Please don’t get rid of the MCM and MCA programs

Microsoft team,
Please do not get rid of the MCM, the replacement MCSM and the MCA programs.

Many people have been working towards these certifications, either through work or even perhaps giving up their spare time.
Companies, as well as individuals, invest time and money in order to develop their in-house SQL Server skills via a recognised program.
It is also an aspirational exam: a kite mark of quality.

I have opened this Connect item in order to facilitate the community to provide feedback and vote accordingly.

Kindest Regards,
Jen Stirrup
SQL Server MVP

—————————

Posted by Microsoft on 9/6/2013 at 12:36 PM

I have closed this connect item as it got out of hand. Please keep respectfull of each other.

Regards,
Kasper de Jonge

Posted by Eric Lytle on 9/6/2013 at 12:30 PM

Boy, that escalated quickly.

I’m not here to defend anyone (I don’t think Paul needs defending, he knows he’s awesome) but I will say this – if you took any of the MCM training you would understand that it does not (and cannot) teach to the test. Again, you would have had to attempt taking the tests to understand why. Even if Paul taught to the test you could not pass on that alone (he doesn’t). I mean think about it – if there weren’t enough MCMs to justify the program then how could Paul teach to it? There would be 100s of SQL MCMs alone.

Not one of the trainers teach to the test in any of the curriculum. Paul also teaches (or did teach) a day for the SharePoint MCM training and it was awesome but the session did not specifically focus towards passing the test. Anyone who reads his newsletter remember ‘why are DBAs so grumpy all the time?’ – yeah that was us.

Very simply – taking the training doesn’t insure passing. It takes years of experience, practical troubleshooting, speed and a LOT of study time to pass.

Posted by MCMDefender on 9/6/2013 at 12:09 PM

The truth hurts. And everyone else is just a loser. All is clear.

Posted by PaulRandal on 9/6/2013 at 12:01 PM

I’m done with this thread now.

I resent the impertinent implications by trolls that I’m doing anything underhand. Bootcamp – over my dead body. I’m not dignifying any of the other questions with answers – I stand by what I wrote in my newsletter – it’s all public knowledge and has been for several years.

Nowhere does it say that our training is ‘MCM training’.

I fail to see how these personal attacks further the cause of the ‘keep the MCM’ campaign so I’m disengaging now.

My apologies and thanks to everyone who commented here in a constructive manner – I guess there aren’t any forums left that can’t be hijacked by losers.

We made our point, and Microsoft has read all the information.

Cheers

Posted by Fernando Cortes on 9/6/2013 at 11:38 AM

@PaulRandal now many of us have questions (think of it as a survey):
If you and SQLSkills employees know all the questions that are asked in the MCM lab and knowledge exam, how do you manage the “Conflict of Interest” part?

I am not saying you are doing a braindump bootcamp, but how much of the exam questions do you cover in your trainings, 50%, 75%, 100% or don’t cover them at all?
Do you cover them over the 4 weeks of your (IE1 – IE4) training or are they also covered in IE0, IEHW, IEBI and IETS trainings?

Do you have permission from Microsoft to disclose that you know all the asked questions? Did they ask you to sign any confidentiality agreement or was it all free to disclose and advertise in your newsletters?

Just wondering because I have never seen any Oracle or Cisco training providers advertise that they have seen all the questions asked in a certification exam.

Posted by PaulRandal on 9/6/2013 at 9:27 AM

There’s nothing elite or unfair about the MCM in its current form. Anyone from anywhere with the right experience can pass both exams, and people have done so with no training whatsoever. Granted, it’s expensive to do so at $2500 for both exams. But no-one *has* to take any training – that was the whole point of decoupling the training from the exams back in 2011 for the SQL MCM.

Not sure what you mean by “It definitely is the best to prepare with help of an insider, the person who knows all the questions”? Hopefully you’re not implying that having helped write the exams means that we emphasize in our classes what we know is in the exams in any way, or anything untoward like that. Kind of sounds like it.

Posted by LouZhing on 9/6/2013 at 9:04 AM

It is true what @PaulRandal said, he wrote the exam questions and everybody knows about that. But here is the problem: Only a few people from developed countries can afford to prepare for the exam with him. It definitely is the best to prepare with help of an insider, the person who knows all the questions, but for people from Asia, Africa, South America this is impossible for a price of $15,000.

I am very happy that Microsoft is stopping the mcm program in its current, elite form and I trust that @Tim will come up with a much better, much fairer model for certification!

Posted by I. SALOM on 9/6/2013 at 3:13 AM

I was trying to avoid adding any comments, but it is ridiculous that some people are attacking valued members of the SQL Community. I has personally followed two SQLSkills trainings and even there will be no MCM program anymore, I will keep following trainings from them. Becoming a MCM is not about the certificated only, it is about improving your skills as a DBA and I’m sure anyone that has attended the SQLSkills trainings will agree with me that those trainings are the best you can do to improve your skills as a SQL Server DBA. As Jen already said focus on the main goal of this connect item, lets express our opinion to Microsoft, whatever it may be. I’m hoestly dissapointed that there are votes against this item and I would have expect a lot more votes by now. Instead of attacking people, why don’t we focus on getting more votes for this connect item and try to save the MCM program. I’m hoping Microsoft will reconsider and keep the program.

Posted by Jon Gurgul on 9/5/2013 at 11:55 AM

“It is funny that Microsoft employs SQLSkills to write and review all their lab and knowledge exam questions for MCM and lets @PaulRandal mention that in their advertisement.”

Microsoft employ Paul Randall indeed. They employed him to work for them, and after he left Microsoft having been involved with the core of the product they employed him again…and again and again.

Microsoft and SQLSkills obviously have a mutually beneficial arrangement, the fact that they were involved with cert was one of the reasons I personally choose to do the MCM / MCSM.

It seems strange that some of you attack someone for your perceived views on advertising, yet you do not sign your post with your name.

The demise of the MCM program will have in my opinion little limited impact on one of the best known members of the SQL community. If anything the end of the master certification will push people more towards 3rd party training.

The whole point of this connect item is to raise awareness of the communities feelings over the demise of the master certs, it is not a forum for personal attacks.

Posted by JimMD on 9/5/2013 at 11:33 AM

@PaulRandal In no industry it is a common practice to publish who wrote and reviewed all the lab and knowledge exam questions, because it might open the door for abuse.

In many companies like Oracle one has to sign a NDA not to disclose this kind of stuff. I am surprised that Microsoft took it easy in the past. I hope Microsoft realizes not to engage people who can’t keep these kind of information confidential and publish it in newsletters (as advertisement).

Until @MCMDefender mentioned it I didn’t know Greg Low
wrote parts of the tests.

Posted by Jen Stirrup MVP on 9/5/2013 at 11:31 AM

The point of the Connect item was to have a constructive debate about the demise of the MCM program. I felt it was a good way for people to feedback to Microsoft openly and freely about their views, either for or against the decision.

I believe that the MCM community has smart, clever dedicated people in it, and I hoped to consolidate that Community – plus the wider MCM community in SharePoint, Exchange etc – so the viewpoints could be made visible. By throwing it out to the open, I believed that the Community would have good ideas and insights about the Program that Microsoft may not have considered. I value the genius in the Community.

However, I have been utterly disappointed that my noble? naïve? venture started to descend to personal criticisms on individuals in the Community and who work for Microsoft. This was not my intention at all. This turn of events was not what I expected from people from a Community that I respect. I speak as an individual, and as someone who has been fortunate enough to hold the MVP Award for SQL Server for the past three years.

I would ask that the commentary remains professional or constructive. If it does not, I will speak to Microsoft about closing the Connect case, and you can thank the trollers who have forced me towards this course of action. If people want to troll, my email address is xxx.xxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx and you can come and find me. I will absorb poison if it means that it is deflected away from my #SQLFamily.
The vast majority of the Community are better than this, I know it.

Please, let’s continue to debate with professionalism, dignity, insights and, above all, grace.

Posted by PaulRandal on 9/5/2013 at 11:06 AM

@reformmcm Thank you for your contribution.

LOL! Be constructive please for the point of this Connect item please.

I said some of us are honorary MCMs, which we are – including Kalen Delaney, Adam Machanic, and other past instructors. We’re given the same privileges in the MCM community we’re trying to defend and preserve, but we don’t hold the award. I didn’t say there was an award called Honorary (your capitalization) MCM. Anyone with half a brain can interpret what I said correctly.

You can attack me all you want from your made-up, comfortably anonymous account name (although I’m guessing it’s my usual online, hates-Paul, troll Lee), it really doesn’t bother me.

Everyone reading this interchange can see your pointless vitriol for what it is.

Posted by reformmcm on 9/5/2013 at 10:48 AM

@PaulRandal

You call people trolls when they, voluntarily or involuntarily, expose you.

As I can see @SQL_Fan_Daisy has posted your newsletter in the workaround. The same newsletter where you claim to be a Honorary MCM. It is disappointing to see how a person whom many people trust almost blindly can lie so coldly.

“I didn’t say in the newsletter that there is any kind of Honarary MCM award.”

Lack of integrity. Disappointing.

Posted by PaulRandal on 9/5/2013 at 10:15 AM

Sigh – the trolls have come out. Greg took the original exam, that was written inside MS before the first public rotation happened.

Posted by MCMDefender on 9/5/2013 at 10:10 AM

“Those of us that wrote the exams and taught the classes cannot be MCMs, for obvious reasons.”

This is not true. Greg Low wrote parts of the tests, taught classes, and sat the exams. I don’t know why the other teachers didn’t take advantage but it seems you could have.

Posted by Bill Crider on 9/5/2013 at 10:06 AM

I was originally scheduled for the June SharePoint rotation, and was about to buy plane tickets for the Oct rotation when I got the email. I feel very lucky that I had to postpone. But still, I have spent 2 years and changed jobs to find an employer that would support my work towards this certification. I don’t see why you have to completely cancel a program if you feel going forward a new direction or plan is needed. You can adjust the cert to whatever you think is appropriate.

Posted by PaulRandal on 9/5/2013 at 9:19 AM

@reformmcm Nope – we’re not affected at all. Less than 10% of each 30-36 person class we teach has people aspiring to be MCMs. There’s no case I’m building. Sigh – I didn’t say in the newsletter that there is any kind of Honarary MCM award. Those of us that wrote the exams and taught the classes cannot be MCMs, for obvious reasons. We are treated as if we are MCMs though – on the MCM DL, etc etc. Please don’t try to make this personal.

@JimMD What’s wrong with that? It’s been common knowledge who wrote/reviewed the exams for many years, including people in MS and others outside MS. The idea is to show that well-respected experts with practical experience that taught the MS training also wrote the exams. That’s a good thing. Btw – which advertisement are you talking about? Not one of SQLskills, that’s for sure.

Posted by JimMD on 9/5/2013 at 7:34 AM

@Tim
For Oracle’s OCM (Oracle Certified Master) Exam, Oracle employees write the questions, even then no one knows which employees wrote or reviewed them.

It is funny that Microsoft employs SQLSkills to write and review all their lab and knowledge exam questions for MCM and lets @PaulRandal mention that in their advertisement.

Way to go Microsoft.

Posted by SQLU on 9/5/2013 at 6:51 AM

@paulrandal I didn’t know about this, congrats Paul !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@Tim
The “Honorary MCM” that @paulrandal has, is that attached to any version like 2008 or 2012 or is it version free?
Is there a validity period for this kind of award or is it forever?

Posted by reformmcm on 9/5/2013 at 5:51 AM

@PaulRandal @Tim

By being an MCM training provider, it is obvious that you are among those who are most affected financially by Microsoft’s recent decision.
However, please don’t use the connect item to influence others to your favor, don’t use it to promote your campaign or survey to prevent Microsoft from reforming the program. I noticed you are writing blogs and conducting surveys to gather a large audience to support your cause.

In your newsletter, which went to 9,700 people, you mention that Microsoft awarded you “Honorary MCM”. Don’t take this personally but IMHO the “Honorary MCM Award” is a questionable idea, too.
In the same newsletter you mention that you along with the SQLSkills team wrote or reviewed all the lab and knowledge exam questions for the MCM certification.

Surely Microsoft did not make this decision easily. I believe in the competency of MSL managers to improve the certification process to the benefit of the community.

I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities for SQLSkills to become a top training provider for the new certification as well. Right now it is important not to block the progressive movement inside Microsoft!

Posted by Jos van Duijn on 9/5/2013 at 5:29 AM

Just finished my MCSE earlier this year to go and get my MCSM certification, but now it just seems like a waste of time.
Please reconsider this decision!

Posted by HafizurRahman on 9/5/2013 at 5:15 AM

@Tim
I have been preparing for MCSM Data Platform for last 6 months. I have also finished my prerequisite exams, what a waste of money and time! MCSE mean nothing to me, it’s OK for the junior folks. MCM is the only certification that has some recognition in the business community. You should not push away the technical leaders of your products.

I completely agree with Greg: “Instead of abandoning it, why not take quality seriously and see it applied throughout related programs. The MCT program is one but another would be the Gold Partner program. Is it really acceptable to have Gold Partners working (and promoted by Microsoft) on the largest projects, without a single MCM/MCSM on staff? Why not require real demonstrated ability in the Gold Partner program?”

Thanks

Posted by IloveSQLServer on 9/5/2013 at 3:13 AM

So Microsoft has told people like myself that we have until end of September 2013 to take the exam. While this is so unprofessional and uncaring behaviour, lets put this aside for a while..

This is the how we have to book the lab exam:

——————–
Since January 1, 2013, the SQL Server Certified Master lab exam is offered directly through remote delivery which allows you to take the exam from a quiet location of your choosing and saves you the cost of travelling to a distant testing center.

Remote delivery requires a working webcam, the full Microsoft Lync client, and a reliable internet connection. For details regarding the remote delivery of the SQL MCM lab exam, contact advcert@microsoft.com
——————–

The big problem however is that I have emailed this team to ask for the lab exam availability and book the exam on Monday but have still not received any reply.

I sent chaser emails on Tuesday and Wednesday as well but still, no replies.

Time is running out and one week is almost gone!

So many people, including myself find ourselves is a such a stressful situation which is causing us lots of grief and pain. It was such an unrealistic and short notice period and now they are not even responding to any emails at all! Since their email on the Friday evening, there has not been another official communication at all on this.

Nothing on the official certification pages!
Nothing on the Masters’ blog or other official blogs!
Nothing on twitter or any othe social media used by MSLearning!

The situation is getting worse by the day and the communication has been appaling.

Once again, I will beg MS to reconsider some aspects of this decision and honor the retirements date for the SQLServer MCM lab exam that you announced earlier and allow people to take it until end of December 2013.

This will help to repair some of the damage and re-establish the trust and faith in Microsoft.

Thank you,

Posted by yes please on 9/4/2013 at 5:49 PM

I had recently set myself the goal of striving towards MCM Data Platform. I’ve brought the first 3 training kit books to get the MCSA Sql Server completed (even though I’ve already been working with Sql Server for 6-7 years). But now, if the “top of the mountain” is now unattainable, what’s the point in even starting the climb?!

Waste of time even bothering with the MCSA, or MCSE now if the “scale” by which these certs are judged has now been changed.

This doesn’t just affect the people who are MCM/MCSM/MCA certified, having the pinnacle taken away removes the “dream” of attaining it for those of us who have yet to get to such a lofty (and highly respected) position.

This coupled with the recent TechNet axing may be enough of a push to get me on the Oracle/Java stack. At least they provide developer licences for their products FREE, and they don’t routinely destroy their certifications.

Posted by Nik Patel on 9/4/2013 at 12:38 PM

Original vision of MCM from Microsoft…

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/2008/jun08/06-10mscert.aspx

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/trika/archive/2008/06/26/more-on-the-certified-master-programs-from-me-per-the-program-owner.aspx

http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/archive/2009/01/22/hello-world-wow-even-easier-than-vb.aspx

Interesting read… ;)

Posted by PaulRandal on 9/4/2013 at 10:46 AM

http://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/paul/survey-sql-server-mcm/ – a survey I’m running asking how people are affected by this decision.

