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.


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.


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