SQL Server MCM is too easy, is it?

We all know that Brent Ozar did the MCM training/certification over the past few weeks. He wrote an interesting article on Friday about the bad bits (http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2010/04/sql-mcm-now-bad-stuff/) of the training and it lead me to thinking about the certification process again(I often think about it, and it appears often in response to something from Brent http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/simons/archive/2010/02/12/Whats-missing-in-the-SQL-Certification-process-.aspx)

This time what got me thinking was an overriding feeling from Brent that he should be able to attend the training and pass the exams and labs. Brent has never hidden the fact that some of the more developer areas CLR, Service Broker etc are not his strong point and so its this in conjunction with the expectation to pass that I’ve been thinking about.

We all know the normal MOC training stuff is cramable, you can learn for them. In fact many companies make considerable amount of money out of it. The MCM however I feel should be different. It should be experience based. You should have to know the stuff and know how to use it. ok you can be rusty and maybe not know all the facets of something but you should still have a deep understanding based on experience. Just because the best people in the industry have taught you doesn’t mean 6 months later you will know what to do.

IT often looks in relation to other industries a bit of a mess. If you want to build a multi million pound building you would get a team of architects that have spent 7 years studying. Thats not the same for IT. You might say that its just not possible in IT, things change too much. well things do change but they do in the building industry as well, new materials, new fixings but there is still a set of underlying principles that underpin the design of a building, managing loads, moving people, providing lighting etc.

I find it really odd that there is such a high amount of content to learn in the MCM. Everyone I’ve spoken to that has done it, passed or not, have said you spend all the 3 weeks eating, sleeping, learning or revising, and you are generally doing the last two whilst doing the first two. I contacted Brent and his comment was

“…they're teaching you stuff that's not out yet or is outside of conventional DBA work. … That's where the cram parts come in - there's so much you couldn't have known going in even if you work full time building training materials for new versions”

That was one of Brents other points which I’m not going to go into and one I’m not sure where I sit, I can see merits in giving an overview but I probably err on the side of it not being a examinable part of the MCM

Anyway I really do hope that you can’t just cram your way through the MCM, I’ve heard you can’t, but I guess there is a line that has to be drawn. I would love to experience it myself to see where is has been but as an independent can’t justify the time and loss of revenue. 

I just hope that the line is drawn nearer the side of experience rather than one of memory recall and it appears it is and it isn’t.

I will leave the last word to Brent who reassured me that the core knowledge for the MCM isn’t crammable, and really is a word of warning to those that are contemplating the MCM.

“..The lab is unstudyable.  It's 100% surprise hard work scenarios that are all about real world experience.  The class did have a few people who tried to cram, and the lab really showed who was winging it.  It required an amaaaazing ability to string multiple features together in undocumented ways that weren't covered in any book.  Other attendees couldn't figure out how it was even possible...”

Published Tuesday, April 6, 2010 10:20 PM by simonsabin

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