If you track other people in the Microsoft Certified Master blogosphere you’ve probably already heard about the shot to the face the MCM/MCSM/MCA/MCSA program (which I will henceforth refer to just as MCM for simplicity) took last night: a late Friday night email announcing the cancellation of these programs.
I was helping a friend move at the time, so check the email on my phone, pondered it just long enough to get pissed off, and then put it away until I had time and energy to deal with it today.
This morning, a lot of my fellow members of the Microsoft IT Pro community are reacting publicly. This list includes Microsoft employees, MCM trainers, MCMs, and MCM candidates:
- Neil Johnson [MSFT]
- Michael Van Horenbeeck
- Paul Robichaux
- Jeff Guillet
- Marcel Van Den Berg
- Janos Berke
- Nicholas Cain
- Thomas Stensitzki
Others have already made all of the comments I could think to make — the seemingly deliberately bad timing, the total disconnect of this announcement with recent actions and announcements regarding the MCM availability, the shock and anger, all of it.
The only unique insight I seem to have to share is that this does *not* seem to be something that the product groups are on board with — it seems to be coming directly from Microsoft Learning and the higher-ups in that chain. Unfortunately, those of us who resisted and distrusted the move of MCM from being run by the product groups in partnership with MSL to the new regime of MSL owning all the MCM marbles (which inevitably led to less and less interaction with the actual product groups, with the predictable results) now seem to be vindicated.
I wish I’d been wrong. But even this move was called out by older and wiser heads than mine, and I discounted them at the time. Boy, was I wrong about that.
I’m really starting to think that as Microsoft retools itself to try to become a services and devices company, we’re going to see even more of these kind of measures (TechNet subs, MCM certs) that alienate the highly trained end of the IT Pro pool. After all, we’re the people who know how to design and implement on-premises solutions that you folks can run cheaper than Microsoft’s cloud offerings. Many of the competitors to Microsoft Consulting or to Microsoft hosted services had one or more MCMs on staff, and MCM training was a great viewpoint into how Office 365 was running their deployments. In essence, what had once been a valuable tool for helping sell Microsoft software licenses and reduce Microsoft support costs has now become, in the Cloud era, a way for competitors and customers to knowledgeably and authoritatively derail the Cloud business plans.
From that angle, these changes make a certain twisted sort of short-term sense — and with the focus on stock price and annual revenues, short-term sense is all corporate culture knows these days.
For what it’s worth, SQL Server MVP Jen Stirrup has started this Connect petition to try to save the MCM program. I wish him luck.