensure you study the correct material by viewing the revised objectives of the associated exams found on the MCSE: Data Platform and MCSE: Business Intelligence pages.

Q. I want to start learning more about updates to SQL Server 2014. Where can I find the latest material?

Head to the Microsoft Virtual Academy where you’ll find a series of free training materials created by Microsoft SQL Server experts. Those considering certifying their skills can head to Firebrand’s website to find out more information on SQL Server 2014 and the full range of SQL server certifications on offer.

Have an FAQ to add, or just fancy providing some feedback? Feel free to add your comments below.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, articles and concepts for informative infographics.

July 21, 2014  10:03 AM

First female to win a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors
Microsoft, Women in Technology

Firebrand apprentice, Kimberley Bolton, is blazing a trail for all young women currently considering a career in IT.  The 19 year old from Maidenhead, made history last week after becoming the first woman to win a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award. It is an important milestone in an industry where women make up less than 16% of the workforce.


From left to right : Home Secretary, Theresa May; Apprentice Winner, Kimberley Bolton; Microsoft UK Managing Director, Michel van der Bel

Kimberley was chosen from 1,000s of apprentices on the Microsoft program to win in the‘Medium Business Category’. Working as a Junior Support Consultant for Pythagoras, she was nominated by her employers in recognition of her positive attitude and hard work. After winning the award Kimberley said:

Becoming an IT apprentice is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve gone from having no confidence and no IT knowledge to winning Microsoft Apprentice of the Year. I’ve really had to push myself, and now it’s all paid off.

Kimberley’s achievement is a ray of light in an industry where gender remains a significant and worsening issue.  A recent report by BCS estimates less than 16% of the 1.2 million working in the UK IT industry are women. This number will decline further if the downward trend of female pupils studying ICT at GCSE and A Level continues.

Firebrand Training’s UK Managing Director, Emma Seaman said:

If we are to reverse the downward trend of young women taking an interest in IT then we must break the stereotype that ‘IT is for geeks’. Role models like Kimberley play a crucial role in breaking down this misconception and inspiring the future generation of female IT professionals.”

Attending the ceremony, Home Secretary, Theresa May shared her opinion on apprenticeships with Firebrand. Here’s what she had to say:

Apprenticeships are incredibly important in helping young adults to develop skills in the workplace. Apprenticeships are hands-on and so much more about understanding what the working environment is all about.”

Firebrand has now helped more than 100 young people pursue a career in IT through its Apprenticeship programme.

To enquire about hiring an IT Apprentice or becoming one yourself head to –

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.

March 14, 2014  4:07 PM

Win free IT training for life with Firebrand

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

Our Free Training for Life competition is back! Yet again, one lucky person will win free training for the rest of their lives on our full portfolio of 165+ courses.

The winner will have access to official training for globally recognised organisations including Microsoft, Cisco, EC-Council, (ISC)2 and CompTIA to name but a few. So whether they want to become a certified MCSE managing servers, a CCNP building networks or a Certified Ethical Hacker, its all covered for free.

So how does it work?

Simple, head to the Free Training For Life entry page, complete the form and you will be entered into the competition. Upon successful entry you will be provided with a unique sharing code, spread it anywhere you can think of, and anyone entering using your sharing code will gain you an additional entry. The competition is a lottery, so the more entries you attain, the greater your chance of winning.

Here’s 10 simple ideas to help you share the code:

  1. Share it on your Facebook.
  2. Stick it in an email and send it to all your work colleagues.
  3. If you own a blog, write about the competition and add your sharing URL as a link to the competition.
  4. Create a YouTube video explaining why you want to win. Then put the link in the intro section.
  5. Share it on your Twitter.
  6. Share it on LinkedIn with colleagues.
  7. Find a relevant community/group on Google Plus or LinkedIn and tell them about it.
  8. If you really wanted to win, you could sponsor a post on social media!
  9. If you have friends who have blogs, get them to share the competition.
  10. Stick it in your email signature (if you’re allowed).

What happened last year?

