One of the specialization designations that Microsoft recently added to the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) certifications focuses on messaging. The MCSA: Messaging and MCSE: Messaging designations recognize candidates who have demonstrated knowledge of implementing, administering, and designing solutions for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 or Exchange 2000 Server products.

Certification candidates who pass the relevant messaging exams can enhance four of Microsoft's certifications with the Messaging designation. The exam requirements for each certification differ depending on the certification type and the OS for which the certification is held. Windows 2000 MCSE or MCSA candidates have the most options when it comes to the Messaging designation because they can be certified on Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2000. Windows Server 2003 MCSE or MCSA candidates must be certified on Exchange 2003. The Messaging designation requirements differ because although both Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2000 will run on Win2K Server, only Exchange 2003 will run on Windows 2003. For a similar reason, candidates can't use the Exchange 2000 exams as Windows 2003 MCSE electives; however, these same candidates can use Microsoft SQL Server 2000 exams as electives because that product runs on the Windows 2003 platform.

Candidates interested in pursuing the Messaging designation will typically need to pass two out of four messaging exams (i.e., two exams exist for Exchange 2003 and two exams exist for Exchange 2000). Of the two product-specific exams, one is an implementation and administration exam and the other focuses on designing solutions to specific problems.

A Win2K MCSA candidate who passes Exam 70-224: Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server or Exam 70-284: Implementing and Managing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 as an elective will achieve the Messaging designation. A Windows 2003 MCSA candidate must take Exam 70-284 as an elective to attain the Messaging designation.

The MCSE certification is more rigorous and has a greater focus on design than the MCSA certification does. As a result, the MCSE certification requires a broader knowledge base from candidates pursuing the Messaging designation. In addition to passing the installation and administration exam, candidates must pass a messaging infrastructure design exam. A Win2K MCSE candidate must pass either Exam 70-225: Designing and Deploying a Messaging Infrastructure with Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server or Exam 70-285: Designing a Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Organization. A Windows 2003 MCSE candidate must pass Exam 70-285.

Those candidates pursuing certification on Win2K who want to attain the Messaging designation are advised to take the Exchange 2003 exams rather than the Exchange 2000 exams. In general, candidates will receive more value being certified on the latest technology because they'll be able to retain that knowledge and use it for a longer period. However, Win2K candidates should know that if they later decide to update their certification to Windows 2003, they'll automatically gain the Messaging designation for the upgraded certification.

49% of Windows & .NET Magazine readers are Microsoft certified and 51 percent plan to pursue Microsoft training within 1 year.
Source: Windows & .NET Magazine Reader Survey, January 2003