A work in progress, I'm sure, as the particular requirements haven't actually been made clear yet.
I previously wrote a post about the change from Partner Program to Partner Network, and this follow-up post goes into more information about what's required for my company to pick up an Advanced Competency.
The Microsoft Partner Network site contains a document called Value of Earning a Microsoft Competency Guide, which describes all the competencies and how to achieve them. It's a PDF with 109 pages, but actually there will only be a few of interest to you. The first ten pages are interesting because they cover general things, but if you're already familiar with the way the Partner Network works, the interesting part is later.
For me, the Business Intelligence and Data Platform competencies are of interest, so I'm most interested in pages 18 and 19, where it describes how to achieve the BI one, and pages 30 and 31 for Data.
Here I'm going to look at the two competencies applicable to us at LobsterPot Solutions, although the requirements are very similar for other competencies.
For the Standard competency in BI, we need two MCPs, each having passed both a BI exam and an exam in a related technology (such as the TS exams for SQL Server, SharePoint, Visio and Virtual Earth). This is a recent change to the competency, because a few months ago a SQL exam such as 70-431 would have sufficed. For LobsterPot this isn't a problem, as we have enough people for this.
For the Advanced BI competency, the non-BI related exams don't come into it. Four MCPs who hold MCITP: BI Developer 2008 are needed (although someone with MCM would count as two – not sure why, as there's no BI component to MCM).
For Data, things are slightly easier – only one exam for the Standard competency, and for Advanced a choice of either MCITP: DBA 2008 or MCITP: DBD 2008 for each of the four.
The biggest impact here is that the four people contributing to the Advanced competency cannot contribute toward any other Advanced competencies. Therefore, to have Advanced in both BI and Data, eight staff members would be needed.
Customer references are still required. The Standard competency needs three, the Advanced needs five. No problem there.
Like in the Partner Program, there's a fee involved. But if you want an Advanced competency, the fee is bigger. Hopefully this is worthwhile, but there's no real problem achieving this, you just write a larger cheque.
The fee is for Advanced Membership, I don't think it's a fee which goes up for each Advanced competency that's held.
A new thing for the Partner Network is Business Training and Assessments. Now, either level of competency needs someone to have passed an assessment (or exam) in Licensing. I guess this is to make sure that partners are giving correct advice about licensing, although I think the more accurate answers about licensing will always come from Microsoft themselves.
And as well as this, someone (or two people for Advanced) needs to have passed a "sales and marketing competency assessment". I'm not sure what this means, and I'm very curious about it because LobsterPot doesn't have salespeople. All our work comes from references. I have no problem doing this assessment myself and putting one of my staff through it as well, but it does seem a little strange, and I hope it's not a hurdle.
The other new requirement for the Partner Network is that the Advanced Competencies need a revenue commitment, which is dependent on the competency and the location of the partner. I'm hoping this means that Sydney-based partners have to bring in more revenue than Adelaide-based ones, as the market in Sydney is bigger. It may just mean that Australian partners have different requirements than New Zealand ones.
This last point is the one that scares me the most. We charge rates that work in the Adelaide market, which I'm sure is different to what works in Sydney. I have no idea how much revenue we will need to commit to, or how it will be measured by Microsoft. Also, I assume that the revenue commitment to achieve both Advanced competencies could be more than we'd like.
Our plan at LobsterPot is to have one Advanced Competency (in Business Intelligence) in October as soon as it becomes available. Whilst I don't yet know all the details, I do know that there will be many companies in our shoes, and I hope that Microsoft make the transition easy enough for companies like ours.
Disclaimer: Please understand that all the information here is my interpretation of the information contained at http://partner.microsoft.com, which should be considered the authoritative resource on the matter.