By the end of the competition last year we received more than 18,000 entries from 24 countries across the globe. Our FTFL winner was Joseph Guthrie, an End-User Support Executive at The Cloud, based in the UK. Joseph has so far attended training to become a Certified Ethical Hacker and is currently in the process of planning a series of Developer based applications.

Are there any rules?

Of course! You can see the Terms and Conditions on the FTFL entry page. The competition will run from today until 23:59 GMT on Sunday 14th September 2014. So what are you waiting for? Get started….

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.

February 21, 2014  2:39 PM

All about the MCSA certification tracks…

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

MCSAHaving now covered the MCSE and MCSD certifications, let’s take a look at the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA). Prerequisite to the MCSE expert level certifications, the MCSA has been reinvented to replace the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification.

Unlike the previous Microsoft Certified System Administrator cert which focused on a specific job role, the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate credential focuses on the holders ability to design and build technology solutions. Holders of the legacy MCSA need not worry about the validity of their certification, Microsoft have publicly  announced that the cert will not expire and continues to demonstrate a users ability to manage the Windows Server 2000 and 2003 operating systems.

On to the new

In total, there are seven MCSA certifications each focusing on the Office Suite, relational database management, server and desktop operation systems. Lets take a closer look:

Windows Server Tracks

MCSA: Windows Server 2008 – this certification validates your ability to work with the operating system at professional level and is perfect for those looking to reinforce their existing experience. The certification is a gateway to the MCSE: Private Cloud only, holders would need to upgrade to the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification before widening their horizons with additional MCSE certifications.

MCSA: Windows Server 2012 – qualifying you to work as a network or computer systems administrator or a computer network specialist, this certification shows your ability to operate across multiple solution areas within business. Focused on the primary skills of Windows Server 2012, the certification is a gateway to the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure, MCSE: Messaging, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSE: Server Infrastructure, MCSE: Communication, and MCSE: SharePoint certifications.

It’s also possible to upgrade to this cert from the legacy MCITP certifications.

Windows Desktop Tracks

MCSA : Windows 7 – thinking about becoming a desktop support technician? This cert shows you have the skills to configure and support a Windows 7 enterprise system.

MCSA : Windows 8 – attaining this certification will qualify you for a position as a computer support specialist, like the above, the certification demonstrates your ability to configure and support a Windows 8 enterprise system. It may be worth delaying your cert, Windows 8.1 has arrived and updates to the official curriculum are expected soon.

SQL Server Tracks

MCSA: SQL server 2008 – prove you have skills to implement and maintain SQL server 2008, as well as BI development and maintenance. This cert leads on to the MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence certifications. Attaining this certification prepares you for a career as a database analyst or developer.

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 – much like the Windows 8 track, there is an upgrade round the corner with SQL Server 2014. In the meantime, this cert proves you have the skills to query and administer databases in SQL server 2012, whilst as implementing a data warehouse. This cert is also a gateway to the MCSE: Data Platform or MCSE: Business Intelligence certs.

Office 365 Track

MCSA: Office 365 – want to take advantage of a host of opportunities as a software as a service (SaaS) administrator or cloud applications administrator. This cert proves you can hold these positions with a focus on managing Office 365 products such as SharePoint and Lync. As we are heading to a cloud dominated environment, this cert if a gateway to a long lasting career.

Get Learning

Those looking to start honing their skills to achieve and MCSA should be heading over to the Microsoft Virtual Academy  right now. Get the latest info, delivered by Microsoft professionals on all the aforementioned technologies. Alternatively, head over to the learn platform and access supplementary material for the MCSA tracks to get a taster of the information.

Those considering the training route can check out Firebrand Training. We offer all MCSA certification tracks.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.

February 7, 2014  3:56 PM

All about the MCSD certification tracks…

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

MCSDThis is one for all the developers out there.

Last week we took a look at the MCSE; the history of the certification, the modern learning tracks and some helpful information sources to help you to attain the certification. Today we move on to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer track. Following in the footsteps of the MCSE guide, let us first take a brief history lesson.

