MCM/MCA gone: Microsoft’s “cloud” reality distortion field in full force

The SharePoint MCM (and all MCM’s – Lync, SQL, Exchange) got a huge blow Friday, they received e-mails (yep nice) to be told that the MCM certification program would be cancelled October 1st. I think its utterly disgusting to let a group of less than 100 SharePoint MCM’s know that the blood sweat and tears they went through to get the MCM is no longer via e-mail! That’s like breaking up with your girlfriend over SnapChat. On the plus side…this does make them an elite group that no-one else can join!

The MCM program has been around since SharePoint 2007 days, and involved flying to Redmond and commit to 3 weeks of training with an exam at the end…which most failed due to the complexities and had opportunities to retake twice. The program has changed since it started to allow for remote training and remote exams which MCMs commented reduced the elite’ness of the program.

I have great respect for those who have got the SharePoint MCM certification…they are the most experienced people in the industry at understanding how SharePoint ticks and how it should be deployed on-premises to customer sites. The MCM’s have gotten Microsoft out of a lot of shit at large high profile customers where SharePoint was deployed incorrectly or mis-configured.

As a SharePoint consultant in Australia I spent the majority of my last 4 years there debugging/fixing other consultants SharePoint deployments and development projects. Most of it was due to lack of education around the platform and everyone trying to make a buck out of the high consulting rates around it. The SharePoint ecosystem globally has a fundamental problem that SharePoint is a very large platform and Microsoft did not put enough emphasis on certified consultants to ensure quality to their customer base. My personal impression of the MCM’s is this is where they come in and help these larger customers deply it correctly.

Even when the MCM program came about…in my experience in Australia, it was mainly the Service Integrators who took the punt and sent their consultants off to the training that made the noise about what MCMs meant and the value of hiring a MCM on your project. This is one reason as a consultant I did not go for the MCM, because the cost was extremely high and taken 3 weeks out of billable time to do the exam seemed too much with hardly anyone in the market then knowing what it was. I say “considered” because I’m not going to claim I could pass, because I’ve seen many I know are experienced fail too…and now…I’ll never know.
The issue of promotion is the same with the MCTS exams, granted that’s not going to make you an expert, but having some spread knowledge across the platform in taking those exams would certainly help higher the quality.
Cisco and SAP do a much better job of this in their ecosystems. Pretty much everyone in the IT world knows what the Cisco certifications are whether you’re an network engineer or not.
I think Microsoft spend way too much time fluffing the egos of the MVP community (yes I have been recognized as one for last 4 years and really appreciate the benefits) and letting them evangelize the latest and greatest the platform has to offer. I think Microsoft funds would have been better spent focusing on ensuring that the quality of the global field deploying SharePoint are better and well represented by Microsoft. This way customers understand the benefits of demanding MCMs and MCTS qualified engineers to work on their projects.

I personally think the other reason Microsoft gave this program the chop is that MCM’s focus is around deployment of SharePoint on-premises, and Microsoft don’t want to encourage on-premises deployments, they want everyone in the cloud. The way Microsoft see it, if everyone moves to the cloud, all these horror deployment stories go away and they can contain customizations when customers run on their multi-tenant platform. Microsoft’s “devices and services” strategy is certainly moving their focus and making them stronger on decisions like this, Steve Goodman also mentions the same thing in his post who also seems to agree with me on this cloud push.
There will and continue to be many large high profile customers that chose on-premises deployments due to: customizations with Full-Trust Solutions, compliance, data sovereignty, security and lots of other reasons.
Have Microsoft indicated at all publically any future for on-premises SharePoint? Should we be expecting a service pack 18 months after SharePoint 2013 launched like SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 did? Will these Service Packs be roll ups of Cumulative Updates with bug fixes in them only and have to wait until SharePoint 2016 for any new functionality in the product?
This is just another example of Microsoft not understanding that forcing peoples hands to the cloud for an easier deployment strategy and “cost savings” and high cadence release cycles for new features is not what everyone wants. They’ll state “yes we know on-premises will be around for at least 5 years” but there is no focus on it…have we seen a Cumulative Update yet to fix some of these annoying bugs you get in the RTM? No.

If you think “cloud” was way too overkill at SharePoint Conference 2011, wait until you see the SharePoint Conference 2013. I’d be almost certain in the fact that there will be little or no on-premises sessions there.

Some others have written on this as well:

  • Radi  Atanassov, who is a top guy that I know from Australian SharePoint market, wrote a good blog post on his opinions.
  • Seb Matthews wrote a post (as a non MCM) highlighting that the majority of the MCMs are Microsoft field staff and was costing Microsoft a lot of money.

