[EN] Want to learn about SQL Server? Focus on SQL Server 2014, but remember about 2012.

LOGO__TakeTheCertificationChallengeAs leader of Polish SQL Server User Group in Wroclaw (former leader from September) and frequently speaker at many user gorups meetings and conferences (most often outside VaterLand) I have been asked many times: ‘I want to learn more about SQL Server’ and/or ‘which certification is good for me’. In this post I will try to answer for the second question in the context of SQL Server.  Should we learn old technology? What is old technology? Many times I asking on my session: ‘Which version of SQL Server are still in your production systems?’ Many of attendees answering: 2008, 2008 R2, 2012 some of them 2014, but stll many 2005 even most often 6.5 instead of 2000. So which version is old? It depends on environment, company policies, customers, and in 85% of other application which has been written for example in COBOL and still work in production, still with SQL Server 2000 or older.

After some discussions we agree that newest version of SQL Server are more interesting than older. That’s normal situation. But how about certification? If someone want to be certified professional in SQL Server area, which version should he/she leard? The answer is very simple. newest. That means SQL Server 2014. And my advice based not only on my personal experience, but on Microsoft Learning Certification Part Roadmap. On December 31st this year all Microsoft Official Courses (MOC) for SQL Server 2012 will be retired:

  • 10774A | Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • 10775A | Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
  • 10777A | Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • 10776A | Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases
  • 20465B | Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server 2012
  • 10778A | Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • 20467B | Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

What is implication for this? You will not be able to order those courses from Authorized Learning Centers. But You can still pass those exams at exams center (more about changes in exams area will be on my next post). Only retired SQL Server exams in near future are for SQL Server 2008 (retirement date 31st July 2015):

  • 70-450: PRO: Designing, Optimizing, and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • 70-451: PRO: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • 70-459: Transition Your MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 or MCITP: Database Developer 2008 to MCSE: Data Platform
  • 70-460: Transition Your MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer 2008 to MCSE: Business Intelligence

If you can’t leard about SQL Server 2012 from MOC, some books in Self-Training Kit are still available at Amazon. But if you want to be “on date” you can focus on SQL Server 2014 Microsoft Official Courses which replacing old trainings:


What more you chould know about those exams? Let’s look for more details based on Partner Newsletter from the 31 July 2014. 

Basic Principles

Let’s start with some of the basic principles we applied when planning the curriculum. When we sat down to think about the key concepts and skills that data professionals require, we came to the following realizations:

  • The scope of “data” as an area of expertise is huge – it spans everything from single-database systems that support specific applications, to enterprise-scale multi-location data centers. It also encompasses a wide range of workloads, including traditional online transaction processing (OTLP) systems, enterprise data warehouses to support online analytical processing (OLAP) solutions, managed reporting, self-service BI, and Big Data processing.
  • Data specialists need to work with more than just SQL Server. While SQL Server is at the very core of the Microsoft data platform, data professionals need expertise in other technologies such as Windows Server, System Center, SharePoint Server, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Azure; to name just a few.
  • General trends in IT affect how data technologies are used. The IT landscape is changing, moving towards a more cloud-based, user-oriented vision of IT services that support core business activities. These trends have a significant effect on the way that data professionals need to use the tools and technologies in the Microsoft data platform.

These realizations became the drivers for the curriculum design. We wanted to ensure that we created a solid learning experience that would not only provide students with the skills they need to use SQL Server components and features; but which also contextualize those skills within a wider “story” that reflects the realities of building and managing data solutions in today’s modern business environments. To accomplish this, we used the following principles to guide our planning:

  • The curriculum should provide a logical progression that enables new students to learn fundamental skills before moving onto more advanced concepts and technologies.
  • The learning experiences should have SQL Server at their core, but should include other data-related technologies to properly contextualize the skills being taught.
  • The courses cover key objectives that are measured in the SQL Server certification exams, but each course should primarily focus on providing the information students need to build and manage effective data solutions.

When reviewing the SQL Server 2012 curriculum, we found a lot of existing content that supports these principles. However, we also found a large degree of duplication across courses such as design topics that also covered implementation details, and topics that appear in multiple courses. We made it a key goal to eliminate topic duplication as much as possible; so that each distinct technology feature or tool is covered only once in the curriculum, in the place where it fits best. This made for better instructional flow, and made room to accommodate new content in the curriculum.

