Constructing a Community -- One High-Achiever at a Time
When Microsoft's Certified Architect Program reaches its nine-month
anniversary in mid-February, program officials estimate that about 175
specialists worldwide will have qualified for the elite IT designation.
Of those, 66 earned the top-tier credential even before Microsoft officially
kicked off the program at its annual Tech-Ed Conference in Boston in June
2006 (see "Building
a New Community," August 2006).
Microsoft, which hopes to issue a maximum of 3,000 architect certifications
over the next five to seven years, attributes the program's slow ramp-up
to its rigorous qualification requirements. The intensive process culminates
with each applicant undergoing a two-hour in-person review administered
by a panel of previously certified architects. With fewer than 150 Certified
Architects currently available worldwide, coordinating those peer-review
sessions can take a while.
For candidates, the application process also requires a hefty time commitment;
program officials estimate that successful candidates typically log 80
to 120 hours of prep time over three to six months. And it's not cheap:
Each candidate pays $200 to apply and, if successful, an additional $10,000
fee to join the program.
Despite those hurdles, Microsoft officials expect the top-tier credential
to continue attracting new applicants. "We're going to see more as time
goes on," predicts Don Nelson, Microsoft's general manager for worldwide
partner sales and readiness.
Anne Stuart, the former executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner, is a business technology freelance writer based in Boston, Mass.