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Previous VMware Certified Professional certification offerings had a lifespan of two years. This dissatisfied many certification holders and a multitude decided not to upgrade. As a result, in 2019, VMware backtracked on this certification stance.
In the past, if you had a VMware Certified Professional (VCP) 4 or 5 certification, VMware required you to upgrade within a specified exam availability window, which meant taking two exams in a short amount of time: The base ESXi exam and a specialization exam. If you failed to do so, you landed back in the same pool as anyone hoping to earn a current VCP from scratch, regardless of whether you had already put in the work to cover your base requirements. As a result, many certified individuals declined to upgrade.
VMware realized its misstep and changed its certification policy. Now, those who never took the upgrade exam can upgrade to a whole new VCP.
Specific changes to VCP
The VCP certification backtrack means a handful of things. Previously expired VCP 4 and 5 certifications have gone live again and VMware now recognizes those formerly expired exams. You can download the badges for those exams from the MyVMware portal.
Those with VCP 5 certifications can upgrade without attending a course. Previously, those with VCP 5 were required to start again and attend one of a few approved courses -- a process with a price tag of around $3,000 at a minimum -- as well as two exams. Each exam consists of 85 questions and takes 90 minutes to complete, and VMware offers training courses and supplementary study materials. VCP 4, although revived, has no upgrade path, but those with VCP 4 can once more use the certification and badge that comes with it.
VCP has also changed its naming format. Prior to the change, VCP names correlated with the specific version of ESXi you took the test for, such as ESXi 5. Now, to better reflect the diversity and ever-changing pace of ESXi, its tools and its environments, the certification reflects the year. For example, the current certificate is called VCP 2019.
Issues with the VCP certification backtrack
VMware has retired a number of VCP paths and simplified the certification, and the retired VCP paths are no longer valid, although the four main specializations -- Data Center Virtualization, Network Virtualization, Cloud Management and Automation and Desktop and Mobility -- remain.
As an olive branch, VMware now offers a year's worth of VMware Learning Zone access to those affected, free of charge. Those with certifications can log into their MyVMware education site to check the active status of their certifications.
The VCP certification backtrack applies only to vSphere 4 and 5. This change doesn't cover older certificates, nor other levels of certification such as VMware Certified Associate or VMware Certified Design Expert.
VMware's decision to roll back certifications essentially does two things: It enables people who want to stay current to do so by going down a new route, and it enables those that obtained older certifications to continue to use them.
For those considering VCP -- or VMware certification in general -- you can find a lot of useful information on the VMware certification site. For those considering recertification: Don't wait. Act now and get that upgrade done.