MCA or SCEA
September 9, 2008
Let me set one thing straight – I have never been a big fan of certifications. It stems from ones on programming languages that require you to remember stuff that is easily found in the API docs. And, of course the aversion to written examinations that all of us with Indian schooling know so well of and consequently loathe I have therefore never taken up any professional certifications.
So, it was with some misgiving that I responded to a colleague’s query if I would like to take up the Microsoft Certified Architect evaluation. Having used Java predominantly the last few years, my first and obvious question was – how is the MCA relevant to a Java person? I listened a bit to the process and decided to give it a try for two reasons:
- The evaluation process was around a solution that one has architected i.e. it was case study based
- My colleague’s persuasion that it was a worthwhile experience
- Emphasis on one’s own experience in architecting a solution and almost neglible theritical knowledge. One can in no way prepare for this evaluation overnight.
- Thorough professionalism of the people involved. You work and interface with existing MCAs throughout the process. I interacted with a total of 7. This is significant if you consider that there are a little over 100 MCAs worldwide. Thats the amount of focus and attention every candidate receives.
- Clear sepraration of roles being certified – Solution architect & Infrastructure architect. There is Enterprise Architect as well. I applied for Solution architect.
- The feedback one receives at the end of the certification. This feedback is very personalized. For e.g. specific books that one is advised to read based on the board review.
- The collective experience of the architects on the board. It is OK to admit you dont know answers to questions(you will during the review :)) that come at you in quick succession. I learnt it is difficult to match the collective knowledge of all those gentlemen on the board. I am guessing the average age of a MCA on the board should be well over 40 – seasoned architects surely!
- Inclusion into the fraternity of MCAs. This is a small group of like minded people. I was invited to be a panelist speaker at the “Microsoft Architecture Days” session in Bangalore. I was allowed to talk about Java when discussing the topic “Software + Services”! This might be unheard of before.
- Lastly the nicely mounted certificate signed by Bill Gates
- Firstly, the evaluation process tests one’s skills at application design and at best solution architecture. I feel it is a complete misnomer to have “enterprise architect” in its name.
- The process is mostly offline. I wonder how “cheating” is prevented i.e. one person defines the solution on behalf of another.
- Competencies essential to an architect such as communication, leadership, process, e.t.c are not evaluated here at all.
- All the benefits or highlights I experienced in the MCA are missing here.