The Master Blog

Thoughts, info, and updates from the Microsoft Certified Master team.

I was hoping for a trip home to Germany, but looks like MCM will stay Redmond only for now.

I was hoping for a trip home to Germany, but looks like MCM will stay Redmond only for now.

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This past year (we always think in fiscal years over here, and ours run from July 1 to June 30, so it's time to reflect ;-) ), we put in a considerable amount of time and energy into figuring out how we might deliver our programs outside of Redmond. After a lot of back and forth, the answer is that we're not goint least not this next fiscal year. Here's why...

Why do people want it / need it outside of Redmond in the first place? I'll be bold and say the only good reasons for wanting it local are:

  • Visa reasons (depending on where you're coming from, it can be difficult to get one for the US)
  • Relatively small savings on airfare, and
  • Foregoing jetlag.  

What many people don't think of right away is that if we were to offer the trianing in Munich, for example, (most) everyone would still need to fly there, everyone would still need to stay in a hotel, everyone would still need to pay for meals. Saving $1-2k in flights does not outweigh the advantages of being here in Redmond. The T&E difference between staying in a hotel in Munich vs. our housing in Redmond is minimal...the price is better in Redmond, actually.

What do you get having the training here in Redmond?

  • You get to be 'on campus''s still pretty darn cool to be here, to see 'where it all happens', to breathe in the true geek air, visit the company store, etc.
  • You get to meet many people who are deeply involved in the product of your choice
    • Does the class have a question about something in particular that came up regarding future implementations? - - We'll have the Program Manager responsible for that component stop on by to discuss (a great advantage of signing an NDA when you come to the training :) ).
    • Want to meet some of the people in the product group? The people who determine what the product will be and how it will function? - - We schedule a "Meet the PM's" session for each rotation in the building where the product group resides. Food, drink, and discussion with them allows candidates to make a more personal connection. BTW, Vice Presidents of the company have been known to stop by here, too..not too shabby.
    • Curious about how Microsoft IT deals with some of the same issues that you face very day? - - We'll have someone stop by and spend an hour discussing it. No bull, no PR, just the facts.
  • You are far from home which will allow you to focus better. Trust me when I say that if the training were in your home town, it'd be terrible. Your family would expect you to be available, your company might, too, but the reality is: there is zero time for anything else when you're going through this. Class from 8-6, grab a bite to eat, study in your apartment with team mates, go to bed, rinse, repeat...

 What else do you get for having it in Redmond?

  • Well, you get to have great people who will guide you during your 3 weeks. In other words: I probably get to have my awesome team together longer. If I chased them around the world non-stop, I'm guessing they'd wave the surrender flag fairly quickly.
  • The price doesn't go up...(I know, I's so cheap now! ;-) )
    • Since our instructors are 95% US based, we'd now be looking at substantial increases in T&E (remember, it's not just one instructor, it's about 7-10 per 3 weeks of training)
    • Infrastrucutre - How on Earth are we going to allow you to access our state of the art labs? We considered remote access back to Redmond - too risky. We considered hosting at key data centers around the world - too expensive, as we'd need to duplicate hardware...same goes for paying a hosting company, never mind the logistics of staging the machines, etc. We investigated running at Microsoft Technology Centers that potentially already have some hardware...that didn't pan out either.

So, there you have it; we're staying in Redmond for now. Perhaps many will boo this decision (I know the cost discussion gets less advantgeous when considering various regions where cost of living is much lower), but I think once you consider all factors, it does make sense for now. We'll keep looking at when / how it would benefit everyone to spread our wings beyond that.

For now, my Exchange Ranger jacket label will remain fairly true:

Microsoft Certified Architect: Messaging Master
Built by the Ranger Master Programs in Redmond, WA

All the best,


PS - stay tuned for our updated calendar of offerings which will be posted within the next 2 weeks.



  • Sticking in the US is the right thing to do, flights really should not be an issue for anyone taking this.

    However, have you considered that a late September rotation in Munich will lead nicely in to the best festival of the year, Oktoberfest. What better way is there to celebrate.


  • I can vouch for the "training in your hometown" point. I made the mistake of staying at home and commuting in instead of staying in the apartments and getting a chance to better know the rest of the folks in my rotation. I still regret doing that, and if I ever go back, I won't make that same mistake again.

  • Daniel - yes, we very much considered it :) It was very tempting, to say the least ;-)

  • Just sad as a South African that meets the requirements and have to make it all the way to Redmond and at my own cost is not near reality,considering the exchange rate.

    So guess for now no chance of acquiring MCM status

  • Is it the cost of the flight alone that is the problem? Unless we happened to set up in your home town you would have accomodation costs to factor in too, so is it just the flight? If so, what % of the total cost is a flight from SA to Redmond?

    Just interested.

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