MCM, MCSM and MCA are no longer available from Microsoft

What a way to start your long weekend, when you received an email on early Saturday morning from Microsoft Learning, telling that your highest certification MCM/MCSM are no longer being offered!!

“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‚Äôs a different certification needed for the pinnacle of our program.”

Not only they have killed the all the Master certification programs, they also canceled all the scheduled classes in October and November. It stirred up outcries and displeasure from masters community all over the world. Many have blogged and twitted. Many exchanged thoughts over Exchange Ranger’s distribution list, hoping somebody from MS Learning is listening. Let’s hope we can get the messages up to top of the chain in Microsoft, bring the program back!

My thoughts on this after seeing Tim Sneath’s (Head of MSL) response from Microsoft Connect are:

1. MCM/MCSM should be kept as elite certification by going through 2-3 weeks of grueling training at Building 40, Redmond campus. It should never be as many as Tim expected out there. MSL has tried to make the tests available at SECURE testing centers without going through the class training, which significantly reduced the costs, and made it easier for international community to certify. Downside of that, it watered down difficulty level of knowledge exams. Questions are now from trivia facts from Microsoft Technet, instead of materials we went through the rotation. At least the lab exam is still very difficult to pass without master level knowledge on the product. I really think we should go back to old MCM model from beginning, that training class is required. When Product Group started ranger/MCM programs, it was never about how much money can the classes and certifications make. It was about having the best technical person out there for customers, increasing customer’s faith on the product, and reducing high level escalations to product group.

2. “It’s cloud or bust”. That has been the model for Microsoft since they released office 365 and Windows Azure. For example, to enable automatic site fail over for Exchange server 2013 DAG, the 3rd AD site is required for file share witness. Guess what, Exchange will soon be supporting to have that 3rd AD site in Azure. I don’t agree the direction that we are heading in the IT industry. On-premises are not going away anytime soon. Existing Lync/Exchange/Sharepoint MCM/MCSM’s are the main resources on blog sites and customer facing jobs on implementing Hybrid solutions with cloud. Microsoft’s Office 365 support has not improved since they launched back in 2011. With wave 15 office 365, more bugs and issues are produced. I already know few large customers changed their minds on migrating to office 365 because of the bugs they encountered during migration. Sure, Microsoft eventually will fix all the issues and bugs, but trusts have already broken.

Bottom line, MCM/MCSM programs should be brought back, and keep the requirement for training class. They should also stop using Technet trivia for knowledge exam questions. Questions should be written from the instructors, from the materials that was covered in the class. Retake can still happen at Prometric secure test centers. Less likely, anybody will try to brain dump the questions because so much money was paid for the rotation.