News

Microsoft Gets Into the Boot Camp Business

In February, Microsoft began offering Accelerated MCSE Certification Bootcamp through Infinity+1, a Microsoft Service Provider Partner, in effect, sanctioning this method of training.

Microsoft is pushing an accelerated MCSE boot camp on its Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/
serviceproviders/training/mcse_P115709.asp
. What's wrong with this picture? Some might say that it goes against Microsoft's recommendation that candidates earn their certifications through experience mastered by implementing the technology. "Microsoft doesn't look favorably upon boot camps," writes MCP Magazine senior editor, Keith Ward, in an article on boot camp training, "claiming it's not the best way to get certified."

But recent news reports suggest that IT professionals who are hitting the job interview circuit without paper credentials are finding it increasingly more difficult to compete for jobs against those candidates who do possess the paper.

"We need [the certifications] to sell ourselves," says Richard Pusey, a manager of networking services for The Technology Group, an IT consulting firm. (For more, read "Certification Crossroads," by Keith Ward in the January 2002 issue of MCP Magazine.) Job hunters, therefore, are turning to boot camps, such as those offered by Acrew and Mountain View Systems, to back up their credentials quickly with the much-needed paper.

In February, Microsoft began offering Accelerated MCSE Certification Bootcamp through Infinity+1, a Microsoft Service Provider Partner (http://www.mcse-cisco-training.com/), in effect, sanctioning this method of training. Microsoft had no comment for this article.

The training will be offered in Redmond at the Microsoft Partner Solution Center.

Like most boot camp-style offerings, Infinity+1 says, it's an accelerated method of training that requires that applicants be fairly knowledgeable about the technology before being allowed to step into the training classroom.

"All candidates are given a questionnaire to qualify them for the class," says Linda Carr, partner and owner of Infinity+1. "If the candidate doesn't pass it, they're directed to other options" for more traditional training methods.

The term "boot camp" has come to mean particular things in the IT training business—a focus on taking exams and obtaining a title, an "immersion" experience in which the candidate has no life outside of the classroom for the duration of the training, and a hefty price tag (typically, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on length, housing, and other program features). According to the Web site for Infinity+1, "Testing will be available during course off-hours, but is not a course requirement." The boot camp lasts seven days and runs from 8:30 in the morning until 9 at night. The first bootcamp training was under way at the time of this writing, but Infinity+1 plans to schedule others later this year.

It's unclear whether Microsoft will allow others of its partners to offer training programs on campus as well.

For alternative MCSE boot camp offerings, see Keith Ward's article, "Tough Training, Boot Camp-Style," in the November issue of MCP Magazine.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is Editor in Chief of Virtualization Review. He's been an IT writer and editor for so long that he remember typing out news items in WordStar.

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Reader Comments:

Fri, May 24, 2002 Richard Price Scotland

Good luck to Microsoft and those people/compainies willing to spend the money/time on these. I matters not how you learn the material, its just a test, its just an cert. The value of it is in the eye of the employer not the vendor, or the candidate. Each person must be judged on their on merits. Certification is just a part of the picture. I would be more inclined to take on a youngster with the badge than I would a veteren without the badge who tells me that they don't need to sit exams to prove themselves. Certs are part of this industry now. If you don't like it you will find it harder to progress.

Thu, Apr 18, 2002 VANCE SHEARER S.C.

Because so many self-described IT wannabes have flooded onto the market the certification is simply an employers method of filtering candidates. Anyone who completes a boot camp and then does not continue to learn use the knowledge on a day to day basis will simply be out of a job rather quickly. No matter how much of a 'brake' they are given. 'Course I don't believe in them personally, and I do wish MS would follow the CCIE model of lab certification for MCSE.

Wed, Apr 10, 2002 Ryan UK

I've done Boot Camps, self study and plenty of on the job training, and in my opinion, it's whatever suits you best. I don't think it's fair to say that Boot Camps are only good for people desperate to get the paper, everybody’s circumstances are different. Just because you cram the knowledge in, doesn't mean you don't understand it fully. In the past I have taken the odd Boot Camp, but it's been to get an understanding of the product in question, then I've gone off and learnt the practical, then taken the exam. In the UK it takes on average 30 hours of driving tuition before you're ready to take your test (test is difficult, unlike US), some places offer an intensive accelerated course (2 days then test), if you pass it doesn't mean you can't drive does it !!! I agree totally with James, Microsoft should introduce practical competency exams like the CCIE lab. I think that there should be a practical exam needed to complete each cert. Basically, you would need to sit all the standard exams, but before you got your certification (MCSA / MCSE / MCDBA / MCSD), you would need to pass a practical exam based on whichever cert you were after.

