Training Aims to Help IT Pros Become Heroes

Redmond, Wash., Feb. 25, 2008 – The challenges that IT professionals face have never been more complex: new waves of technology innovation that need to be implemented and maintained, an increasingly mobile workforce, new communication and collaboration technologies, security threats, concerns about energy consumption – the list goes on and on. As Microsoft drives towards the biggest enterprise product launch in its history later this month, it is helping make the transition to using these new products easier by offering a variety of training and certifications for these often unsung heroes.

Lutz Ziob, General Manager, Microsoft Learning

PressPass spoke with Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning, about the importance of readiness for new technology, and how innovations in training will help IT pros in the future.

PressPass: How does training and certification for Windows Server 2008 benefit IT pros?

Ziob: The short answer is that earning a certification helps IT professionals be recognized for their deep technical knowledge. Every era has its unsung heroes. In the last century, it was the men and women who designed and built the physical infrastructures that fueled much of that era’s social and economic progress. In the information age, our unsung heroes are the millions of IT professionals and developers who work behind the scenes to build and support the information systems that drive our global economy.

PressPass: Beyond recognition, how else is training designed to help IT pros when new products like these come to market?

Ziob: With the launch of Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008, we are delivering powerful new tools that can transform the way IT professionals and developers build and support IT systems. The more knowledge you have of our software, the better equipped you are to exploit its full capabilities. That gives credentialed professionals a real competitive advantage over their peers, and gives their employers an advantage over their competitors.

Chris Pirie, General Manager of Marketing & Sales for Microsoft Learning, talks with MCT Michael Johnson, President and CEO of Advance Career Development, about some of the new training options available to IT Pros interested in Windows Server 2008.

The 350,000 customers and partners we’ve already trained on Windows Server 2008 have the inside track on how to deploy and implement the technology that will give them a head start when the product is formally released.

PressPass: Isn’t on-the-job experience enough to demonstrate one’s expertise?

Ziob: There’s no question that experience is important. Certification programs are not meant to replace on-the-job experience. But experience in itself doesn’t automatically guarantee that someone understands the full breadth of a product’s capability. We insist that all other professionals – doctors, dentists, pilots, architects, etc. – have both experience and a specific credential. Clearly the winning combination is experience plus certification.

PressPass: If an IT pro is certified on Windows Server 2003, do they really need to get recertified on Windows Server 2008?

Ziob: Yes. Windows Server 2008 is significantly more advanced than Windows Server 2003, with many new features, such as virtualization and improved support for managing and hosting next-generation web applications and services. IT professionals who have the know-how to manage and implement the shift to this new technology will help their organizations minimize the time it takes to get the server up and running.

We offer special three-day classes that are designed to help Microsoft Certified Systems Administrators (MCSAs) and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs) transition their skills from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008.

PressPass: Is the number of IT professionals getting certified increasing?

Ziob: Yes, absolutely. Since 2006 we’ve seen the number of Microsoft Certified Professionals grow by almost 30 percent.

PressPass: How do you account for this rise?

Ziob: I think it has been a combination of the nature of the products that have been coming out, and the changes we’ve been making in our certification programs.

For example, in 2005 we implemented a new generation of certification that emphasizes both the primary technology skill set and the job role of the individual. By focusing on core technical or professional skills mapped directly to specific job roles, IT pros can work toward a certification that is targeted and rigorous, but at the same time flexible and easy to follow. The result is we’re able to offer our customers shorter, more cost-effective certification paths.

We have also broadened our training options. For example, Windows Server 2008 training materials are available in 10 languages. We offer 180 days of various instructor-led classes, 600 hours of multimedia-enabled e-learning and 28 different Microsoft Press books, all for this one product. So, you can learn in your language, in your preferred style and at your own pace.

PressPass: How else have you changed the professional training/certification process for Windows Server 2008?

Ziob: With this launch we are relying more heavily on the commitment and dedication of our training partners. We partner with roughly 12,000 Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) and 1,400 Certified Partners for Learning Solutions (CPLSs) globally. We worked to prepare a significant number of them for Windows Server 2008 quite early so they could be the guides and coaches in the marketplace.

After all, it’s difficult for my organization in Redmond to fully understand how the learning environments and customer needs in, say, Russia differ from those in South Africa, but our local partners can. They live in the local environments, speak the languages and know what special software needs to be installed on servers in each country. These partners help us ensure that our customers’ training needs can be met in an environment tailored to them.

PressPass: What other training innovations can your customers expect?

Ziob: We’re always trying to help our customers and partners learn more effectively with less investment of time and money. For example, in the coming months we will launch a new testing experience based on the Windows Server Hypervisor technology. By leveraging our performance-based testing and the Hyper-V technology, this new testing program will enhance our ability to test on-the-job skills. We’ve been moving toward the practical, scenario-based testing model since 2005, but Virtualization will allow us to do some great new things. I think it will revolutionize the testing experience because the real world scenarios and tasks will basically become the test. It also makes it easier for us to monitor the student’s progress in real-time.

PressPass: How would an IT pro go about getting certified on Windows Server 2008?

Ziob: All the information they need, along with e-learning courses and other free downloads, is available at the Windows Server 2008 Learning Portal.

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