VMware’s New Gauntlet of Certifications
Technical certifications are somewhat of a hobby of mine, being a self labeled “certification junkie” and all. I’m typically a fan of new certifications: they are a fun and interesting way to learn new content and challenge existing skill sets. While every vendor has a different spin on the process, VMware has a lot of positive angles going for it; the process is relatively straight forward, the blueprints are well written and encompass enough content to be challenging without being too wide, and there is a vibrant, energetic community to tap into for assistance.
Announced at the VMworld 2012 US conference, VMware has brought additional offerings to its four different certification tracks: Cloud, Datacenter Virtualization, End User Computing, and Cloud Application Platform. While I won’t be covering any of the developer exams, this post will look at new offerings from the other three tracks, along with what has changed in the current offerings, and some thoughts on how this will affect the certification arena for VMware.
The legacy VMware Certified Professional (VCP) track is getting a face lift, and is now labeled the “Datacenter Virtualization” track. All of the exams in this track are already available today.
It seems that two certifications are having their names changed slightly: VCDX5 is now VCDX5-DV, and VCP5 is now VCP5-DV (source). The two VCAP exams will retain the same name.
The Cloud track was announced a few months ago with the introduction of VCP5-IaaS. This exam started in beta back in May 2012 (still waiting on scores at time of writing) and went GA only recently. This track has received the most attention from VMware, with five new certifications being announced.
Cloud: Professional Level
The first new Cloud certification is a VCP level exam called VCP-Cloud. I thought this was strange – they already have VCP-IaaS, so what’s the difference? There may be a clue in the exam requirements. Per the VCP-Cloud information page, notice that Path 1 requires the IaaS exam, while Path 2 skips it. Perhaps this is meant to be a way to skip the Datacenter Virtualization track and make the Cloud track stand on its own?
There are two paths to earning your VCP-Cloud certification.
- Be a VMware Certified Professional 5 – Datacenter Virtualization (VCP5-DV)
- Pass the VCP-IaaS exam
- Attend a qualifying course
- Pass the VCP-Cloud exam – coming soon
If you recently took the IaaS exam, it seems that you are already a VCP-Cloud.
Cloud: Advanced Professional Level
The Advanced tier introduces three new VCAP exams: Cloud Infrastructure Administration, Cloud Infrastructure Design, and Cloud Governance. Only the design exam, labeled VCAP-CID, is currently in the “new release” category. The VCAP-CID information page will let you sign up for notification when the exam releases. From the requirements statement:
To achieve VCAP-CID status, you must complete two core components:
- Have VMware Certified Professional 5 – Datacenter Virtualization (VCP5-DV)
VMware Certified Professional – Cloud (VCP-Cloud) certification
- Pass the VCAP-CID exam
It’s interesting to me that you have a choice in either VCP-Cloud or VCP-DV in order to take the VCAP-CID exam – this seems to further suggest that the Datacenter Virtualization (DV) track will be an optional path to start with for those already certified, and the Cloud track will have its own requirements for those not interested in the DV track.
Update: I located an interactive simulation of the VCAP-CID exam. Looks like the same style of Visio-like design!
Cloud: Expert Level
Although a VCDX-Cloud was announced, it’s still in the “coming soon” status with no real information available. I’m really interested to find out how similar this will be to the VCDX-DV certification, with a formal submission and defense process, and if current VCDX holders will still have to do a live defense.
End User Computing
The End User Computing track, or Desktop (DT) track, also received a fair bit of attention with three new certifications being announced. Perhaps the “vaporware” VCAP-DT will finally show its head?
Desktop: Associate Level
I think we can finally hammer in the coffin nail on this guy. The associate level exam, or VCA-DT, was released in the vSphere 4 days. Originally it was a requirement for VCP-DT, but was later removed as a requirement, effectively relegating it to “what is this thing even for?” status. If you’ll notice, the new road map doesn’t even mention an associate level certification anywhere, which seems to prove out that this level has been discarded. A pity; having an exam without a course requirement for eager young admins to try out was a positive thing, in my mind.
Desktop: Professional Level
It looks like there is no change to the VCP-DT exam. Unlike the new VCP-Cloud, VCP-DT still requires a VCP5 (source). Perhaps this is due to the fact that the Desktop track specifically builds on VMware’s View product, whereas the Cloud track could potentially build on other products (especially after the purchase of Dynamic Ops, Nicira, and other future targets).
Desktop: Advanced Professional Level
Announced over 18 months ago, the Desktop VCAP exam has finally taken on form. Soon to be available as both a Desktop Administration and Desktop Design certification, the VCAP-DTD (design) exam already has an information page up with the ability to sign up for notification when it releases.
So, what will the DTD encompass?
VCAP-DTD is designed for architects who can devise a conceptual end user infrastructure framework based on business requirements, organize its elements into distinct components, and design an architecture that meets those requirements. It also shows that you have experience defining goals for the architecture, analyzing elements of the framework, and making design decisions that ensure the proper physical and virtual components exist in the design for the desktop users.
That doesn’t really give me any idea if this will be similar to the VCAP-DCD or not, but I suppose we can assume it will be in the same form (multiple choice and visio-like questions).
Desktop: Expert Level
Like with the VCDX-Cloud, the VCDX-DT is currently devoid of information.
The one blazing question (rant) in my mind is: how will VMware handle the load of doubling their current certification count? The certification team has been continuously behind by 15-20 days since back when VCP3s were upgrading to VCP4s (many years ago) and has shown no sign of improving. I’m obnoxiously vocal about how behind VMware is on their certification process, where it can take months to even get acknowledgment of an exam appearing on your transcript, especially when compared to other vendors I certify with (Cisco, Microsoft, NetApp, and HP) updating their records in less than 72 hours. It’s often same day service for Cisco exams.
I hope the folks at VMware have a plan in place to relieve the current, and future, inflow of exams.
Aside from my rant, I am looking forward to seeing the new certifications develop. The formation of distinct learning and certification tracks is a huge win, as the old “pile of certs” method was rather confusing (as evident on the VMTN forums and on the Twitters). The new Learning Paths pages are also nice for helping explain the various ways to get educated based on product or functional role. Some really good steps in the right direction!