Posted by ishmael.whale on 9/4/2013 at 10:10 AM

to Abhay in the workarounds section…

the point is not the piece of paper, it’s the training. the training is (was?) worth every penny. instead of 45 minutes with people like tim mcmichael in a room with a few hundred other people in it, you get two days with him, along with ten or fifteen other people. eighteen 12-14 hour days with some of the best instructors in the world (for exchange), at only a thousand dollars a day? bargain, frankly.
i’ve got the bit of paper. it’s very pretty. but the contacts i made and the training i received are the things that really matter to me. you don’t get those by reading a book on your own, or watching some videos, and then taking some exams, no matter how hard they are.
killing off the mc(s)m will eventually kill off the community that i get value from – whether it happens in weeks (like the original mail threatens) or months, it will happen, because there will be no new blood coming in.

i agree there is a need for a really rigorous, high quality certification above MCSE – something like CCIE – but just because the MCM doesn’t meet that need is no reason to kill it off. there is space for both.

Posted by Josh Ashwood on 9/4/2013 at 6:28 AM

I find it very difficult to believe that Microsoft have anything planned to replace MCM. If they did, they would have announced it at the same time as retiring the current MCM program.

Secondly, if Microsoft were EVER serious about their certification program being anything but another revenue stream it would have taken steps to change the program to stop braindumping. The amount of certified Microsoft candidates I see on the forums, and in the field, asking questions that you would know if you had EVER worked with the technology they are asking about is simply an embarrassment for the program and it has been going on for years, with the full knowledge of Microsoft.

We need Microsoft to get serious for the first time about certifications and to treat them like something more than an income stream for themselves, Prometric, and training partners.

Posted by AlexWilshere on 9/4/2013 at 3:00 AM

Really dissapointed by this turn of events. Having spent the last few months working very hard on revision with an aim of taking the Knowledge exam around christmas I feel massively let down.

If you’re going to cancel something without much notice – at least provide more specific details about when a new programme may start!

Posted by Nilmov on 9/3/2013 at 11:16 PM

there is no better way to understand which people are creme de la creme in Microsoft technology. Those people were inspiration for many of us.
I don’t know why but if you oracle has masters, Cisco has experts then why is Microsoft is revoking this expert level certification.

Posted by Savion Logic on 9/3/2013 at 8:39 PM

Microsoft:

You’re making a branding mistake by discontinuing this program. People within your own community are trying to communicate that to you, and you should listen.

Business managers and owners all over the world have come to rely on persons who have the MCM/MCSM certification as experts in the field. You only create confusion and distrust among business managers and owners by discontinuing this designation. Not to mention, if you strip your own highest level experts of their hard earned and well deserved titles, you will likely see a mass exodus of intellectual talent. You stand to lose your very best and brightest.

You still have time to change this decision. Listen to your biggest supporters, the people that know your software best.

Regards,

Abbigail Webb, J.D., LL.M.
Attorney, Florida

Posted by Jan Studenovsky on 9/3/2013 at 3:33 PM

Dear Microsoft,

I’m glad I was sitting when I learned about your MCM certification decision. I’m also glad I finished the apple seconds before reading the news, or I could have been finished. While a lot has been said about your decision, here is my personal reason behind putting your decision and announcement into the “MSFT has failed me again” bucket. The SQL Server MCM is the top level certification I wanted to work towards. It is the pinnacle of learning and being recognized when it comes to SQL Server. Even though I have not achieve this certification yet, the three letters kept me interested, motivated, and eager to work toward being an MCM.

It is hard to accept that you would make such a move. However, it is easy to understand that you, in your ignorance of the outside world, would make such a move. This is not the 90’s when the world did what MSFT said. There are more than enough choices in 2013 for any of us to choose a different path. Oracle Certified Master. Teradata Certified Master. Oracle Certified Expert, MySQL 5.1 Cluster Database Administrator. Are you not charging enough for SQL Server licenses? That is the money our employers, or clients pay for your software. I’m certain that when you pool together all SQL Server related $$$ you are still ahead, even if MCM is such a money losing operation. I am the user who is using your software and I try to be one of the best at it. You’ve taken away the three letters that could spell out to the rest of the IT professionals that I belong to the group of the best.

Microsoft used to be the name you could count on. It was the save harbor, no matter what storm came, ravaged and left. Last decade, Microsoft seems to be the storm moving from harbor to harbor. Your actions are quite disappointing and regardless of the words of Tim Sneath, they are downright disrespectful to my quest to be recognized as of one of the best, an MCM.

Posted by Andreas.Wolter on 9/3/2013 at 3:30 PM

While there are many true points in the reasoning behind this decision, and the MCM certainly had lots of problems in awareness, fairness (depending on country of residence) etc. I do not think that NO MCM/MCA is the logical implication.
It’s just one of 2 options: improving or eliminating

The latter was chosen, obviously. I cannot imagine that there was not a lot a thinking about it before the decision was made. But were they based on the actual principals of the program itself?

How come, one of the most important arguments, “the public awareness” is a reason AGAINST it, rather than a reason to IMPROVE?

Compared to the MVP Award, how has the MCM been promoted on conferences etc.? How come, that many many customers haven’t even heard about it? Why is it so? Has it been promoted the same way as the MVP? I do not think so. – (Nothing against the MVP award) So it’s “logical” to get rid of it, instead of improving it..?

(Just this May I tried to get the MCM some more public awareness by creating and commenting in depth about this topic in Germany, so I pulled some numbers and comments: http://www.insidesql.org/blogs/andreaswolter/2013/05/umfrage-zertifizierung-microsoft-certified-master )

Well.. Improving it, costs money. There I see the logic.
The problem is: an advanced (let’s call it “elite” for now) program/certification will certainly by nature not reach as many clients (archievers), and in fact cost more than gain.
But that’s why it sits on top of the other certs. To act as an aim for the ambitious.

Andreas Wolter (MCM SQL Server), CEO, Architect, Trainer

Posted by JosephSaad on 9/3/2013 at 2:57 PM

The likely explanation to this was mentioned in this blog post http://sharepoint.nauplius.net/2013/09/my-thoughts-on-the-death-of-the-mcm-program/

Microsoft wants to be services and devices company. Meaning they will dump the partners and the on-premise. This is the only plausible explanation.

Posted by Greg Linwood on 9/3/2013 at 2:48 PM

Trying to see Microsoft’s side of this – maintaining MCM exam material would require significant investment each time new product versions are released (on top of maintaining the other certs) & perhaps Microsoft just weren’t getting enough of a return for MCM to be financially self sustaining? It clearly was priced unrealistically for markets such as India & China so also arguably not fair to these market where growing numbers of expert technicians who should be able to sit MCM simply couldn’t afford to.

Posted by Ivan Bondy on 9/3/2013 at 2:32 PM

@Nik,
As someone who went through same hybrid rotation as Eric, I have to agree that class teamwork was absolutely great after 1st week onsite where everyone met and got to know each other. We regularly met online on weekends and discussed materials presented during the week by instructors. Some guys even made private presentations on topics they where strong at. As a class we prepared practice exams ahead of written test and helped answer questions. Class cooperation was as strong as it could be. For me personally, hybrid rotation was better choice as you were presented same materials by same instructors, but you also had a time to absorb it and brush up on areas you were lacking. I can say that I was really exhausted after first week of onsite training and I am not sure I would survive 2 more weeks of it. Plus you could do your day job and be with your family.

Posted by Adam Toth on 9/3/2013 at 2:25 PM

@Tim

Given the manner in which MSL management has chosen to play this out, it is clear that neither this program, nor the enormous investments made by Partners, attendees, and instructors were valued.

Reciprocally, why then would I ever value anything that comes out of Microsoft Learning in the future?

I have spent over a decade invested in MSL – with 20 exams under my belt, and have sent countless developers to Prometric centers as part of growth and incentive plans for the teams I manage. Done. You don’t stand by your own products, I won’t stand by them either.

At this point my opinion of your organization is nothing more than a scam, where dollars are force-funneled to you through the Microsoft Partner program in order to maintain competencies and partner status levels.

Posted by Alejandro Leguizamo MVP on 9/3/2013 at 12:11 PM

Unfortunately, this is a way of surely alienating the best Microsoft Advocates out there. First the TechNet subscription (Under a very poor arguing of piracy, which is not the target of hte independent consultants, writers, trainers, etc which have no other way of learning the technology -And the argument of eval editions is pure non-sense).

And now this? Ther Premium certification? What is ogoing on with Redmond? I think their Server+Tools vision is totally blind! Why are you attacking the ITPros?

Posted by Ian Allchin on 9/3/2013 at 11:04 AM

I have been working towards the 2008 MCM for the last 5 years, and need to resit the final exam. I am shocked that the date has been brought forward suddenly and this may mean I do not have enough time to pass. I have e-mailed Microsoft about this already. A reversal of the decision or re-instatement of the original exam retirement dates would be a good outcome.

Posted by coltuszyk on 9/3/2013 at 11:00 AM

Get rid a SQL MCM program = going to ORACLE for me.

How to proof you have better experience then MCSE (which you can pass with 2-3 years)??

If you have 10+ years of experiance you can pass MCSE in a month. What to do with a rest of the time if you want to proof you are better then that and rise your salary?? – in my opinion going to ORACLE is a first option. They have a master certification for years, without problems like “get rid of MCM”.

Without master program – I wan’t invest my time to SQL Server.

Posted by Eric Lytle on 9/3/2013 at 10:44 AM

Hybrid rotations for the MCM SharePoint 2010 were available from Jan 2012, obviously.

Posted by Eric Lytle on 9/3/2013 at 10:43 AM

Nik, your dates for the Hybrid are still off. Hybrid rotations for the MCM SharePoint 2012 were available from Jan 2012. I attended R12 which started in April 2012. The Hybrid model works for a certain number of candidates who cannot dedicate 3 weeks onsite to the effort. It also allows more flexibility for scheduling the trainers.

The vast majority of the 25+ people in our rotation ended up passing, including myself, so I would consider that a successful implementation of a change to the MCM program. Believe me when I tell you that we stayed in the trenches and made connections for life during the program.

Posted by Nik Patel on 9/3/2013 at 10:31 AM

Sorry, dates were little bit off in last comment…

1) Summer/Fall 2012 – Re-branding to MCSM, still doesn’t make sense
2) Fall 2012 – Making it available through Hybrid Program, I am not even sure off-site remote training is worth than Onsite training.. MCM program is all about staying in trenches, make connections, stay focused as long as you pass.

Posted by Nik Patel on 9/3/2013 at 10:15 AM

Consider me traditionalist or not, there were 5 decisions made regarding MCM program, which got worse at each stage..

1) Summer/Fall 2013 – Re-branding to MCSM, still doesn’t make sense
2) Fall 2013 – Making it available through Hybrid Program, I am not even sure off-site remote training is worth than Onsite training.. MCM program is all about staying in trenches, make connections, stay focused as long as you pass.
3) May 2013 – Making MCSM program acceptance optional, Just having MCSE for SharePoint doesn’t mean one should be accepted…
4) Summer 2013 – Making MCSM training optional for program… I just can’t imagine anyone would pass without training.. Infact, training is why people would pursue MCM program…
5) Labor Day Weekend 2013 – Worst of all, the reason why we have this thread….

It’s just funny but why we haven’t seen any signs of MSL intentions earlier…

Posted by Nik Patel on 9/3/2013 at 9:29 AM

I am really disappointed to see this program cancelled. I have registered for this event and was planning to take either this fall or as early as next spring. being a SharePointer, I don’t have any other way to prove credentials to myself (read again – I need to prove myself, not others). This program was the driving factor for me to learn everything about SharePoint and go through 100000s pages of Technet and MSDN. I don’t have that motivation anymore. I personally see there are couple of benefits of this program – People like Wictor Wilen and Spencer Harbar are known trusted authorities because of not only they are MCMs or MCAs but they share real world expertise via their blogs or their conference sessions. MSDN and Technet are reference materials and lacking real world examples. Program like MCM allows people like Spence or Wicor to share information and ultimately it helps community. Great books are often written by MCMs. Another major reason why this program should have continued is certifications like MCSD and MCSE has no value in industry. People don’t trust these certifications due to widely known braindumps. MCMs is the certifications we all trust in SharePoint industry and it’s shame that MS has killed the program. Additionally, why change name from MCM to MCSM? That was the first bad decision and scrapping MCSM program is worst decision. For me, I just don’t have any goals because I don’t have anything to prove myself… My two cents!!!!

Posted by Wayne Sheffield on 9/3/2013 at 9:26 AM

My thoughts about Tim’s reply here is too long to post here, so please check it out on my blog: http://blog.waynesheffield.com/wayne/archive/2013/09/retiring-of-the-mcm-certifications-part-ii/

Posted by diabolic53 on 9/3/2013 at 9:13 AM

MCM and MCA certs shold stay, their problem was the availability of the exams , basically someone like me from Romania would have to go to the US for a few weeks just to take an exam…. evem VMware’s VCDX certification process is easier. Microsoft should focus more on LAB tests and Hands on tests if they want people to start trusting MS certifications again. MCM and MCA were good examples of these kinds of tests, they should make them more available for people not remove them completely.

Posted by Troy Lanphier on 9/3/2013 at 9:01 AM

Truly gobsmacked, reading about this. I’ve been eyeing the MCM/MCSM rotation for a year now, and had to find out about this decision via email/social networking. Microsoft was previously offering the rotation to current MCTs at half price until the end of the year, and I finally decided to “double-down” and immerse myself in the program, money be damned.

Let’s examine this -
1. From the MCM/MCSM’s point of view – Anyone who has this certification will tell you that it pays for itself, I have not found anyone who will or can dispute this.
2. From the MCSE/MCP/MCT point of view – Anyone who has even attempted the MCM rotation/test gets more street cred, plain and simple. No one views this credential as a “weekend pass” test. I’ve never even heard of a so-called “paper” MCM/MCSMs/MCAs.
3. From the Customer’s point of view – An MCM/MCSM/MCA is the go-to person you want driving your effort. Expensive? Surely – but completely worth it, knowing that your internal clients and staff will be able to count on this person for extensive product knowledge and experience.
4. From Microsoft’s point of view – ?

Is the program elitist? Sure – if by elitist, you mean exemplary or desirous.
– I’ve not encountered a single MCM/MCSM who won’t or doesn’t assist other people with issues, often free of charge.
– Race Car Mechanics? Airline Pilots? Are these people elitist simply because they have MILES of experience and the training/certification chops to back them up?
– Cisco, VMware – They still maintain their premium certifications. Why can’t Microsoft?

Oh, and +1 for Spencer – Probably +100, I’m sure that I’ve read his blog entries at least that many times. I was looking forward to meeting him in person and receiving this training/set of labs.

@Tim – It’s not just the decision that kills, it’s also the communication and implementation of the decision. As a community, we understand that there will never be a good time to deliver bad news, but the abruptness makes this truly unpalatable and makes us feel somewhat unwelcome. If MS announced the retirement this program over a period of time (say a year or so), they might have noticed that this is neither a “dead” certification track nor a waste of time.

Posted by Prabhat Nigam on 9/3/2013 at 8:55 AM

This news is heart breaking as I was preparing for almost one year and last month, I was checking and MCSM was not released for Exchange.
Now I can see it is available and I wanted to appear for it but this news is really destroying my 1 year hard work.

I am concerned what is going to replace these certifications. It is like Cisco remove CCIE certification.

This also means the respect and expertise level will not be available for Microsoft certifications, I mean currently any MCM will be a great hire for any company.

Posted by Dexter Jones on 9/3/2013 at 8:41 AM

This is another sad step in Microsoft’s public self-destruction:

Step 1: Alienate Windows user base
Step 2: Alienate developer base (TechNet kill shot)
Step 3: Alienate elite technology base (MCM termination on short notice)

I’ve been using and learning MS technology since the mid 80’s and always felt MS respected and valued the
people who chose to invest many, many hours of their lives to learn (and evangelize) MS technology.

The inescapable message from Redmond now is: go away.

And go we shall.

Not instantly, of course. But the decades spent building a base of devoted and talented developers and technologists
are now at an end and the pendulum will now swing the other direction. As the base contracts, it will become increasingly
difficult for IT professionals to recommend MS technology to customers and clients, particularly new ones.

The tragedy here is this was unnecessary.

Sad, indeed.

Posted by Adam Clark on 9/3/2013 at 8:38 AM

Microsoft is wrong if they think MCM’s don’t sell product. MCM’s are the best sales team Microsoft could have. Microsoft needs to rethink this decision before they begin to go the way of PC Junior.

