Those familiar with Microsoft certifications probably know that candidates can use two pairs of CompTIA exams as an elective for the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) credential. You simply furnish proof of completion of either the A+ and Network+ exams, or the A+ and Server+ exams.
You probably also know that Microsoft Press offers excellent training materials and decent-to-better study guides for its various MCP exams. What you may not know, however, is that Microsoft publishes excellent books called "Training Kits" on the aforementioned CompTIA exams as well. In fact, independent reviewers of these titles give Microsoft Press high marks for their quality, depth and breadth of coverage and relevance to the various exams. Today, you can buy good titles for A+, Network+ and Server+ from Microsoft, which shows me a surprising degree of commitment and interest in a third-party program from the veritable Colossus of the software industry.
That's what makes the following question about the upcoming Security+ exam so interesting: Will Microsoft require Security+ as a pre-requisite for its planned security certification credential? The answer, according to my off-the-record sources at both CompTIA and Microsoft, is that it will.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a combination of CompTIA exams -- say Network+ and Security+ -- show up as a substitute elective on such a certification. But it is still possible that Security+ might indeed become a requirement, thereby sparing Microsoft the effort of adding a general "intro to security" exam into its curriculum and exam line-up.
I also have pretty definite information that a team of authors is already at work on a book on Security+ for MS Press -- and Microsoft is indeed a member of the Cornerstone Committee for the Security+. Other sources tell me further that the Security+ is developing a decidedly Windows and Cisco router/switch emphasis, thanks in part to those companies' participation in and contributions to the content for the exam.
I don't see these developments as necessarily bad news or as evidence of bias because security is in large part an operational discipline and operational issues must be tested against real hardware and software. Why not then focus on the most common platforms and systems in use in today's marketplace?
The Security+ exam is slated to go live in November 2002, so we should know in another month or so whether my sources are correct. Because this information makes sense and fits an existing pattern at Microsoft Press, I'm pretty convinced that it's on the money. But only time will tell.
Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the creator of the Exam Cram series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java and security certifications. His team is currently at work on a Security+ book for Que Certification Press.
This was first published in August 2002