Radi Atanassov

SharePoint MCM, MVP, MCT and owner of OneBit Software

The Fall of the Master

Today the entire MCM/MCA and MCSM community received the sad and utterly disappointing message that all Master & Architect programs will be retired on the 1st of October, 2013.

This is a complete shock to all involved in the community and is by far one of the worst decisions Microsoft has ever done. As an external (to Microsoft) MCM and MCSM, a customer to the program, and what many of my program peers consider a successful  delegate with achieved business results and commercial customer recognition due to the program, I have all the right to publicly announce my disappointment with the person who made this decision and ask for his/her resignation. Hundreds of us have invested their time, money, blood, sweat, nerves, pride and honour, and now it has abruptly been retired for all.

What does this mean for the SharePoint product?

The MCM/MCSM/MCA crew have been long recognised as the best technical field experts in the industry. Maybe not so widely communicated and maybe the message has not been so successful, but the lads and lass of the program have made a difference to the success of the product.

Quite frankly, this is actually a sad, sad day for SharePoint. I know extremely well from experiences, the MCM/MCSM/MCA crew have saved a ridiculous number of failed deployments (no offence to anyone!) and without us this product would have failed embarrassingly in a far too great number of occurrences at key clients that actually fund the product.

What does this mean for customers of SharePoint?

Many customers ask for the skills of MCM/MCSM/MCA… and pay for it. They get good results for the buck, no question asked. There is not one problem we couldn’t fix, not one challenge we couldn’t design for and that’s what we we’re trained for. The actual certificate is not that important here – it is the training and knowledge sharing that matters. There is not one place/program/event/community that I know that offers the collaborative training experience that the training rotation offered. There is no other place in the world, no matter how big the internet is, that offers all of that knowledge collected, systemised, ordered and analysed for the purpose of the better client deployment.

Without this level of training in the future, customers will suffer more failed deployments and essentially Microsoft may suffer a loss in profit. I sincerely believe that you can’t solve many global SharePoint problems/challenges with the training available at the MCP/MCSE/MCSA levels. They are just not deep enough. SharePoint is huge and extremely diverse, so the knowledge matters. Even Microsoft internals are trained at the program. So who’s going to grow stars now?


What about the other programs?

The same story applies. Microsoft just slapped the best in the world. Doesn’t matter if you’re in SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, SQL or Directory, or more than one discipline, it’s a sad day for all.

What does it mean for businesses with MCM/MCSM/MCA specialists?

Well… now there is no way to differentiate the top  of the industry. There might be other certificates or programs to train and recognise, but many partners recognised the Masters and Architects. Many paid a lot for their training and many had a lot of success & return afterwards.

I for one gained significant benefit after passing MCM, I started my own business and currently grow armies of SharePoint developers and infrastructure specialists which assist Microsoft customers and partners (and even Microsoft!) all over the world. A delivery team with a Master is worth much more compared to a delivery team without a Master and many customers hire these services in favour of other nearshore/offshore offerings. Call me commercial, but that’s what I am – I deliver resources and skill set to partners and customers that need it, and the program made me better at it. There are many places in the world that need the MCM/MCSM/MCA difference that it makes.


What would this mean for instructors and managers of the program?

I would imagine you feel disappointed too? You’ve spent so much time to make this all a success for us… and its all gone (I hope you are not made redundant?).

What does this mean to existing MCM/MCSM/MCA?

We’re more tough than you could imagine. For those who have achieved certification, you will always be remembered as the ones who succeeded in the challenge, the original crew. Many of us are hurt (I can see more than 10 emails per hour filled with frustration on the internal DL), but we will continue to be as knowledgeable as we can and act in the best interest for the client. The program has taught us values and practices that will continue to drive product success and adoption.

We’re gonna get some kind of refund, but that won’t cover the disappointment towards Microsoft that the best are feeling at the moment. I guess it’s kind of hard to have the people you recognised as the best to tell you that you suck. If you cared, that is.

What does this mean for people who never had the chance to attend?

There’s a lot of “masters” in the field who didn’t have the chance or just didn’t bother to do this. For those that never had the time or possibility to attend a rotation or pass the exams, you don’t need no certification, we know who you are. The community is mature enough to recognise one another and the impact you have on the success of the product.

And to all MVP’s? think about what it would mean to you if you suddenly receive an email telling you that the MVP program is suddenly retired and within two months your award means nothing anymore. Well guess what, tomorrow that could happen. So have a second thought if you are giving your heart to a company that is changing. Microsoft is no Microsoft anymore.

What does this mean for Microsoft Learning?

YOU FAILED THIS EXAM.. You failed your purpose and your promise to customers. For once YOU get the failed message and not I :) Quite frankly, you damaged the reputation of Microsoft, and you’re probably going to shim off a bit of the share price.

I’m a SharePoint Server MVP!!!

It was near the end of my working day, I was just about to do code reviews and catch-ups with my team, when I got the email:

“Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2011 Microsoft® MVP Award!”

My excitement is warranted – it is my first time. I feel honoured and would like to thank everyone who contributed towards my nomination and my eventual award.

I am grateful for all the people who inspire, challenge, listen, support, influence and motivate me to do my work. To me this award is really about you.

Just like the Master award, and like every other achievement, its not an end, but a start to new goals and targets. Becoming a SharePoint MCM was a real achievement, but it was more a beginning to new paths – people expect you to know, do the right thing, always solve the problems, give the right advice. Being a Master means you always have to be up-to-date, always know what's new, always aim to provide the best possible architecture and solution to customers, write the best code even, you must know what buttons to push and what levers to pull, and if you don’t know you must know where to get the answers. To me, becoming an MVP is similar – there’s a community out there and MVP’s support it. They develop it and inspire individuals. I’ve been “crowned” an MVP - now it’s my job to make the great community greater.

 

I am a Microsoft Certified Master: SharePoint 2010

I have a big announcement to make. Since December 2010 I am officially a Microsoft Certified Master in SharePoint 2010. It took me more than a month of full-time pre-study, 3 weeks spent in Microsoft's Main Campus in Redmond doing training, 45 days post-rotation study, many hours of hard work, very little sleep, a few white hairs, plenty of SharePoint nightmares, countless coffees and a hell of a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I prepared myself for the challenge, I gave it my absolute best, got A LOT out of it and made it to the end.

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There's lots to tell about the experience and the specifics of what a Master is, how one could help, and what responsibilities a Master has. I'll be speaking in the near future about it at the local SharePoint User Group (in Sofia, Bulgaria), but I'll also be sharing some experiences here in my blog.

A few links:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/maximeb/archive/2009/07/02/bringing-sharepoint-certified-master-mcm-to-canada.aspx

http://www.sharepointchick.com/archive/2009/04/08/the-microsoft-certified-master-experience.aspx

http://www.harbar.net/archive/2010/07/08/thoughts-on-the-microsoft-certified-master-for-sharepoint-2010.aspx

See you out there on the field!