Posted by Ram Gopinathan on 9/3/2013 at 6:58 AM

I voted up

I really hope to see program is reinstated, but I think the damage is done already, Its highly unlikely IT Pros will have the faith now to go through any kind of certifications like MCM
The way we turned our backs on Partners and Folks that sacrificed a lot not only to get certified but evangelize our products in front of customers completely disgusts me

Posted by Steven O on 9/3/2013 at 6:52 AM

Well, not sure what original I can add to this debacle, but here goes…

http://stevenormrod.com/2013/09/master-of-puppets

You may have heard about the recent announcement from Microsoft to cancel the Microsoft Certified Masters program. AKA, the MCM and MCSM programs. Well, it wasn’t really an announcement. An announcement is when you make a public declaration of some information or event. Think about a wedding announcement.

MCM_logo

Instead, this was announced in an email very late on Friday night. Because of Time Zone differences, mine came in after midnight. In the email we were informed that all of the MCM exams and the entire program are being retired on October 31st.

A few news sites have picked up on this already, and actually had made public the non-announcement.

What’s so awful about this is, within the past few weeks there have been other, contrasting announcements about expanding the number of testing centers, upcoming release of a new exam, etc. It’s like the proverbial saying about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

Strange, to say the least.

Anyone who was part-way through the MCM program is being left out to dry at this point. All your time and money spent for naught. I can only imagine how that must feel. Awful, truly awful.

On the one hand, I’m disappointed. I spent a lot of time, effort, and money to achieve the MCM, only to have it discontinued. Kind of a slap in the face. However, I have to admit, that on the other hand, I’m a little relieved.

Wait, let me explain. As I see it, there are some serious problems with the overall Microsoft Certification Program. Since they’ve decided to gut the MCM Program, this is a good opportunity to fix everything that is wrong with it.

A Looming Deadline

I finished the MCM a little over a month ago, and I couldn’t be more relieved. I had put a lot of time, money, and effort into this. My Significant Other has been very patient and supportive during this journey, but it was time for it to end. Or at least be able to rest for a little while.

Nope.

You see, once you have the SQL 2008 MCM, you only have until June of 2014 to complete the SQL 2012 MCM. That’s only ten months away! Also remember, there is a 90-day waiting period for retakes at this level.

If you couldn’t make that deadline, then you start back at the bottom with all the MCP/MCTS/MCITP/MCSA/MCSE exams to pre-qualify you for the opportunity to try the SQL 2012 MCM exams once again.

And, guess what, they didn’t even have the the SQL 2012 MCM Lab Exam ready. So you have a deadline ticking away, but not much you can do about it.

I was a little frustrated by that timeline. I had just spent a considerable amount of money, my own money, to complete the MCM program, and now I had jump right back in and start spending a bunch more money, immediately. Add to that, I’ve used about half of my PTO (vacation days) for my studies, travel, and test taking along this journey.

So you can see why I’m a little relieved. Now, I don’t have to explain my elaborate cover story as to why I’m not going to bother with the SQL 2012 MCM. Instead, I can join the chorus of folks who are screaming bloody murder about the program being canceled.

Maybe now, I can have a little break and attempt to pay down my SQL 2008 MCM costs. Maybe tomorrow, there will be a new announcement of an entirely news certification program that has been in development for months and months. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Don’t Change the Brand

One of the problems with the Microsoft Certifications and the MCM Program is the names and acronyms keep changing. Take a page from other, successful companies and don’t.

Since the beginning of time, it has been the MCP. My first certification was an MCP in Visual Basic Programming. That should continue to be the basis of everything. Stop changing the names of the certifications every time a new version of the product comes out.

People are just now starting to learn about the MCM Program. Most don’t even know what it is, including recruiters and HR, and now you’re changing it to MCSM, why? And now, before people have a chance to be confused about the MCSM, it’s getting scrapped.

Keep the standard MCP/MCTS/MCITP/MCM naming scheme, do you see Ford renaming the Mustang to Horse 2.0? No, you don’t.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a job posting or spoken to HR/Recruiting and they ask if I’m an MCDBA for SQL 2008 or even SQL 2014.

If you say ‘no, I have the MCITP or MCM for SQL 2008 which is the newer version’ all they hear is ‘no’ and move on. So, what you have to say is ‘yes, I have the McDBA for SQL 2012′ or whatever stupid crap recruiters are asking for.

TLAs are better than FLAs

But if you were going to change the names of the certificates, at least choose something easy to say, easy to understand, and that is intuitive.

People love three letter acronyms. They roll off the tongue easier, and they just sound so cool.

I would propose the following nomenclature:

MCA, MCP, MCE, MCM. Simple, easy, TLAs.
Associate, Professional, Expert, Master.
Most people intuitively know how to rank those four levels. You don’t need to know anything about the technology in order to understand that an Associate is lower than an Expert, or Master.

Certificates Shouldn’t Expire

I’m not saying you shouldn’t continue to train, get certified, learn new skills, etc. But the certs you’ve earned should stay with you, period. Think about how many SQL 2000 installations there are still out there.

If you are an expert on an old piece of technology, and the customer needs that, then you are still the expert.

If a certification is tied to a specific version of technology there is no need to expire it. That person is not diminishing or interfering with new technology or certifications.

If someone only has certification from ten years ago, and nothing more recent, then let the customer decide if that is what they want.

Specialists Specialize

The SQL 2008 Server Certification program had three tracks: DEV, DBA, BI. There were two levels: junior and senior. Now, you have to complete all three tracks to get the entry level certification for SQL 2012.

Think about cars for a minute. Mechanics specialize. You have transmissions, engines, fuel injection systems, etc. Someone who knows how to fix one, rarely knows the others. Or you have an oil-change technician.

Or doctors? Orthopedic surgeon; ear, nose, and throat; endocrinology. Or you have a general practitioner.

Have you perused job descriptions that require you to be an expert in all three: BI, Dev, DBA; yet paid lower than just one? Me too, lot’s of them. Those are interesting interviews, but they are also jobs to be avoided like the plague.

The official party line seems to be that Dev, DBA, and BI are so intertwined that you have to understand all of them in order to do any of them. Well, the real world doesn’t quite work that way. Knowing about other areas certainly makes you better, and should be rewarded. But for an entry level certification that is ridiculous.

And, if you truly believed that, then how come someone can upgrade to the new MCSA with only one of the old MCTS certs. If all three skills were so intertwined, then you would require someone doing the upgrade to hole all three MCTS certifications.

Cost Benefit Analysis

All this leads me to the question whether I made the best choice of pursuing the SQL 2008 MCM. What is the cost / benefit analysis of all the time, money, effort, PTO, relationship costs, etc. for pursuing the MCM?

With the same money, you could self-fund a trip to the PASS or BA conferences. You could speak at tons of SQL Saturdays. You could take all the SQL 2012 MCSE Certifications. You could go on a SQL Cruise. And you’d still have money left over.

MCM RIP

I do hope Microsoft reconsiders canceling the MCM Program. This was the only certification that was serious and had sufficient rigor. It gave you something to strive for if you wanted to distinguish yourself from your peers.

Please take a moment and register a comment on the connect site and let Microsoft know how you feel.

Posted by GW_Dell on 9/3/2013 at 6:30 AM

We have a group of eight individuals who were scheduled for Directory/Messaging rotations into 2014… eight of our brightest and most motivated minds. They now discover that all their work supporting tricky customer technology problems and studying the pre-reading material has gone for nought as their training was axed as ‘too expensive’. Not to mention that their company will not take it lightly that MS absolves itself of liability for all pre-payment of travel/lodging.
And then there’s the $7B for Nokia…
in a macro sense, does MS not understand that ‘buying your way to growth’ isn’t the safe bet it used to be? That they could be growing diamonds in the lab (MCM/MCA training); framed against the aforementioned purchase, how expensive does the program really look?
Bring it back, MS- your competitors are starting to look really good in comparison.

Posted by Jack Corbett on 9/3/2013 at 5:46 AM

@Tim Sneath,

As a SQL Server MVP, I’ve been able to be around many talented SQL Server professionals, and the cream of the crop has been those who have passed the MCM. There are many others I know who have been planning and preparing to take the MCM exams since the requirement for on-site training was removed and made the exam more accessible. I don’t think you’ve given that change enough time to create the quantity that you are looking for. Since the SQL Server MCM was made more accessible the only MCM available has been for SQL Server 2008, and with 2012 having been out for a year and 2014 close to release, I would bet many have been waiting for the 2012 MCM to be available. I know I was. I was going to complete the lesser, required certifications for 2012 at the upcoming PASS Summit and then planned on preparing for the 2012 MCM. Now I have no reason to complete the lesser certifications, because as many have mentioned, they don’t hold enough value for me to take the time away from building my network and knowledge while at the Summit. I’m sure there are others that will know feel the same way about completing the lesser SQL certifications since many SQL Server pros only cared about them because they were required for the MCM. If it’s all about revenue, then I’d bet you’ll have lost quite a bit with this decision.

Posted by LouisHerber on 9/3/2013 at 5:36 AM

I also have the same feelings. Where I have spent the last two years waiting to join the (communication) MCM/MCSCM program. First wait on the 2013 release, then to get an approval of my company. Now I’ve got one, and only 1 day later the cancelled the program. I would probably have joined the november rotation.
I think it’s a shame because it is/was the only highly appreciated certification, which only a few achieved (and thus also because of that). For me, my “goal” seems to be gone, but for others already archieved this it’s even worse.
I’m really curious if this decision could and will be rolled back, or what else will come in the place. But to be honest, I doubt if it will get the same level. I would rather expect something “between” MCSE and MCM, but not replacing MCM.

Posted by Tom.Thomson on 9/3/2013 at 5:09 AM

I imagine that it will be a big step backward respect within the IT and computing business for Microsoft to be known as a company which provides utterly worthless certifications and no worthwhile ones at all. But if that’s how MS wants it’s customers and potential customers to know it, despite it being something that may deter some of the latter from becoming the former and send some of the former from retaining that status, so be it. Next time I’m looking for competent experts in some MS technology (if there ever is such a next time) I won’t have any MS Certifications to guide me – MS has rendered its certification program pointless.

Posted by IloveSQLServer on 9/3/2013 at 4:47 AM

@LouZhing,

I do not agree with what you are saying.

3 weeks ago, it was announced that there will now be more testing centers (globally) where MCM/MCSM exams could be taken:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/archive/2013/08/12/you-asked-and-we-listened-increased-number-of-prometric-test-centers-for-mcm-mcsm-exams.aspx

There were 15 testing centers in China where you could have taken the MCM exams.

Moreover, as far as I know, exam costs vary across countries. I remember checking the SQL Server MCSM Knowledge Exam costs and it certainly was different in different parts of the world.

Your arguments about location and costs do not stand up at all at this point of time.

Moreover, there is no requirements for you to attend any training (from SQLSkills or anybody else). The training certainly helps but there are a lot of people who have been working with the product for a number of years and prepare for these exams without attending any trainings and courses.

Regards.

#bringbackMCM

Posted by Thomas Balkeståhl on 9/3/2013 at 4:46 AM

+1 Spencer
As a SharePoint bum, I agree with most here, but I will mostly miss the opportunity to get the best, most complete training on the Product I love developed and delivered by the best of the best.
In my opinion, Microsoft keeps doing it to us ambassadors in the community, again and again. Are they really that sure that everything will be in the cloud soon and we woun’t be needed? I take Spencers arguments that this decision was not because of the cloud focus, but most of everything else Microsoft does points in this derection…up…
None of my customers that are extremely security aware, have even considered the cloud as an option, not yet anyway and I can’t see it happening any time soon either. They would rather switch Technologies/SW Vendors.

For the MCM/MCSM certification not beeing an option anymore…at least I know now what I will not be doing on my sparetime for the coming year…I paused my efforts in wait for the 2013 release…then came MCSM, then this…

Regards
Thomas Balkeståhl
SharePoint Server MVP

Posted by LouZhing on 9/3/2013 at 2:56 AM

I am from China. This program is for an elite group of people from U.S.A., Canada and Europe.

1. Financially it is not affordable for people like me to take the exam @ $2,500 (this is 5 years of savings for us).

2. On top of it I have to fly to go to an authorized test center to take the exams.

3. Companies like SQL Skills have a 4 week MCM training that costs about $15,000 + flight & hotel.

4. You can imagine why Oracle and Java are so popular in the emerging Asian economies.

To sum it up: Certifications are great, but the way the master program targets people from the developed countries is not at all compatible with Microsoft’s values which are generally anti-discriminatory and enhancing equality of opportunities.

(Sorry, I initially posted this comment in the workaround section, Editor, please remove it from there!)

Posted by Dima Chernov on 9/2/2013 at 10:36 PM

As an attendee of the SharePoint R15 rotation I want to add to the last Spence’s message that we were offered only 50% refund.

Posted by Spencer Harbar [MCA, MCSM] on 9/2/2013 at 10:16 PM

I would like to take a minute to address some of David’s remarks and provide clarification of mine.

I don’t believe my comments are focused on the wrong area. Obviously we can agree to disagree there, however to brush aside the outrage at the manner of the announcement is extremely unfair to some of our most important customers.

I do agree that a discussion about the future is more important overall, but how can it be had until MSL address the impact of their recent actions? Especially given that this is the second time in a few months they have done the same thing. Are we supposed to just say “hey that’s cool, let’s talk futures”? That’s not how good business relationships work.

To give a little more context on things (purely from a SharePoint perspective as of course I can’t speak to the other product MCMs with credibility) take the following recent examples:

MCSM: SP R15 – they took their knowledge exam THREE DAYS before the announcement.
During R15 the announcement that training had become optional (what was that even all about if this decision was in the works for months?) was made! Yes, during that rotation. Whilst it was in flight.
To “make up” for the bad form of doing that, an extension was offered for proctoring the QL until June 2014. Now they are being told they have less than a month. Or of course get a refund (minus exchange rate differences) and just give up after 3 months work and all the rest of it.

Put yourself in the shoes of that individual and ask yourself if you could accept those circumstances and the deeply suspicious promises made? And of course let’s not forget MSL were happy to take your credit card for the upcoming R16 in October until last week.

Obviously there was never going to be a good time to do the deed. But seriously – whichever way you cut it – that’s a staggering display of poor leadership.

And as to the remark about being Leaders in the marketplace. I can’t speak for the other products, but as far as SharePoint is concerned it’s absolutely the case, and it’s recognised by the only metric that matters – customers. I’m talking about Contoso and Fabrikam here  you know exactly which customers I am talking about!

But I never meant that having the MCM cert made those people leaders in the marketplace. That would patently be ridiculous. Since when did any IT related cert from a *vendor* mean that? Especially not a Microsoft one!!!

The point was, these individuals are *already* leaders in the marketplace. No amount of recognition (or not as the case may be) of MCM has any impact on that, positive or negative. These people are already in that position before they walked through the doors of building 40.

And as such leaders it was terribly uncouth for MSL to treat them with such disdain, and then follow up by saying “really, we respect you” or words to that effect.

—-

Obviously not all MCM disciplines are equal in many respects. SharePoint has always been a bit of an odd fish – no doubt about that. There will be things that work great for the Lync guys that we would say are crazy, and vice versa. Certainly from my point of view this is a big problem with the MCM and whatever MSL choose to do next. Trying to apply the same template across wildly different disciplines just doesn’t work very well. I’d hazard a guess that Exchange and Directory are much more “IT Pro” focused than SharePoint in terms of the cert as one simple example. We each have subtly different target customers. And as I’m sure every MCM programme team knows all too well, the devil is in the detail.

Elitism is inevitable here, even if there were 1,000 SharePoint MCSMs there would be elitism. Scaling things won’t change that. Things have changed a great deal since the “birth” of the SharePoint MCM in 2008. For what little it’s worth such toxic traits of the SharePoint community are strongly discouraged by the SharePoint MCSM team. Lest we should forget “know what you know, know what you don’t know and never confuse the two”.

Posted by Gabrielson Eapen on 9/2/2013 at 9:00 PM

I echo the sentiments that have already been expressed by the various posters

The communication of the decision on the Friday of Labor day weekend still has me fuming. It would have much better to have received @Tim’s comments in the original email and not receive the email at the time I did.

The MCM/MCSM/MCA brand is very important. Keep the brand and evolve the program as needed while maintaining the very high standards it currently has. The MCM lab exam was one of the toughest I had to take and pass. But no level of justification I have heard so far convinces me that an outright cancellation was the right thing to do without an alternate plan announced (not we are still working on it).