Ryan, MCSE / MCSA / MCDBA / MCSD

Tue, Apr 9, 2002 James Carrion Anonymous

As the founder of one of the original boot camp companies, Mountain View Systems, LLC., it is very interesting to see how this accelerated training concept has grown in the last five years.
First off, boot camps are only for a niche market - IT professionals who already have all the experience they need but are looking to get their certification finished up in the shortest amount of time possible. They are not for career changers or junior admins.
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous boot camp companies out there that will accept anyone.
That being said, I don't see how Microsoft can deliver a Windows 2000 Boot Camp in a 7 day period. Our WIN2K boot camp is 16 days long and is filled to the brim. We take a knowledge based approach and teach the product, not just the test. It is a real shame that the boot camp concept has been drug through the mud because of those who simply want to make a quick buck.
Of course, the whole controversy can be sunffed if Microsoft simply created a premier certification that was competency based similar to the Cisco CCIE lab.

Mon, Apr 8, 2002 John Girvan Scotland

M$ have really stooped to a new low. They have been turning a blind eye to the so called "STUDY GUIDES" companies for years.........now,surprise surprise they are now endorsing Boot Camps!.....MCSE in 7 days....what a joke!. The so called Boot Camp companies could not survive without the Study Guide companies......they may give no credit to the "guide" companies for their "answers" but we who have studied the hard way to earn our certifications know that both Study Guides and Boot Camps equate to the same thing.........."CHEAT"

Sat, Apr 6, 2002 Richard Slauenwhite, MCT, CT USA

Good for Microsoft. They apparently liked the price and saw the value of this accelerated program. As a developer I'd like to see more accelerated training vehicles--and if they try to add more value by coupling test vouchers with the courseware even better.

I know professional VB, ASP and C++progammers that would never take 18 days of training over 5 work weeks to do C# and .NET but might take a 7 to 9 day event (Saturday to the following Sunday). Wrap the C# Desktop, Web, Web services, the ASP .NET, and the CLR framework courses into 9 days instead of 18, throw in some vouchers, run em for 14 hour days and the attendees only miss a week of work. That's all they would need to be productive on .NET and well on their way to certification.

Bootcamps are a tool. If the content is packaged and presented correctly and then sold to the right audience they are the only sensible ILT vehicle.

Sat, Apr 6, 2002 Jose Argueta Guatemala

I think that Joseph D. Philips is just another old pal who is afraid of gettin out of the bussiness, is only matter of time dude, oh.. by the way, I have a lot of job offers, I could take your job if I wanted....

Fri, Apr 5, 2002 Cliffy Pooh Tucson

Check the stats. The numbers tell the whole story. How many people are now certified MCSE W2K? Not enough to make MS a major cert vendor without keeping the MCSE for NT 4.0 active. You think MS did a turn around on the 4.0 cert because of all the complaining? Yeah, right.

Fri, Apr 5, 2002 Joseph D. Phillips California

It's no wonder the last poster didn't leave his name. He may get his precious certification, but his lack of communication skills will keep him at the bottom end of the market, if he even gets a job at all.

Fri, Apr 5, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Give me a brake people, youre acting like if you were some kind of god of computers, give us to young people like me (19) get into this and get some experience in the job, I've already passed 5 test and only left 2 to become an MCSE, so GIVE US A BRAKE!!!!!!!

Fri, Apr 5, 2002 Mike Haukoos

Boot camps are a joke. I have worked with many MCSE boot camp graduates and found that turning on a computer for them is a challenge in itself. If you cannot go to the testing center and pass the test based on experience, you are not worthy of the title.

Fri, Apr 5, 2002 Jim Mc Ft Wort

Microsoft has weakend the value of their own certification to the point that I no longer add the MCSE or MCSA (I have both) after my name, if someone asks I tell them, but it looks too cheesy up front.

Fri, Apr 5, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

If it brings in money for microsoft then trust them to get into it. Microsoft is so hypocritical about everything - it's do what I say not waht I do, typical of microsoft.

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