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Microsoft Certified Architect Program Sets High Standards

Is this the most demanding computer certification designed yet?

At TechEd 2005, Microsoft announced a new Microsoft Certified Architect program that sets very high standards for successful certification. It is intended to identify top industry experts in IT architecture. These top experts will have at least 10 years of IT architecture experience, and be able to build and present solutions to complex business problems.

Mastery of many skills is mandated, including: leadership, technology depth, technology breadth, strategy (frameworks), the ability to understand and navigate organization dynamics, tactical/process skills, and communication skills.

Unlike other Microsoft certifications, this program is not test based. Instead, candidates will face a rigorous review board which will determine if the defined criteria are met. The review board will consist of four voting members, a recorder, and a moderator. The moderator's job is to keep the board on schedule, and the recorder notes every step that takes place. To achieve certification, a candidate must earn approval by at least 3 of the 4 voting members.

The Microsoft Certified Architect program is currently in beta phase, which means that applications are only being accepted through trusted referrals. The program is slated to be opened to the public in the first half of 2006, when a non-referral process will become available. The cost of the application process has yet to be set. Content is estimated to be approximately 25% Microsoft specific, with the rest relating to general architecture principles.

In its initial format, the program will target two IT architecture roles: infrastructure architects and solutions architects. At some future date, levels such as enterprise (as step above) or academic and new architects may be added.

For each of these disciplines, the candidate will have to first prove 10 or more years of experience, then architect a solution and present and defend that solution during a rigorous, two and a half hour, board review.

If this program succeeds at consistently identifying individuals with the high levels of skills and knowledge initially targeted, it will indeed be quite the prize to hold.

For Micrsosoft's full scoop on this program, visit: