This is a sad and dark day for the Microsoft community, especially for us who love products such as SQL Server, Exchange, Lync and SharePoint. Microsoft Learning (MSL) has decided till kill their advanced certifications; Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) formerly known as Microsoft Certified Master (MCM). This is also a post I hoped not to write, as the matter of fact I started drafting a post a couple of weeks back that should recommend these certifications to the community out there, that post will never see the light now.
Breaking up with an e-mail!
This morning I and the whole MCA/MCSM/MCM community got an e-mail from Microsoft Learning stating that “we [MSL] are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program” but “[MSL] will no longer offer Masters and Architect level training rotations and will be retiring the Masters level certification exams as of October 1, 2013”. This e-mail came as a shock to me, and as it seems to all involved, including instructors. All already certified will retain their certification status and can still use the logo (well, thank you very much), and those in rotation or with scheduled exams have barely one month to get it or get just a small amount of refund! This is truly a slap in the face for everyone! Also sending this e-mail out on a weekend with a US holiday coming up, just to try to get under the radar is a cowardice action – and just shows how not thought through and quick the decision has been made.
Why are MSL retiring the advanced certifications?
Well, that is one question that I would like to have answered. In the rather offensive e-mail sent the following was stated: “The IT industry is changing rapidly and we will continue to evaluate the certification and training needs of the industry…”. Doh! We know it is changing, but that definitely doesn’t mean there is less requirement on training and certifications, especially these advanced certifications! About one year ago the MCM certification was changed into MCSM that took this new “era” of cloud into the curriculum. For those who have attended the last updated training know this. We’re talking a lot about Office 365, Azure etc. during the training and exams.
I think Microsoft has to much belief in the cloud – that it will change over night – it won’t. The vast majority of SharePoint installations are on-premises today. Even if we/you see a cloud only future, there is a long way to go, and that road required skilled professionals staking out the route. And just because Office 365 satisfies the most common scenarios it will never be in parity with the requirement of Enterprise solutions. And Lync, SharePoint, Exchange and SQL are each on its own still a billion+ dollar segment for Microsoft.
Today I’ve seen a couple of blog posts and tweetface posts from people who hasn’t attended any of the rotations. These persons claim to know why MSL is retiring the certifications with reasons such as 1) we’re on a way to a cloud-only world, 2) the program costs Microsoft to much money, 3) there’s no demand for these certified masters etc. Oh boy, they have no clue! One thing I can agree upon is that MSL have done a really bad job in marketing the advanced certifications – most of the marketing has been done by the attendees! Another reason stated is that it was written in the stars – well, all parties will eventually end, but this is not how to end it, punching their most dedicated fans in the balls!
I’m still waiting for a decent reason from MSL…
Why do I think the MCA/MCSM should remain?
Noone except those who actually attended the rotations (which is what we call the training, which was required to get certified) really knows how valuable the certification is. Or to be more precise the certification in itself doesn’t mean that much – the training and the community is what matters. The Master certification has increased the SharePoint knowledge and expertise since the dawn of the certification, in the whole community. The blog posts, conference sessions, webcasts, books etc written by Masters would not have been as good if they didn’t attend the training, and eventually achieved the certification. This is a big loss for all of us, with no new training and no new fresh blood in this group we’re looking into a darker future.
Ok, what about the MVP’s then you think! Well, an MVP is award, not a certification. I have been awarded the MVP award, but not for my knowledge – it’s all about visibility and connections. I’m still proud of being awarded and thankful for what it gives me. But the MCA, MCSM and MCM means much more to me (even though the benefits are way less than for an MVP and you have to pay big bucks for it). You can ask any of my customers and my employer and they will tell you how much I and they have benefited from these certifications. But the “new Microsoft” doesn’t care about its customers as I see it…
I’m very proud and thankful to have learned as much from the amazing instructors and my fellow masters. There will be no more Certified Masters or Certified Architects or recertified Certified Solution Masters…
I could have written a way longer post on this subject, but this is the end of this road. What it actually means in a bigger perspective is another question for another day – but I do know that it will influence my future considerations and investments in certifications and the products that I used to love.
I’ll try to share some updates on the matter here…
[2013-09-01] A fellow MVP from the SQL charter, Jen Stirrup, has created a plea on the Microsoft Connect site (currently 213 upvotes!). The one who claims to be responsible for the decision, Tim Sneath, has answered. His answer contains some of what should originally been communicated. But, stating this has been in the plans for months – I don’t believe it, why would MSL then have spent all the time on making the certifications available on Prometric centers, B**sh!t