I feel sorry for those folks that already have non-refundable travel reservations for the October rotation. You will most likely be pointed to the policy on the portal (https://fast.omnisocial.mzinga.com/content/ss/eda339aac39b4c42a7f089442bfd62a8/policies/Microsoft_Certified_Masters_Policy_Information_Revised.htm) that states “Microsoft reserves the right to cancel an event up to and including 14 calendar days prior to the event start date. Microsoft accepts no responsibility for airline tickets or other reservations that a candidate may have purchased and are affected by a cancellation.”

Just my $0.02!

Gabe Eapen

Posted by Ali Mazaheri on 9/2/2013 at 5:46 PM

I totally agree with Spence’s remarks here, being involved with program both as an attendee and part of the delivery team since 2009 (SP 2007 Beta rotation) I am in total shock and disbelief!

I already got a lot of negative feedback from partners, customers and Collab community within Microsoft and following up from various channels as we speak.

Anyone arguing the decision is based on our cloud strategy is totally wrong, at least for SharePoint MCSM update o365 /hybrid scenario was the key topic covering both itpro and solution design aspect of the course, please don’t speculate If you have not attended or not familiar with program.

Posted by JosephSaad on 9/2/2013 at 4:59 PM

I disagree that there is any financial barriers. If you think you are good enough to attempt the MCM and nail it, you can borrow the money and my break even point was 10 months. I did precisely that. I decided on 15-Mar-2012 to take the MCM and I became one by July End 2012 (Not 2013) and all the money that I borrowed from my line of credit was paid of by June 2013. Money is a deterrent for the faint-hearted but is not a barrier.

Posted by JosephSaad on 9/2/2013 at 4:59 PM

I disagree that there is any financial barriers. If you think you are good enough to attempt the MCM and nail it, you can borrow the money and my break even point was 10 months. I did precisely that. I decided on 15-Mar-2012 to take the MCM and I became one by July End 2013 and all the money that I borrowed from my line of credit was paid of by June 2013. Money is a deterrent for the faint-hearted but is not a barrier.

Posted by IloveSQLServer on 9/2/2013 at 3:16 PM

This is an utter shambles; a real kick in the teeth for all the people and companies who have invested invaluable time, resources and money on the preparation to achieve these master level certifications.

This level of treatment and ‘service’ is not expected from a company like Microsoft. How can Microsoft change the goal posts mid-race and pull the carpet under people’s feet?

Some people have potentially put important decisions in their personal and professional lives on hold while they concentrated on achieving the MCM/MCSM status. How can Microsoft take such a poor decision which affects the lives of people, so easily, without caring the slightest? These are people who care the most and are passionate about the MS products. They are ardent supporters and evangelists of these products. This is why they decided to aim to achieve this master level certification.

As for myself, this has left a very bad taste in my mouth since I saw the email from Microsoft on Saturday morning. Words can’t express how disgusted, angry, frustrated and shocked I feel.

Having passed all the pre-reqs exams as well as the SQL Server 2008 MCM Knowledge exam, I was planning to take the Lab exam in the coming months. The retirement date for this lab exam was supposed to be 31st Dec 2013. This was confirmed by the Advanced Certifications team at Microsoft.

Now with the new timelines, I am not really sure what to do. Giving people just a month to take this exam is simply unbelievable and unrealistic. For people in the same boat as me, we don’t think that we will be able to get another chance at the exam in case we don’t pass it the first time, like the majority of people.

By the way, for SQL Server, Microsoft had already made the MCM certification more accessible -> http://blogs.msdn.com/b/joesack/archive/2010/11/09/a-new-path-to-microsoft-certified-master-sql-server-2008.aspx.

It was already made accessible and at least for SQL Server, this was working fine.

3 weeks ago, it was announced that there will now be more testing centers (globally) where MCM/MCSM exams could be taken:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/archive/2013/08/12/you-asked-and-we-listened-increased-number-of-prometric-test-centers-for-mcm-mcsm-exams.aspx

Things were going in the right direction and certainly looking better.

This is why the decision to kill the MCM/MCSM certifications seemed so abrupt and completely out of the blue.

It’s all about the $$$ it seems.. :(

On behalf of so many others like me, I plead to Microsoft to at least reconsider some aspects of this decision.

Please honor the retirements date for the SQLServer MCM lab exam that you announced earlier and allow people to take it until end of December 2013.

This will help to repair some of the damage and re-establish the trust and faith in Microsoft.

Thank you,

A really strong supporter SQL Server.

Posted by Toddca on 9/2/2013 at 3:11 PM

@David Sometimes sustainable is a matter of will. If MSL is running the program as a profit center then you and @Tim are correct, the program cannot continue to bleed money without some changes that will turn things around. Clearly however MSFT has the cash flow to support the program in its current state as long as the will is there. @Tim said he not concerned about the money and I read this as they are not trying to turn a profit, so if that is the correct reading I am not clear on what part of the program is not sustainable.

As I read it @Tim’s main concern seems to be around removing non-technical road blocks. That said, I don’t see how ending/suspending the program (eg injecting another non-technical road block) wins us anything or gets us any closer to removing those barriers in the short term and in fact I believe does great brand damage in the long term .

Posted by TSnijtsheuvel on 9/2/2013 at 3:02 PM

Vote to bring it back.
Was actually all setup for a November rotation until the news hit me last Friday night.

Posted by ASHigginbotham on 9/2/2013 at 11:33 AM

My opinion regarding the financial barrier is that the MCM/MCSM should be viewed similarly to a Masters or PHD but in the IT field. I would strongly argue that if you work in the areas of study for the MCM programs, you would see a much greater return on your investment via an MCM rotation that a degree. MCM/MCSM is not only cheaper but can be achieved in less time. I know several individuals who have taken out loans for college with the intention of it improving their take home pay so why not MCSM?

I can personally testify that within 2 years of becoming an MCM my income has increased over 25% as a direct result. I also work with several MCM’s (AD/Exchange/SQL) who could make the statement. I also think you would be hard pressed to find an MCM who paid their entire way & felt it was not worth the money.

It’s unfortunate MS Learning did not poll the existing MCM community for metrics such as these & then engage in a Marketing campaign to try & push these benefits. In the end, it will never be for everyone. I feel it’s overkill for an admin but to Consultants or advanced specialists who encounter the most complex scenarios & needs, MCM/MCSM is the only certification that sets them apart from the rest. MCSE just doesn’t cut it. . I passed both MCSE: Messaging exams while they were in BETA. When the exams went public I was curious if the new generation of exams were less susceptible to cheating than before so I looked online to see if there were brain dumps. Within 5 minutes of searching I found dumps that contained the EXACT questions I had seen during BETA. This was not even two weeks after public release!

Posted by Jason Brimhall (MCM) on 9/2/2013 at 10:59 AM

I finally finished writing up my thoughts on this. http://jasonbrimhall.info/2013/09/02/rare-species-extinction-and-the-mcm/ It is better there than here on connect where there seems to be a viewing problem in every browser that is not IE10

Posted by MHengstler on 9/2/2013 at 10:16 AM

@David

I can see your point about the financial barrier. But as a MCT for 14 years now, I think that someone who wants to get a MCSE certification has the same barrier. Where I live is the price for 3 weeks of training about the same as for a MCSM rotation. Either you have that kind of money yourself or you have to find an employer who sponsors you. My Exchange MCM and MCSM rotations were paid by my company but for the planned Directory Services rotation in October I invested my own money, knowing the value of what I get in return.

Apart from what was already mentioned in the comments here, what really makes me angry is that so many experienced people were also registered for October and I won’t get a chance to meet them and go through the best learning experience Microsoft had to offer.

Regards
Markus

Posted by David Elfassy on 9/2/2013 at 9:39 AM

Thank you Jen Stirrup for starting this thread, its very interesting to read all the feedback from many MCMs and other Microsoft professionals.

I’m not sure I agree with all the comments on this thread. I see that Spencer’s comments are passionate, but are focused on the wrong detail. I understand that the way the message was delivered is regarded as a slight by many in the community. I do agree that messaging could have been more refined and delivered with better timing. However, I believe that the departure of the programme is a more important discussion.

Like Spencer, I too have worked with the MCM program since the early days (February 2008 to be exact) and I will be loosing significant business now that the programme seems to be inactive for the near future. As an IT professional, an MVP, an “Exchange guy”, and a potential candidate of the Exchange MCSM, I am also disappointed to see this top-tier cert go. However, I do agree with many of the comments brought forth by Tim S. The programme is elitist in nature, and the culture leads to perpetuates the elitist nature of the programme. It is not accessible to many because of its very significant financial barrier. To stay technically relevant, it will continue to cost many, many dollars. IMO, the current model is not sustainable. Spencer says that the MCMs are the “Leaders in the marketplace”. This would have been true if the MCM/MCSM cert had really reached the recognition it deserved in the marketplace, but it did not. The low number of MCMs means less advocates for the programme. More MCMs are needed. A more scalable, sustainable approach to the programme must be implemented. The “ranger” programme, the father of the MCM, was not build to be scalable; and assumed its elitism with pride.

So, though unpopular, I agree with the decision of revamping the top tier cert programme, but I can certainly the anger of many in the way it was communicated. I hope further explanation will be provided, such as Tim S. comments provided a few days ago.

Posted by Paulo Alves – Wipro on 9/2/2013 at 7:01 AM

Microsoft,

What is the reason to close MCM/MCSM/MCA program? Is totally unfair. I spent a lot of time to get approval of my company to attend the MCSM Exchange 2013 training in November and now you send one email announcing end of program?

Please don´t do this. MCM program is very important.

Posted by jon-r on 9/2/2013 at 6:23 AM

Thank you for the explanation Tim, that’s appreciated.
From my own standpoint, if Microsoft had perhaps better engaged and communicated with the current MCM and MCA/MCSM community, the backlash would have been averted. I personally do not have the SQL Server MCM qualification, primarily for these main reasons:

a) It simply costs way too much. There *is* a financial barrier to many people in the MCM (and equivalants) which is wholly unrealistic. It is akin to the situation in the UK during my parents’ generation where if you could afford to go to grammar school, you could, but if you had the brains/talent and not the money, you did not. This automatically restricts the size of the pool, of which you complain. This needs to be addressed by any replacement.

Please understand that I am not in ANY way saying this qualification is bought. It is not, and the few MCMs I know are without exception *very* worthy holders. However, you would have more candidates if you did not charge the price of a small car to obtain it. This is not rocket science.

b) If the cost is excessive, yet you are still making a loss, then surely you need to consider a less time and labour intensive assessment methodology? $20,000 exceeds the tuition fee costs of a post graduate university degree in the UK.

c) The exam content, in my experience, need re-assessing across the board. When I took my SQL Server 2008 MCITP, I was put off the MCM qualification. Why? Because 80% of the questions that were asked of me were about SQL Server clusters. This did NOT test my knowledge of SQL Server, it tested my knowledge of SQL Server clustering, and little else. My colleague who sat the exam next to me had a completely different and broader experience. Consistency in testing, whilst avoiding handing out “paper DBA” awards to those who just hit Q&A sites and swot questions/answers, is essential. How you do this, I do not know, but the point I am making is that my personal MCITP experience put me off even considering working towards the MCM.

d) We need a qualification with a consistent name that has equivalence with Oracle’s Certified Master qualification, and is a recognition of true mastery of our tools. If we do not, Microsoft looses valuable recognition in the eyes of less technically aware management than you or I. We are in danger again of being quietly thought of as “noddy”, a title neither SQL Server or my fellow practitioners deserve.

e) Finally, this announcement could have been handled far more sensitively, it exhibits a clear lack of emotional intelligence in the way it was announced. For example, having a longer deprecation period, and giving the guarantee that the current qualifications will be converted into an equivalent in the replacement program would have been a more acceptable way of handling this. There are doubtless many others.

As previously stated, I “only” hold the SQL Server MCITP qualification. But as a result of this announcement, which is now undoubtedly being read around the world in the SQL Server community, I will not be pursuing either the MCM, or its successor. I will be very reticent to invest my time even if my employer pays the financial costs, because I will be concerned that investment of time will be wasted. To put it bluntly, financial cost aside, I simply lack the enthusiasm to work my socks off to gain a qualification that says I’m at the top of my game, whilst holding the silent anxiety that tomorrow, Microsoft may have decided that they got it wrong and will tell me my time and effort was for nothing. It is one of the many reasons I decided to pursue an MSc instead of an MCM three years ago. It may not be so specific, but I know that there is a strong likelihood it will still reflect my ability in 5, 10, 20 years time as I personally build on it, and equally importantly, will still be recognised as a valid qualification.

Personally, my heart bleeds for everyone who has studied and worked hard to attain these certifications.
I would feel utterly demoralised if I had spent the time and money to gain it myself, or, as I am sure, I was one of the many who are part way through working towards it.

I think Microsoft’s decision making process needs to be less selfish, and look at the impact on the people who hold it, not just Microsoft’s bottom line and internal procedures, which is how it appears to us out here.

Posted by Aleksandar Draskovic on 9/2/2013 at 6:09 AM

+1 for Spence’s comments. Very well said.

Posted by edward dortland on 9/2/2013 at 5:57 AM

1 month notice, are you serious?

Whatever, the new certification program will be that you will try and sell me, how do you think I will trust you in the future? The last couple of years has been nothing but a list of sudden cancelation of features, applications, programs…. However, this must be the worst one. (for me)

Sure, it’s not my money, I can’t make any demands on what you should to or not. But I do think you can show a little respect for this community.

Posted by JosephSaad on 9/2/2013 at 5:44 AM

+1 to Sergey Olontsev Comments. Keep the Certificate, change the format if you wish but Do NOT change the certificate name.

Changing the name is the second worst thing you can do after obviously cancelling the entire program.

If you are really cancelling this program, the only indication that I deduce from this action is that Microsoft is shifting to be like google. That you will not have on premise implementation any more and that your Azure offering is just a stepping stone for Microsoft. Or you will be going into a crazy cycle of releasing a new version of your products every 90 days as rumors had it.

Back to the MCSM. You may change delivery channel, exam formats, prerequisites make it more difficult or less difficult, make it more expensive or less expensive, but do NOT change the name. You already changed the name twice from Rangers to MCM to MCSM. We invested in this brand and you are taking away our investment. Cisco did this over time and now they have 40,000 elite professional.

Also Do not take the lab component away. It still must have an 8-hour lab exam for certification.

Posted by Janos Berke on 9/2/2013 at 5:42 AM

+ 1 for Spencer Harbar’s comment. I voted this item up but I decided not to re-take the lab exam in September or in any later time. I am not going to do any other MS exam neither because MSFT can cancelled them at any time. Cancelling the program was a pure financial decision.

Posted by Adminiuga on 9/2/2013 at 4:31 AM

+1
Discontinuing the MCM/MCSM program is not only a slap in the face of those who worked hard toward this certification, but also brings an uncertainty to the customers. Microsoft is discontinuing MCSM program now, what’s next? no more development for Lync?

Posted by ThomasSykes on 9/2/2013 at 4:26 AM

Sergey, I mean more accessible with the exams and the costs, not easier to attain.
I agree the that value is in the fact that it’s hard to get and that’s what makes it prestigious and a significant commitment.

Posted by Sergey Olontsev on 9/2/2013 at 4:08 AM

@Microsoft

Why do think it’ll be better to make programs such as MCM\A more accessible? Their value is in the fact, that it’s hard to get. You already have MCSA\MCSE which does not mean anything. Everyone can easily get it and Internet is full of dumps. My opinion is following:
1. Stop changing certification names. It really bring mess.
2. Start working to enhance the prestige of MSCA and especially MCSE. It shouldn’t be just a 50-70 questions to answer. You should include some sort of practice in it. Exams for SQL Server 2005 was harder to achive than now.
3. Keep MCSM as high level certification. It should not be massive and easily accessible.

How many time should pass when you announce new MCM program that people start consider it valuable? Do not kill something which is working now and is appreciated. Work better on MCSE.

Posted by ThomasSykes on 9/2/2013 at 3:01 AM

I would have thought the “low take up” of the MCM was part of what made it the prestigious (and hard to achieve) certification.
Certainly the MSCM seemed to be being available for more people and it looked like Microsoft was making the effort for the MSCM’s, until now.

Posted by Ingo Karstein on 9/2/2013 at 2:40 AM

+1 to Spence

It is a disgrace to tell my customers this certification is nothing worth anymore. They believed in it as I did. I offered them a reliable proof of my knowledge and they trusted in it. But know…?! What will they think what this certification was ever worth?

Ingo.

Posted by mwhite39 on 9/2/2013 at 2:35 AM

I would just like to reiterate the general theme here and say that this is a terrible decision.

