About 10 years ago I decided that it was about time I took the step to get myself some certifications, and MCSA (closely followed by MCSE) seemed like a logical place to start. I knew it all at that point anyways, and it'd be a walk in the park, right?
Sadly my employer at the time wasn't interested in me achieving said certs, I expect because they felt I would then move on to a better paid job. I moved on anyways. In fact the only reason I didn't just sit the exams myself was because I thought I had to sit a course in order to do so (you don't, but more on that later) and I just couldn't justify the costs to myself.
As most of you will know there's been a change of focus for me over the last few years, and I've moved away from the world of Microsoft (though I still get elbow deep in their tech in my role as Senior Solutions Architect at SBL) and am now more focussed on virtualisation - the last 3 years or so have had a hefty focus on VMware and I've recently started to upskill on Amazon Web Services. I expect that once I've completed the 2 remaining AWS Associate exams I'll look at Azure, and as such the current generation Microsoft certs are a good place to be looking.
There are challenges to working at a partner, especially in the VAR world - I need to keep atop a whole host of technologies, including certification. My current list of tech includes VMware, AWS, Palo Alto Networks, Dell EMC, Veeam, Tripwire and probably a whole load of others. I've also committed to obtaining the MCSE Cloud Platform and Infrastructure by July this year - as you can imagine, this is a lot of stuff to cram into my head but I really enjoy the challenge and my boss is great at enabling me to squeeze this stuff in. If you're similar and working on the customer side of things, I would certainly recommend that you consider a move into the Reseller circle: it's challenging and on occasion it makes for some frustrating days but overall it's a great experience.
As for the exam? My first ever proper (I'll discount the Licensing Expert one that I did a few years ago as that was an online, take as many times as you need to pass type exercise and I'm not a fan of those - same with the VMware VTSP) Microsoft exam was... a lot more tricky than I'd expected. I'd put a lot of focus into Hyper-V, a technology I'd previously written off as a poor man's vSphere and learned a lot about it - seemingly not enough, as that was my weakest area in the exam. Obviously I can't talk too much about the exam itself due to the NDA everyone has to agree to before sitting, but I'd highly recommend looking at the blueprint and finding any areas that you're not 100% confident in your knowledge of - given the weighted nature of the exam questions it's not enough to simply be really strong in one or 2 areas, you must demonstrate knowledge in all of those specified. I'm told that the 2016 exam sets are tougher than previous years, and while I don't have anything to benchmark against I'd certainly put getting to the MCSE (which is the end goal, obviously) as being a similar challenge to VMware's VCP.
I'm certainly going to have to stop writing off folks with an MCSE as Must Consult Someone Experienced as well ;)