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Microsoft Updates MPN Competencies

New "Medium Business Solution Provider" to replace Networking Infrastructure Solutions, and is an outgrowth of the Small Business Specialist Community.

The competency overhaul that Microsoft unveiled in July as part of its Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) is continuing to be tweaked ahead of the point later this year when partners must start to qualify for the new designations.

In an MPN guide published in late 2009, Microsoft described a new Competency, called the Medium Business Solution Provider. The Medium Business Solution Provider wasn't in the original list of 30 MPN Competencies, and appears to replace a provisionally listed Competency that had been briefly called the General Solution Provider Competency.

According to a statement on the Microsoft Partner Portal, the Medium Business Solution Provider Competency directly replaces Networking Infrastructure Solutions, one of the most popular Competencies of the Microsoft Partner Program. The change in Competency names will take effect in May.

"If you have already qualified for the Networking Infrastructure Solutions Competency, you will automatically be migrated to the new Medium Business Solution Provider Competency. However, you must meet the requirements for the new Competency prior to your re-enrollment date," according to the statement, billed as a Microsoft Partner Network Alert.

The midsize business-focused Competency is a first for Microsoft, which had previously created a Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) for partners serving small businesses, and has other special resources for partners focused on the enterprise. Microsoft had previously announced that a Small Business Competency would cover SBSC partners in the MPN.

The potential for a midsize-business focused competency increased with the release in 2008 of Windows Essential Business Server 2008, a multiserver version of Windows Server and other back-office servers for companies with up to 300 PCs. Qualifying exams for the Medium Business Solution Provider Competency include Windows Essential Business Server, but the learning portion of the Competency can also be achieved through courses focused on traditional Microsoft infrastructure products associated with the Networking Infrastructure Solutions Competency.

A FAQ page for partners on the Microsoft U.K. site positioned the new Competency as also growing out of the SBSC.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.