ZOMG! VMware VCP Certifications Now Expire, The End Is Nigh?

Earlier last week, VMware has announced some major changes to the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) program via their VMware Education and Certification Blog. The modification has caused quite a stir in the community as folks weighed in on the changes. I decided to soak on the issue a bit and avoid a knee-jerk reaction post. I’ll go over some of the changes here, including what you can expect on your transcript, along with some of my thoughts around the impacts and effects of the newly expiring VCP policy.

Expiration Dates in VMware’s MyLearn Portal

The MyLearn Portal now shows a yellow warning box stating that expiration dates are listed, and a “valid through” line item has been added to all of the VMware Certified Professional level exams. As an example, I’ve cut out my VCP-Cloud exam – which shows to be valid through March 10th, 2015 – and pasted it below:

An expiration date is now listed for any VCP level exam
An expiration date is now listed for any VCP level exam

My other VCP exams show the same expiration date because I haven’t taken a VCP or VCAP exam in quite some time. For those in my situation, you’ll be given a valid through date of March 10th, 2015. If you’ve taken a VCP or VCAP exam after March 10th, 2013, your VCP expiration will be adjusted to be two years after that date. As expected, none of the exam levels above VCP show an expiration date.

The End of vSphere 4 Exams

If you dig into the fine print a bit, you’ll see that the exams based on vSphere 4 technology are being retired soon. For those looking to gain a VCP4 or VCAP4 level certification on vSphere 4, you have until March 31st to schedule the exam and until May 31st to sit the exam.

If you want to add VCDX4 to your transcript, you’ll need to submit your VCDX Application by May 9th and get invited to a defense by July 9th.

The specific details of the Recertification Policy: VMware Certified Professional documentation are under the “More Information” section as shown below:

vSphere 4 based exams are retiring soon
vSphere 4 based exams are retiring soon

Working Through Recertification

Here are some of my thoughts around the new certification policy:

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The Good

Those who have an old VCP2, VCP3, or VCP4 can now sit a VCP5 exam any time prior to March 10th, 2015 without having to sit a course. As per VMware: “Prerequisite course requirements are waived, but the exam and exam cost are the same as those required for initial certification. Failure to recertify by the required date will result in revocation of your certification.

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The Weird

Almost all vendors use one of two methods for their certifications: certification versioning (retirement) or certification duration (expiration). VMware has traditionally been in the versioning camp, offering exams that focus on a specific version of software and then later retiring the exam after the software was no longer relevant in the market. When vSphere 5 came out, for example, the VI3 exams were retired.

An example of versioning is Microsoft’s MCSE and MCITP. The exams cover technology available within a certain suite of products available within a particular timeframe, such as Windows Server 2003 or Exchange 2007. The certification doesn’t expire, but it does retire after a certain point. This means you can no longer take the exam and the technology is no longer considered to be relevant in the industry. The same holds true for VMware – every exam was accompanied by a version number. The idea was that the version number denoted which set of technology you were certified around.

Certification expiration is the other option. Cisco’s CCNA expires every 3 years and can be renewed by taking an exam that is equal or higher. There are no relevant version numbers to the CCNA – it’s not like there is a CCNA “2013” or CCNA “Nexus 4.0” version. The idea is that in 3 years, enough has changed that you need to recertify on the latest changes across the product line that you are focused on (such as Data Center, Route and Switch, Wireless, etc.).

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The Bad

VMware appears to be shifting towards an expiration model … but still has exam versions. This hybrid model is confusing. I can only imagine that the end state goal of VMware is to do away with exam versioning and embrace the expiration model … but I’m just guessing. The idea of expiring a versioned exam makes little sense to me.