Certification Cloud

Learning to Cloud…

It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago, I was working on a SharePoint 2007 deployment and embracing the service provider model, which seemed so new and different. I learned through friends in the SharePoint community by reading blogs and chatting over IM. I would share what I learned with others as we helped fill in our knowledge gaps. Fast forward to 2022, and we find ourselves with more knowledge than we know what to do with.

Microsoft docs are chocked full of information and updated regularly by the paid employees that are sharp and have worked in the field and community members. Microsoft has invested so much in it that they’ve established the Learn platform – more about that over here –

In addition to Microsoft Docs, many learning providers provide anything from Labs to Podcasts to Practice Exams and presenting material to help educate on topics. A few of my favourites include:

  • Microsoft Learn (see above)
  • A Cloud Guru – – overall they’re well known as being an AWS training provider, but over the past few years they’ve branched out and have an entire cadre of MVPs support Azure topics in a regularly scheduled video / podcast. Further, they’ve got some terrific Azure training courses with labs to test your skills out.
  • Adrian Cantrill’s AWS training – – yes, it’s all AWS cloud focused, but if you’re going to flourish in this world you need to put the time and energy into it. Adrian will get you there pretty rapidly and you’ll be deploying environments and solutions in no time flat due to his realism in the hands on labs.
  • Pluralsight – – while the training tends to be more lecture style than hands on learning labs, they’ve got topics that cover a good chunk of Microsoft as well as others and help you get moving in the right direction. Also they just started the acquisition of, so I can only imagine that things will get better in terms of their hands on labs. In addition to Cloud, they have a ton of materials that are related to Office 365 and Microsoft services and apps.
  • Voitanos – – How could I not stop to take a moment and remind you of the premier Microsoft Developer training curriculum that’s out there for all of the SharePoint developers learning new ways to leverage the platform and framework. Great training, great trainers.

Many great providers cover many topics, and there are variations of every form to help you along the way. This does assume you have a budget unless, of course, you want to go with Microsoft Learn, which for the most part, is free (just your time is required).

Bottom line – if you’re looking to gain a certification or knowledge, check across the providers, watch a video or two through their free libraries, figure out if it’s what excites you and then go for it.

Happy learning!


The value of SharePoint Certifications

In today’s world of SharePoint consulting and engineering, there are certain competencies and thresholds that need to be met prior to being able to enter into an engagement that is profitable to both the individual providing services and the organization receiving services. Similar to medicine, SharePoint engineers and consultants have practices and firms that they are a part of. They do not necessarily know all there is to know about SharePoint when they start off, nor do they have the same expertise in every area of the product but rather they have a foundation of knowledge that they all take on as a core foundation of knowledge.

The Problem – How do we truly measure an individual’s acumen in the SharePoint Products and Technologies landscape?

With the SharePoint Products and Technologies continuing to expand and absorb capabilities within the Microsoft stack, it is a bear to think that a certification can truly qualify an individual and provide depth and insight into what they truly know and how they would react when presented with a real world problem. The purpose of this article is to examine the Microsoft certification process in relation to SharePoint Server 2007 and SharePoint Server 2010.

The Current Certifications – There are five available for both SharePoint Server 2007 and SharePoint 2010. Two of these exams are for IT Professionals that deal more with the core infrastructure at the collaboration platform level of WSS and SPF; the other more at the application level of MOSS and SPS. Similar to the IT Pro exams there are two for Developers that are aimed at the individual code level solutions using WSS and SPF in addition to application server solutions leveraging the capabilities of MOSS and SPS. On top of these four exams there is the Microsoft Certified Master. Coming soon there will be a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 end user certification (Microsoft Office Specialist – 77-886).

Similar in opinion to Mark Rackley in his post “The Real Value of Microsoft Certification in SharePoint” at the regarding Microsoft certifications, it’s frustrating when reading someone’s bio and finding that they’ve been certified in several Microsoft technologies only to come to find that they’ve read every book that’s been written to learn the theory of the product and the how to from a distance. Further, knowing that there are certification question and answer dumps available further infuriates SharePoint professionals as their knowledge becomes devalued and treated like a cheapened commodity of knowledge.

So what’s the benefit of an MCTS or MCITP – As an individual that maintains proficiency in a technology, they have various options for how to formalize this body of knowledge. By going through the certification process, it further legitimizes their knowledge. Further, as an individual that possess certification, from a perspective as a business partner, it provides greater avenues and channels to pursue opportunities that may not otherwise be available.

What about those folks that are using the brain dumps – it only lessens their value to go through the certification process with information that they’ve memorized. While it might open up opportunities to them and their business, winning contracts away from more deserving groups of technologists that just have not formalized their certifications they are only hurting themselves. As organizations become entangled in engagements that they lack the expertise in performing the work required, they will either have to a) hire individuals that are not certified that have real world experience, b) start learning the actually competencies and objectives that were called out as a part of the certification, lowering their return to their customer and slowing down their delivery or c) turning to another organization to subcontract the work out. In a worst case scenario it would mean retracting their bid for the work after they had started the work and have it go back out for rebid by the customer that was looking for someone to provide services.

This not only diminishes the organizations competency in a particular area but when it comes time for the organization to hand out customer reviews to be sent back to Microsoft as a part of the partner program to validate their competencies they’ll be downgraded.

What about that MCM thing? Well it’s a tough program and as my esteemed friend Mark Rackley stated, it goes to the extreme of requiring an individual to attain certification in all four areas as well as go through a registration process. Going through the registration process does not automatically mean an individual is admitted though as the MCM program has apparently tuned into the fact that some individuals don’t quite have the real world training and wouldn’t be able to make it through the three weeks of deep exposure to SharePoint. Again, similar to going to medical school, the application process weeds out those that may not actually have the foundation of knowledge that is required to be successful in a training program that helps to push an individual toward mastery of a wide variety of skillsets.

So what’s the value? So if we look at certifications being attained by individuals that have real life, hands on experience in some capacity, then we can look at these exams as being a foundation of knowledge and vocabulary. During the interview process, leveraging the learning objectives that are related to an exam should provide a starting point for where a candidate may be coming from in their interview for a position. If the individual does not seem to have an idea of any of the underlying knowledge related to the learning objectives then either a) they’re having a bad day or b) they’ve moved out of the technical expertise into more of a technical manager role that is no longer hands on and have lost their ShareFoo or c) they went through and deceived themselves through the use of test aids.

This foundational knowledge presented by the certifications provides a basis that allows for further collaboration among SharePoint professionals and allows for a greater ability to work toward solutions. When a developer is speaking a different language or an administrator doesn’t understand a core concept then it slows down the solution development and implementation. Having a team work together and teach one another to get certified further helps the team to produce results.

Bottom Line – Encourage your team to get certified, have a common body of knowledge that leverages the learning objectives of the certification exams – teaching one another through hands on experience. Don’t deceive yourself and your customers by presenting yourself as someone that you’re not though – keep it real.

Bottom Bottom Line – Get it on like Donkey Kong. ‘nuff said.

I encourage you to read Mark Rackley’s post on this topic as well to get a well balanced view of the SharePoint world regarding how certifications are viewed.  Mark brings a different angle which I agree with on several levels –