Microsoft Certified Architect Program Ahead of Pace with New MCAs
Update: Dozens of newly minted Microsoft Certified Architects announced as program begins "pilot phase."
Orlando, FL --
The Microsoft Learning Group tells MCPmag.com that the
Microsoft Certified Architect program is entering the pilot phase and announced
that it has already minted 39 Microsoft Certified Architects. Of those, 19 are
internal to Microsoft and seven are employed at the Hewlett-Packard Company,
one of several companies to help Microsoft develop the program. The Interlink
Group also had a hand in the development; on Tuesday the company issued a press
release announcing that two of its employees have obtained the rigorous, peer-reviewed
The pilot phase marks the end of a six-month-long beta development phase and
marks the beginning of another important phase in which program developers can
test key parts of the certification's rigorous requirements, such as recruiting
and mentoring. Program Manager Andy Ruth offers one anecdote, in which a candidate
who possesses architect-like experience and credentials was coached to appear
before the peer-review board. Ruth says that the board was able to expose the
candidate after a short battery of questions.
Mentoring may have been key in helping that architect candidate get through,
but "we didn't have the mentoring in place," says Tony Redmond, CTO of HP Services and HP Security,
who was able to observe the board's work for a week. Redmond believed that the
help of a mentor and additional experience are the hurdles that's keeping that
architect from getting through.
Program Manager Andy Ruth says that the Learning Group has already received
lots of interest in the program. "We expect a flood of e-mail the day we
announce that the program is live," he says. The board is currently running
two board reviews per month; as more board members are added, the program will
be able to increase the number of board review events. Ruth says that it plans
to certify about 500 MCAs by the close of 2006.
Looking more closely at the MCA, one might perceive an obvious gap between
that certification and the other certifications. "We're working on how
best to address that," says Keith Loeber, chief certification strategist
with the Microsoft Learning Group, but says that there is a breadth of experience
and skills that come from working outside of Microsoft's technology domain.
For one, he cites the difficulty in being able to develop the skill that comes
with working on a project with technological and personnel diversity. Secondly,
he cites the high level of expertise that candidates need to obtain certifications
that already exist in the marketplace, such as the Project Management Institute's
PMI title, one of many which can fill that gap. "Candidates will have to
have extensive external expertise," he adds. Redmond said that a significant
number among the more than 2,000 program managers at HP possess the PMI cert, but the architects have nothing that they can use to showcase their expertise. "We have our own way of [certifying architects at HP], but it's not an industry cert," says Redmond.
MCPmag.com will follow this story with more details next week. To read a Press Pass roundtable discussion with Tony Redmond, Andy Ruth and Interlink Group's Joe Shirey, go to http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2005/jun05/06-06MSLearning.mspx.
In other news, Loeber has confirmed that exams for SQL Server and Visual Studio
are expected soon after the release of the respective products later this year.
He also says that release of the 70-293 and 70-294 exams with performance-based
questions has been pushed to the August/September time frame, citing problems
in rolling out international language versions of the 70-290 and 291 exams in
Michael Domingo is executive editor of MCPmag.com and hosts the Redmond Radio podcasts.