I had the good fortune yesterday (11/8/2010) to speak with Joseph Sack, a Program Manager for the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) credential on SQL Server 2008 . Sack comes by his position honestly, having toiled in the SQL Server trenches for over a decade, and having served as a Premier Field Engineer (PFE) for Microsoft before taking up his mantle as manager of this particular certification program. In fact, Sack earned his own MCM in the very first SQL Server program on that topic back in 2006 when they were still known as “SQL Rangers.” Sack is also active in the Professional Association for SQL Server (aka PASS), which is holding its 2010 Summit conference in Seattle, from October 8 (yesterday) through October 11 (Thursday).
The purpose of my conversation with Sack, as it turned it, is to help get the word out on a massive sea change in the SQL Server 2008 MCM program. Starting at mid-day today, Microsoft will no longer require candidates for this credential to attend a three-week, $18,500 training sequence to prepare for the credential. It also plans to start grooming its substantial community of existing SQL experts — of which Sack estimates there are “several hundred” in North America alone — to earn a SQL Server MCM by challenging its two exams and earning this credential sooner and more easily, rather than later (and more expensively).
For the record those two exams include a written portion ($500) and a demanding lab exam ($2,000) so this credential becomes neither a pushover nor incredibly cheap as a result of this change. But it does become much more reasonable for the sizable pool of existing SQL Server experts to opt into this program in a more timely (and affordable) fashion.
Sack has been incredibly busy revamping the program (especially the lab exam, with input from over two dozen world-class SQL Server subject matter experts, from both inside and outside Microsoft) and the new regime kicks in today. Be sure to visit the recently updated page at Microsoft Learning entitled “New Path to Microsoft Certified Master: Microsoft SQL Server 2008” for more information that includes a detailed description of this program, and related exams and requirements. Interested readers will also find the MS information release SQL Server Masters Certification Goes Global noteworthy in this context as well.