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September 5, 2008
Hyper-V SharePoint Development Image: USB 2.0 vs. eSATA vs. C: shootout
December 1, 2008

As you may have seen, Microsoft recently announced a pair of new certifications for SharePoint Products and Technologies.  Spencer Harbar and Andrew Connell both have blog posts which describe the new certification programs and provide additional information that is not found on the official Microsoft site.  I encourage you to read their posts to learn more.

As Andrew mentions in his blog post, the course authors and presenters include SharePoint Rangers, CAT team members, PFEs, MCS personnel, several members of the SharePoint product team and two SharePoint MVPs.  Andrew Connell is the content owner, author and instructor for the WCM portion of the course and I am the content owner, author and instructor for the Business Data Catalog (BDC) portion of the SharePoint Master Certification course.

Last week I presented the BDC portion of the course during the alpha delivery and I can definitely say that the training sessions are unlike any I have ever seen or presented before.  Mitch Prince also contributed content to the BDC portion of the training and presented some if it last week as well.  Between now and the next time the training is offered I will be incorporating Mitch’s content into the BDC portion of the curriculum before I present it again. 

Hopefully this post will help provide some insight into what the course is all about and give you an idea what the classroom atmosphere is like.  Like any training course there are slides, demos and lab exercises, however the discussions that take place during the sessions go way beyond your typical training course and provide a tremendous amount of value and insight into the SharePoint platform.  Imagine a training environment where you are not only learning from highly qualified and experienced instructors, but you are also learning from the experiences the entire class brings to the table.  Couple this with the fact that every person who partakes in the SharePoint Master Certification program has passed a stringent set of pre-requisites, exams, and personal interviews and you quickly realize that the depth of the training and the subject matter is incredibly valuable.

The content presented in the curriculum is constantly evolving and being updated to incorporate student feedback.  During the alpha delivery of the program last week I collected several interesting and helpful pieces of information from the students which stemmed from the real world experiences they had with the topics at hand.  The information I collected will become part of the curriculum going forward.  This open and iterative approach ensures that the certification always includes the most up to date information and tips from not only the instructors, but from students/experts from around the world.  Essentially, every time the class is taught, it is better than before!

Since the program was announced many people have asked me what I believe the true value of achieving the SharePoint Master Certification is.  Based on the session I delivered and the other sessions I sat in on later in the day, there is no doubt in my mind that the true value of the certification is that it ensures those who attain it know the SharePoint platform inside and out, from top to bottom.  I believe that you can certainly hire a person with this level of certification and have complete confidence they are capable of properly and successfully implementing a multimillion dollar infrastructure with SharePoint Products and Technologies.  I’m not trying to knock the existing SharePoint certifications, I’m just pointing out that if you can pass the SharePoint Master Certification exams and hands on lab tests then you have certainly proven you know your stuff.  To say it another way, this certification proves you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk – not just from a technical point of view, but also as a true consultant who knows how to work with the business to implement solutions that solve their problems and meet their needs quickly and effectively.

In the future I hope to not only continue presenting the BDC portion of the course, but to also achieve this level of certification.  It’s a tall mountain to climb; but as you may know, I love to ski and it’s another mountain I’d love to summit.  Speaking of skiing; I’m going to go hop in the FJ and head up to Breck for my first turns of the year!  J  Pray for snow!