Microsoft Gives Masterminds Around the World an Opportunity for Recognition

REDMOND, Wash. – May 16, 2011 – Every field has its rock stars. From painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir to writers Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf, the world has long celebrated the masters.

IT professionals, too, have an elite class in the form of Microsoft Certified Master, or MCM. Software specialists can reach rarified levels of knowledge and performance in the form of a Microsoft certification that is recognized across industries and continents. The MCM credential for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 has been exclusively available through a three-week intensive training in Redmond — until now.

Starting in summer 2011, IT engineers and consultants all over the world will have an opportunity to earn MCM status on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 by passing the required exams at one of many international testing centers.

Microsoft officials say the change was made in response to increased demand for the certification. “We wanted to make the exam more accessible,” says Navin Chand, senior product manager, Exchange. “This change will extend our reach to more experts. The training in Redmond that everyone loves will continue. However, it is no longer mandatory for certification.”

Microsoft began Master certification programs for professionals in unified communications in 2001. These masters help companies that are growing, innovating or restructuring to optimize information flow and reduce transaction costs. Today’s MCM-credentialed users of Exchange Server 2010 are experts at designing and building messaging systems and have detailed knowledge of the Exchange Server infrastructure.

Navin Chand, senior product manager, Microsoft Exchange.

Microsoft officials say the exam will maintain its level of rigor, and new testing is intended for people who have reached the Master level by working in the field. Candidates pursuing this certification will be required to take both a knowledge exam and a lab exam. The curriculum of the three-week training course in Redmond will be appropriate for individuals who feel they need classroom-based instruction before taking the test.

Chand says that the MCM program for Exchange has been a success because it helps companies understand that they are getting the best possible service. “Companies want to make sure that they’re getting a true expert,” he explains. “And to be a Master is to be one of the elite few, the best of the best.”

Professionals who have earned this certification agree. “One of the things the Master certification does is further validate our expertise and give us a new level of exposure in the industry,” says Joe Cirillo, a consultant at Horizon Consulting in St. Louis. Cirillo earned his MCM in 2005. He explains that he and his colleagues work with businesses that support critical information in complex infrastructures. They assist these clients in analysis, design, implementation and troubleshooting.

“These companies are looking for a leader who conveys a sense of credibility and trust,” says Cirillo. “They want someone who can work closely with executives to explain the benefits and justify the investment in the software architecture.”

Demand for MCM is growing not just among professionals, but among the companies that hire them. “Exchange is ultimately about messaging, something that is very important all over the world,” says Chand. “So to have experts that are able to deploy Exchange servers in every region is incredibly valuable.”

MCMs at the international level say the title is recognized globally. “Last month I had a customer call me that had searched on the Internet and found me because of the MCM certification,” says Christian Schindler, a consultant who is based in Austria. Schindler earned his MCM in 2006.

“The employees at the companies I work with often don’t have time to go into all the details of the product,” he says. “They call me and say, ‘We want a smooth implementation, but we don’t have time to understand all that we need to do. You’re a master, so we trust you.’”

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