Okay.

You can officially call off the search parties, because I have not gone missing trying to locate the mythical “Building 7” on our Redmond campus or some other mishap that has resulted in my going dark on the blog for the past month.

Actually, I just took a few weeks off and, now, I have successfully resurfaced from a healthy inbox backlog (thank you Conversation View!) and can reconnect with my most favorite part of my job: helping you out with vital information on what’s new in the wide world of the Exchange partner eco-system.

Along these very lines, I’d like to share with you some updates regarding our progress with the evolution of the UC Competency.

While your humble Exchange partner marketing team lead (and your personal advocate here at corporate) was off on holiday, my team and our partners over in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group (famous for great programs like MPN and WPC) continued to hash through the details to get the new Messaging competency up and running for later this fall.

To help keep you abreast of how those changes are going impact you (especially those existing UC competency partners), we’ve posted an updated rev of the “Evolution of the UC Competency Guide” to our MPN portal page.

Since I’ve been off,  I asked Kristin Murray (famous for such things as the great Exchange and Lync presence we had at WPC11 earlier this year and for driving the planning behind the new Messaging competency) to share with you some details on what’s coming up next regarding the retirement of the UC competency in October, and the launch of the new Messaging (for Exchange) and Communications (for Lync) competencies:

If you are a partner currently enrolled in the UC competency, I encourage you to download the updated Evolution of the UC Competency Guide published this week on the MPN website. In this latest edition, you will find new information on the benefits and requirements of the new competencies, details on where your organization will transition when the UC competency splits and a refreshed FAQ section.

While the updated guide is chockfull of details, I’ll highlight some of the new benefits in the competencies we’re most excited about:

Partners enrolled in the Messaging competency will enjoy access to the highest quantity of Exchange Server licenses (as a part of your Internal Use Rights benefits). In addition, partners enrolled in the UC competency will have exclusive access to resources like battlecards to help you win against key Exchange competitors such as Google, VMware, IBM and Novell. And featuring the Silver Messaging competency logo in your marketing materials showcases your expertise in implementation design, deployment, and support of Microsoft Exchange Server. In addition, the Gold Messaging competency recognizes your additional investment and specialization in archiving, security, and voicemail, as well as your ability to help customers with their journey to the cloud to Exchange Online.

Partners in the Communications competency are eligible for the Lync Solution Incentive Program (SIP). Additionally, partners enrolled in the Gold Communications competency are also eligible to enroll in Premier Support for Lync Partners. The Communications competency logo highlights your expertise in implementation design, deployment, and support of Microsoft Lync. The Silver Communications competency highlights your investment and capabilities around IM/Presence and Conferencing workloads, and the Gold Communications competency demonstrates further expertise in enterprise voice and video, PBX integration and Lync Online.

As we have more updates to the MPN website, I’ll be sure to share them here. In the meantime, check out the Evolution of the UC Competency Guide for hot off the press updates!

Thanks, Kristin!

I am personally psyched by the new IUR benefits that Kristin outlined above. You’ll get all you need to run your business on the best email and collaboration platform out there, which will make it so much easier for you to land the value prop with your customers.

Again, thanks for your patience as I was out and then catching up.

Ian
Group Product Manager
Exchange Partner Marketing