In late February of 2008 Microsoft dissolved the Microsoft Architecture MVP award as part of realignment of the MVP program to be more product oriented. Dissolved is a wrong word … so read on. This came as a surprise to many award recipients - including myself – who lost a “nice to have” title. This development, however, had a very positive impact on the Architecture MVP community, because it forced the architects ask themselves some hard questions about their role in the community and the role Microsoft plays in the software architecture discipline.
This post features some highlights from the ferociously bubbling listserv.
At first there was confusion. Participants understood the reasoning behind moving towards a product oriented approach, but they couldn’t fathom the disappearance of the architecture competency. Then there was anger – well summarized by one of the participants: “I believe the shutdown of the MVP Architect program is just one more piece of evidence that … Microsoft does not appreciate the role of the architect in driving large buy decisions.”
Then a word of wisdom came from Simon Guest. In order for the MVP program to grow the structure has to change. MVPs will be aligned to a product, but will be able to select a discipline such as architecture. Simon then called for an open forum at the MVP summit in Redmond on April 15th.
Identity crisis started to emerge – some participants, including Martin Fowler, voiced their reserved opinions about the value of the MVP award. Valid questions arose – why do architects communicate so little with each other? What role do architects play in organizations? What do they do for Microsoft? The consensus was clear – although there is a clear need for robust architecture communities the MVP award infrastructure didn’t make individual architects feel part of a single unit.
Finally discussion merged onto taking proactive steps to define the scope and purpose of the group. Familiar questions arose: how do we define different types of architects? What are the definitions of architecture and architect? Should we just take some definitions from IASA? Microsoft has established a work space where the discussion of these various topics will commence.
There are no clear answers, but there are good questions – Microsoft is moving in the right direction albeit at its own pace.