This past week I finally completed the 70-458 exam to upgrade my certification to MSCA: SQL Server 2012. I never thought it would take me over a year to pass two upgrade exams, but sometimes life just gets in the way. I will say this is probably the hardest SQL Server exam I've taken so far.
The format of the upgrade exam is to combine questions from the three standard MCSA SQL Server 2012 exams, 70-461, 70-462, and 70-463. My hardest problem was dealing with the data warehouse questions; mainly the ones around Data Quality Services, Master Data Services, and especially the Project Deployment Model. I had never touched DQS or MDS before studying for this exam, and I can guarantee you that I would not have passed it without studying those topics. I found both to be very interesting features, but I have yet to come across a client that is using them.
The Project Deployment Model is a new concept for SSIS, and I really love it. I have worked with SSIS ever since it was introduced in SQL Server 2005, and this is a major improvement over the previous versions. Gone are the days when you had to design your own configurations for different environments or database connection strings. Everything is built into the SSIS catalog. The new features are awesome, but again, I had to really, really study the new deployment model and how to create packages that use environment variables.
All in all, I think it was a good test of SQL skills. Now let's see if I can pass the 70-459 before the end of the year.