Like many MSCE certified DBA’s (and those on the way to or considering becoming certified), I was looking take this certification; I knew it would be expensive, time-consuming, hard work and that I would probably have to fund this myself, but it would ultimately be worth it. The fact that this ceritifcation requires such dedication and a huge commitment is the whole point; it shows those that are willing to go above and beyond to demostrate their skills. Leave the certification as it is and concentrate on the real issue, which is raising awareness for the true value of this Certification outside of the SQL Community. I admire those that have already taken and passed this exam and it gives the community something to aspire to. I hope that you will recognise the effort and investment people have already put into this certification and give those of us that have yet to obtain it the chance to do so.

Regards,
Matt.

Posted by Argon.pro on 9/2/2013 at 2:05 AM

PS: Do you know about using advanced MS Certifications for winning the customers in open biddings for largest contracts? My company will certainly loose some big contracts in the nearest future.

Posted by Argon.pro on 9/2/2013 at 1:52 AM

It’s very sad news.

I and my company have invested a lot of time and money:

- To discuss the need and business justification of MCSM certification with my manager during nearly 2 years
– To prepare and pass pre reqs exams for MCSM: DS
– To apply to the program: translate the documents for review, prepare CV
– To discover the way to internally pay rotation fee (it was really tough even inside Microsoft)
– For technical preparations for training involved not only me, but my colleagues too

And now, just a month before rotation I’ve registered for, you cancel it all.

It’s very unprofessional to do it without any grace time during which any candidate who already registered for any rotation/exam could use the last chance.

I’m estimating my company’s investments in my certification preparation as minimum of 320 hours without certification fee. My rate per hour is $190 (Consultant in Microsoft Services Russia).

Will you refund my company’s investments = 320 * 190 = $60,800 ???

Why do you make such changes in unilateral order without any grace time?

Is Steve Ballmer aware of it?


Kind regards,
Igor Romanovsky | Core Infra Consultant | Microsoft Services | Russia

Posted by Xlendi on 9/2/2013 at 1:43 AM

+1 for Spence’s comments!

Posted by Uwe Ricken on 9/2/2013 at 1:34 AM

I’m anry about the decision from Microsoft in the same way as all others who promote the request from Jen.
But what concerns me is the “standard phrase” of some guys here talking about “how much time they spent for learning, watching vids, etc.”.

My deepest respect to all of you BUT…
you didn’t do it for the certification only but for yourself! You will have great benefits from the learning without certs, too.

I didn’t learn the whole stuff for the certs only. When I became aware of the technical deep insides it gave me quite more than only a cert!
Your approach should not be the certs but your own progress of learning.

I’m feeling with the ones who passed the knowledge and now have only ONE shot for the LAB. I’m crossing fingers you all will pass.

Microsoft should feel ashamed …
– not by any manner it means for cancelling the program
– but the way they did.

This is not a serious way for a world leading company :(

Posted by Troy_arr on 9/2/2013 at 12:58 AM

It’s really disappointing news to hear that Microsoft is scrapping yet another valuable learning resource. First it was the recent scrapping of TechNet which is a valuable tool for learning especially.

Now MS is scrapping the MCM courses which have provided some of the best educational resources out there like the MCM Readiness videos for Microsoft SQL server.

Whatever happened to putting the developer first?

Posted by Arthur Neufeld on 9/2/2013 at 12:29 AM

+1 for Spence’s comments!

Posted by Marek Chmel on 9/1/2013 at 11:42 PM

Greg, I totally agree with your point about the Partner program, actually this should have been done already in 2008 when they did introduce the MCM. Also MCSM is now available as an exam without training for all the tracks, effective July 1st, which was announced with a expectation to have more folks sitting for the exams. A month ago there was a webcast from MCSM team that they will soon introduce also the prep LABs, which you can use for the knowledge/lab exam preparation. They were about to come “soon”. So the message from Tim, that this was being considered for many months sounds .. cute :)

Posted by Greg Low – Australia on 9/1/2013 at 10:45 PM

There’s a reason that so few of the existing MCSEs tackle becoming MCMs. It’s because it’s much harder and because you have to prove that you can actually really work with the product.

Versions of the MCM that require onsite training won’t scale. Agreed. But the SQL cert had become one that you could achieve by exam costs. Many people were just starting to work towards that but were hampered by the lack of testing centres. Only three weeks ago, MSL sent emails saying that the testing centre issue was resolved and they were looking forward to many people trying it. And now an email is sent out saying it’s taken months of deliberation???

A first step in making the program more relevant would have been to make use of it within other Microsoft programs. For example, Microsoft Certified Trainers could have been required to have at least taken the knowledge exam. When I suggested that, it was met with howls of “but we’d lose most of the trainers”. While that’s partly true, what does that tell you about the existing trainers?

Instead of abandoning it, why not take quality seriously and see it applied throughout related programs. The MCT program is one but another would be the Gold Partner program. Is it really acceptable to have Gold Partners working (and promoted by Microsoft) on the largest projects, without a single MCM/MCSM on staff? Why not require real demonstrated ability in the Gold Partner program?

Posted by Simon Rennocks, MCM on 9/1/2013 at 8:29 PM

+1 for Spence’s comments!

Posted by Engada on 9/1/2013 at 8:29 PM

I’ve spent the last eight years of my career building experience and expertise on the SQL Server platform. For the last two years I have spent virtually every free moment I’ve had reading whitepapers, watching training videos, doing courses, reading books and blogs, implementing and playing with my own instances – all with the end goal of becoming one of the elite, one of the masters. Quite often this being to the exclusion of my family and with many arguments as a result. “Yes dear, I know I’m neglecting you and our son, but if you want to be somebody in this industry the MCM is the way there”.

Now without even a discussion with the interested public, and really only a communication to those who already have the credential – you tell us that I can now have nothing to show for the last two years except for having my employer not really know exactly what those courses, books, subscriptions they paid for and the days I’ve had off to study have given them as a return on their investment.

The fact that only 0.08% of people got to MCM level is exactly why I have worked so hard to try and get there myself. It meant you could stand out from the crowd as the elite and if it took me the next five or even ten years to get my knowledge up to that level they that would still be worth it in my mind because at the end of that all I could put that on my business card and have my clients know that when I come to them with a solution that it is the best solution because it is coming from the best of the best.

Now all I can tell them is I’m a certified expert which despite the work I’ve put into getting that certification really means nothing because of the hordes of folks who cheat their way through the MCSA/MCSE exams.

It’s a slap in the face to those who have worked so hard to get their knowledge to an elite level, and it’s an even bigger slap in the face to all the ambitious people out there who aspired to get there in the future – we have nowhere to go now.

Posted by Amit V on 9/1/2013 at 5:59 PM

I also wanted to share my two cents and just going to post my views on two reasons I have heard so far for retiring these programs

1) There are some non technical barriers to enter the MCM.

With all due respect I think this is absolutely not true. To me its the technical barrier that is stopping people from attending these programs. Just to give my own scenario, I have been hoping to attend MCM since 2011 but I knew I am not good at few areas that MCM cover given did not get opportunity to work on those areas. Since last two years I have been spending my personal time learning things like stretched farms, hybrid scenario (cloud and on-prem) and going through the pre-reading list for MCM. Sure I am learning lot of things but the point is my biggest barrier to attend MCM was to make sure that I can comfortably go through the training. Sure cost will be a barrier but technical barrier was the biggest barrier for anyone.

2) It costs a lot to run these programs and MSL losing money on these programs.

I think if these programs were started with the intention of making money then I think they were started on a wrong foot.

I always thought that these programs were to make sure that MS clients get access to some top notch consultants to make sure that their investments on MS platforms are not going in vain. If that costs some (or lot of) money then I think it should be funded by MS because at the end of the day its also about customers and their investment on MS platform and giving them confidence that they made the right choice.

Given I do not understand how these programs KPIs are measured I do not think I am in a position to judge the decision but I am very disheartened these programs are retiring.

If there is any hope please please reconsider this decision.

Posted by Mark PM on 9/1/2013 at 3:50 PM

I am in mourning for the MCM program.

Posted by Jorge de Almeida Pinto [MVP-DS] on 9/1/2013 at 2:34 PM

@Tim

In your post you are saying: “Deciding to retire exams for the Masters program was a painful decision – one we did not make lightly or without many months of deliberation”

I just registered more than a week ago. Registration and payment were accepted. All kinds of papers were signed. Last week I made hotel and flight reservations. Thanks for the refund, yet to be received, although I suspect that I will loose money on this because of conversion rates. I think I can cancel my hotel reservation without any additional costs, so that’s OK I think. However, who’s going to pay for my useless flight reservation?
Seriously, if you knew this for months, how can you guys still accept registrations and have people make all kinds of unnecessary costs? In my honest opinion, this is ridiculous!
Regards,
jorge

Posted by Sean Massey on 9/1/2013 at 2:34 PM

@Tim and MSL – I can understand the cost pressures but why such a tiny notification window?

MSL traditionally provides 6 months notification on the retirement of exams and many of those exams are entry level and very low cost.

For those of us in the middle of this advanced and more costly certification I just cannot understand the short notice and therefore lack of opportunity to attempt to complete a highly sort after personal acheivement.

Posted by Danny Ravid on 9/1/2013 at 1:57 PM

i do not know spencer,but now i wish i knew,+100 for you spencer ,from my 25 years in this bussiness.

Posted by Chris Beckett on 9/1/2013 at 1:51 PM

I was privileged enough to be part of the SharePoint R2 rotation (the first BETA rotation of the SharePoint MCM program open to non-Microsoft peeps). At the time, the justification for the program as explained to us, was that Microsoft wanted a program that could scale to replace the internal Rangers program that has sort of *maxed out* at a very small number of people. During the R2 rotation, Arpan Shah popped by with his entourage to give us all a thumbs up and then wrote a post describing the Master’s program as the “Top 1%”. The post actually disturbed me a little, as it was a warning sign to me that if the program was *too elite* that it was unlikely to be able to scale. As I have watched the program evolve this concern has remained, while at the same time seemingly putting me at odds with most of the other participants in the program that see the *elitism* of the program as a primary benefit.

A few months ago Microsoft announced that the requirement for the training portion of MCSM program was going to be phased out, and MCSM could be achieved entirely by taking Prometric exams. This email caused a very vocal email discussion on the Master’s channel concerning the fact that this move was going to *dilute* the program to the point of making it worthless; it was removing the *elitism* of the program. At the time I again voiced my concern that without scale, the program risked collapsing on itself for the simple reason that the purpose was not to provide an elite badge of honor for technical people, it was to provide a pool of exceptionally qualified resources to Microsoft customers. If the MCM/MCSM was successful in the “exceptionally qualified resources”, it was a failure in making sure enough of them were available in the market to make a measurable difference, and support the primary goal of the program. It seems the comment from Tim Sneath has identified this as the primary root cause for cancelling the program.

I agree, this has not been handled well. I still see little real evidence as the why the program could not have been re-designed to strike a better balance between generating high qualified resources, but also and providing enough of them.

Posted by willhogg on 9/1/2013 at 1:50 PM

I think this statement says it all:

“Sure, it loses us money (and not a small amount), but that’s not the point.”

This statement reveals the profound lack of understanding that MCA’s and MCM’s are some of their best evangelists, leading to (and it is not a small amount) of additional sales and revenue.

The fact that they are cutting the programs immediately means that this move is seen as a cost-savings step by Microsoft. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The promise of a replacement program is very vague and unconvincing:

“That’s why we’re taking a pause from offering this program, and looking to see if there’s a better way to create a pinnacle, WITHOUT losing the technical rigor.”

“Looking to see IF there is a better way?” You are simply cutting costs without the knowledge of the big boost to Microsoft’s credibility that these fine professionals provide. If you had any intention of replacing the program with something better, you would have transitioned this program into the new one, as has been done many times before with Microsoft Certifications.

You are cutting costs, and you are cutting them now. It’s nice to know that the austerity measures at Microsoft will be carried out with the deft aplomb exhibited by many countries who have cut costs in a way that causes harm to themselves and their people.

Posted by Ivan Padabed MVP MCM on 9/1/2013 at 1:48 PM

Spence knows what he’s talking about… as usual. +1

Posted by Raadee on 9/1/2013 at 1:26 PM

+1 Spencer.
-1 Tim Heath – “We appreciate you more than you know”. No you do not, the delivery of this decision shows that!

Posted by oiler_head on 9/1/2013 at 1:23 PM

I am not an MCSM/MCA or MVP. I feel for all those people that put time and effort into their chosen vertical and strived for and achieved these advanced certifications. These are people who I’ve met at various SharePoint/TechEd conferences, people whose blogs I’ve read, twitter accounts I’ve followed and books I own.

Personally, I’ve recently taken the decision to pursue the MCSE: SharePoint cert after working and supporting the product since SP2003. But now I question that decision. With MS arbitrarily revoking the advanced certs and the vitriol that has been leveled at the MCSE level certs, I wonder what the benefit is. If my SharePoint peers don’t respect the MCSE certification and with MS likely reviewing the MCSE program in its current form (especially based on the comments regarding the MCSE cert in this thread)…what’s the point???

Posted by Jim Duncan, MCM on 9/1/2013 at 1:16 PM

+1 for Spence’s comments!

Posted by Miguel Wood [MCM] on 9/1/2013 at 1:15 PM

I can completely concur with Spence’s comments.

I, personally, am still not ready to respond to the communication and actions of Microsoft. I need more than my normal 24 hours to cool off.

Posted by superkeks0r on 9/1/2013 at 12:43 PM

+1 for Spence

Posted by Heath Groves on 9/1/2013 at 12:34 PM

+1 for Spence’s Comments

Posted by Spencer Harbar [MCA, MCSM] on 9/1/2013 at 12:03 PM

with respect to cloud…. I wonder how all these enterprises will get to the cloud exactly? perhaps contoso will you know hire a MCSM to help them…

35% of SharePoint’s MCSM content is cloud. How do I know? Because I wrote most of it. Go figure. I’m sure the other programs are similar.
What about the MCA – you know for the people that talk to CEOs and CIOs to convince them that Microsoft is actually right about the cloud?
Yup you guessed it – same story but even more so… how do I know…. wait you can already guess the answer to that as well right?

The cloud argument has zero credibility. Besides, if it did have credibility, it would be the basic level certs and things like MCSE that need to go in the bin, not the top tier certs.

Posted by Varma Rudraraju on 9/1/2013 at 11:59 AM

+1 for spencer’s comment

Posted by SQLServerMonkey on 9/1/2013 at 11:58 AM

@Remy

While I agree that there is going to be a shift towards *aaS systems, these will never meet every requirement of large scale implementations. I know categorically that a shared service for either SQL Server or other infrastructure services will meet the requirements of my employer, in that we are the SaaS provider and have built large scale systems on top of SQL Server.

We have staff with MCSA/MCSE and those working towards it to validate their knowledge so that we can demonstrate to our customers that we have the skills in house to manage & develop on top of the Microsoft platform. The MCM/MCSM is something that would help us show that we are a top tier provider of the services that we provide and can build and support an infrastructure that will work. This would still be the case if we were running things like RedHat or Oracle as they have advanced certification programmes too that would serve the same purpose. For this very reason we currently engage external MCM’s to verify our implementations.

So yes, cloud is coming, but it should be viewed as an augmentation and something that compliments large scale and complex implementations rather than a like for like replacement or alternative.

JQ

Posted by Ivan Bondy on 9/1/2013 at 11:57 AM

One more +1 for Spencer’s comment.

Posted by Francesco Sodano on 9/1/2013 at 11:47 AM

Just +1 For Spencer’s comment..

his words represent exactly my thoughts..

there is no like button here right?? Ah.. That is another platform..

Posted by Spencer Harbar [MCA, MCSM] on 9/1/2013 at 10:45 AM

@Tim.

Leaving aside the actual decision and its merits or otherwise for a moment. Surely you must recognise that the manner of your organisation’s communications this weekend would be met with such anger? And cause Microsoft much (further) embarrassment.

Why did you let it happen this way? Why did you not step in and stop the impending disaster created by such an ill-informed, arrogant and downright unprofessional message to your best customers? None of us would ever treat our customers in this manner, it isn’t acceptable from you either.
You state that you come from the community. Indeed, as you are aware many of know you from way back – either personally, thru Microsoft, or following your blog along with your move from the UK. If you are really a developer first and understood *this* community, the email message your organisation sent to all of us never would have been allowed.
You have years of experience in this space, but yet, the contents of the message were approved, and here we are – dealing with the fallout from something that could have so easily be prevented if you had actually engaged the community, rather than professionally insulting it.
I guess I am prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt at this point… but a lot depends on how you react going forward, especially to the contents of this message.

