First, let me say that I am a big proponent of technical certifications. That is the reason why I have my Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) Server Administrator, MCITP Enterprise Administrator and MCITP Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2007 and 2010. Once upon a time, I also had my Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), MCSE (precursor to MCITP), CNI and CNE.
Recently, I passed Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Virtualization (Exam 70-659) and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 (Exam 70-400). I plan to get my MCITP Virtualization Administrator so I’ll need to take the Windows Server 2008 R2 Desktop Virtualization Exam (70-669) and Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization Administrator Exam (70-693) sometime in the next few months. As soon as the two exams for Microsoft Private Cloud Certification become available (Exams 70-246 and 70-247), I will also study and take those.
At the end of January, I attended the VMware vSphere 5: Install, Configure, Manage course and am currently studying for the VCP5 exam.
As I look at the costs in time and money to achieve these certifications, I started asking myself if it was really worth the time and effort to obtain all these certifications. At the end of the day, I did come to the conclusion that it was indeed worth it!
I’m pretty darn sure 90% (or more) of companies out there today are virtualizing their server workloads in one way or another. I am also willing to bet that not everyone fully understands how to manage the virtualization platform that they are using – whether it’s the solution from Microsoft, VMware, Xen or any other smaller virtualization technologies. Training can definitely help and should probably be taken advantage of by more IT Professionals out there. The “next” level is then pursuing the appropriate virtualization certification from the vendor in question. Since quite a few organizations use Microsoft and VMware as their virtualization platform, I thought I would focus on these two and get my certification on both platforms.
On the Microsoft front, I opted not to attend any of the classroom training available as I have been working with the technologies for quite some time now and figured I didn’t need to. I did study up a little on some of the technologies that I don’t necessarily use on a regular basis in my current role. I like that fact that if I have true hands on experience with the technology, I have a valid chance at passing the exam. I may not agree with all the questions on the exam, but enough of it is pertinent to real world experience that I’m okay with it. With 20 / 20 hindsight, I do believe it is worthwhile to do some studying and reviewing of areas that I wouldn’t necessarily use on a regular basis. As an example, installation of the free version of Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is not something I would normally do on a regular basis. In fact, I wouldn’t be installing the Hyper-V role on a daily basis either so it can help to brush up on installation items.
On the VMware front, I find it annoying that I have to attend a class in order to get my certification. It’s one thing if the class were $1200 or $1500, but the 5 day vSphere 5 course costs $3500. Since I don’t administer a VMware environment on a daily basis, the class definitely helped me. However, for those who have true hands on experience, I do find this high cost of entry to be quite annoying. Since I have virtualization experience, I was able to understand the VMware terminology and architecture in a short amount of time. My instructor did a great job of explaining the concepts and even went into additional topics that weren’t part of the official courseware. I still need to pay my $225 to take the exam, but am confident that I will be able to pass it with some hard studying.
I’m curious what everyone else things about this topic. Please weigh in with your thoughts by posting some great comments.