VMware has now announced two new advanced certifications that will be available for registration in the very near future.  VMware Certified Advanced Professional 4 – Datacenter Administrator (VCAP4-DCA) and VMware Certified Advanced Professional 4 – Datacenter Design (VCAP4-DCD).  Both these certification and exams are a stepping stone for the VMware Certified Design Expert on vSphere 4.   These new exams are for all intents and purposes an updated version of the exams needed for the VCDX certification for ESX 3 but, with the added bonus of earning certifications during the journey to the coveted VCDX certification. Let’s take a quick overview of the new certifications.

VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere 4 – Datacenter Administration

The VCAP4-DCA is directed towards System Administrators, Consultants and Technical Support Engineers who can demonstrate their skills in VMware vSphere and VMware vCenter technologies in relation to the datacenter as well as their knowledge of application and physical-infrastructure services and their integration with the virtual infrastructure.

VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere 4 – Datacenter Design

The VCAP-DCD is directed towards IT Architects and Consulting Architects who are capable of designing VMware solutions in a multi-site, large enterprise environment. They have a deep understanding both of VMware core components and their relation to storage and networking and also of datacenter design methodologies.  They also possess knowledge of applications and physical infrastructure as well as their relationship to the virtual infrastructure.

So in my opinion, this is a good thing that VMware is adding these advanced certifications.  If gives people recognition for the steps they accomplish when either working towards the VCDX or have just taken the advanced steps to further test yourself and your knowledge.  The good news about this advanced exams and certifications is that there will be classes available for these exams but, the classes will not be required to take the exam and receive the certification upon passing the exam.  Now to become certified as a VCAP you must have already achieved the VCP4 certification status and with that taken one of the required classes.

This is where I start to gripe.  I am currently VCP3 and VCP4 having attended the “VI3: Install and Configure” class as well as the “VMware vSphere: What’s New” courses.  As a current VCP 3, I was not required to take the “What’s New” class as long as I took the VCP 4 exam by the end of 2009.  I was given the chance to sit the “What’s New” class and took advantage of that opportunity.  I think it was wrong to put a deadline for holders of VCP 3 certifications to be able to take the VCP 4 exam without being forced to take another class. The only reason I was not certified on ESX 2 was the fact that I could not justify needing to take the class when I just got finished deploying fifty VMware ESX Servers in multiple offices around the globe.  I understand and in some ways agree, the class at least proves that you have touched the product and have gotten a chance to setup and configure a VMware Infrastructure but, if you are already certified then come on VMware why push the community to complete an exam by a certain date or force us to dish out more money for a class that we might not really get anything from.

What about other options?  I have recently been tasked to develop an Intro to vSphere course that is just going to cover the most basic functions in the environment so that a helpdesk for a company can be somewhat prepared to be able to help clients and or customers that are having issues with their products running in a virtual machine.  This course is not going to be anywhere near the technical detail that the VMware class is but, it will be geared for the specific audience that will be attending.  Unless your end goal is certification there may be other options available through your company to get you the knowledge to get started with a virtual infrastructure. Another option to consider could be the training courses available from http://www.trainsignal.com/.  This is another great example of other training option to gather the knowledge needed to build and maintain your virtual environment.

What about the idea of a vendor neutral certification?  Personally, I am not sure I am sold on this idea.  If you are going to deploy a Virtual Infrastructure then wouldn’t make sense to be certified by the vendor of the technology you’re going to deploy no matter if that was VMware, Microsoft and or Citrix?  I am not really sure if a generic virtualization certification would really be the right idea since each of these technologies focus and rely on different things. What are your thoughts?

So to recap, for those of us who have been waiting for the VCDX for vSphere the wait is just about over and we can get busy studying for the new exams as well as get extra certifications for the exams we pass during the process.

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Steve Beaver (162 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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