Your remarks below categorically demonstrate in a multitude of ways something that most of are acutely aware of already. That actually MSL leadership does NOT understand these programs, why they exist(ed) and their relationship with Microsoft’s strategic objectives, the state of field readiness for the products and workloads they address, and customer requirements. You talk to a bunch of good stuff about a new “pinnacle” and doing so in line with MSL’s market demand. That’s all very well and good, and I wish you all the best with that, but that’s not, nor ever will be what the MCM/A is about. Therein of course lies the nub of the greater problem of course – and I’m sure a topic of much debate going forward.
You must learn to understand that the MCM/As are not a bunch of “IT Pros” with some certs. And I mean *really understand*, not claim you understand and expect us to believe you. We are the leaders in the marketplace, but yet you send us an obtuse message late on a Friday evening on the Labor Day weekend? And you sign off that message with “Respectfully” despite its contents representing a clear and direct professional insult to the recipient and in many cases their employers.
If you really did have the “highest respect” for this community, as you claim, then you would have ensured this decision was messaged correctly and handled in a professional and considered fashion. Furthermore you wouldn’t be labelling us “IT Pros” – wow! Do you have any concept just how ridiculous that term is to describe the people in this community?
I for one, after investing five years of my professional life in this program, are waiting for you to issue a strong public apology for the manner of MSL’s recent actions. Without such an apology, I find it hard to see why we would possibly be interested in helping you in the future “evaluate your plans”.

You claim that you have spent many months deliberating and that “it wasn’t easy”. I’m sorry – it just doesn’t wash. Not one bit. Did you really mean to say that in a message that you knew I would see? You have never, not once spoke to us about any of this. MSL were at TechEd selling rotations and exams recently. If you spent months on it, how come you couldn’t spend the 10 minutes necessary to step back and realise that not having your story straight and sending a blunt little “up yours” to all of us would be a disaster? The “context” of the decision is irrelevant to the main reason why everyone is so angry at you and Microsoft this weekend.
Please, if you respect us, make an argument with credibility. We are the people that “no matter what the problem, everything will be OK” – the regular Microsoft defensive soft soap and lip service will be seen through in a New York nanosecond. Again, if you respect us, then don’t play us for fools.
Without an apology for the nature of the way this decision was communicated, I don’t see how you can expect any goodwill from the majority of this community going forward.

Respectfully
The guy that just lost his job because of your actions

Posted by Hélio Sá Moreira on 9/1/2013 at 8:49 AM

Hi folks, especially Tim Sneath!

In regards to “…Having a program that costs candidates nearly $20,000 creates a non-technical barrier to entry. Having a program that is English-only and only offered in the USA creates a non-technical barrier to entry.” -> This is completely ridiculous, an insult to our intelligence, and discrimination to those who are not resident in the United States!

I’m Brazilian (currently living in São Paulo), let me share how I understand it … We (professionals living outside of USA) don’t have money to pay for MCM cert??? I guess you touched a tricky subject …

Invest $20,000(USD) in training is really a huge investment. Considering T&E (Travel & Expenses) we can probably reach $25,000(USD), plus hours to study (prepare), plus hours to take rotation on Redmond campus …. We probably reach $35k (maybe $40k). It represents R$ 87,500.00(REAL) … up to R$100,000.00(REAL) for us. Yes, it’s expensive.

But that could never have been cited as a barrier to certification, much less as one of the reasons for the cancellation of the program. The $ only makes it more harder, only that.

You guys (Microsoft) don’t license software or services with special prices for us. We pay the same value (in USD) for SQL Server license, as well as the same value for the Windows Azure compute hours that you guys pay (or anyone else in the world).

Thanks for your concern, but we definitely don’t need that.

Yes we have global projects. Yes we have projects that spend thousands of dollars. Yes we have competence to deliver these projects as well we have intelligence (and money) to obtain MCM / MCSM / MCA certifications. Yes, we also need the knowledge acquired during MCM / MCSM / MCA rotation.

I could mention other things, but I explained (I hope) as I felt.

On the other aspects mentioned, I agree with the comments … you guys FAIL!

TIP: Please do the same as you guys did with the XBOX One :-), reconsider and keep the program MCM / MCSM / MCA live.

Best regards!

Helio Sa Moreira
Chief Technology Officer
Former SharePoint Server MVP (2007 to 2011)

http://www.linkedin.com/in/heliosamoreira

Posted by mmyers7 on 9/1/2013 at 7:03 AM

I have been saving money and studying to prepare myself for the MCM and MCA for SQL and SharePoint to reach higher than any certification I have with Microsoft..the best of the best. What are my options now? What are Learning Partners’ options now too?

I get change… keeping my certs updated since 1998…this makes me question my complete career path with Microsoft. If I learn other technologies, those will be my focus, not Microsoft.

This is like taking the Masters and PhD program away from colleges for people that dedicated themselves to IT and Microsoft technologies. You now can only be ‘this’ good now!

Maybe MSL can see the future of Microsoft…and not see IT.

Bummer,

Mary Myers, MCT, MCITP, MCSA, MCTS, MCP, not…MCM

Posted by Remy de Vries_ on 9/1/2013 at 6:39 AM

I support Microsoft in this decision – the focus should not be on ‘legacy’ on-premise software and it’s accreditation’s but on cloud based SaaS.
On-premise software is becoming less and less important so it’s logical that the accreditation’s linked to this type of software becomes less important as well.

Posted by SQLServerMonkey on 9/1/2013 at 4:36 AM

@ Tim

Thanks for taking the time to comment on this thread, I would like to raise some concerns over a couple of statements in your comments;

“The truth is, for as successful as the program is for those who are in it, it reaches only a tiny proportion of the overall community. Only a few hundred people have attained the certification in the last few years, far fewer than we would have hoped. We wanted to create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program, but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn’t gained the traction we hoped for.”

This concerns me, as I stated in my previous comment the MCSE is not held in the highest esteem by the industry for the reasons listed, the fact that you are saying that not enough MCSE certifications hold the MCM/MCSM/MCA. Surely this shows that the programme is working well at making sure that only the most experienced and determined are accredited. Additionally has it been considered that perhaps the low uptake of MCM is due to the MCSM roll-out that was expected? I know that I elected to not start the 2008 track as 2012 was imminent as such I waited and attained the 2012 MCSE: Data Platform with a view to booking the MCSM exams when they were issued. The fact that this took so long to get the knowledge published cannot have helped along with the fact that the lab exam never made it as far as I am aware. It would be really interesting to see a breakdown in the actual numbers rather than percentage points for the number of MCSE/MCSA/MCM/MCSM certifications that have been attained since SQL Server 2008 went live and the change in structure of the MCM delivery.

“That’s why we’re taking a pause from offering this program, and looking to see if there’s a better way to create a pinnacle, WITHOUT losing the technical rigor. We have some plans already, but it’s a little too early to share them at this stage. Over the next couple of months, we’d like to talk to many of you to help us evaluate our certifications and build something that will endure and be sustainable for many years to come.”

This makes me feel a little better knowing that there is possibly something coming, but at the same time a little concerned, the quality and rigour of the certification needs to be maintained. We look to bring in MCMs to perform due diligence on new systems that we commission so that our customers know that we are working to high standards that are then signed off by some of the best SQL Server professionals in the world. Please do not make the replacement something that is simply about getting raw numbers certified.

John Q Martin

Posted by Tony Redmond MVP on 9/1/2013 at 3:56 AM

http://windowsitpro.com/blog/microsoft-learning-kills-mcm-and-mca-accreditations

Posted by Heath Groves on 9/1/2013 at 3:31 AM

We’ve made the register:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/31/microsoft_cans_three_pinnacle_certifications_sparking_user_fury/

“The Reg has asked Microsoft why it has decided to discontinue the certifications, why it is content for its peak certifications to be less rigorous than the “retired” qualifications and why it chose to announce the changes in the shadows of a long weekend. We expect the latter question will mean any response will not arrive swiftly.”

…..and now we are an industry laughing stock.

Any hope or aspirations for any further Advanced Certification provided by Microsoft will be futile at best, laughed out of the industries back side at worst.

I understand the need for change, I even agree with some of the aspects (barriers to entry etc.) but the way this has been handled is a total PR disaster. I have never seen such an arrogant way dealing with people’s careers and education. The disrespect shown to the MCM/MCSM community is truly astounding!

If this was months in the planning, why did you take my cash for the October rotation less than 3 weeks ago? And now it is canned I better be seeing that money back in my account very soon, you eager enough to take it!

Posted by George Roubchinsky on 9/1/2013 at 2:28 AM

This is VERY UNFAIR and extremely sad action.

Especially for the people like me who is already all set for Lync 2013/Exchange 2013 rotation in November.
Especially for Lync 2013 rotation in November after the rotation in September were cancelled as of low roll-out,
since now for November’s rotation, where we’ve been moved, roll-out is for sure enough
(more than 12 people including me).

PLEASE DO NOT give it away like this at least for the people ALREADY registered and planned for coming rotations in 2013!
Such change is ANYWAY not fair at all with tiny notice of 1 month. Please KEEP it AT LEAST for current CALENDAR YEAR moving
the change on 2014.

Colleagues, are you agree with the last statement??

Posted by ROGIERD1 on 9/1/2013 at 1:46 AM

@Tim

A change is always a hard decision. But a cancellation is not a change (okay technically it is). Leave the program for now, and make a change is while the current program is running. You don’t have any idea what a slap in the face it is for someone who put all his free time and holidays in studying the pre-reading list, to prepare for the training. To cancel the program a month before the training starts, with many attendees I’m for sure, is an insult! If you had announced it earlier we hadn’t booked a flight, a hotel and didn’t have to prepare ourselves and our families.
It seems fair to me and all the other attendees to go on with to October rotations as planned.

Posted by Jurislav Petrovic on 9/1/2013 at 1:34 AM

This is good “Deciding to retire exams for the Masters program was a painful decision – one we did not make lightly or without many months of deliberation.”
Tim you said that you think about this decision many months and still you have opened registration 20 days ago. Please do not insult our intelligence.

Posted by TimSotoMCSE on 8/31/2013 at 10:00 PM

I was attending the MCSM: Directory Services, but now that it has been cancelled I have lost my shot at attaining the MCSM certification.

I’m curious if you have considered the marketing value of MCM/MCSM in your analysis.

These certifications add value for both candidates (by giving them additional employment opportunities) and companies (by validating high level expertise for employees or consultants that are being considered).

I can personally state that we have chosen to continue using Cisco equipment rather than switching to Brocade, Force10, etc, and one of the driving factors was the large validated support ecosystem, which has been heavily driven by Cisco’s certification and partner program.

If you look at the Cisco model, you will see that a number of their sales are related to training and certification.
Sure, they make a good product. But they also have the Cisco Networking academy, where they train people on Cisco networking and help them get certified.
These individuals then get hired and work in networking. They continue to get training and work towards more advanced certifications.
For example, I have 4 Cisco certified engineers on my Infrastructure team. When it comes time for vendors to bid on replacement equipment, you had better bet that they have a strong vested interest to “help” Cisco stay on as the networking vendor.

VMware is beginning to accomplish the same thing. There are VCPs and VCAPs that work for a number of places, and when management asks them, “Do you think that Hyper-V is a good solution to replace VMware?” they have a vested interest in VMware and will fight to keep it.

A driving force for VMware is the ability to deliver solutions, not just software. Outside of PFEs and MCS I am not aware of any consulting firms that have anywhere near the depth of expertise in Hyper-V that they do in VMware.

I was at VMworld this year and saw the Virtualization2 site. I would agree that Hyper-V has come a long way. Ironically, it is surprising that it does not even have an Expert level certification of its own (Yes, there is MCSE:Private cloud, but from everything that I have read it seems to be technically shallow, covering a number of objectives in limited depth).

I can personally say that we have specifically worked with Exchange MCM and MCSM resources for our Exchange environment. We have seen a stark difference between the skills of Exchange MCM/MCSMs and other “highly skilled MCITP/MCSEs”.

I haven’t personally worked with any SQL MCM/MCSMs but I would guess that they strongly advocate for MS SQL over other SQL platforms. I would imagine that SharePoint MCM/MCSMs also bring up SharePoint as a solution.

In summary, certification in its own way is a marketing effort. You have to convince IT people to want to use your product so that they can promote it (or at least not oppose it) internally.

As other people have commented, the MCM/MCSM was the only truly aligned and valid certification that Microsoft offers. There are significant issues in both alignment and validity with the MCSA/MCSE exams.

Currently the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) is regarded as more of an entry to lower mid-level certification. It does not validate senior or architect level expertise.

The demise of MCSM will leave a void in the Senior/Architect solutions area for Microsoft.

In the end, Microsoft transitioned from MCSE(Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer)/MCSA(Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator) to the MCTS/MCITP around 2008, and then recently transitioned back to MCSE(Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert)/MCSA(Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) around 2012.
This constant transition and lack of stability devalues certifications.

I have been Microsoft Certified since NT 4.0 and have charter certifications on 2008 and 2012.
I also have certifications from a number of other vendors as well.

It is very saddening to see that VCP and CCNP are much more highly regarded than MCSE.

MCM and MCSM, at least from what I have seen were truly making a difference. These certs, due to their exclusivity, training, and lab exams, are much closer in parity to other vendors expert level certifications, such as VCDX or CCIE. I actually spoke to Par Farney at Tech Ed in 2008 around the time MCM was announced and he specifically cited these factors as critical to the success of the program. I was very worried when I heard that training was no longer a requirement that it would not bode well for the validity of the certification.

In addition to this, it is very disappointing that this announcement has come so close to the date of the training for a number of reasons.

1.) Individuals that were working on this cert could have spent time preparing for other certifications or doing other things instead.
2.) Since the MCSM Directory Services training was set as certain to run, I’m sure many people, including myself, have booked non-refundable travel. (Yes, I know that it says that the program may be canceled with 14 days notice, but I wouldn’t have thought that a filled class would be cancelled this close to the event.)

I am curious to see what this new program is, but as others have mentioned at senior/architect level quality is much more important than quantity. At first I was opposed to $20k+ for a cert, but once I spoke to Par Farny and other MCMs I saw that it was worth it. Any new certification will have to have a high bar for entry. It will need to have a lab requirement. But as an FYI, I actually heard that CCIE labs have been braindumped, so just a lab component isn’t enough anymore. Some sort of interview or skills validation is important. I think that while it may have been a non-technical barrier, the 20k+ price tag did ensure that only people who were serious about the cert enrolled.

Like many others employer would not sponsor it, so I was paying out of my own pocket. But I would also add that I received a promotion, in part from acceptance into the MCSM program, with a commensurate pay raise that more than covered all of my costs.

My experience with certification has been that I have not yet achieved a certification that has not had a significant long term ROI either in immediate dollars or in promotions and job opportunities.

I would consider that for the candidates that you are looking for with 7-10+ years of enterprise experience, they should not have any issue INVESTING ~$20k in their career.

Posted by Brian Culver on 8/31/2013 at 9:35 PM

@Tim

Before the MCM program, I found myself to be the best at SharePoint at the company I was at. I was considered an expert in SharePoint and at the top of my game. Yet, I found myself frustrated as an “expert” without anyone to turn to for help. I would help my fellow workers, but I, myself, did not have anyone to turn to for help or look to as a mentor. When the SharePoint MCM was announced, I embarked on a journey that has completely enriched my life, with greater knowledge, much deeper experience, and lifelong mentors and friends. I could add a lot more things to that list, but what’s most important for me to say is that it has changed my life for the better and I couldn’t be prouder for it. It pushed me to better myself beyond anything I would have conceived before. I do confidently claim to be an expert now, but I’m also comfortable with what I do know or don’t know. The MCM principal of “know what you know, know what you don’t know, and never confuse the two” will always apply, but with the MCM community we are able to close that gap. I am proud to say that my work is better, my solutions are better, clients are happier successfully using SharePoint and getting a higher ROI, and it is a direct result of my journey to becoming an MCM and MCM program.

