I spend a lot of time talking with potential MCM candidates about what to expect from attending the Lync MCM training in an effort to help them understand the expectations, demands and also rewards of the program. In an effort to provide a first hand perspective I have asked attendees from the most recent delivery to share their thoughts and experiences of what the program meant to them and what hints they can provide to others. Here is the first of these posts - from a double MCM (OCS and Lync) no less. Abi Maggu works for Microsoft and has had years of experience in the field working on challenging OCS and Lync engagements as a Premier Field Engineer. This is what he had to say

I am a graduate of rotation 3 of Microsoft Certified Master OCS R2, and a recent graduate of rotation 11 of Microsoft Certified Master Lync 2010.  While I am now a Lync Technology Specialist at Microsoft, I spent the past four and a half years as a PFE fighting OCS/Lync support fires onsite at customer locations in some pretty interesting places across quite a bit of North and South America and Europe.  Snooper is a nice to have when reading a SIP trace, but not necessary ;)

The quote "know what you know, know what you don't, and never confuse the two" is the general mantra all Masters should/must follow. It's amazing when you get into the weeds during a rotation, in fact how little you do know about something you are an "expert" at.

When I attended rotation 3, I had numerous OCS deployments under my belt, along with countless hours of troubleshooting different customer environments. I thought I knew it all. When one of my co-workers (who attended rotation 2) called and said "I have no idea what these guys are talking about" and something about "I think I'm going to go back to the hotel, pack up and head back", I still thought I knew it all. The first day into rotation 3, I had a pretty good idea that I didn't know it all and it was going to be tough. This was OCS Master and I managed to make it.

How hard could Lync Master be, right?

I had been a part of a few Lync 2010 deployments already. I had helped customers get through some pretty complicated setups. I knew about all the new features Lync had introduced. They all look well and good in all the documentation, blogs, re-posts... I applied, was accepted, and having been to a Master rotation before thought “it can’t be any worse than before and I made it then.” 

If you are planning to attend Microsoft Certified Master Lync 2010 let me tell you what to expect. 

  • You will meet some pretty interesting people (candidates and
    instructors alike)
  • You will be challenged
  • You will feel like you don’t know anything at times
  • You will spend 12 hours a day in class
  • You will study more than you probably have in a long time
  • You will not get a lot of sleep
  • You will probably get sick of Building 40 (just be glad it isn’t
    Building 11)

These are just the obvious things that most people attending a rotation tend to notice. 

Just to run through what the rotation is about for those that haven’t read through the pre-reqs, timing, etc.  Just when you think your brain may be getting overloaded with the Week 1 lineup:  Server Internals, Client Internals, Conferencing Internals, Edge Internals, and Group Chat, Week 2 marks the beginning of Voice Week, aka Shark Week. Why would we do a week of voice you ask? As a Master shouldn’t you know every little detail about Response Group, CAC, Unassigned Numbers, Call Park, EV, UM Integration, PBX interop…? And when you think you can’t do any more, Week 3 brings along Administration, Scripting, APIs, Planning for Scale (awesome!!!) and everything you didn’t know was involved with Video.  And of course, the end of Week 3 brings the panic of a 4 hour theory exam and an 8 hour long qual lab that test what you’ve managed to commit to long term memory and can troubleshoot and implement.  Did I mention that the migration lab also runs on the first two Saturdays?  There’s plenty of free time if you don’t need any sleep!

Expect to be challenged, and pass or fail, everyone that I have attended a rotation with has walked away knowing more about OCS or Lync than they did when they got there.  Listening to the instructors, the breadth of knowledge they bring to the rotation is instantly obvious.  And throughout these three weeks, you will have your own “wow” and “really” moments. Personally for me those moments were quite often throughout the entire rotation.  I can easily say that my grasp of topics like Response Group and CAC are so much further along than they were before I was at the rotation thanks to Doug. I even managed to find appreciation for the subtleties of Group Chat!!  Thanks Sekou!

Please do not take attending a Lync rotation lightly. This is not a trivial “Microsoft course” or a bootcamp.  It’s called a Master rotation for a reason.

Abi Maggu