3Com last week launched a new accreditation program for its partners, designed to distinguish individuals specialising in the provision of solutions based on its products. But achieving accreditation won't come cheap.
The Master of Network Science (MNS) certification program comprises a series of training and testing modules, centred around five areas of expertise: Local Area Networks (LAN); Wide Area Networks (WAN); remote access; network management; and network architecture.
Matt Mitchell, 3Com's director of customer support operations for the Asia Pacific Rim, said the new tracks focus on the provision of solutions in the key areas, rather than on individual products as has been the case in the past.
In addition to the cost of any basic training through 3Com's exclusive training partner, International Network Solutions (INS), that may be required, candidates for the MNS program must pay to sit several Web-based examinations at $US100 per examination.
If each of those exams is passed, candidates are then invited to sit for a practical test in Singapore. That exam costs from $US895, depending on the track - plus the expense of travelling to and fro.
However, because of the broad-based nature of the training programs, Joanne Scouler, 3Com's marketing manager for technical education services, claims most networking specialists will only need to do to one or two of the tracks.
Nevertheless, Mitchell concedes the costs of accreditation will be out of the reach of most resellers focused on the small and medium business (SMB) sector - a market 3Com has identified as key for its future growth (ARN Sep- tember 18, 1998).
But he emphasised that the accreditation is for individuals, not organisations, and channel partners won't be required to have their staff participate in the MNS program unless they are one of 3Com's Advanced Solution Partners.
"Typically, our partners in the SMB space target a set product in a set market in their area of expertise - and only sell that product - so they won't need to do the accreditation," Mitchell told ARN.
For those networking specialists who do take advantage of the new program though, 3Com promises a number of key benefits in addition to their accreditation:priority access to 3Com's senior technical support stafffree subscriptions to 3Com's quarterly technical manualsaccess to a secure intranet exclusively for fellow MNS experts and 3Com support engineersparticipation in exclusive conferences, seminars, special events and internal technical training programs.