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First up, full disclosure – I have no qualifications of any merit. I’m smart (if I do say so myself) but I just don’t have an interest in certifications. I don’t even have a college degree. Despite not being qualified, I’m living the dream, I’ve been reasonably successful in my endeavors – I have a great family, great friends and a pretty awesome professional life, I guess I am living proof that qualifications or certifications are not a requirement to succeed.

Desire, passion and a little bit of luck are all it takes to make a success of your life, oh a and a song in your head, joy in your heart and a spring in your step.

But seriously.

There is uproar about the imminent retiring by Microsoft of the Microsoft Certified Master, Solutions Master and Architect (MCM, MCSM and MCA) programs.

Microsoft are citing “changing requirements and evolving needs” for the decision to cancel the programmes.


Perhaps the MCM, MCSM and MCA programs are not attended enough to be sustainable (they’re expensive after all), so Microsoft is well within its rights to offload them. As a shareholder, I support this – effective, sustainable and profitable are the qualities I look for as an investor and Microsoft are shaking things about across the entire organisation.

Microsoft is a company run by the numbers; Sales, Revenues, Earnings. Simple.

A quick look at the figures (for SharePoint) show us that around 50% of MCM/MCSM/MCAs are Microsoft employees which means it’s probably costing Microsoft a bloody fortune to maintain the program. Even at $20k or so to take the MCM/MCSM piece, the cost of bringing in the instructors, facilities, etc. the program is surely hemorrhaging cash. This issue is probably also why Microsoft can’t lower the cost (which most people see as the barrier to entry) as they’ll be burning even more cash to support a lower price point.

I feel for the folks that have either as individuals or through their employers invested heavily in these qualifications, I guess the saving grace is that Microsoft is granting perpetual, non-expiring usage rights of the qualification to those who have done it. A small victory.

Is there a lesson here? Proprietary qualifications are only of value until the point the vendor/creator pulls the plug. Perhaps more technical folks should look to Masters Degrees or PhDs in the future? – vendor and technology agnostic and yours to keep once you have them. (Thanks to @symon_garfield for his original point about MBAs).

Regardless of Microsofts decision, I still salute the MCMs, MCSMs and MCAs of our world, you’re all wizards to me.

more to follow…


I’m responding to some vitriolic comments I have received about this post – I am in no way suggesting the programs are of limited value or that I support what Microsoft are doing from the recipient side (i.e. candidate or certified) of this equation. My support of Microsoft above is in the context of being a shareholder – I want them to protect and improve my investment and with that sometimes comes unpopular decisions.

My postulation of the program costing money is speculative – business don’t make decisions based on them wanting to be mean or dastardly, they tend to based in strategic or financial logic. Microsoft is looking to save money, FACT and Microsoft is re-engineering its organisation in a new direction (the Cloud) FACT. Tweets such as this one from Joseph Sack the former head of the SQL MCM program further suggest that the program was not turning a profit which, although not what people want to hear does make it a target for removal during organisational change.

Again – I’m not suggesting that the MCM, MCSM or MCA programs are anything other than awesome, I’m just trying to provide some perspective. Perhaps the original post title was poorly chosen, so I have changed it.