In looking over the Microsoft Born to Learn blog this morning, I re-read the December 21 blog post from Larry Kaye at LeX entitled “Certification Update: SQL Server 2008 Exam Retirements.” The retirement dates for two SQL Server 2008 exams are being extended from January 31, 2014 to July 31, 2014 — namely, 70-450 (Designing, Optimizing, and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution using Microsoft SQL Server 2008) and 70-451 (Designing Database Solutions and Data Access using Microsoft SQL Server 2008) exams. This means the MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 and MCITP: Database Developer 2008 have also both gotten a six-month life extension as well.
What made this blog post really, really interesting to me was the following reader comment from Hazem Elsaiegh, which also appeared on December 21 immediately following this posting:
i hope this also will be with MCITP for windows server 2008 , here , in arabic world , still using 2003 !!! , so we do really need MCITP , so please extend it , at least one year
In response Erika Cravens (also a LeX employee at Microsoft) indicated that “Windows Server 2008 exams continue to remain in market.” She recommends that interested parties be working on MCSA: Windows Server 2008 (exams 70-640, -642, and -646). She goes on to observe that “…currently the MCTS and MCITP certifications on Windows Server 2008 are still in market and won’t be retiring for at least another 12 months.”
What does this tell us about current shipping versions as compared to major versions still in use in the marketplace, especially outside first world countries? It tells us that the gap easily extends across three major platform versions (Windows Server 2003 –> 2008 (R2) –> 2012 (R2)) in many places. This means that organizations, companies and individuals need to train up and certify on one version back from Microsoft’s notion of what’s “current” (Windows Server 2012 R2) to prepare themselves to stay no more than one version behind what’s current (Windows Server 2008 (R2)) so they can avoid being left completely behind the company’s certification and training offerings as the “trailing edge” of certification and exam retirements trim back older exams and credentials to make way for new ones.
Does this mean MS and other cert sponsors need to further extend the life of their education offerings and cert credentials? By no means! It really means that organizations, companies, and individuals who adopt MS platforms and technologies need to commit to watching this trailing edge carefully, to make sure they can stay sufficiently ahead of it to get trained up on the products they use before such training (and related certifications) become(s) unavailable. My best guess is that a substantial portion (40% or more) of the total installed base is in this situation, and needs to stay “close enough” to the leading edge (or “far enough” away from the trailing edge, more correctly) to give themselves time to get trained up — and certified, if desirable or necessary — before such training (and certification) goes into retirement.
Balancing on the trailing edge thus has its own unique and interesting challenges, just as balancing on the leading edge poses problems and challenges for early adopters, developers, and those who teach (and like me, write about) the latest and greatest platforms, training, and certification offerings.