How about the courses are:

For students who are new to the Microsoft data platform, or who want to learn how to perform specific data-related roles for specific workloads and enterprise scenarios, the new curriculum includes the following courses:

  • 20461C: Querying Microsoft SQL Server. This course introduces the Transact-SQL language used in SQL Server, and the fundamental data manipulation language (DML) statements and techniques you can use to retrieve, update, insert, and delete data. Transact-SQL is a foundational skill for anyone planning to work with SQL Server – hence this course’s position at the start of the curriculum.
  • 20462C: Administering Microsoft SQL Server Databases. This course provides students with the knowledge and skills required by a database administrator (DBA) for a single-server database environment, such as might be found in a small organization or department. Core database management skills such as installing and configuring SQL Server, managing security, performing backup and restore operations, and automating administrative tasks are explored in detail in this course.
  • 20463C: Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server. Data warehousing has become a common workload in many organizations, and this course describes how to design and implement a data warehousing solution. The solution explored in the course comprises a relational database with a de-normalized schema containing fact and dimension tables, as well as a comprehensive extract, transform, and load (ETL) solution based on SQL Server Integration Services. The course also describes how to manage data consistency and quality using Master Data Services and Data Quality Services.
  • 20464C: Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases. Developing a database is an advanced skill that requires knowledge of how SQL Server stores and retrieves data, data modeling, the creation of database objects such as tables, views, and indexes, and the programming constructs that you can use to implement functions and stored procedures. This course covers all of these topics and provides hands-on learning experiences in which students implement commonly used database objects and solutions.
  • 20465C: Designing a Data Solution with Microsoft SQL Server. This course builds on the fundamental skills in managing and creating SQL Server databases to explore enterprise data solutions that span multiple servers and geographically distributed data centers. The course begins by discussing the challenges that exist in large organizations, and describes how to use tools such as the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit to discover database servers and services in a large IT estate. The course then discusses tools and techniques that you can use to configure and monitor multiple servers consistently, before exploring options for database workload consolidation. Cloud technologies for data, including private cloud solutions built on Windows Hyper-V and public cloud solutions built on Microsoft Azure are then examined, before the course’s focus turns to ensuring high-availability of business-critical databases and replication.
  • 20466C: Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server. This course builds on the data warehousing skills learned in course 20463C to teach students how to design and implement enterprise BI solutions that include managed reporting with SQL Server Reporting Services and OLAP data models in SQL Server Analysis Services. The course also describes how to implement BI dashboards in Microsoft SharePoint Server, and how to use the data mining capabilities of SQL Server Analysis Services and Microsoft Excel to build solutions for predictive analysis.
  • 20467C: Implementing Self Service BI and Big Data Solutions. This course explores ways in which enterprises can extend the managed BI solutions described in course 20466C to empower users to perform their own reporting and analytical data modeling. In this course, students learn how to build self-service BI solutions that use Microsoft Excel and Power BI for Microsoft Office 365, before exploring how to incorporate Big Data into a self-service BI solution by using Windows Azure HDInsight.

And last but not least is certification path, which is very well explained with this picture:


But… As we see these are three levels of certification: Microsoft technology Associate (MTA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) for Data Platform and Business Intelligence. The TOP of this certification (formerly knonw as Microsoft Certified Master) is not available anymore since last day of December last year. If we look a more detailed for this certification we will discover:

for Microsoft MCSA Certification: you must pass three exams (461,462,463) for achieving this certificate


for Microsoft MCSE: Data Platform Certification: you must have MCSA and pass two other exams (464,465) for achieving this certificate


for Microsoft MCSE: Business Intelligence Certification: you must have MCSA and pass two other exams (466,467) for achieving this certificate


MCSA is ‘non-expired’ certification, but both MCSE required re-certification for each three years after achieving first MCSE. But all of those exams in cert path are for SQL Server 2012. So? Based on official information from Microsoft Learning: No MCSA: SQL Server 2014 credential will be released. No MCSA certification, but why I’m writing about SQL Server 2012 in the context of 2014? Because, when you will register for exams 464/465/466/467 even they are focused on SQL Server 2012: Starting April 24, 2014, the questions on this exam include content covering SQL Server 2014! More details about those exams are here:

Oficially there is no coverage for SQL Server 2014 in exams 461,462,463. But… you should be prepared for this.

One more point.

In most cases, the labs are performed on MIA-SQL, which includes multiple instances of SQL Server 2014, SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Office applications. Some High-Availability labs are performed on the MIA-CLUSTER nodes, which enable students to gain hands-on experience with AlwaysOn Failover Clustering and AlwaysOn Availability Groups in the classroom.

Many of the labs in courses 10977B, 20465C, and 20467C make use of cloud services from Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365. To support these labs, the MSL-TMG1 virtual machine provides a gateway for Internet access from the classroom virtual machines. Before attending these courses, students should provision trial subscriptions for Windows Azure and Power BI for Microsoft Office 365 (though there are instructions to do so in the introduction modules of these courses for students who have not done so ahead of time).

In short summary: going to be expert in SQL Server 2012 (or SQL Server 2014) you should be prepared for SQL Server 2014 knowledge (or SQL Server 2012) and Cloud Services, SharePoint, Office Applications and Microsoft Azure. Not only SQL.

More useful information here: