Microsoft announced at TechEd EMEA 2008 two new certifications for SharePoint professionals. Both are additions to existing certification programs: the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) and Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) Programs. These build on existing certification programs which you can read about here if you're unfamiliar with them. Instead of rehashing what the MCM & MCA are (read up on them using the above links), here's my $.02:
- The MCM is the top Microsoft technical certification on a product; in this case SharePoint, where you are tested on all aspects of the product from both the custom development, configuration and physical architecture perspective, but it isn't limited to the product being tested as you have to know the whole environment and how to configure many other systems to fully optimize it. For the MCM: SharePoint Server 2007, you have to pass all four SharePoint exams as a prerequisite as well apply & go through an application process. There are four other MCM's: SQL Server 2008, Exchange Server 2007, Windows Server 2008: Directory and Office Communications Server.
Spencer Harbar does a great job explaining what the MCM & MCA are and aren't... again, no sense in rehashing them here, go check out his post.
I love the fact there's a single certification that covers the entire product stack, as deep and as wide as it is and does not keep promoting this developer & administrator divide in the SharePoint world. In my opinion there should not be a separation between the two roles for a master certification... how could you be called a master of a product but only as a developer or administrator? Makes absolutely no sense... because then you can't be called a "master" in my eyes. Another thing that's cool about this certification is the format. You have to go through a three week class complete with homework and an exam at the end of each week, followed by a big hands-on exam at the end. The class format is awesome... sure there are slides and demos, but it's the discussion and white boarding that rocks the house. During each rotation (what they call each delivery) they collect a ton of feedback and update the course/demos/labs/exam questions where appropriate.
So who's working on the SharePoint Master certification? The best and the brightest SharePoint people at Microsoft in the field is who. This includes folks like the SharePoint Rangers, people from the Customer Advisory Team (CAT), the Premier Field Engineers (PFE's) and some folks from Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS). In addition some folks from the SharePoint product team such as PM's, software testers and others are involved. I know some of the guys and gals who are writing the materials for the class, the labs, the demos and exam questions. You can trust me these are some of the smartest people in the SharePoint space.
Microsoft people make up all but two of the course authors and instructors for the first few rotations. Two SharePoint MVPs make up the remainder of the SharePoint MCM course authors & instructors. Todd Baginski is the content owner & instructor for the Business Data Catalog piece. I'm the content owner & instructor for the Web Content Management part of the SharePoint MCM certification (and associated course, labs and exam questions). As I said previously, this means that after each SharePoint MCM rotation I'll be updating the WCM content based on feedback and how the student discussion goes. I taught the WCM module the first time last Friday during their alpha rotation... it's one of the most fun groups of people I've taught as it was a very engaging discussion.
I hope that at some point in the future I'll have a chance to go for my MCM for SharePoint. It's certainly something I'd love to achieve. No doubt it will be one hard and challenging undertaking as there are plenty of areas of the product that I'm not very strong in.