I think canceling the program sends a tremendously strong message to the community. I think there are enough posts already to cover many of them. In your points below, you say mentioned several things which we appreciate, but, ultimately as Paul Randall highlighted, there was no mention of the future or any type of continuity. So MSL is looking for higher numbers to break even financially or even make some money. One way or another we are all trying to make a dime, feed our families and survive another day; it needs to be a win-win situation for everybody. I think we all can understand that. The message could have been delivered better.

I hope Microsoft will consider the following suggestions for the future program(s).

- Each program will bring its own type of revenue, in your programs will always generate more income. The more unique the program is, it is likely to generate less revenue. Hopefully,
MSL will recognize that they need to look at all the programs (per product) as a single P&L, instead of individual P&Ls per program … The elite programs will always struggle.

- I think everybody will recognize that it is quite a step to achieve the MCM/MCSM/MCA. Maybe an additional certification before the MCM/MCSM/MCA would’ve helped produce and rationalize the numbers (quantity) MSL was looking for (and ultimately, the revenues).

We all really do hope that there is a future program.

Thank you Tim for going out on a limb and sharing your explanation with us.

Posted by Luke Edson on 8/31/2013 at 8:34 PM

Tim,

Thanks for the explanation. I was truly shocked and upset to hear about the cancellation, as I have been working towards the Exchange and Lync MCMs, but one of the things you mentioned has been the largest barriers, and that is cost. Yes, each cert costs $20k, (running at a loss at MSFT) but in reality, it’s probably closer to $60k each when you throw in the 3 weeks of unbillable time, salary still being paid, and expenses. I was one of the trainers for a Exchange 2007 cycle, and still couldn’t get away long enough to go through the whole rotation myself.

That being said, I look forward to what you’ve got cooking for us, as we definitely need something that distinguishes us from the horde of paper MCITPs/MCSEs, etc.

Luke Edson – MCITP, MCSE, CCIE, CISSP

Posted by MichaelUsov on 8/31/2013 at 7:29 PM

Hi Tim,

I understand the reasons you have given but surely you can reduce the price barrier and make it available in other languages rather than dumping the program. I just wanted to say I’m really disappointed and would request you look at addressing the 2 points you mentioned rather than closing the MCM. With your knowledge and resources Tim I’m know these are challenges you could easily overcome. I’m sure if you did that you would achieve your goal of making it available to the greater community while still maintaining the integrity of the exams. I can’t see any reason for dropping such a great program, why not make it even better?

Even though I’m not a MCM yet I sick of seeing paper MCP’s get ahead and the MCM gave me hope and a goal to differentiate myself as I’m sure it did to many others.

Sincerely,

Michael Usov
MCP

Posted by Ivan Bondy on 8/31/2013 at 7:19 PM

@Tim
I do appreciate your position and have a few comments.
“The truth is, for as successful as the program is for those who are in it, it reaches only a tiny proportion of the overall community. Only a few hundred people have attained the certification in the last few years, far fewer than we would have hoped. We wanted to create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program, but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn’t gained the traction we hoped for.”

What I am hearing from your statement is that Microsoft certification is about quantity not a quality. You can have hundreds of thousands ‘paper’ MCSE’s and it does not bring any value to any business if these MCSE’s are not able to complete even simple tasks. Let’s face it. Not everyone can be MCM/MCSM/MCA. It takes lot’s of hard work and lots of dedication from the candidate and his/her family to achieve this level. Sometimes this point is being lost. Businesses do not care about certifications, they care about the job certified people are able to do, the knowledge they have and the financial rewards they can bring in.

“Sure, it loses us money (and not a small amount), but that’s not the point. We simply think we could do much more for the broader community at this level – that we could create something for many more to aspire to. We want it to be an elite community, certainly. But some of the non-technical barriers to entry run the risk of making it elitist for non-technical reasons. Having a program that costs candidates nearly $20,000 creates a non-technical barrier to entry. Having a program that is English-only and only offered in the USA creates a non-technical barrier to entry. “

My understanding was that recent changes like dropping training requirements were designed to eliminate those barriers. Reasonable person can’t expect to see changes in 2 months.

“That’s why we’re taking a pause from offering this program, and looking to see if there’s a better way to create a pinnacle, WITHOUT losing the technical rigor. We have some plans already, but it’s a little too early to share them at this stage. Over the next couple of months, we’d like to talk to many of you to help us evaluate our certifications and build something that will endure and be sustainable for many years to come.”

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times …………. How do you plan to regain community and businesses trust?

“I joined the learning team because I wanted to grow the impact and credibility of our certification programs.”

Congratulation Tim, with one decision you destroyed only credibility Microsoft certifications had.

From my perspective biggest issue with MCM/MCSM/MCA is/was the business user’s awareness. There is NONE. Only recently business leaders and users become aware of value of MCM’s and started requesting their services. That wave will now sail into the sunset just bringing more confusion and distrust into Microsoft certification process. So we will now have MCM/MCSM/MCA certification which will not expire and you will add new pinnacle certification which will be designed to scale. (I am hearing easy and worthless). I do understand need for business to change, but as I remember from my MBA classes one of the major rules is to NOT TO CHANGE THE BRAND. Why not keep brand going and make changes in program format, delivery format as needed with open communication with community? Why make these drastic changes where everyone is looser?

I am sure community would come up with reasonable strategies if given the opportunity.

Posted by Jason Brimhall (MCM) on 8/31/2013 at 4:56 PM

“You are the vanguard of the community. You have the most advanced skills and have demonstrated it through a grueling and intensive program. The certification is a clear marker of experience, knowledge and practical skills.

The truth is, for as successful as the program is for those who are in it, it reaches only a tiny proportion of the overall community. Only a few hundred people have attained the certification in the last few years, far fewer than we would have hoped. We wanted to create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program, but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn’t gained the traction we hoped for. “

Personally (and I think others will agree), the .08% figure is a telling number. It is far too easy to be an MCSE. Others have commented about how worthless those exams are. Too many training “bootcamps” are still available with the sole purpose of churning out certifications. It isn’t difficult to train somebody with the sole purpose of passing an exam. Even if one wants to become an MCSE without the bootcamp, access to “braindumps” is far too easy and numerous MCSEs are nothing more than braindump certified.

Those people don’t have the skill to pass the MCM/MCSM/MCA. Those people don’t have the drive or passion for SQL Server (or SharePoint, Exchange, etc). If you want the MCM to continue to be the vanguard and for people to earn it, it needs to remain intact. Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are a good thing in the case of these advanced certifications. Somebody that invests that much time or money into a certification is far less likely to “braindump” the material so Joe Blow can cheat the exam and the rest of the MCM community.

When the MCM program had a higher barrier to entry, I was opposed to it. The cost now seems to be just right for many of the talented people that have recently earned this certification.

I hate to see the program go. I think the penetration into corporations is gaining traction because I have more and more clients who understand what the MCM is and that want an MCM to support their systems. I have also had more potential clients looking for a service with at least one MCM on staff.

The communication on the extinction of the program really spewed a lack of respect and communication for the “vanguard.” I would have been much happier with the follow-up comments by Tim in this thread than that initial email that was sent at 11:00PM on a Friday leading into a 3 day weekend here in the states. Like many others, I was caught off guard and more than peeved about it. I was also emailed and called at 6:30AM Saturday morning by a couple MVPs asking if I had seen the news (I’m not an MVP and they are not MCMs, so you can see how quickly the crossover happened). Obviously this has impacted the community pretty quickly in a negative manner.

I hope Microsoft revokes this decision to terminate the program. If not, then maybe it can be re-implemented in the near future. I would think it would be good to show that Microsoft has a certification that competes with or is at least on par with the Oracle Certified Master (e.g. http://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/db_pages.getpage?page_id=458&get_params=p_track_id:Datab10g)

Posted by David Gargan on 8/31/2013 at 4:47 PM

I’ve been looking forward to the release of the directory services mcsm its a huge disappointment that it will never be made.

please Microsoft bring it back!

Posted by Michel de Rooij on 8/31/2013 at 4:43 PM

Costs, costs, costs. MS should look at MCSM/MCA as an investment, not an expense. They things those MCSM/MCAs do “for free” is invaluable (evangelism, advocacy), let alone the skills that go with it exercised beyond Microsoft’s radar.

Posted by RobNicholson on 8/31/2013 at 4:18 PM

I must say I am very frustrated with this decision as I have spent months of studying as well as money on the (six) exams, not to mention the time off work to obtain this certification. You state in the email to quickly finish the exams so I can achieve the certification. The problem is the Lab Exam for SQL Server 2012 has never been released even a year after of the product being available so completing the certification is not possible. In June I actually arranged to fly 5 hours across Australia to complete the Knowledge Exam because it (Perth) was the only place in the southern hemisphere where the exam could be taken! I wonder why the uptake of the certification was not high down here? Fortunately the exam centre in Perth had a technical difficulty so I had to cancel but in July the knowledge exam became available in each Australian capital city which was much more convenient. I thought that the certification was finally going to be accessible more people instead Microsoft decide to string people along by releasing the first exam and never releasing the other half. It would have been nice if the decision was made to proceed with the 2012 Masters before the release of the first exam , or the decision to discontinue the certification happened on the next version of the product (2014).

Microsoft’s decision to remove this certification is very disappointing as it is the only certification level of value. As you are most likely aware the MCSA and MCSE questions and answers are all available for free off the Internet which makes those certifications basically worthless. The Masters differentiated the cheaters from the people that actually know what they are talking about. Now that this level is gone I see no use being certified.

Posted by Toddca on 8/31/2013 at 3:59 PM

@Simon, I have worn my MCM jacket on the Redmond campus and had folks ask what the heck a master is. In my experience it is a global awareness issue.

Posted by Paul stork, [MCM, MVP] on 8/31/2013 at 3:51 PM

First, I’m not sure how anyone can say that they put “many months of deliberation” in a decision when they just announced a complete overhaul of the program two months ago. Two does NOT equal MANY in any dictionary I’ve ever seen.

Second, why should we believe they want our input now on how to re-shape the program? Where was their interest in our input WHILE they were spending all those months trying to decide what to do with the program? Now that the decision is made they want our input as long as it justifies their original decision.

Third, whenever anyone starts off an explanation by claiming that they aren’t a “bean counter” I tend to think of Shakespeare saying “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (OK, not a lady in this case, but you get the point). There was and is an undercurrent of finances in the communication two months ago and in this one. I get it, Microsoft is in business to make money. Just be honest enough to admit that it was a major part of the decision. You keep saying no, but comments about the cost keep popping up in your commentary.

Finally, I would think that the announcement of any decision that took as much time to make as the writer suggests could have been much better planned than an impersonal email sent out in the middle of the night on the start of a long weekend in the country where Microsoft is headquartered. Unless, that was the intentional plan. Do it while no one is looking and maybe it will all blow over by Tuesday.

Posted by Simon Liew on 8/31/2013 at 3:35 PM

@Tim, good to hear the rationale from the person who decided to end the Masters program.

Here’s my question regards to very low Certified Master every year, do you think Microsoft have promoted MCM or its just bundled along with MCTS\MCITP\MCSA\MCSE with hope people will realise and attempt the exam?

I worked for the 2nd largest bank in Australia and its funny how over 20 DBAs have heard or MCTS\MCITP but not MCM. Whenever spoke to anyone outside of work, nobody knows about MCM too. Whenever have the opportunity to listen to a MCM, 100% of the time the person had to explain what MCM mean.

Maybe Australia is a remote island too far from any big happening, but if marketing doesn’t reach out easily maybe that’s something to be considered.

My 2 cents.

Posted by Redi311 on 8/31/2013 at 3:13 PM

Wow. I’ve been sitting here studying night and day to take the SQL 2008 lab exam for the past 5 weeks. I’ve been building to it for about 3 years. I have scheduled my exam already its on September 12th. My strategy was to give myself enough time to take it again before the announced Dec 31st Date for the 88-971 exam. I will still get my one shot, but now the pressure will be even more on me than it was before know its the *ONLY* shot I’ll get… Will I get exam results notification in enough time that I can re-try by the end of September if I don’t pass on the first try?

I understand the claim that it needs to be “redesigned” but it would have helped the community if you had the redesign plan completed and ready to share before you stomp on the hard work of the folks working to complete it out of the blue…

Posted by Veronique Palmer SharePoint MVP on 8/31/2013 at 2:38 PM

What a stupid decision!!!

Speaking as one of the 6 non-technical SharePoint Business MVP’s, I have nothing but the Hugest and Utmost respect for the MCM’s and MCA’s – they are top of the food chain and the cream of the crop!! The amount Work and Money those people put in to achieve that status is nothing short of epic and inspirational. It Supposed to be only a small percentage that attain such a specialised certification for goodness sake, this is not an Office exam! I don’t feel it is elitist in the slightest and think that’s a really big cop-out of an excuse. I feel dreadfully sorry for all the MCM’s and MCA’s out there; this is such a slap in the face after all the work they put in.

Read between the lines people – all this decision is about, is money. They’re coming up with all kinds of ‘barriers to entry’ excuses, but the bottom line is that Microsoft is just too cheap to keep the program running – when just one of the products it supports topped $2billion in sales….?? What an epic fail. How much money is enough Microsoft? And at what cost?

You want to do something for the broader community? How about sponsoring and supporting community events instead threatening legal action for using the word SharePoint in them? Or fix the layout of the Connect site so we can actually read the full comments instead of the cut off version.

Long live the MCM / MCA programs!

Posted by Alessio Giombini on 8/31/2013 at 2:16 PM

“we appreciate you more than you know”, LOL, such a perfect timing and style for the announcement shows it crystal-clear.

Posted by PaulRandal on 8/31/2013 at 2:14 PM

@Tim Thanks for the explanation. I think it would have been light-years better had you included much of what you said below in the email you sent to all of us at 10pm last night. At least the major backlash about messaging would not have happened and people would know that the rug wasn’t being pulled out entirely from under the MCM community.

Posted by SQLServerIO on 8/31/2013 at 1:38 PM

Suddenly I feel like I’m back in the 90’s when certification mills were churning out MCSE +I certified people in a week and guaranteed you would pass for a measly $2,000. As an MVP and NOT an MCM/MCA it breaks my heart to know I don’t have something else to strive for. I know a few MCM’s who aren’t MVP’s and I always tell them the MVP is an AWARD the MCM you EARN. People who go after the MCM tend to be solid technical people to begin with and if they get the MCM you know they have 1) desire and 2) ability. The other certifications don’t show those qualities at all. They show 1) little bit of money and 2) brain dump mastery and tell me NOTHING as a person evaluating people without meeting them first to judge their skill sets. EVERYONE knows the certifications under the MCM are almost worthless. It’s a running joke when you meet a bad DBA and another co-worker tells you they are the only “certified” DBA on the team. MCM changed all of that.

Just sad.

Posted by Sean Gallardy on 8/31/2013 at 1:34 PM

This is terrible news, given on a Friday at 10 pm EST on a holiday weekend? Really MS?

MCM’s are the best product advocated you have, and you want to throw that all away? I’m not sure what the rationale was behind the decision but it’s awful – so much talent kicked aside to the curb… I would expect this from other companies but not MS. If this is that taste of things to come maybe we should all go to the Red stack? http://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/db_pages.getpage?page_id=458&get_params=p_track_id:Datab11g

Knowing I have the support and help of world leaders in SQL Server an email away was one of the best things to have, let alone the great discussions and thread of items I might not have even thought about yet. It’s a sad day when marketing and MBA’s take over knowledge and understanding.

-Sean

Posted by Tim Sneath on 8/31/2013 at 1:32 PM

Thank you for the passion and feedback. We’re reading your comments and take them seriously, and as the person ultimately responsible for the decision to retire the Masters program in its current form, I wanted to provide a little additional context.

Firstly, you should know that while I’ve been accused of many things in my career, I’m not a “bean counter”. I come from the community myself; I co-authored a book on SQL Server development, I have been certified myself for nearly twenty years, I’ve architected and implemented several large Microsoft technology deployments, my major was in computer science. I’m a developer first, a manager second.

Deciding to retire exams for the Masters program was a painful decision – one we did not make lightly or without many months of deliberation. You are the vanguard of the community. You have the most advanced skills and have demonstrated it through a grueling and intensive program. The certification is a clear marker of experience, knowledge and practical skills. In short, having the Masters credential is a huge accomplishment and nobody can take that away from the community. And of course, we’re not removing the credential itself, even though it’s true that we’re closing the program to new entrants at this time.

