House of Brick Principal Architect
A few weeks ago I posted a short post on the current SQL Server certification paths from Microsoft. This week I’m following up with current VMware certification paths. The VMware certification paths are rapidly evolving, and VMware’s direction in the enterprise becomes immediately clear when looking through the list.
The original VMware certification started with the VMware Certified Professional back in the day for VMware ESX 1 – way back in 2003.
Susan Gudenkauf is VCP number one and tells her story at a great interview at TrainSignal.com.
Fast forward about ten years, and now four different certification tracks exist from VMware.
- Data Center Virtualization
- End User Computing
- Cloud Application Platform
While I feel all of these certification tracks are very valuable, I’m a bit less focused on the Cloud Application Platform certifications at this time, as they deal primarily with Spring software development and we do very little application development. We try to stay ‘below the line’ when it comes to data.
For each of the three tracks that I am focusing on here, multiple certifications exist in a hierarchical progression.
Data Center Virtualization
First, the Data Center virtualization track is the granddaddy of the VMware certifications.
At the heart of the Data Center track is the VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV – formerly VCP then VCP-DV). This certification is the starting point towards VMware virtualization mastery, and is the cornerstone of a solid VMware infrastructure understanding. This exam is quite challenging, and the candidate should be quite versed in VMware setup, configuration, and troubleshooting.
As with other VMware base certifications, obtaining your VCP5-DCV requires that you attend a qualifying VMware-authorized class if you are not upgrading from the VCP4-DCV certification. A list of the qualifying courses can be found here.
Next come the VMware Certified Advanced Professional certifications for Data Center Administration and Data Center Design. Both certifications are great, and I personally feel that obtaining one or both of these certifications demonstrates that a person can properly manage any scale of a VMware infrastructure. I hold the VCAP5-DCD certification, and am looking to obtain the VCAP5-DCA certification by the end of the summer.
Finally comes the certification that demonstrates absolute mastery of the vSphere stack – VMware Certified Design Expert – Data Center Virtualization (VCDX5-DCV). This is such a high level certification that most people don’t strive to achieve because they simply do not need it. For those that do, they are usually technical architects or consultants who design large and/or complex cloud infrastructures and wish to demonstrate the technical capacity required of their profession. Only a few hundred individuals worldwide have completed the requirements for VCDX.
I am a glutton for punishment with my nonstop self-education regimen, and hope to achieve VCDX-DCV in the near future. Earning the VCDX-DCV designation is a personal goal that I have had since I learned about the VCP certification many years ago.
Next, VMware’s huge push to the cloud is now backed by a number of certifications in the path to product mastery.
First, comes the newly released VMware Certified Professional – Cloud (VCP-Cloud). It is a mix of the core vSphere information for traditional virtualization, mixed with a strong dose of subject matter surrounding the VMware vCloud suite of products. I took and passed the VCP-Cloud exam this past December, and it is a tough exam.
To be eligible to earn the VCP-Cloud designation, you must either already have obtained the VCP5-DCV certification and pass the VMware Certified Professional – Infrastructure as a Service (VCP-IaaS) exam, or take a ‘qualifying’ course from VMware and then pass the VCP-Cloud exam. Appropriate courses include:
vCloud Director: Install, Configure, Manage
VMware vCloud: Deploy and Manage the VMware Cloud
These pre-requisite courses can be a barrier to VMware certifications because these classes are not cheap, but my colleagues and I have had very good experiences with these classes. Urge your employers to send you to these classes if you do anything at all with VMware virtualization management.
Additional information on the VCP-Cloud certification, along with learning blueprints and practice questions, can be found here.
Once you have gotten the VCP-Cloud certification under your belt, next in line are three VMware Certified Advanced Professional certifications – Cloud Infrastructure Design (VCAP-CID), Cloud Infrastructure Administration (coming soon), and Cloud Governance (also coming soon). Not much information exists on these certifications except for VCAP-CID because they are so new.
Finally, the pinnacle of VMware cloud certifications is the VMware Certified Design Expert – Cloud (VCDX5-Cloud). Very few individuals strive to achieve this level of certification, and even fewer make it.
As I grow with my vCloud experience, I am considering working towards the upper certifications in this track.
End User Computing
Last but not least, comes a certification track that VMware is actively building upon – End User Computing. It is centered on the VMware View platform for virtual desktops.
First comes the VMware Certified Professional – Desktop (VCP5-DT). Next comes the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Desktop Administration (VCAP5-DTA – coming soon) and Desktop Design (VCAP5-DTD). Virtual desktops are exploding in adoption, and these certifications are a great way to prove that you are qualified to manage the largest and/or most complex View installations.
In the past, technical certifications were rather polarizing. Quite a few people thought they were irrelevant and unnecessary. HR managers and recruiters thought they were vital for recruiting the ‘right’ staff. Some certifications were (and still are) easy to pass, and do not have much value in the industry. The VMware certifications are far from it. Having passed a number of industry certifications myself, VMware creates some tough exams. The format of the tests is such that I consider them true tests of demonstrating the knowledge required to apply these technological platforms to business challenges. I hold the VMware certifications high, and when I see folks with a VMware certification, I can trust that they know their stuff.
If you work with VMware administration or architecture, I encourage you to explore these certifications, see which ones make sense for you, and go after them!