The MCM Is Dead, But The Idea Doesn’t Have To Be

Microsoft has announced it’s discontinuing the MCM (Microsoft Certified Master) certification on October 1, 2013. Anyone who has passed the knowledge exam has roughly thirty days to pass the lab exam, otherwise they can never become an MCM and whatever work they’ve put into earning MCM will be lost. As you can imagine, this is not going over well in the SQL Server community, especially among those who have put in hundreds of hours toward passing the MCM exams. (If I were halfway there — having passed the knowledge exam –I’d be pissed.) Assuming Microsoft doesn’t reverse their decision, a lot of SQL people will be denied the opportunity to be certified in a way that really matters; a crowd of colonels without a general’s star to earn.

There’s a Connect item petitioning Microsoft to keep the program alive. I hope it succeeds (I voted for it). Keeping the program at Microsoft would be the best-case scenario. But what if it doesn’t succeed and the MCM is truly discontinued?

Maybe this is an opportunity in disguise.

This is a void PASS could fill.

Behold the PCM: PASS Certified Master

I’ve only been on the SQL Server scene a few years. I don’t know the history or the mission of PASS well enough to say how feasible this is. Also, I’ve never taken an MCM exam, so only know in vague terms what’s in them. That stated, here’s why — again, assuming Microsoft really does stop the MCM program — I think this is a great opportunity for PASS.

It’s a powerful community service for PASS

I’ve often heard the question, “What are the benefits of joining PASS? What do I get as a member?” This could be a high-profile service of PASS, and a chance to improve credibility and visibility, even more so if they offer a BI version.

PCM Exams written by your peers…

The PCM exams would be written by the most knowledgable and experienced PASS members who implement and manage SQL Server day-to-day.

…who happen to be MCMs

There are enough MCMs in PASS that they could recruit some to help [re-]create the exams and ensure a comparable level of quality and integrity to the existing MCM exams.

We’re talking one certification, not the entire certification program

PASS hasn’t the resources to run an entire certification program, but it may be able to take on one cert. (At least to start with. I’d love to see a PCM-BI too.) Leave the lower levels to Microsoft and make the MCSE a prerequisite.

Administering the exams on request could be too much work. Instead, offer it only at the PASS Summit and one or two other times throughout the year.

I know, it’s not that simple.

I can think of numerous reasons why this wouldn’t work (cost to implement, not enough PASS volunteers, cost of advertising, exceeding PASS’ mission) but at the risk of appearing stupidly optimistic, I believe it can be done. Although I’m not an MCM (not even close), I’d volunteer to help make this happen.

So tell me, why not look at this as a baby shower instead of a funeral? Leave your take in the comments below.