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Microsoft Certified Architect Program Now Live

Microsoft plans to open up senior-level certification to 250 applicants in its first year.

Incubating in development for a year, Microsoft Learning has finally peeled the shell off the Microsoft Certified Architect certification, making the announcement today at the company's TechEd conference in Boston. Microsoft Learning Group also announced a revamped Office Specialist title that will be adding curriculum for Office 12 and Windows Vista.

The Microsoft Certified Architect is a high-level, peer-reviewed board certification aimed at IT professionals who have at least a decade of demonstrated skill in planning and implementing Microsoft and non-Microsoft technology within the context of an enterprise-scale business, according to the company.

"Through a peer-review process, [Microsoft will] certify individuals who can successfully produce an architecture that solves business problems by employing Microsoft products," said Microsoft program manager Andy Ruth. So far, the company has issued 66 titles and plans to grant 3,000 within the next five to seven years.

Since Microsoft Learning announced the title back in April 2005 (see "Microsoft Previews Board-Level Certification at TechMentor "), the group has refined the title into three distinct paths: MCA: Infrastructure, MCA: Solutions and MCA: Messaging. According to a Microsoft press release, the first two measure a candidate's "breadth of knowledge across the IT landscape"; the third measures a candidate's "depth of knowledge of messaging systems and their dependencies." Ruth says that the messaging solutions title is still in development.

Microsoft says it's currently taking applications through Thomson Prometric; the company is limiting registrations to the first 250 applicants. The title doesn't come cheap: it's $200 for the application, and $10,000 when you're accepted into the program.

Ruth contends that the high fee is "cost recovery," since the program requires bringing together four to six highly qualified architects in a single location several times throughout the board review process. He believes the fee and the high level of experience that candidates must demonstrate will filter out less serious candidates. Ruth said that those who've achieved the MCA so far have upwards of 25 year's worth of experience, with most having 10 to 15 years in an architecting role. "This cannot be for everyone," he added.

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Microsoft also announced that it has revamped its Office Specialist certification, with the addition of 2007 Office and Windows Vista skills among the current mix of software for which the program tests.

According to a statement on the Microsoft site, "The introduction of the Windows Vista and 2007 Office programs is part of Microsoft Learning's customer readiness promise to deliver the right amount of knowledge in the right form factor at the right time." The Microsoft Learning Group says that it will add more content as 2007 Office and Windows Vista get closer to release, slated for some time early next year. (MCPmag.com will follow up with a separate report as soon as Microsoft releases details.)

Redmond Channel Partner editor Anne Stuart in Boston contributed to this report.

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:

Wed, Jun 21, 2006 Jason Minneapolis

Complete horse crap. My gut instinct would be to say MS is doing this for the money but they don't need this kind of money this badly. The MCA certification is pointless and bogus. Many qualified people I know don't go after current MS certs. What makes you think they would put the time and energy in for achieving MCA? Where is the demand for MCAs right now and how is that demand currently not being satisfied? In other words, who told MS that they need to validate architects? I agree with the previous poster that this is a ploy to equal or better the CCIE certification. Mark my words, the MCA program will amount to nearly nothing and in three years people will be looking back on it as a failure (and joke for that matter). Congratulations to the 66 currently certified architects. You must have money to burn.

Tue, Jun 20, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

It's just another way to create more MicroSnobs who have a string of acronyms behind their names and can't find the bathroom by themselves.

Mon, Jun 19, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Likewise I would go for this but 10K!!, come on. Only those with money to burn or who work for companies with money to burn are going to bother with this. As a self employed consultant and engineer thats a ridiculous amount of money!! MS say it will only encourage serious people! get real, does having money equal serious? I think not! Yes proving 10 years experience and yes being grilled by you peers and yes having to put time and effort into your application is a good way of making sure you qualify but for some of us you might as well say 100k as 10K!.

Sat, Jun 17, 2006 CPT M Anonymous

Hmm, no it wont fly. A pilot would spend 10,000$ for getting his license but gets 300 hrs of training in a jet for that money. Here I get a piece of paper from the software vendor. No I wouldnt do it and neither will most people. Give me 15 minutes with someone and I will tell you if they are an architect or not...

Sat, Jun 17, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Completely pointless; anyone with the experience requirements doesn't need a Microsoft piece of paper for $10,000 to prove their knowledge.

Fri, Jun 16, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Seems M$ just wanted to create a cert more respected than CCIE. Good luck.

Thu, Jun 15, 2006 Anonymous London

$10k isn't that much for many companies. No one says that you need to be a MCA to be a Microsoft Architect but I am sure that will change in the next twelve months. Will "paper MCA's" emerge or maybe "MCAs as friends of other MCAs". Sounds great in theory. Will a MCA become the equivalent of a MBA? Surely qualifications simply amplify what is in you in the first place?

Thu, Jun 15, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

I agree. I can see a situation where a professional pilot would pay $10,000 of their own money for the simulator time to get type certified in a specific type of aircraft to meet the FAA requirement of flying a specific aircraft (like an AirBus 300, for example) for the purpose of landing a job with an airline. However, there is no standardized government body stating that you must be an MCA to get a job as an IT architect. Who in their right mind would pay for this?

Thu, Jun 15, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

$10,000 when you're accepted into the program? Get real. I will never recover that back from my employer, and he sure will want to tie my hands if he pays. All around bad pricing for a great Idea. I would have done it, but that just stopped it dead.

The price should be higher for the application fee. That would scale far better. The one who achieved the MCA should not bear the burden for all the do not.

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