Happy holidays everyone!

While I may be out of the office (or "OOF" as we blue badgers like say in our Exchange automatic replies emails), I didn't want you to miss out on some important updates to our Gold Messaging competency.

More specifically, we've made some great progress on the new technical assessments we're standing up as part of the requirements to achieve the Gold-level of the (still kind of new) Messaging competency.

As you likely recall, I shared with you that we had a bunch of the top Exchange SMEs (or subject matter experts) from our partner community in town last November to help us pen some brand spanking new technical assessments that will be required to attain the Gold Messaging competency. These new assessments focus on our "hero workloads" of Exchange, such as security, archiving, and voicemail, as well as advanced deployment scenarios for Exchange Online. For example, the latter assessment tests for your Exchange technical prowess--or what I like to call, your mad ninja skillz--around implementing a Hybrid Deployment with Office 365 and Exchange Server 2010 on-prem.

Good stuff, eh?

I certainly think so (although I'm likely biased, but I'm 100% in your camp).

Okay, you're probably wondering when these new assessments will be live and when you'll be required to pass them in order to "go for the gold".

When we first unveiled our plans for the new Messaging competency, we had hoped to make these new assessments available in late 2011/early 2012, and then require them for Gold in May 2012.

Well, based on your feedback and kind requests, we've decided to give these new exams a little more soak time and you the opportunity to prep a bit more for these new requirements.

This means these two new assessments will be live and ready for action (albeit in English-only) in February 2012. We'll add additional languages--including Japanese, Chinese, French, German and Brazilian Portuguese--later this spring (March or April for those of you in the southern hemisphere).

Adding to this good news: new training modules for these assessments are planned for availability before May 2012.  These will be great companions for your preparation activities, and we can't wait to share them with you (once they are done, that is).

Finally, the new technical assessments will become a required requirement starting in October 2012.  This gives you a little more than six months to get you and your team fully prepared to fulfill this forthcoming requirement for Gold.

With many of you approaching your MPN anniversary dates, this is a great time to get familiar with and ready for these new requirements in order to successfully re-enroll in any competencies your business may have already earned. Why not carve a little of your holiday break (when you're not carving the turkey or tofurkey) to do a quick review of these for the Messaging competency by visiting the MPN portal site here.

Enjoy!

Ian 
Group Product Manager 
Exchange Partner Marketing