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Microsoft Partners Highlight Silver Competencies

Several Microsoft partners are racking up the silver competencies in the Microsoft Partner Network of late.

The Pinnacle Corp., a Microsoft Certified Partner and Small Business Specialist based in Arlington, Texas, this week announced its achievement of five silver competencies. The competencies are ISV, Data Platform, ERP, Hosting and Midmarket Solution Provider. Pinnacle is a supplier of automation technology to the convenience store and petroleum industries and has been a Microsoft Certified Partner since 2005.

Earlier in the month, POD Inc., of Albuquerque, N.M., announced that it had earned eight silver competencies. POD, which offers computer network support and cloud computing services, earned the competencies in Data Platform, Portals and Collaboration, Project and Portfolio Management, Server Platform, Desktop Platform, Midmarket Solution Provider, Software Development and Web Development.

They join companies that have recently highlighted their achievement of a mix of gold and silver competencies. Altico Advisors in Marlborough, Mass., earned a gold competency in ERP and a silver competency in CRM in early June. And in May, ePlus Inc., a Herndon, Va.-based Microsoft National Systems Integrator announced the achievement of three gold competencies (Portals and Collaboration, Unified Communications and Virtualization) and seven silver competencies (Application Integration, Business Intelligence, Data Platform, Midmarket Solution Provider, OEM Hardware, Server Platform and Web Development).

When Microsoft restructured the Microsoft Partner Program into the Microsoft Partner Network, Microsoft channel executives intended for there to be fewer partners able to call themselves gold. But the company appears to be struggling to persuade former Microsoft Gold Certified Partners and Microsoft Certified Partners that won't be achieving gold competencies to put in the effort to earn silver competencies, which in many ways are harder to achieve than the old Microsoft Gold Certified level.

Microsoft Partner Network General Manager Julie Bennani recently blogged about the value of silver in an effort to spur partners to silver. Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, will speak about the Value of the MPN at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference next month, and part of the speech is sure to focus on the value of silver.

More evidence of Microsoft's campaign to shore up interest in silver competencies came in the form of a supporting quote from Roskill this week for Pinnacle's silver announcement.

"By achieving a silver competency, partners have proven themselves as specialized technology experts with the skills needed to best serve customers," Roskill said. "The silver competency in the Microsoft Partner Network is designed to help customers identify services and solution providers that have demonstrated proof of their capability to deliver quality outcomes and customer satisfaction."

While the multiple silver competency awards for Pinnacle, POD and ePlus are impressive, the highest bar for silver so far was probably set by Catapult Systems back in January. At the time, the Austin, Texas-based NSI announced that it had earned seven gold competencies and a whopping 17 silver competencies.

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 28, 2011


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