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The Voice of the DBA

No More MCM

This is part 1 of a 3 part series of thoughts on certification and Microsoft technologies.

I've heard that Friday afternoon is the best time to fire someone. People are leaving early, the office is quiet, and you can let people go quickly and get yourself away. It also gives the remaining employees some time to grieve, and hopefully, come back to work Monday without some of the shock they initially experienced. At least, that's what they say. Personally I think there's no good day, and productivity always suffers somewhat whenever there's surprising, upsetting news.

Recently, just before the US Labor Day holiday, late on a Friday, I saw a number of announcements on Twitter that the MCM program had been discontinued. Since I was on holiday, I thought I'd missed something, but apparently not. It was late on a Friday that the an email was sent to all MCMs and MCAs notifying them of the change. It was a brief email, noted here, and didn't include some of the reasons of that were given as a comment in a Connect item filed to save the program (the comment was from Tim Sneath at 1:32pm). There's been a variety of coverage and blogs around the Internet as well.

We aren't being told the whole truth, nor do I expect to be told the whole truth. This is Microsoft's program, and as such, we follow along and adjust, or choose to ignore it. In this case, I can't believe that this was anything other than a cost based issue, designed to reduce expenses and raise profits. In all likelihood, someone(s) bonus depended on internal Microsoft Learning metrics being met (probably revenue or profit numbers), which the MCM/MCA program were reducing. In an effort to look better, the program was chopped, without a lot of input, communication, or discussion with the people actually working to better the program. I expect Tim Sneath and others were caught off guard with the decision and told to deal with it. They did so poorly, extremely poorly. In hindsight, I'm sure someone wishes they'd composed a better message and delayed sending it for a couple days.

I attempted the first part of the MCM early on, with a voucher. I didn't pass, but I learned how hard the exam was, realized it was within my capabilities, but that it would require some serious study. I didn't proceed further because of other commitments, but I've watched more and more people work through the MCM process, usually over months or years as they learn, struggle, research, and drive themselves forward.

Ultimately the achievement isn't the certification, but the journey. The efforts candidates go through, the knowledge they acquire from study and hard work, and perhaps more importantly, the skills they build to teach themselves new techniques. I wouldn't hire an MCM because I was sure they necessarily knew everything about my environment. I'd hire them because I would be 100% confident they could find the problem and fix it, no matter whether they used old knowledge or acquired new proficiency on the spot.

That was the real value of someone who completed, or even seriously worked towards, an MCM.

Steve Jones from SQLServerCentral.com

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Featured Contents


A Hazard of Using the SQL Update Statement

Dwain Camps from SQLServerCentral.com

If you've never encountered this quirk of the SQL UPDATE statement, you should take a look and find a simple way around it. More »


Using DAX to create SSRS reports: The Basics

Additional Articles from SimpleTalk

You can use DAX to create reports from a tabular database in SQL Server Reporting Services. To do so requires a few workarounds. Rob Sheldon describes a poorly-documented but important technique for Business Intelligence. More »


SQL Saturday #250 Pittsburgh

Press Release from SQLServerCentral.com

September 14, 2013 Pittsburgh will be hosting a SQL Saturday. Join them for a free day of SQL Server training and networking. There will also be a paid pre-con session the day before on Performance Tuning in SQL Server 2012 presented by John Sterrett and Konstantin Melamud. More »


From the SQLServerCentral Blogs - Skills I Used Last Week

Andy Warren from SQLServerCentral.com

Ever thought about what your average week looks like? What are the real core skills your environment uses every day... More »


From the SQLServerCentral Blogs - Good Intro Podcast on Hadoop

Have you heard about Hadoop but don't know much about it? What about "big data?" Would you like an intro... More »

Question of the Day

Today's Question (by NT):

Given the statements below, what is the output?


           WHEN @x = 'x' THEN 1

PRINT '@X is now ' + CAST(ISNULL(@x, 'A NULL') AS VARCHAR(50)) + '<'

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Yesterday's Question of the Day

Yesterday's Question (by pramod singla):

Choose the meta-data items that are not included in an MDS model deployment package (choose 3)?


