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Why a VMware certification is still a valuable asset

In the cloud era, renewing or upgrading a VMware certification might feel like a waste of time, effort and money. But for some admins, it might still be a good idea.

Is it worth it to renew or upgrade your VMware certification?

That's a question many VMware administrators ask themselves. IT certifications validate your skills in a specific product or technology to current and future employers. Of course, getting this validation isn’t easy. The certification process requires you to invest both time and money, and that investment only grows as you up your level of certification. Still, certifications play a critical role in IT careers. When you know which ones to move forward with, you show an advancing career arc.

So, is now the right time to continue investing in VMware certifications? Some would say that it makes sense only if you plan to keep your infrastructure on site. And let's face it: Who wants to do that when everything seems to be moving to the cloud? Still, it's far-fetched to believe that all your applications will move off site. For compliance rules, cost reasons or simply a need for control, many of your applications might remain on premises. You still need those certifiable skills.

Why get certified?

Simply keeping some infrastructure on site isn't a reason to obtain a certification. If you think about it, the cloud is simply someone else's infrastructure that you pay for.

Many folks can remember building a PC; installing cards, memory and CPUs; what those things mean and their fundamentals. As of 2019, we don’t typically build servers or even desktops anymore. We rarely repair them by replacing internal hardware. Most of the time, the vendor swaps parts as part of a warranty policy. This might lead you to believe that you no longer need to understand CPUs or memory troubleshooting and configuration since servers and desktops seem replaceable.

If you configure a VMware environment or cloud infrastructure and don’t have a solid understanding of CPU and memory concepts, you're going to face some challenges. You might deal with serious cost overruns because VMware environments still rely on that fundamental knowledge for configuration.

Which exams should you take?

Despite advancements in cloud technology -- and other technologies such as human-computer interaction or virtual storage area network -- its foundation still has roots in virtualization and storage. The foundational certifications, such as the VMware Data Center Virtualization certification, remain critical whether your workload resides on premises or in the cloud.

Certifications play a critical role in IT careers. When you know which ones to move forward with, you show an advancing career arc.

In addition to Data Center Virtualization, VMware has a few other standout certifications, specifically Network Virtualization and Cloud Management and Automation.

The push for security and micro-segmentation means employers will want certifications in network security technology, such as VMware's NSX, going forward. Such technologies still use data center virtualization as a foundation. In addition, with the cloud gaining more traction every day, expanding your certification to include Cloud Management and Automation makes perfect sense.

What level of VMware certification do you need?

VMware offers multiple certification levels ranging from associate to design expert. What level you need depends on a number of factors.

The first and biggest is need. To what level do you need Desktop and Mobility knowledge and certification? If your core job duties don't typically include such tasks, you might want to consider an associate certification over a professional or advanced professional certification. A professional level certification in Data Center Virtualization provides a solid foundational base. You can always branch out from there based on your needs.

With a second certification, such as Network Virtualization or Desktop Mobility, you should consider going from professional to advanced professional. This helps you showcase more focused knowledge in your area of expertise.

If you have the right role, you might also look into the design expert level certification. Such certifications are the top tier, but they also come with top tier time commitments and costs. Ensure these align with your job and your goals before committing to them.

What happens when your certifications become dated?

In February 2019, VMware changed its recertification policy. Previously, the company decided that admins' VMWare Certified Professional certifications would expire every two years. VMware certifications no longer expire, but they can still become dated. Ideally, your certifications match the environments you support. If you have a higher level or more current certification than your environment requires, you should still be able to support it, but the reverse isn't necessarily true. If your certification is older, it's still valid, but you might lack key knowledge of newer features.

You should make an effort to upgrade your certification with each new release. You should also upgrade to higher-level certifications until the role you wish to fill no longer needs them.

This was last published in March 2019

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