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Navigating the VMware certification path

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IT pros cast wary eyes on new VMware cloud, desktop certifications

VMware certification options are set to double, with new cloud and end-user computing titles. IT pros question how valuable the new certs really are.

IT pros are skeptical about VMware’s new cloud and end-user computing certifications, citing rapid recertification cycles and a disconnect between employers' priorities and the VMware certification roadmap.

VMware Inc. will double the number of certifications it offers to IT pros from eight to 16. The new certification options focus on technologies outside of VMware's data center infrastructure stronghold, where most customers look to develop their skills. New certifications are available at the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) and more advanced VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) levels.

"I've heard of VMware's new certifications in cloud and desktop virtualization, but I'm looking more at obtaining a VCAP, which shows your skills in architecture, design and more," said Stuart McHugh, systems engineer who manages a private cloud at London-based Clyde & Co LLP.

Advancing to a higher certification from VCP to VCAP, rather than adding a specialized cloud computing certification such as VMware's VCP in cloud, will get you recognized in the IT department, McHugh said, because the VCAP indicates a specific set of skills in real-world scenarios.

However, cloud computing certifications can help IT pros plan resources for architect and use cloud computing in a quickly evolving sector, according to some experts. Some IT veterans have even gone into cloud certification courses as skeptics, and emerged as true believers.

VMware certifications galore

Some of VMware's new certifications are available now, while more are on the company's roadmap. VMware cloud certification will debut with five options:

  • VCP: Cloud
  • VCAP: Cloud Infrastructure Administration
  • VCAP: Cloud Infrastructure Design
  • VCAP: Cloud Governance
  • VCDX: Cloud.

While its desktop virtualization (i.e., end-user computing) certification is not new, VMware will expand this area from one certification to include three more:

  • VCAP: Desktop Design
  • VCAP: Desktop Administration
  • VCDX: Desktops.

In an ideal world, having certifications across different technologies is excellent, said David Davis, virtualization evangelist at Schaumburg, Ill.-based IT training group TrainSignal.com.

"I am concerned [these are] more certification titles than VMware can support," he added. While very few IT pros will tackle desktop, data center and cloud right away, VMware and its users can grow into these certifications, as Microsoft and Cisco Inc. did over time, he said.

VMware has done away with its entry-level, no-class-required VMware Certified Associate (VCA) on its certification roadmap. Similar to a Microsoft MCP entry-level certification, VMware’s VCA filled a need for many virtualization pros with provable skills who could not justify spending thousands of dollars on a class, according to Davis, who laments VMware's decision to drop the VCA option.

How far can you stretch your VMware education?

Twice as many certifications could mean double the trouble for IT pros that want expensive training, but have tight budgets. Desktop virtualization and cloud computing might be growing trends, but the jury is out on whether they really require specialized VMware certifications.

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Value war: Experience vs VCP

Has the VCP lost real meaning?

The return on investment in VMware certifications is in question, given how rapidly the company releases new products, said Jason Boche, a VMware virtualization product specialist at Dell Compellent.

VMware's requirement to stay current or take a class can keep you from getting a lot of mileage out of a certification, and eat up a lot of time, he said. VMware requires certification holders to take an additional training course if they miss a deadline to update to the current certification, i.e., from VCP4 to VCP5.

VMware's payoff from the certification spree

VMware's tendency to mandate expensive classes for certifications, instead of solely administering tests, leads some to question whether certifications are a money-making venture or an education initiative for VMware.

"Microsoft has certifications that don't require any class," Davis said. "Why can't VMware?"

VMware's increased focus on cloud and end-user computing certifications pit it against IBM, Citrix Systems Inc. and various other competitors.

Vendors are doing everything they can to combat employers’ declining interest in certifications, said David Foote, CEO and co-founder of Foote Partners, a Vero Beach, Fla. firm that tracks IT compensation levels.

"If these new certs are more than just sales/marketing hype, the market will react by putting a cash value on them," he added.

Essential Guide

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