Thoughts, Rants, and Suggestions on vSphere 6 Training and Certifications

Welcome to the vSphere 6.0 ZOMG Series, focused on the tech goodies baked into 6.0. You can click me to return to the directory, or choose a different deep dive from the menu at the top.
Welcome to the vSphere 6.0 ZOMG Series, focused on the tech goodies baked into 6.0. You can click me to return to the directory, or choose a different deep dive from the menu at the top.

The announcement of vSphere 6 and it’s sometime in quarter 1 release date ultimately means that the certification treadmill begins anew. I figured it was a good time to scrounge around the certification portal and see what’s in store for VMware exams and certifications.

Once again, it seems that we’ll be going through a round of hybrid exams that are version specific but have an expiration date with recertification requirements. So much sad panda.

cert-roadmap

Associate Level

The associate level looks to be about the same as usual. VCA6-DCV training is provided by way of a free web learning course that lasts about 3 hours. Interesting enough, the certification is intended for executives, decision makers, and IT professionals. Make sure to tell your CXO that he or she needs to go get certified. ūüėČ

vca-dcv

I also noticed that the cert is expressed as both VCA-DCV and VCA6-DCV; let’s just assume they mean vSphere 6 somewhere in there.

Professional Level

The infamous VCP seems to be running an¬†unusual race with this version. You now take a course (assuming you haven’t already), then a foundation exam, followed by a solution track exam. This seems a bit excessive and confusing; I’m hoping for more clarity in the future. Per the roadmap site:

  • An online Foundation exam that covers the basics of virtualization and combines with elective exam to validate skills in a specific solution track
  • More classes, including advanced courses, will be offered that meet the ‚Äėqualifying course‚Äô required for certification
  • Elite status for candidates who complete multiple certifications at this level

From a course perspective, there’s the typical What’s New course, followed by ICM and Optimize and Scale. I do see the ability to use on-demand services for¬†all of the courses, which is a handy option for busy professionals who can’t evacuate the premises for 2-5 days straight.

vcp6-dcv

Historically, certification holders have had 6 months past the release date of a major version (this being vSphere 6) to upgrade their previous level and currently valid VCP without having to sit a course. The only thing I could find on upgrades was this little gem:

Those who currently hold VCP Certification will have the option to migrate to the new version through a streamlined upgrade path” (source)

No clue what that is, yet.

Implementation Expert Level

This is where it gets a bit different. The VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) is no more, but we already kinda knew that.

[symple_box color=”gray” fade_in=”false” float=”center” text_align=”left” width=””]A bit of history:

  • Prior to there being VCAP certifications, there were still the two exams (Admin and Design) that resulted in zero certifications; they were¬†simply the requirements for VCDX.
  • The VCAP certifications were born and bestowed separate certifications – being the VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD – and also remained as VCDX requirements.
  • Current VCDXs could upgrade their VCDX version by passing¬†the latest VCAP-DCD.[/symple_box]

Now, the two exams – Admin and Design – are being combined into one certification, the VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX). According to the certification roadmap, here’s what you can expect:

  • VCIX certification is comprised of two separate exams ‚Äď one focused on Administration and one focused on Design
  • The VCIX Design exam will be available at more PearsonVue testing locations
  • VCIX Design exams have been shortened from 4 to 2 hours. The decreased time does not reflect ease of the exam, but is the result of the exam focusing on new topics only and does not include those covered by prior exams
  • Elite status for candidates who complete multiple VCIX certifications

I sort of chuckle at the Elite status thing.

For those looking for a relevant course, the suggestion is vSphere: Design & Deploy.

vcix

Design Expert Level

It appears the only change here is how you fulfill the requirements. With the VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD being folded into the VCIX-DCV, earning a VCDX appears to have the same number of exam requirements.

sidebarI’m curious how upgrades will be handled – do VCDXs have to take the full VCIX to upgrade, or will the Design exam be enough?

Thoughts, Rants, and Suggestions

The certification site is a real mess with no real consistency across versions, certification names, exam numbers, or a pure “this is exactly what you must do” sort of workflow. I’m very disappointed in the quality of the site and how difficult it is to get real answers from it. Just look at the certification sidebar: it has a wild collection¬†of certification names and links that are confusing.

Here’s a few ideas to improve VMware’s certification portal:

Build a certification workflow tool

Stop with the static web pages and whack-a-mole information silos. Give me one place where I can map out everything necessary to certify or recertify. The workflow tool should also update with my actual progress and not just be an example web page.

Here’s an example from Cisco, which is the gold standard in certification handling in my book.

cisco-certs

Apparently there’s already something like this in the works, although I couldn’t find any sort of announcement about it – check out the image shared by Rob Coote via Twitter:

More transparency across requirements

Requirements are a big deal, such as the VCP-NV not counting for VCP-DCV or VCAP-DCV unless a course was taken. Information like that should not be hidden behind an asterisk. I would expect a 5 piece band blaring trumpets in my face shouting that sort of thing. Especially when it looks like the change was reverted Рwhy are there no details on this?

https://twitter.com/oma1981/status/562653722187399168

It also goes back to my previous suggestion: if you had a robust workflow tool for certifications, I would see the requirement as part of the workflow.

Pick a standard and run with it

Perhaps I’m just overly tuned to variations in the certification program, but it seems like the workflows to achieve certifications and meet requirements are changing too rapidly. Come together as a team, pick a standard, and run with it. Stick with that standard through an entire major release cycle and don’t make adjustments unless they are dire (and in that case, explain the change, why it was made, and be transparent about it).

Certifications are a big deal that professionals spend hours working towards, typically on their own time. It takes us away from our families and friends. Partners and manufacturers are required to take exams in order to succeed in the ecosystem. If you continually treat the rules like they are malleable, it takes away from the ultimate value of the program.