Wednesday, July 13, 2005

MS Takes A New Certification Road Starting in September

Well, now it's finally public and I can talk about it - well some of it anyway. MCP Magazine has now published the details about Major changes in MS certification which starts, says MCP magazine, in September. As MCP magazine says: "It's obvious that the new program differs significantly from the current program." So please read their article carefully (along with the official MS information once that gets posted).

There are two ways to look at this news: the first is (as my post of mid June suggested), MS is dumping the MCSE and pretty much the entire current MCP certification programme. All the current premium certs (e.g. MCSE, MCDBA and MCSD) are being given the long term chop, in favour of a whole brand new set of certifications. On the positive side, the new certification approach is far cleaner than the current tangle of MC* certifications - three main levels and that's it (and one of those, the architect level, is not a path for most IT Pros and Developers). Assuming the new exams are 'solid', there may be some ability to avoid the paper-certification reputation that parts of MCP had become. By having brand new certs, hopefully MS can restore the quality appeal that MCSE once had. Let's hope so!

So yes, there are two ways of looking at it. Talking to MSL people, they say I suffer from a glass half full vs half empty point of view problem. And to a degree, they have a point. The new stuff really is a lot better, and looks cool. But on the other hand, it's my glass and I paid for all the liquid that ever went into the glass. As one of the charter MCSEs, I've invested 12 years of time and effort maintaining my MCP/MCSE and more recently MCSA, MCDST plus the 'add-ons'. So I'm very disappointed to see it all go, especially as the death will a slow one.

Another aspect of the news presented in Orlando is that each of the new certifications are withdrawn once the related product reaches end of life. Thus MS are building obsolescence into the new programme, a mistake in my view. MS did this several years ago, with respect to MCT Transcripts - the idea was that exams for products that had retired were removed off of the transcript. There was a huge (negative) reaction from the MCT community, and MS found a way to resurrect those older exams. In today's terminology, that would mean I'd no longer be certified in NT4. Despite the fact that I had been certified or that our customers are still using NT4 and want certified professionals to assist. While NT 3.1 might not be relevant to Microsoft today, the fact I was working on it, and passing exams 12 years ago (and ever since) is very important to me. It shows my length of tenure and commitment. Yet MS are not proposing to take all that history away. Shades of NewThink! I've yet to hear if MS has reconsidered this aspect.

It's also fairly inevitable that there is going to be at least a partial Osborne effect on certification and certification business based on these announcements, something that the training industry, in particular, are not likely to be very happy about. For me as a long time MCSE, I now see no reason to take any more MCP exams for at least another year, and probably longer. From what I can tell today, it may make sense to just wait till Longhorn Server, which is 2+ years away in terms of stable exams. Many folks who are part way through their certification programme may also stop and re-assess to work out whether or not to continue the current path or just wait for the new exams. None of this helps the training industry.

And with respect to my MCSE: Al Valvano of Microsoft is quoted by MCP Magazine reassuring me that: "[The MCSE/MCSA/MCDBA titles] are not going away and those continue to remain valid, just like there are people who continue to certify on Windows 2000".

Pass the kool-aid Al - while the certificates will continue to be offered, as I understand it, there will be "no future investment" in the MCSE/MCSE/MCDBA certs. A real life analogy: yes, you can still buy a new Rover car. But I'm not too sure just how good of an investment such a purchase would be.

1 comment:

nin said...

nice reading....