The truth is, for as successful as the program is for those who are in it, it reaches only a tiny proportion of the overall community. Only a few hundred people have attained the certification in the last few years, far fewer than we would have hoped. We wanted to create a certification that many would aspire to and that would be the ultimate peak of the Microsoft Certified program, but with only ~0.08% of all MCSE-certified individuals being in the program across all programs, it just hasn’t gained the traction we hoped for.

Sure, it loses us money (and not a small amount), but that’s not the point. We simply think we could do much more for the broader community at this level – that we could create something for many more to aspire to. We want it to be an elite community, certainly. But some of the non-technical barriers to entry run the risk of making it elitist for non-technical reasons. Having a program that costs candidates nearly $20,000 creates a non-technical barrier to entry. Having a program that is English-only and only offered in the USA creates a non-technical barrier to entry. Across all products, the Masters program certifies just a couple of hundred people each year, and yet the costs of running this program make it impossible to scale out any further. And many of the certifications currently offered are outdated – for example, SQL Server 2008 – yet we just can’t afford to fully update them.

That’s why we’re taking a pause from offering this program, and looking to see if there’s a better way to create a pinnacle, WITHOUT losing the technical rigor. We have some plans already, but it’s a little too early to share them at this stage. Over the next couple of months, we’d like to talk to many of you to help us evaluate our certifications and build something that will endure and be sustainable for many years to come.

We hate having to do this – causing upset amongst our most treasured community is far from ideal. But sometimes in order to build, you have to create space for new foundations. I personally have the highest respect for this community. I joined the learning team because I wanted to grow the impact and credibility of our certification programs. I know this decision hurts. Perhaps you think it is wrong-headed, but I wanted to at least explain some of the rationale. It comes from the desire to further invest in the IT Pro community, rather than the converse. It comes from the desire to align our programs with market demand, and to scale them in such a way that the market demand itself grows. It comes from the desire to be able to offer more benefits, not fewer. And over time I hope we’ll be able to demonstrate the positive sides of the changes we are going through as we plan a bright future for our certifications.

Thank you for listening… we appreciate you more than you know.

Tim Sneath

Posted by z.petersen on 8/31/2013 at 1:29 PM

I’m not sure what Microsoft thinks they are telling the IT Pro community but what I am hearing is that they arent interested in the people any longer. Those ‘people’ are the ones who have kept Microsoft in forward motion. Now Microsoft has chosen to stop, shake away the IT Pro’s/Consultants that have done so much for the company, and aim solely for the cloud. Such a shame.

Posted by Kyle Neier on 8/31/2013 at 1:17 PM

Appalling.

The MCM and MCA programs are not simply certifications. They are validation of a life’s work. They are impossible to cheat and even the brightest of technical worker struggles to succeed. Only the few who have dedicate themselves to excellence – dedicated themselves to being the best at what they do – will ever be able to declare to be a Master.

Shame on you, Microsoft, for lying to all of us. Shame on you.

Posted by Ivan Bondy on 8/31/2013 at 12:02 PM

I believe this is one of the worst decisions Microsoft ever made. As many mentioned before MCM’s your biggest supporters and promoters, as well as trusted source of product knowledge.
I can’t think of any sensible and rational reasons to make this decision.

Posted by Ryan Ries on 8/31/2013 at 11:09 AM

This is extraordinarily depressing for me, as Microsoft Certified Master certification has been one of my biggest goals for the past three years. And now that’s no longer a possibility.

I don’t know why Microsoft would make such a decision, or if there will ever be a new equivalent certification to take the place of the MCM and MCA.

Microsoft, many of us do not understand your recent decisions that appear to be squarely anti-IT Pro. Microsoft Certified Masters and Architects were your strongest supporters and evangelists. They help advocate your products to customers and drive sales for you, Microsoft. They spent the time and effort on that Masters or Architect certification because of a sincere passion for your products. I can’t think of any other reason for you to make this decision unless you just don’t want highly skilled and trained people advocating your products.

Posted by Mohamed Mawla on 8/31/2013 at 11:04 AM

This is so really bad ; out of the blue announcement!

At least a considerable amount of time should be given since an earlier announcements declared that the program is going beyond 2014!

http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/archive/2012/09/11/mcm-microsoft-sql-server-2008-knowledge-exam-retirement-date-announced.aspx

Posted by Enrique Lima on 8/31/2013 at 10:58 AM

How can they make a decision to eliminate a program that has become a standard in quality and a measure of true value for Consulting firms and even more so, for Microsoft customers and partners? The individuals that have gone through the training and certification process provide value not only in the interaction with customers, but also in the community from the quality standards set at conferences.

Posted by Tom Resing MCM on 8/31/2013 at 10:37 AM

Not only is the MCM program valuable to the attendees, but it’s very valuable to the community. MCMs are some of the strongest product advocates I’ve ever met.

Posted by MCHOIRUL on 8/31/2013 at 9:48 AM

As an aspiring MCM/MCSM, dreaming to be the MCM is the one keeping my spirit to learn and breath in SQL Server. Why? Because the master offers something that MCSE/MCSA does not have. It has a lab, a prove that you know the stuff. I have invested countless of hours, training and I still failed on Knowledge Exam. Do I give up? NO. The spirit still alive because the Master is different.

Terminating this program will impact the following:
There is no MS cert that offer hands on lab exam. All are written, and an people with braindump can pass and call themselves certified.
Less respect to hundreds, or maybe thousands of aspiring MCM.
What happens with current MCM/MCSM? Yes you are still certified, but the program has been retired.

Cisco has CCIE, Oracle has OCM, Redhat has RHCE, and Novell SUSE got CLP. All of them require hands on exam to prove the mastery.
Come on MSL..

Posted by SQLServerMonkey on 8/31/2013 at 9:45 AM

I have to admit to being rather annoyed with this turn of events, I have just completed the MCSE Data Platform with a view to taking the the MCSM. Now to be told that this is no longer an option, well.. Might as well not have bothered really, as Nicholas Cain states, the MCSE & MCSA are not held in high regard. The fact that there are a number of training companies that offer the ability to boot-camp your way to an MCSE over two to three weeks shows that they are not worth the paper the certificates are written on. The following being a couple of examples;

http://www.firebrandtraining.co.uk/courses/microsoft/mcse

http://www.koenig-solutions.com/lp/mcse-training-uk.aspx

Without something like the MCSM/MCM to truly validate the knowledge & experience of those who take and pass the exam how can we differentiate ourselves from those that have just brain dumped or boot-camped their way to an MCSE? Without the MCSM/MCM program we will just return to the bad old days of the certifications not being worth having.

Additionally you have to ask just how this will also look when Microsoft line up against the likes of Oracle, VMware or Cisco, all of which have advanced certifications. By not having one I would also say that there is definitely the chance of a credibility issue arising.

All in all I think that it is a very short-sighted decision, this is really rammed home by the fact that this post (http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/archive/2013/08/12/you-asked-and-we-listened-increased-number-of-prometric-test-centers-for-mcm-mcsm-exams.aspx) on the TechNet blog saying that there is an anticipated increase in MCM/MCSM exams to be taken was only posted less than three weeks before the program is cancelled. Does anyone actually communicate at Microsoft?

Posted by Radi A. [SharePoint 2010 MCM] on 8/31/2013 at 9:15 AM

Many from the SharePoint MCM/MCSA/MCA’s also feel that this decision is a complete insult to the program, the product, the community and Microsoft itself. People have started to publicly express dissatisfaction online, like I have on my blog http://www.sharepoint.bg/radi/post/The-fall-of-the-Master.aspx

Posted by Nicholas Cain on 8/31/2013 at 8:53 AM

What this does is make the MCSE (eminently brain dumpable) the highest level of certification. There is nothing that anyone with real knowledge can do to differentiate themselves from someone that bought the cert out the back of a lorry.

This is a sad state of affairs, and one that makes it look like administrators and architects are being further shoved to the side by Microsoft in favour of developers, developers, developers.

That anyone can just hit next, next, next, next, finish means that there’s no need for specialization or expertise with SQL Server/Sharepoint or any of the other disciplines.

Posted by Alessio Giombini on 8/31/2013 at 8:00 AM

defiant abusive flippant inconsiderate move -shame.

Posted by Janos Berke on 8/31/2013 at 7:54 AM

Bob Taylor posted different dates than was in the morning email. It is worth to read: http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/archive/2012/09/11/mcm-microsoft-sql-server-2008-knowledge-exam-retirement-date-announced.aspx

Posted by Eric Wisdahl on 8/31/2013 at 7:45 AM

Without the MCSM relying on them, I almost certainly would not have bothered taking the MCSA and MCSE: Data Platform exams as these are not viewed in the best light. The MCM (MCSM), however, is very prestigious. Please do not take away the only class of certification that is still regarded with high esteem.

Posted by chriswebb18 on 8/31/2013 at 7:24 AM

Not only that, but it is a slap in the face to existing MCMs to discontinue the program. We worked hard to achieve this and now you are basically telling the world its a valuable certification.

Workarounds

Posted by SQL_Fan_Daisy on 9/5/2013 at 9:58 AM

@Tim and Microsoft! I am so disappointed and hurt about your decision. I fully support @PaulRandal’s view and feelings expressed in his recent newsletter. Everybody should read it, below is SQLskills newsletter:

MCM Program

And now the second piece of news. At 10pm last Friday, Microsoft sent an email to everyone with an MCM/MCA certification (and some of us that are honorary MCMs from having taught it and written the labs) announcing that the program is being killed completely, effective October 1st.

You can read the text of the email here. It’s cold. It’s a really nasty way to end things, and doubly so as it seems that the communication was timed for the start of the holiday weekend in the US so things would blow over before today. Well, that’s not happening!

Fellow MVP Jen Stirrup put together a Connect item calling for the certification to be retained, and at time of writing this newsletter (Monday afternoon) it had more than 460 up-votes. There are also a huge number of impassioned comments, plus one from Tim Sneath at Microsoft explaining some more about the decision (his comment was on 8/31/13 at 1.32pm PST). You can read the Connect item here. Please vote for it if you agree.

There are a bunch of blog posts out already discussing the topic – I like SQL MCM Jason Brimhall’s long post here, which ties in a bunch of people’s viewpoints and links out to other people’s posts on the subject too.

I feel sad, as I wrote or reviewed all the lab and knowledge exam questions (along with Kimberly, Jonathan, and Joe), taught in the very first SQL MCM rotation when it was called Ranger and internal to Microsoft, and I taught in the last publicly-offered SQL MCM rotation back in 2010 (and all those in between except one), so I’ve felt an integral part of the program since day-1.

Also, as a company we’ve invested a lot of time and effort in the MCM program. Kimberly taught in all the public SQL rotations. Kimberly, Jonathan, Joe, and I also taught the SQL parts of the SharePoint MCM rotations. Jonathan and Joe are both MCMs themselves. And, of course, Joe ran the SQL MCM program for two years before he left Microsoft to join SQLskills.

Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all altruism – we were paid to teach and work on the exams, of course, as that’s our business. But we also *really* worked hard to help those trying to take the exams. There’s nothing more rewarding as a teacher then seeing student pass an exam that you’ve helped prepare them for.

I feel bad for all these people. And what about all of the time and energy of all those who strove towards the certification or were currently working their way up to it in knowledge and experience? This is NOT a certification that most can pass overnight and for some, it was a multi-year goal that they’ve been working on and had hoped to achieve. For the lucky few, they passed it after much time and before the new October deadline. But, they also spent a lot of money in the process. What use will the MCM be now that it’s no longer a Microsoft-supported certification?

And, it all seems to have come as a surprise. Microsoft canceled the program when there are rotations for non-SQL MCM certifications planned after October 1st. And, just recently, they announced more ProMetric testing centers being available for taking the exams. This leaves only one month’s notice for all the people who’ve been working, planning, and studying hard for months or years to have a quick crack at passing the exams before they’re retired.

It just seems like such a waste, when the MCM is slowly gaining traction and more people are gaining the certification. It’s a lot of wasted effort by a lot of people and what Microsoft has done and they way they’ve done it has really angered many in the SQL, SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Directory Services communities.

Way to go Microsoft.

Thanks – Paul and Kimberly

Posted by Clarkx on 9/3/2013 at 11:32 PM

Communication, communication and communication. Microsoft is not Apple – does Microsoft “wannabe” Apple? Be an original and not a copy cat!

Posted by Robert C Burnett on 9/3/2013 at 3:07 PM

Letter to Tim Sneath,
I think you are absolutely correct that you need a certification that reaches a broader audience and is still a certification that means something I don’t think anyone in the community would disagree with that no matter how much fun is had by getting away for 3 weeks to enjoy the Redmond sunshine. :’) The issue is you announced the end of a certification era without honoring the work many have done on the current path.

So here are some of the things you should have done or could even do today.

1. Give enough time for anyone currently in progress to run the course of certification (you could shorten the retake cycle to 14 days between retakes to get this done in the next 2-3 months.)
2. Announce that at some future date you will disclose how this current community is either grandfathered or offered an abbreviated path into the new certification.
3. Assure us that this certification will still mean something not just be a certification for certification sake.

I have read your note several times and you have a very challenging task if you are successful you are going to be the hero of many however, failure to deliver something of value and you go down as the guy who killed masters. I don’t envy your job because I don’t see a path forward; the value of the training was it was delivered by subject matter experts with real world knowledge who were competent teachers. Which is not an easy combination to find. To broaden the delivery and offer the same content delivered by professional instructors with no real world hands on knowledge won’t work.

I look forward to hearing what is next for Advanced Certifications but to more I think you really need to honor those who have take this journey with Microsoft to date, any thing less is just plain wrong.

I wish you all the best.

Robert

Posted by Abhay_78 on 9/3/2013 at 11:22 AM

I think this rejig is really required. firstly, its really very costly. No one would want to spend so much to prove that he/she has Architect level caliber on Microsoft product. Secondly, I do not feel that there is enough training (and quality training) sponsored by Microsoft. I see SQLSkills as the most reliable one but thats very costly. I have heared that wihout proper training, you cannot clear this certification even if you have a proven record of being an Architect or specialist in some company. I am hopeful that this change will be positive and will benefit both ways Microsoft as well as customers and learners. Please keep the quality in mind.

The same shift is also required in lower level certifications. I see little value in it. I have 2005 , 2008 and 2012 (almost there) certifications. I can say that the quality of questions have degraded in 2012 as compared to 2005 and 2008. 2008 was far better. 2012 certifications mostly have 2008 and 2005 stuff. So those who are upgrading from 2005 to 2008 and 2008 to 2012 would see little value in it. A lot of questions so confusing and incorrect.

Microsoft also have to make improve the results pattern and should tell which questions were not correctly answered by the examinee. This is because if the examinee feels that Microsofts choices are incorrect then he can raise his voice. Might be a public site can be created where if pubic is not satisfied can log complaints with in 15 days. We should get this service as we are paying 90/100 pounds for these papers.

Hope the voice of public will not go unheard.

Regards
Abhay

Posted by Prabhat Nigam on 9/3/2013 at 8:58 AM

I am not sure how much is the cost for CCIE but it was not available in India for longtime and people used to fly to Singapore but the day you get the certification, 100s of companies comes behind you to hire you which is the same for MCSM/MCM. So if you spend a lot of money to get this certification, post certification you also get the return.
But now it will not be possible.

Posted by LouZhing on 9/3/2013 at 2:54 AM

I am from China. This program is for an elite group of people from U.S.A., Canada and Europe.

1. Financially it is not affordable for people like me to take the exam @ $2,500 (this is 5 years of savings for us).

2. On top of it I have to fly to go to an authorized test center to take the exams.

3. Companies like SQL Skills have a 4 week MCM training that costs about $15,000 + flight & hotel.

4. You can imagine why Oracle and Java are so popular in the emerging Asian economies.

To sum it up: Certifications are great, but the way the master program targets people from the developed countries is not at all compatible with Microsoft’s values which are generally anti-discriminatory and enhancing equality of opportunities.

Posted by teyc on 9/2/2013 at 4:03 PM

Microsoft could establish and seed a non-profit, similar to OuterCurve and create an education board and faculty comprised of existing MCMs, funded by an annual membership fee plus exam fees. These people may liase with Microsoft to establish continued accreditation in order to set the bar high enough, and are responsible for maintaining the integrity and reputation of the certification. In addition, the board will also investigate any ethical complaints.

This is a midway solution between MCSE and nothing at all, and you can be assured that the existing MCMs will ensure the bar is set high enough.

Posted by Gavin Campbell on 8/31/2013 at 7:15 AM

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/issue-archive/2010/10-nov/o60ocp-176067.html