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Google is introducing a Google Apps Certification program to help its 2,500 reseller partners distinguish themselves as experts in deployment, development and support of Google Apps.

Google announced the new certification program in its Official Google Enterprise Blog.

Google Apps Authorized Reseller Cloud Sherpas embraced the program.

“As we continue to build out our global Google Apps practice, it is essential for us to differentiate ourselves and to gain recognition for the great depth of Apps expertise we have developed with so many customers. The Google Apps Certification Program will help generate new client interest by highlighting our commitment to offering the highest-value consulting services to the market," Jon Hallett, CEO of Cloud Sherpas, said in the Google blog post that announced the program.

The Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist is the first certification, designed to certify professionals who demonstrate fundamental knowledge and skills required to migrate to, configure and deploy Google Apps. Google recommends the certification for IT pros with three to six years of industry experience and those who have completed at least three Google Apps for Business deployments.

Certification is awarded based on passing an exam and retaking the exam on an annual basis, and attending regular Google Apps product/deployment update webinars.  Google plans to help certification candidates with their preparation for the exam through instructor-led Google Apps Deployment training classes and online resources such as study guides.

Google is still working on developing the instructor-led training program, according to Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps.

"Our Google and third-party instructor-led training programs continue to develop, but we have nothing specific to announce at this time," he said.  "We recommend IT professionals look to our certification website for most current information and for online training materials

Certification is available starting Feb. 23 in English with more languages following. It’s available over the web as an online proctored exam at a price of $100 with a $45 webcam. Results are available immediately following the test.