At TechEd in June, Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) accreditation program. The MCA certification recognizes practicing solutions architects and infrastructure architects who have a proven track record of applying frameworks and methodologies to create architecture that serves the entire IT lifecycle. The rigorous accreditation process requires candidates to present to a review board a solution they have developed. Currently in beta, the program will issue the first public invitation for candidates in early 2006.

The MCA isn't designed for enterprise architects or professionals who don't have experience with project involvement. Currently, the program isn't linked to other industry efforts to establish accreditation for IT architects. Microsoft's long-term goal is to certify approximately 3000 architects by 2010. The company believes it can build and operate a worldwide certification process that can handle 500 candidates a year.

The board review process is intense for board members as well as candidates. Integral to the process is the role of mentors, previously certified MCAs who guide candidates through the certification's demanding documentation and presentation requirements. Today, board members include existing MCAs, MCA candidates, and senior technologists from Microsoft, partner companies, and customers. As the certification matures, board members will be predominantly MCAs, with CIOs, CTOs, and enterprise architects filling the remaining positions.

To read Microsoft's description of the program, including certification requirements and processes, go to Microsoft's Learning Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/architect. To read about the MCA program through the eyes of a review board member for the beta program, see the Web exclusive article "Microsoft's Certified Architect Program," June 2005, InstantDoc ID 46756.