MCM/MCSM & MCA R.I.P. (Update)

mcsmlogo Still recovering from the announcement to retire TechNet, IT Professionals get dealt another blow by the announcement retirement of the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM), Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) and Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) programs:

“We are contacting you to let you know we are making a change to the Microsoft Certified Master, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, and Microsoft Certified Architect certifications. As technology changes so do Microsoft certifications and as such, we are continuing to evolve the Microsoft certification program. Microsoft will no longer offer Masters and Architect level training rotations and will be retiring the Masters level certification exams as of October 1, 2013. The IT industry is changing rapidly and we will continue to evaluate the certification and training needs of the industry to determine if there’s a different certification needed for the pinnacle of our program.”
(For the complete e-mail, consult MSFT and MCSM:Messaging trainer Neil Johnson’s blog here).

This announcement is causing quite a stir in the community and those having or aspiring the certifications mentioned. The general response is – I’ll use a less stronger word here – disappointment over the decision and the impression is that, together with the cancellation of TechNet (and perhaps what still lies ahead), this is part of Microsoft’s grand scheme to push their cloud strategy upon us. I can only assume that angry IT professionals mob is considered collateral damage.the-spanish-inquisition-framed

What also seems to frustrate people is the timing and notice period. First, the e-mail (which is the only information available at the moment) was sent on Saturday morning (GMT+1, so still Friday in the US) with labor day coming up on Monday in the US (holiday). Second, rotations are no longer offered as of now and exams will retire per October 1st, 2013. I read some tweets of people set for a rotation in October, receiving a 1 month cancellation notice. It can be real painful if you went to a rotation but still need to take the exam. That seems impossible and is bad PR. That’ll be some interesting e-mail messages and phone calls on Tuesday for @MSLearning, I reckon.

Given the full certification program costs $18k and recertification nearly $14k, apart from pre-reading, study, time and travel invested, some joined – or got employers to send them to MCSM – achieving to become a skilled IT Professional certified at a level which can compete with high level certifications provided by vendors like Cisco, making IT professionals stand out of the crowd, at the price of triennial recertification.Some customers even put in MCSM/MCA certification as a requirement for certain projects; that’s how MCSM/MCA is valued.

Now that total investment is set to expire forever. In what looks like an attempt at downplaying the impact of this, current MCM, MCSM and MCA certified may now to keep their credential and are not required to recertify, which was a requirement of the MCSM program to stay certified. But to be honest, how is an “MCM:Exchange 2007” certification valued by customers in 2013 when there are products of 2 newer generations?

Some responses from the community; as you can see, it doesn’t only hurt the Exchange and Lync professionals:

What are your thoughts on the MCM/MCSM/MCA retirement? Let me know in the comments.

Someone from the SQL community opened up an item on Connect where you can vote to keep MCSM. When you disagree with the termination of MCSM/MCA, let your voice be heard there as well.

Update (30aug): Tim Sneath, Sr. Director at MS Learning, provided a response on the decision to retire MCM/MCSM and MCA certifications in the comments section here.

Update (7Sep): The Connect item has been removed due to “trolling” per request of the original poster, Jen Stirrup. So, you can’t vote anymore and the feedback from the community on the decision – including Tim Sneath’s response – is now unavailable. You can find a cached copy of the page here and a copy of Sneath’s integral response here.

Update (10Sep): Apparently there was a (250 capped!) conference call yesterday, where MS claimed the program wasn’t delivering up to expectations (of MS Learning). Going after the article, it was more of Tim Sneath monologue as MCM/MCSM/MCA weren’t allowed to put anything on the table. What was announced was the following:

  • Exam offerings are extended for addional 90 days (December);
  • Refunds for those who have taken courses in order to achieve MCM/MCSM/MCA certification;
  • Preservation of course material until 2016.

 

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