A few hours ago Chris Webb blogged about SSAS Maestro and I’d like to propagate the news, adding also some background info.

SSAS Maestro is the premier certification on Analysis Services that selects the best experts in Analysis Services around the world. In 2011 Microsoft organized two rounds of training/exams for SSAS Maestros and up to now only 11 people from the first wave have been announced – around 10% of attendees of the course! In the next few days the new Maestros from the second round should be announced and this long process is caused by many factors that I’m going to explain. First, the course is just a step in the process. Before the course you receive a list of topics to study, including the slides of the course. During the course, students receive a lot of information that might not have been included in the slides and the best part of the course is class interaction. Students are expected to bring their experience to the table and comparing case studies, experiences and having long debates is an important part of the learning process. And it is also a part of the evaluation: good questions might be also more important than good answers! Finally, after the course, students have their homework and this may require one or two months to be completed. After that, a long (very long) evaluation process begins, taking into account homework, labs, participation… And for this reason the final evaluation may arrive months later after the course. We are going to improve and shorten this process with the next courses.

The first wave of SSAS Maestro had been made by invitation only and now the program is opening, requiring a fee to participate in order to cover the cost of preparation, training and exam. The number of attendees will be limited and candidates will have to send their CV in order to be admitted to the course. Only experienced Analysis Services developers will be able to participate to this challenging program. So why you should do that? Well, only 10% of students passed the exam until now. So if you need 100% guarantee to pass the exam, you need to study a lot, before, during and after the course. But the course by itself is a precious opportunity to share experience, create networking and learn mission-critical enterprise-level best practices that it’s hard to find written on books. Oh, well, many existing white papers are a required reading *before* the course!

The course is now 5 days long, and every day can be *very* long. We’ll have lectures and discussions in the morning and labs in the afternoon/evening. Plus some more lectures in one or two afternoons. A heavy part of the course is about performance optimization, capacity planning, monitoring. This edition will introduce also Tabular models, and don’t expect something you might find in the SSAS Tabular Workshop – only performance, scalability monitoring and optimization will be covered, knowing Analysis Services is a requirement just to be accepted! I and Chris Webb will be the teachers for this edition.

The course is expensive. Applying for SSAS Maestro will cost around 7000€ plus taxes (reduced to 5000€ for students of a previous SSAS Maestro edition). And you will be locked in a training room for the large part of the week. So why you should do that? Well, as I said, this is a challenging course. You will not find the time to check your email – the content is just too much interesting to think you can be distracted by something else. Another good reason is that this course will take place in Italy. Well, the course will take place in the brand new Microsoft Innovation Campus, but in general we’ll be able to provide you hints to get great food and, if you are willing to attach one week-end to your trip, there are plenty of places to visit (and I’m not talking about the classic Rome-Florence-Venice) – you might really need to relax after such a week!

Finally, the marking process after the course will be faster – we’d like to complete the evaluation within three months after the course, considering that 1-2 months might be required to complete the homework.

If at this point you are not scared: registration will open in mid-April, but you can already write to ssasmaestro@sqlbi.com sending your CV/resume and a short description of your level of SSAS knowledge and experience. The selection process will start early and you may want to put your admission form on top of the FIFO queue!