In many ways, the IT world has gone certification happy. Nearly every job requirement lists certifications as well as length of service, however, in the realm of cloud computing and virtualization what do these certifications mean? Are they even valuable? Is there a general enough certification that covers all the hypervisors, is there a third party certification available?

These questions are important to answer before deciding on which certifications to undertake as well as which to request when putting out the job request. Further there are several styles of certifications, these being:

  • Those that can be studied to achieve
  • Those which require hands on experience to achieve

In general, all certifications claim to require hands on experience to achieve, but I found that may not be so for everyone. There are people who collect certifications like prizes but once they pass the certification, they do not have the knowledge to do the most basic of tasks. Others have no certifications, but can do the work quickly and efficiently.

In the virtualization space there are only a few certifications:

  • VMware Certified Professional (VCP) from VMware
  • VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) from VMware
  • Certified Virtualization Expert 4.0 (CVE) from VMtraining
  • Microsoft  MCTS Certification for Hyper-V and SCVMM
  • XenServer Certification from Citrix
  • Various Linux Certifications that include some form of virtualization (Xen or KVM)

Now we hear that VMware is in the midst of adding a VMware Enterprise  Certification Track to its collection of certifications. We have yet to know the final name or how to sign up.

The interesting thing to note is that many governments and enterprises require external non-vendor certifications, but since certifications make big money most vendors have their own and do not necessarily endorse the vendor neutral versions of certifications.  The vendors feel there is no equivalence, unsurprisingly those who create the vendor neutral courses claim the vendor certifications do not really mean much as they are biased. Both of these are true statements from each others perspective, but do we need more certifications within the virtualization space, or better certifications? Some improvements are necessary to the current certifications:

  • For the Linux Xen and KVM communities, there needs to be a strict virtualization certification.
  • For the Windows community, there needs to be a Hyper-V certification as most of the information I have seen for the MCTS Certification is really about SCVMM
  • For VMware there needs to be a less breadth of products focused certification but not a full design certification.

VMware is stepping up to the plate to make a more difficult certification that requires hands on knowledge as well as book learning. You cannot pass some of the tests for the VCDX without hands on knowledge. However, not everyone wants to actually get the VCDX as the process is quite rigorous and includes passing two tests and a panel of judges on a design you have put together.

The new VMware certification will hopefully bridge the gap between the VCP and VCDX while still requiring hands on knowledge to pass. There are at least ten different areas of knowledge that could be tested (networking, storage, management, configuration, trouble shooting, security, performance tuning, auditing, and how the hypervisor works), how much of each will be part of the new VMware certification is still unknown.

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Edward Haletky (367 Posts)

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

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