RIP Microsoft MCA\MCM certification programs


See this blog post: Are Microsoft Losing Friends and Alienating IT Pros? by Steve Goodman, or this one Retiring the Microsoft Master certifications and training by Neil Johnson (who 1st broke the news I think), this one Microsoft Certified Systems Master certification now dead by Paul Robichaux, this one Microsoft is retiring the MCSM/MCA Program by Michael Van Horenbeeck, this one Ain’t Nobody [at Microsoft Learning] Got Time For That by Devin Ganger, this one by Once an MCM always an MCM by Jeff Guillet, this one Microsoft Advanced Certification (MCA, MCSM, MCM) – the end of an era by Wictor Wilén, and the many others out there starting today.

All of these bloggers are Exchange MVPs, MCA\MCMs, or MCA\MCMs in another area and are posing about Microsoft sending out an e-mail to the MCA list last night around 11PM EST announcing that they stopping the certified master\architect program on 10/1/2013. They basically canceled the program with not notice on a Friday night at 11PM on a long weekend. I’m guess they were hoping not to get much attention by doing it this way. Well they were sorely mistaken, as you can see from the multiple blog post above.

I have been an Exchange MVP now for seven years, my first year I was an MVP over MIIS (Anyone recall that product, which became to ILM, and then FIM?). We have seen the writing on the wall for awhile and Microsoft even told us that they are pushing hard to get organizations into the cloud 5+ years ago. Well this is another step in that process. Basically they are killing off the program that they use to train the top external and internal (about 50% were Microsoft employees) experts on Exchange, SharePoint, Directory Services (AD), and SQL. By doing this they are removing a key skill set from the community for current and future releases of these products.

I had hoped to become an MCA on Exchange, but the training is 2 weeks (used to be 3) and cost $18,000 (used to be $25K). So I wanted to make sure I was 100% ready before committing to this, there is a 70% fail rate. Besides the high cost there is also the cost of being out of work for really weeks (have to study HARD be ready and to past the final exam\lab test), flights, and hotel. So in reality this was a $30K+ commitment to make, so this is why I never got mine and I guess never will.

Last month they announced the dropping of TechNet subscription, which has been THE key source of Microsoft software for IT Pros to run in their labs. I always get my Microsoft software from here, I still will have access to the software (at least for now) via an MSDN subscription as part of being an MVP.

We, the MVPs, fear that the next step will be the cancellation of the MVP program. After all, why do you need independent external experts if Microsoft is only focus on the cloud and getting people migrated to the cloud (Office 365).

We’re pissed and it’s a bad time to be a Microsoft IT Pro.  Guess I’ll start looking to get back into Product Management or take an IT directory\CIO position. It will be a sad day when I have to take one of these jobs, I’ve been working for myself for the last 3+ years straight [almost 100% remotely] and on & off for the last 15 has been great. But I foresee me getting my frequent flier status back and wasting a lot of time traveling and being away from my family and the great state of CO.

About jasonsherry

I am a Microsoft Infrastructure Architect/Professional Services Consultant (FOR HIRE!), where I focus on the design, migration, and implementation of Microsoft infrastructure and collaboration software; such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, SCOM, AD, and general Windows infrastructure. For more info see my bioresume at: http://jasonsherry.org
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4 Responses to RIP Microsoft MCA\MCM certification programs

  1. Pingback: MCM/MCSM & MCA R.I.P. (Update) | EighTwOne (821)

  2. Pingback: SQLJuJu, DBA - Microsoft Certified Mayhem

  3. Anonymous says:

    Class Action Lawsuit (False Advertising)

    Microsoft has advertised these Master Certification programs and I am speaking to an attorney about a class action lawsuit on behalf of the current MCMs, and those that have invested their time and money in this program. I know I took six months off work studying for these exams. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at . I have many emails with statements about this program that have no disclaimers attached to them. You might also.

    Updated 9/5/2013 by Jason Sherry – I removed the person’s name and e-mail address who originally posted this by his request. He requested I remove the comment, but after seeing the reply below I decided to leave it for context.

    • exchranger says:

      Greg,

      All you are doing is giving MS Learning justification for what they have done to the program.

      When I heard that MSL was discontinuing the program I have to say that I was happy about that. I was happy and decided that to show my support I would re-join the Ranger DG after a very vocal departure last year brought about by slipping standards, and I have since rejoined.

      Why am I happy about this? I have worked, over the last several years (and in the last few months), with the new “Rangers” (yes, most called themselves that) and I have not had a single good experience. From poorly-written statements of work that completely excluded storage and AD from an Exchange design, to bad recommendations on Exchange itself and lack of knowledge of the dependencies for Exchange (especially networking, AD and DNS), I have found the ones I worked with to be lacking technically and in soft skills.

      That said, I haven’t worked with all of them and I have no doubt that some are excellent and deserve to be recognized as a higher level of Exchange expert than others. So there’s my hat tip to you folks that I know are out there. I understand that there are folks that have a lot invested in this program personally and professionally, as I have. I continue to fight this fight for the ones that deserve better.

      The monetization of the program was the fatal error. The barrier to entry was already high with the four week, then three week program timeframe and the associated travel, lodging and meal expenses. Adding another layer of prohibitive barriers, while at the same time having a restructured (read PG-orphaned) program resulted in it collapsing under its own weight. How many Rangers/Architects are there for 2003? 2007? 2010? 2013?

      I qualified nearly 50 Rangers that were, almost all, very high quality in the three years I ran the program (the first two at 25% of my time with a budget of $500 and hardware contributions from Partners and time from MCS’ EC3 team under Bill Skilton and Greg Dodge ). MS Learning has never been able to achieve those numbers nor that quality level with many more heads and much higher budgets. I’ve never been one to be shy about saying “I told you so” and I won’t be shy about it here. I told Per Farny when he moved the program under Microsoft Learning that they would try to monetize it, make it politically correct, over-do the legal bullet-proofing and, in short, destroy it.

      And they have. There is a reason Larry LeSueur and I chose to create a “Qualification” rather than work through the $1 billion dollar/year MS Learning boondoggle to create a “Certification”.

      And there is a reason we succeeded despite some very prominent, very vocal opposition (cinder blocks, shins and a bridge come to mind…ahem). :-)

      The program should be taken out of Microsoft Learning and run in a “cost-recovery” model. Monetization should remain with the product and not extend to the training. The interaction with the product groups should be around 40-50% of the program (called round tables). The politicization of the Architect cert by adding the “Review Board” should be eliminated and the program should be returned to its original objectives (I have a copy if anyone needs them). It should also return to being a Qualification rather than a Certification.

      Microsoft certifications are too badly damaged in the industry to be able to be repaired without significant investment and a house cleaning in MS Learning.

      This is yet another of the bad decisions under the current leadership along the same lines as the transformation of MCS into for-profit consulting. Microsoft has an obligation to its customers to provide mechanisms to give their customers the best support and design services available. They have retreated from that with MCS (around the year 2000) and now they are determined to wipe out the last of the program that extended that capability to Partners.

      I am glad this has happened because it is the only way the Qualification can be reborn and returned to its rightful path. Otherwise it will just be put out of its misery once and for all, leaving the path open for external entities to take up the slack and create a new “Ranger”-like Qualification.

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