The MCSD is set to be the replacement to the following certifications:

  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) – this certification validates your knowledge of a specified Microsoft technology. For developers, the MCTS certification focuses on application development through Visual Studio for .NET framework 4. Other tracks include application development for SharePoint and Windows Phone. These certifications are no longer being upgraded, but are still valid.
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) – going into decline, the MCPD was once the most highly regarded track for developers, like the MCSE in days gone by. The certification focuses validating the holders ability to develop applications, with tracks targets at Visual Studio 2010, Windows Phone, SharePoint 2010 and Silverlight.

Both the MCTS and MCPD certifications can still be attained for Visual Studio 2010 until July 2014, at which point they will be retired. You  can keep tabs on the validity of these certifications via Microsoft’s scheduled exam retirement page. At which point you will be required to certify on the MCSD.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) is now considered to be the globally recognized standard for developers. Like the revitalized MCSE and MCSA certifications, the MCSD is designed to reflect the holders ability to build solutions across multiple Microsoft technologies, and integrates a cloud focus to reflect the changing environment, this is vastly different from the historic MCTS and MCPD that focused on single technologies.

That’s it for this weeks history lesson,  on to the new tracks.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer tracks

The New Microsoft Certifications

MCSD: Windows Store Apps - this certification has two paths dependent on your intentions, either of which will qualify you for a career in web development, software development or as a quality engineer. If you are a .NET developer planning to create Windows 8 apps, follow the C#, otherwise, take the HTML5 track for those planning to create a new website or those with existing web programming skills in JavaScript. It’s important to factor in that major upgrades to Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013 are expected in the coming months, which could affect the existing curriculum.

MCSD: Web Applications - earn recognition as an expert in creating modern web apps and services, this certification should qualify you for a career as a web developer or administrator. You will learn programming language, whilst familiarizing yourself with Windows Azure and Web Services. Again you can personalize this cert by swapping out a single exam to focus on C# or HTML5 dependent on your prerequisite skill set.

MCSD: SharePoint Applications – for those working with SharePoint 2013 looking to design and develop applications in collaboration with the platform, this is the certification for you. Earning this certification is for those intent on becoming or are currently in the role of a software or web developer.

MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management - this certification will qualify you for a job as a developer, IT Project Manager or developer. You will gain a full understanding Visual Studio 2012 and prove your knowledge of managing the entire lifecycle of application development.

It’s important to note that as part of the new tracks you will be required to maintain your qualification by taking an exam to re-certify every two years. Failure to do so will mean you cease to hold the title of MCSD.

Get Learning

With Firebrand Training you can take all MCSD certification tracks. Get a taster by heading over to the learn platform where you can see our supplementary courseware. All the material is free, and will help you benchmark where you are in the learning process.

As I mentioned before, it’s also worth heading over to the Microsoft Virtual Academy  where you can find material for MCSD. Below are 3 websites also work a look.

If you are new to coding then you’ll need to work up to the MCSD, start off looking at the MTA developer track where you can gain all the fundamental skills required to begin a career in development.

That’s it for the second installment in this three part series. Join me next week for the final installment looking at the MCSA.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics.

January 31, 2014  11:52 AM

All about the MCSE certification tracks…

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

MCSE certification

A quick history lesson for those unfamiliar with the MCSE.

Historically, Microsoft’s flagship MCSE track was known as the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. At the time it was recognized as the highest level of certification one could achieve for Microsoft operating systems. In 2007, it was exiled and replaced by the new Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP) tracks. Deemed outdated and in need of a fresh start the MCSE was abandoned to the scrap pile of certifications left in Microsoft’s wake, doomed to linger in the annals of history. Unexpectedly the acronym did not disappear, the Information Technology sector clung to the MCSE. The certification had history, it was well known to the industry and carried a recognized authority, holders longed for its return and the MCITP failed to gain the traction it deserved.