  • User-defined metadata
  • File Attributes
  • User and Group Permissions

Explanation: The correct answers are User-defined metadata, file attributes, and user and group permissions. These meta-data are not included in the MDS model deployment package. After you deploy a model, you must update these manually.

Ref: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff486956.aspx

» Discuss this question and answer on the forums

Featured Script

Date Calendar

Sean Smith from SQLServerCentral.com

Over the years I have had some of the strangest / most complex requirements for data querying / reporting that you could imagine. The most difficult often involves some type of strange business rule or requirement surrounding a date parameter, logic, range, etc. I've put this code together in order to pre-calculate many elements of a date's characteristics and be able to quickly determine various date characteristics / values without the need to break my head every time things get hairy.

To run it, simply choose the database in which you want the table to reside, populate the @Date_Start and @Date_End variables with the date range you want populated in the calendar, and execute.

Below is a listing of the output fields and their description using a date of 10/06/2009 (MM/DD/YYYY) as the reference example (the code should compensate for how any SQL Server instance is set up to handle the internal settings for start / end of week, weekdays, etc.). All values after the calendar_date field are specific to the date value found in each individual record.

  • calendar_date: calendar date value (2009-10-06 00:00:00.000)
  • calendar_year: year portion of the date (2009)
  • calendar_month: month portion of the date (10)
  • calendar_day: day portion of the date (6)
  • calendar_quarter: quarter in which the date value falls under (4)
  • first_day_in_week: first day of the week in which the date value is found (2009-10-04 00:00:00.000)
  • last_day_in_week: last day of the week in which the date value is found (2009-10-10 00:00:00.000)
  • is_week_in_same_month: is the first_day_in_week and last_day_in_week value contained within the same month - Boolean (1)
  • first_day_in_month: first day of the month (2009-10-01 00:00:00.000)
  • last_day_in_month: last day of the month (2009-10-31 00:00:00.000)
  • is_last_day_in_month: is the date value the last day of the month (0)
  • first_day_in_quarter: first day of the quarter (2009-10-01 00:00:00.000)
  • last_day_in_quarter: last day of the quarter (2009-12-31 00:00:00.000)
  • is_last_day_in_quarter: is the date value the last day of the quarter (0)
  • day_of_week: day of the week (3)
  • week_of_month: week of the month (2)
  • week_of_quarter: week of the quarter (2)
  • week_of_year: week of the year (41)
  • days_in_month: total days in the month (31)
  • month_days_remaining: number of days remaining in the month (25)
  • weekdays_in_month: number of weekdays in the the month (22)
  • month_weekdays_remaining: number of weekdays remaining in the month (18)
  • month_weekdays_completed: number of weekdays completed in the month (4)
  • days_in_quarter: total days in the quarter (92)
  • quarter_days_remaining: number of days remaining in the quarter (86)
  • quarter_days_completed: number of days completed in the quarter (6)
  • weekdays_in_quarter: number of weekdays in the the quarter (66)
  • quarter_weekdays_remaining: number of weekdays remaining in the quarter (62)
  • quarter_days_completed: number of days completed in the quarter (6)
  • day_of_year: number of days completed in the year (279)
  • year_days_remaining: number of days remaining in the year (86)
  • is_weekday: is the date a weekday - Boolean (1)
  • is_leap_year: is the date contained within a leap year - Boolean (0)
  • day_name: full name of the day (Tuesday)
  • month_day_name_instance: number of occurrences of the day_name within the month up until and including the specified date (1)
  • quarter_day_name_instance: number of occurrences of the day_name within the quarter up until and including the specified date (1)
  • year_day_name_instance: number of occurrences of the day_name within the year up until and including the specified date (40)
  • month_name: full name of the month (October)
  • year_week: calendar_year and week_of_year (left padded with zeros) values concatenated (200941)
  • year_month: calendar_year and calendar_month (left padded with zeros) values concatenated (200910)
  • year_quarter: calendar_year and calendar_quarter (prefixed with a "Q") values concatenated (2009Q4)

More »

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