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SQLBI - Marco Russo

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Microsoft shut down MCM/MCSM/MCA programs–my recap #msmcm

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about MCSM for BI certification. This raised an interesting discussion about the reasons why such a certification does not exists, whether it was really necessary, what it should include, and so on. There was no signs at the moment of the decision Microsoft communicated on Friday evening to existing and candidate MCM/MCSM/MCA community. The email transcript has been reported by Neil Johnson, a Microsoft employee certified as MCSM:Messaging.

You can imagine the community reaction, and I will not repeat the many concepts expressed in many posts and comments I will list below. I disagree with this decision, but I understand the need for Microsoft to shut down the program for economical reasons. I don’t like that, and I think it’s not a smart move for Microsoft, too – but I would not add other points to those already expressed by many people. My point is about communication and timing.

A few days after the news, I still cannot understand:

  • Why this mail has been sent to MCM/MCSM/MCA on a Friday night, before a long week-end in US
  • Why such a short notice (exams will be retired on October 1, 2013, in just one month)
  • Why there is no communication about future plans
  • Why the MCA, MCSM web pages are still active without any update
  • Why this decision after other changes were already applied to the MCSM program effective on July 1, 2013
  • Why Microsoft didn’t put an official statement on that (but this is a consequence of sending an email on a Friday night before an extended week-end)

I really would like an answer to these open questions, because I cannot even think that the consequences of such a communication plan weren’t discussed in advance. But, again, this time I cannot understand why. The obvious alternative was having a soft-landing of the MCM/MCSM/MCA program, for example no new admissions and 6 months for completing certification by open submissions; publishing a roadmap towards new certifications and how existing ones will be automatically remapped on the new ones; public statement and instant update of the web pages for a coordinated communication that would have hurt someone, but would have not destroyed confidence and trust in a much bigger community than the one impacted by this decision. Why this was not possible? I would like to know the answer.

From a PR point of view, I cannot imagine a worst way to communicate the bad news. Sending an email on a Friday night, leaving to bloggers, journalists, analysts, influencers and community in general 4 entire days to discuss, blame and writing bad feelings, without any official answer by Microsoft, will be hard to recover. When on Tuesday morning MS people in Redmond will start reading the thunderstorm of the past three days, they will realize that in many areas of the world outside US the days elapsed were 4, 2 in a regular week-end and 2 whole working days. However, they are lucky that the Microsoft-Nokia deal will get the attention of anyone, so the MCM news is not going to spread too much, but the damage made to community trust will remain.

This is a list of links you can read until now:

As I said, in this moment I’m not concerned about the future of Microsoft certifications, I will judge it when there will be a roadmap and some new announcements. I am concerned about the destruction of trust and loyalty in a large community and ecosystem that helps Microsoft selling its architecture. My perception is that the damages this communication is producing is way beyond the boundary of MCM/MCSM/MCA community. Maybe I have a misperception about this entire topic and I am just worried for a self-referential issue that does not affect the real word.

I really hope I am wrong this time.

Published Tuesday, September 3, 2013 2:25 PM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)
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RH in CT said:

I think there is an obvious explanation for the last minute Friday email.  It was on someone's list of Things to Get Done in August, and they didn't want a black mark for being late.

September 3, 2013 3:59 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:


September 3, 2013 7:08 PM

jchang said:

Does MS have a monthly accomplishment list? I worked at a company that had quarterly accomplishments. We were to list 3-4 major items, and several minor ones. One quarter, I submitted only a single item: agreement on the change of a product specification from 666MHz to 667MHz with an asterisk. Upper management was not amused and I no longer work for big companies.

1) Does MS not appreciate that SQL Server benefits from a community of experts?

or 2) is it that there is insufficient traction with the program? this would to too bad as I think it would have been a much greater success had it arrived 15 years earlier.

or 3) does MS want to put effort into other areas? PDW? cloud?

September 4, 2013 12:20 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Microsoft said they will replace the program in some way, so there will be some other "pinnacle" certfication. I expect to see the new program sooner or later, what I question is the communication and the damages it created. When the new program will be available, then it will be possible to discuss about real goals of Microsoft and opportunities for partners...

September 4, 2013 1:42 AM

RichB said:

A bit like making sure you advise layoffs before Christmas.

Sure, it puts a dampner on the holiday season, but it will probably be better for the individuals concerned that they don't spend quite so much money just before they get the chop!

Think of all the folk who might have otherwise 'wasted' the weekend dreaming, cramming and stressing over their certification only to have their hopes dashed and efforts rendered certless when MS finally did release the news.

Would we really feel much better about it if they waited till the whole world had a couple of upcoming working days to handle it directly?  Who benefits from that?

Come on DBAs lets try to stay optimistic about the people who put problems on our plates (or in this case takes them off), they usually have their reasons, even if we don't grasp or appreciate them.

One wonders though if that now means that the existing ones are cancelled, or will they be forever untouchable and unequable in their certified expertise?

September 4, 2013 5:00 AM

Jason Brimhall said:

Thanks Marco.

Fingers are crossed for the new "pinnacle" certification - if it happens.

September 5, 2013 12:00 PM

Peter L. said:

I hear you, Marco. I felt particularly sad that the connect item was shut down. So many people expressed their opinion there. Luckily they are not lost, they can be found here:


September 22, 2013 1:46 PM

Peter L. said:

September 22, 2013 2:02 PM
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About Marco Russo (SQLBI)

Marco Russo is a consultant, writer and trainer specialized in Business Intelligence with Microsoft technologies. He runs the SQLBI.COM website, which is dedicated to distribute resources useful for BI developers, like Integration Services components, Analysis Services models, tools, technical information and so on. Marco is certified as MCT, MCDBA, MCSD.NET, MCSA, MCSE+I.

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