In 2012, the return of the MCSE was announced, only it came back to use with a new name, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. Microsoft took the certification in a new direction, unlike the tracks of old that focused on specific job roles, the MCSE targets a holders ability to design and build technology solutions, whilst adressing the integration of different technologies, or multiple versions of a single technology.

There’s a great video from Microsoft on why they reinvented the MCSE for the cloud, sadly I can’t embed it, but you can view it by clicking the below image:

mcse reinvented for cloud

With the history lesson complete, lets take a closer look at those new tracks.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certifications

There currently exist eight certifications that relate to the new MCSE:

New Microsoft Certifications

MCSE: Server Infrastructure  - this certification focuses on Windows Server 2012 and the skills required to operate a modern and efficient data center. The track covers systems management, virtualization, identity management, networking and storage. Typical job roles associated with attaining the certification include information security analyst and computer support specialist. Pre-requisite certifications to the Server Infrastructure certification include the MCSA Windows Server 2012, MCSA Windows Server 2008 and a range of soon to be retired MCITP tracks including the Server (MCITP SA) and Enterprise Administrator (MCITP EA) tracks.

MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure - common job roles associated with this certification include desktop support, device support, data and applications manager. The certification develops a skill set focused on application virtualization, remote desktop services and desktop virtualization, whilst demonstrating the holders ability to deploy and manage desktop devices which can be accessed from anywhere.

MCSE: Data Platform - focussed SQL server 2012, attaining this certification demonstrates the holders ability to build and administer enetrprise-scale data solutions both on-premises and in the cloud. With the growing demand for big data and cloud professionals, this certification is a must have for 2014. Associated job roles include database analyst or database engineer.

MCSE: SharePoint – want to qualify as a network or systems analyst? This certification develops the skills required to attain the aforementioned job title with focus on Windows Server 2012, SharePoint Server 2013 and their integration. Learn how to aid a company in the organizing, syncing, collaborating and sharing information whether it be a start-up single site or global multi-site enterprise.

MCSE: Private Cloud - through System Center and Windows Server 2012, organizations can create their own private cloud solution, which is precisely what you will learn on this track. Demonstrate the skills required to implement and manage a private cloud with Microsoft technologies, qualifying you for the role of systems programmer, network manager or server administrator.

MCSE: Business Intelligence - learn knowledge on how to design, build and deploy solutions in SQL Server 2012 which provide your organization with the data required to make better informed business decisions. Become a Reporting Engineer or carve out a career in Business Intelligence.

MCSE: Communication – facilitate your organizations communications through gaining the skills necessary to implement, configure and administer Windows Server 2012 and Lync Server 2013. Typical jobs roles that can be attained on completing this certification include computer and network systems administration.

MCSE: Messaging - with 51% of worldwide mailboxes in the business email and collaboration market serviced by Microsoft Exchange Server, if your looking to become a computer or network systems administrator then the MCSE messaging track is right for you. Learn the skills required to transition your organization to the cloud whilst improving productivity, reducing data loss and boosting security.

Get learning…

So now you know all about the tracks, lets take a look at a few resources that will help you attain the MCSE in all its guises.

Why not take a training course?

Take the official route with a Microsoft Gold Learning partner. Firebrand Training offers the full range accelerated courses helping you to get the MCSE certification faster. In bootcamp format you work through MOC and get hands on with the technology.

Make use of the Microsoft Virtual Academy

The Microsoft Virtual Academy is a fantastic resource that can help you prepare for the full range of MCSE certification tracks, as well as the MCSA and MCSD tracks. There are virtually thousands of hours of dedicated learning materials in videos across the full portfolio of Microsoft Technologies. The content comes from MCT’s, so you know its experts that are teaching you.

Test your knowledge

 Taking a practice test will help you access your knowledge in a current area and benchmark whether you are ready to take the exams. There are three  practice test sources I can recommend (endorsed by Microsoft):

So there you have it, a post all about MCSE, check back for the MCSA and MCSD posts.

About the Author


Edward works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Writer within the Marketing department. He spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, engaging articles and concepts for informative infographics. 

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