My recent post about the sharing activities of some Exchange MVPs caused a flurry of comments. Most focused on the positive nature of the contributions such as writing code and explaining how technology works but a couple asked a pretty interesting question: “How do I know who are the current Exchange MVPs?"
You can gain an insight into the personalities who are currently recognized by Microsoft through the MVP public site, which lists all the MVPs according by their technology area. Microsoft deals with a vast array of technologies and MVPs are recognized in areas as diverse as Business Management (the Dynamics suite) to Client Operating Systems to Data Center Management, Development Tools, and Entertainment (yes, you can be an Xbox MVP -- in fact, there are 43 individuals listed under this category). Not all of the categories are 100% dedicated to Microsoft platforms as 10 MVPs are recognized under “Macintosh.”
Exchange is listed under Communications and Collaboration and the site lists 99 MVPs in this category. In fact, this number undercounts Exchange MVPs a little because the actual number of awardees is 106. However, the site only lists people who have agreed to make their MVP profile public and seven individuals have decided to remain private (secret MVPs) for one reason or another.
Exchange is by no means the largest MVP community. SQL lists 277 MVPs, ASP.NET/IIS has 263, and SharePoint has 235. Other interesting (but smaller) communities include Office 365 (22), PowerShell (55), Directory Services (think Active Directory – 70), and Outlook (18).
The Exchange MVPs come from all around the world. As you’d expect, the largest group (20) is from the U.S. and includes such luminaries as Paul Robichaux, Jim McBee, Jason Sherry, Michael B. Smith, Jeff Guillet, Mike Crowley, Mike Pfeiffer, and J. Peter Bruzzese – all of whom are well-known because they are frequent speakers at conferences, write well-respected blogs, or have published books on Exchange. Most of these folk are “old timers” (in the nicest sense of the word) in that they’ve been working in the area of messaging for twenty years or more. Some, like me, easily pass the test to be a grumpy old man. We do seem to be a male-dominated group though – perhaps the general level of grumpiness has something to do with this.
The next largest group (13) is from China. Regretfully I don’t know any of these individuals and I suspect that language barriers have prevented me learning about their work. After that you have Russia and Germany with five each followed by France, Canada, and the U.K. with four and then Denmark and The Netherlands with three. International MVPs with solid reputations such as Henrik Walter, Jaap Wesselius, Frank Carius, Andy Grogan, and Johan Veldhuis are found in these countries. After that there’s a bunch of countries from Australia to Sweden to Turkey with two MVPs and a further bunch with just a sole MVP, like me in Ireland. I counted thirty-four separate countries that have at least one Exchange MVP so it’s a pretty international group. Microsoft doesn't impose a limit on the number of Exchange MVPs and there's always room for new blood.
Achieving or maintaining MVP status is not easy. You don't get to the level just because of your reputation or a one-off event. It’s all down to ongoing and consistent contribution. If you want to become an MVP in any area of technology the easiest way is to achieve peer recognition by contributing your knowledge and expertise to the community. This can be done in many ways from answering questions (hopefully accurately) on TechNet and other forums, leading local interest groups, speaking at technical conferences, maintaining an active blog that contains unique information that isn’t simply copied from other sources, or writing articles or even books on your favorite technology. Once your peers figure out that you’re making a real contribution you have a sporting chance that someone will propose your name as an MVP candidate to Microsoft and start off the process that might lead to an MVP award, in which case you can decide whether you want to be one of those who list their names on Microsoft’s MVP site or want to delight in your new status in secret…