Microsoft last week said it's now requiring that security partners be certified by one of two third-party organizations. The move marks the first time Microsoft has required that partners be certified outside of its own Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer program.
Microsoft officials said the move is aimed at strengthening the capabilities of resellers to deliver security services to corporate customers.
Microsoft partners that specialize in security management services must now get certified under programs offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Those specializing in infrastructure services must be certified by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium -- also known as (ISC)2 -- in Vienna, Va.
Microsoft said it's working to provide partners with discounts for some of the certification classes.
Thomas Dawkins, group product manager in charge of Microsoft's security partner strategy, said Microsoft turned to third-party certification programs for the first time to better align the capabilities of its security services resellers with customer needs.
The certification programs offered by ISACA and (ISC)2 will give Microsoft partners security skills that go beyond Microsoft products -- a key requirement for security tools, Dawkins said.
For instance, technology-centric certification programs such as (ISC)2's Certified Information Systems Security Professional and its Systems Security Certified Professional course are designed to ensure that Microsoft resellers can handle infrastructure security issues, he said.
The new program can help users "feel more comfortable knowing that Microsoft is requiring its partners to have a wider perspective on security, [not] just a Microsoft vision," said John Pironti, principal security consultant at Unisys Corp., a Microsoft partner in Blue Bell Pa.
Pironti said Microsoft had to align with internationally recognized programs to become a credible security vendor.