Microsoft Certified Architect Programme

Originally Created: 2005-06-27

In the UK Architecture Center update newsletter Richard Godfrey wrote about the newly announced Microsoft Certified Architect programme:

At TechEd 2005 the all new Microsoft Certified Architect programme was announced and should be available for general enrolment in early 2006.

The core idea behind it is to allow people who have been working in either a solutions development or IT infrastructure 'Architect' role for the last 10 or so years to be evaluated on the base of their experience. The intention being to create a community of a few thousand 'Certified Architects' worldwide who can be identified as achieving a peer-reviewed level of skill and experience in 7 core areas of competency:

Leadership: Candidates demonstrate that they develop partnerships with stakeholders across the organization on their projects; that they can mentor others; that they develop and form strong teams; and that they achieve successful results.

Technology Depth: Candidates demonstrate that they have a deep understanding of the concepts and application of at least two core technologies (for example, messaging, storage, Windows, networks, etc.) plus the ability to quickly assimilate information about new technologies.

Technology Breadth: Candidates understand architectural best practices and are able to apply them across a breadth of technologies to orchestrate a solution. They also have views on the future development of a technology and how it might influence current solutions. Finally, they understand the interaction between infrastructure, solution, and enterprise architecture and practices.

Strategy: Candidates demonstrate understanding of enterprise architectural frameworks such as TOGAF and operational frameworks such as ITIL and be able to use these frameworks in their projects. They also understand project management principals and how architects interact with project managers to deliver projects. In addition, they understand the economic dimension of projects and how costs influence the available choices for technology.

Organization Dynamics: Candidates show that they are able to recognize the key stakeholders in a project and that they can work with those stakeholders to drive a project to a successful conclusion. They present the ability to pick the right battles at the right time and then recognize the political landscape that influences a project within an organization and then influence organizational politics for the success of their projects.

Tactical/Process: Candidates demonstrate that they can gather and refine project requirements from both a technical and business perspective. They understand how to effectively prototype and test a solution and also showcase the talent to create effective project artefacts. Lastly, they exhibit the ability to refine project goals and the tactics necessary to achieve those goals as the project develops.

Communication: Candidates show that they maintain well-written and accurate project documentation; they are able to present information on a technical subject in a concise and measured manner; they have the ability to influence others; they have the ability to manage conflicts effectively; and to tailor their communication to the needs of the target audience.

Hopefully, you can see from the areas above that this certification programme is very much targeted around real-world experience and being able to demonstrate them effectively to a peer-based board. The board is made up of four representatives; some from Microsoft and some from other organisations who have already been through the certification process. A large investment is required up-front by candidates to provide a number of documents which include their CV/Resume, details of project(s) where they have been the Lead Architect, supporting evidence for each of the seven competency areas, referees, etc. Once this has been completed, the candidate has the 2+ hour board interview. The format of this interview includes a presentation and questioning from each of the 4 interviewers in any area they are interested in pursuing.

The full details of the certification process can be found at if you're interested. Also take a look at the roundtable discussion about it on