Microsoft is the most successful software company on the planet. Its products can be found everywhere from data centers to modestly equipped laptops. This success has made it difficult for the Redmond-based giant to move its business and consumer customers from its older products to its latest ones. Case in point: the recent struggle Microsoft has experienced getting users and IT managers to switch from older versions of Windows (XP; Vista; Win7) to its latest release, Windows 10.
It usually takes a compelling use case to get enterprise managers to roll out a new client operating system. Managers typically know that their support teams will have to work long hours dealing with the transition and compatibility headaches that inevitably crop up during such a change, even when they perform heavy testing before making the switch.
While Microsoft would like all of its customers to run the latest and greatest products, it also recognizes that some organizations are unwilling or unable to make a move from their current solutions. This reticence can be due to legacy application support, industry regulations, or other reasons. So, while most older products are slowly phased out by Microsoft, the company often continues to offer training and certification options for certain legacy products still being used by large numbers of corporate and government clients.
Enter the MCITP: the Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional certification. This credential is where Microsoft keeps training and certification offerings for some of its older products that are too popular to just go away.
Microsoft MCITP Training
Microsoft's MCITP program represents a small, but important segment of the company's total training and certification portfolio. Microsoft describes the MCITP as follows:
"As a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) your certification proves that you have the comprehensive set of skills to perform a particular IT job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator."
The company also recognizes that the MCITP credential will maintain its value for as long as an employer continues to use the product in question. For some organizations, this interval can stretch on for several years.
Here are the tracks which are currently active (as of this writing) in the MCITP certification program:
- Windows 7: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
- Windows 7: Enterprise Desktop Administrator
- Exchange Server 2010: Enterprise Messaging Administrator
- SharePoint Server 2010: SharePoint Administrator
The Windows 7: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician track requires candidates to pass the following Microsoft exams:
- Exam 70-680: Configuring Windows 7
- Exam 70-685: Windows 7 Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
The Windows 7: Enterprise Desktop Administration track requires candidates to pass these exams:
- Exam 70-680: Configuring Windows 7
- Exam 70-686: Windows 7 Enterprise Desktop Technician
The Exchange Server 2010: Enterprise Messaging Administrator track consists of the following exams:
- Exam 70-662: Configuring Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
- Exam 70-663: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
The SharePoint Server 2010: SharePoint Administrator track has these exams:
- Exam 70-667: Configuring Microsoft SharePoint 2010
- Exam 70-668: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator
With both of the Windows 7 MCITP tracks, candidates should expect to know how to do the following:
- Windows 7 deployment planning and execution for 10-10,000 client PCs
- Configure Windows 7 parameters, including hardware and network connectivity
- Monitor Windows 7 clients for performance issues
- Backup and restore Windows 7 clients
- Troubleshoot application and networking issues
- Configure local security policies on client PCs
- Deploy applications on 10-10,000 Windows 7 clients
The Exchange Server MCITP track is associated with the following skills:
- Install and configure Exchange servers
- Configure Exchange users and public folders
- Set up Exchange server monitoring and reporting functions
- Implement high availability and server recovery options
- Configure message compatibility and security features
Finally, the SharePoint Server MCITP track consists of these skills:
- Design a SharePoint farm topology
- Create and execute a SharePoint deployment plan
- Configure and manage a SharePoint environment
- Deploying and managing applications via SharePoint
- Performance monitoring and backup configurations
- Prepare a SharePoint business continuity strategy
There are several training options for MCITP certification. Generally speaking, these options vary in learning experience and cost; the more complete the learning experience, the higher the cost.
Instructor-led classroom training is right at the top of the list for learning experience, and price. While more expensive than other options, learning from a live instructor in a dedicated classroom environment (which usually offers fully equipped hardware and software labs for students to gain hands-on experience with) remains the premium experience for most students. Microsoft training courses are available from many technical schools, as well as colleges and universities across the country.
For students who want a less expensive training option, or who are located where classroom-based training isn't available, online training -- commonly referred to as distance learning -- is widely available.
Distance learning comes in several different types. There is virtual classroom training, where students attend live courses held by an instructor using online presentation software. For students looking for more flexible scheduling, there is self-paced online training where students view pre-recorded lessons which are available 24/7. Both options often provide virtual software labs where students can log in and perform functions as though they were working on an actual client or server machine.
The most economical training option is self-paced learning through materials like training manuals and CDs/DVDs. This option offers flexibility and economy, but is best for students who are comfortable acting as their own instructors, and who have access to the necessary hardware and software at home or elsewhere.
Microsoft MCITP Certification Exams
Microsoft offers its certification exams through Pearson VUE test centers around the world. In addition, Microsoft has recently begun offering many of its exams through an online proctoring system that lets candidates take exams at home, provided they can meet the equipment and environment requirements. Online proctoring is a great option for candidates who don't live within a reasonable distance from a Pearson VUE facility. The online Microsoft exam booking system will inform candidates if the exam they want to take is offered via online proctoring.
Microsoft exams consist primarily of multiple-choice questions, but can also include screen simulations requiring candidates to perform software tasks, drag-and-drop questions where candidates must build a list of actions in a certain order, and case studies in which several questions are built around a specific scenario.
Each exam has its own time limit, number of questions, and passing score. Candidates are immediately informed if they have passed or failed an exam. If a candidates is unsuccessful on their first attempt, they must wait 24 hours before trying again. Subsequent attempts require a 14-day waiting period.
Microsoft MCITP Certification in the Workplace
Microsoft certifications are among the most popular credentials in the IT industry, and have largely maintained their value with hiring personnel and IT managers. The MCITP cert does not need to be renewed; it is active until Microsoft decides to retire it. When this happens, the MCITP's status changes to "Legacy" on a candidate's Microsoft Learning transcript.
Here are some of the IT industry job roles associated with the MCITP cert:
- Desktop Support Technician (Windows 7)
- Application Support Specialist (Windows 7)
- Help Desk Technician (Windows 7)
- Microsoft SharePoint Administrator
- Microsoft SharePoint Analyst
- Microsoft Exchange Administrator
- Microsoft Exchange Analyst
"Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)," Microsoft, https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/learning/mcitp-certification.aspx