Hats off to those who are MCM’s, I have so much respect for the depth of knowledge you guys have in the platform that I eat, live, sleep and dream of (god that is so sad).

UPDATE #1 (31Aug): There is a web site where you can show your support..please vote here please-dont-get-rid-of-the-mcm-and-mca-programs

UPDATE #2 (31Aug): This not only affects MCMs it affects MCAs also.

UPDATE #3 (31Aug): A blog article by Neil Johnson with the email in full.

UPDATE #4 (2nd Sep): A blog article by Marc Anderson (non MCM but great quotes from people) and Wictor Wilen (MCM) and Chris Givens (MVP and trainer)

13 thoughts on “MCM/MCA gone: Microsoft’s “cloud” reality distortion field in full force”

  1. Thanks for the post Jeremy. I just like to add, additional conclusions should be made outside of SharePoint. This is for all platforms. A strong indicator that Microsoft is moving towards a \”devices\” and \”services\” company.

    1. Yeah, I’d bet there is more to come like this around cloud only. It will be interesting to see whether the new wave of collaboration competitors like Box, Google, Salesforce jump into on-premises playing field or whether they stay I the cloud. I believe they will stay, and that leaves the likes of the old guard of OpenText,Documentum, IBM etc. to maybe make moves in this space. We are seeing movement to the cloud but not at the pace that Microsoft is acting in in the SharePoint space.

  2. Another point of view:
    If they just sell through office365, they don’t have to bundle/document/support the software. And they don’t have to polish it so it can be installed by non Microsoft dev people.

    1. Totally, as an architect at AvePoint, I’d love to be able to just do SaaS…rather than having to worry about all the permutations of on-premises that occur and also dealing with idiots who can’t read instructions ;-) It puts them in control of versions too rather than having to still be concerned with people on SharePoint 2003!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Jeremy. It’s a real disappointment, especially for those who have worked so hard to deliver the content and build the MCM program, and those who have certifications “in flight” (I hadn’t got around to the 2013 version). It’s hard enough to get the MCM without this kind of thing. Big mistake in my opinion.

    BTW I’m sure you would have got through it, mate ;-)

  4. whilst the sentiments expressed are appreciated, you get many key facts wrong. SI angle, length of program and the focus of the program are all incorrectly represented. Please do some research before hitting “publish”, as it embarrasses you and insults people like me that helped create and deliver the program. The cloud aspect has actually nothing to do with this decision, and whilst i share your sentiments there as well, it’s muddling up two unrelated things. And besides we have had updates for 2013 that address key blockers and light up scenarios for on premises, so that argument is entirely without technical merit

    1. thx spencer. was it 2010 they came out? i sware ive seen 2007 mcm’s. i speak for australia market around exposure of mcm when i was there. maybe other countries were different. what do you think the reasons were?

      1. length of program is three weeks not four. the original program for 2007 has no relevance to that! i made no mention of the “exposure of MCM” did you read my comment, or just type a random reply?

        1. Yeah i typed a random reply, spence you can be a real ass sometimes!
          I was reading your comment on ‘SI angle’ being wrong and me stating its my opinion based on Australia market.
          Thx for correction on length of program.

          1. yeah – I know – basic facts have a tendency to get in the way of an uninformed opinion. thanks so much for the insults – always greatly recieved

  5. A sad day indeed. I have always aspired to become an MCM, sadly i will not be able to do so at this point. But it does make me wonder about the future of MCITPs. Are we safe? Are we know solution architects?
    What do you think would happen if every Microsoft customer, dropped all their on premise stuff and moved it all to the cloud? Can Microsoft handle that kind of load?
    I have my own reservations about the cloud, mostly around control and data audit, but i can’t say that I believe everyone on the planet will be in the cloud. Remember at the SharePoint 2012 conference how MS was all about hybrid environments and none of their demos worked because the wifi was always down? Right there, is a huge example of why on premise will survive. Getting rid of the MCM certification was perhaps a more Economic cut than a roadmap one. I just can’t see a future with ZERO on premise installation. Any company that knows how markets work, will rush to the on premise market with their own product if MS pulls out, which i doubt. That is just my opinion tho. I don’t have any actual data, other than the hundreds of IT pros that i have taught SharePoint 2013. They all seem to think that their company will not go to the cloud anytime soon.
    However, there are lots of examples of SaaS that seem to work, when dealing with Enterprise Applications. However, SharePoint is not just one application, it is an ecosystem of applications.
    I don’t know, about this Microsoft. Save the MCMs.

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