imageLet’s start this post off with this:

I am a VMware Certified Professional 5 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV)!

Yup, you read that correctly I am certified in a product set that is a competitor to my company.  This may surprise you a bit, and the obvious question is why get VMware certified?  Go ahead and ask me….

So, Matt why did you get the VMware Certified Professional 5 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) certification?

Excellent question, so glad you asked.  There are actually quite a few reasons:

  • My boss told me to  Smile
  • My teammates and writers of this series are VCP certified.
  • I am a technologist and a fan of all technologies.
  • For the IT Pro’s that I serve, folks like you..

With the last reason being the most important to me.   Even though I have been with Microsoft for over 12 years and a huge advocate of our technologies.  I like to learn about other technologies.  So for me getting VMware certified was really a no brainer.  Whenever I am in front of audiences I ask the question, who here runs VMware, 99% of the crowd raises their hand.  It is a fact that a majority of our customers run VMware in their datacenters.  While I have seen an uptick in Hyper-V, I found myself becoming a technology language translator between VMware and Hyper-V.    For example:

  • Vmotion = Live Migration
  • PowerCLI = PowerShell
  • vCenter = System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • etc….

Many of these “translations” will be covered throughout this series.  Especially since from a technical perspective Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center 2012 SP1 has caught up (and in some cases leapfrogged VMware) with VMware vSphere Hypervisor, vCloud Suite & vCenter.  So really it was so I could understand the questions that I was going to get from all of you.

The Process

Now that I have taken a look at why, let me talk a bit about the process.  When I started to look at the requirements to get the VCP certification I was surprised that I was required to take a 5 day ~$3000 class before I could event sit through the exam.  You can see the full list of requirements here: VMware VCP5 Certification   While I was surprised, I was happy that I was going to get to sit down in a class and work with VMware.  What surprised even more is how much I knew conceptually about the product just based on my knowledge of Hyper-V.  It actually made the class fairly straight forward, and I truly enjoyed working with the product.

When I download the blueprint for the exam, I was surprised the amount of gaps between the class and the actual exam.  I knew I had a lot of work and studying ahead of me to pass the exam.  I read a lot of great resources and this book by Brian Atkinson was really good VCP5 VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 5 Study Guide: Exam VCP-510.  While the book did help pass the exam, the true benefit is that I will be able to use it as a reference guide.  Speaking of the exam…

The Exam

After all my prepping, I was ready for the exam.  The registration process was interesting, before I could go to  Person Vue to register for the exam I had to get authorization from VMware (only took about 15 minutes).  Now the exam did present a challenge, as do all exams.  IMHO, this exam was one of the easier exams I have taken in my career, with the hardest being a series of Exchange 5.5 – 2003 exams that absolutely buried me.  The exam was a lot of memorization style questions, and I found the prepping I did really helped.  It only took me about 40 minutes to take and pass the exam.  While I cannot provide details (I signed agreement), if you want to see the style of questions that are on the exam I would recommend taking a look at VMware’s sample questions: Practice Exam 

In Comparison

imageWow this is probably the toughest part of the post I had to write.  In short I could not really find a 1 to 1 comparison with the VCP certification to a Microsoft Certification.  Before I go any further I have a confession to make, my MCSE is not current.  I am still in pursuit of updating my MCSE, I let it expire some years ago.

I thought I would try to compare to the MCSA or even the MCSE, but in reality there is no comparison.  You can see the list here: Find the right Microsoft IT certification   I think fundamentally it comes from how we approach certifications at Microsoft.  Our Microsoft certifications have shifted to more solution focused based exams, and the newer exams are harder than previously.  While, from my experience, VMware’s exams are still product focused. 

In a sense the VCP  exam did remind me of the old NT 4.0 exams that I took way back when I first started down my certification path.  So what changed with our certifications other than the exams got harder and more solution focused. In talking with my teammate Keith Mayer, I learned that Microsoft Learning actively reached out to IT Pros, IT Hiring managers and Industry experts worldwide to gain insight into the skills that companies were looking for.  This is reflected in the holistic approach we have to our certification process.  To make the certifications more valuable you have to move from a product focused to implementation and solution focused.   This is what companies are looking for, while it is important to know what port you need for xyz technology, it is more valuable the underlying solution that needs that port opened.

I think this comparison also highlights the difference between the companies and their approach to private cloud technologies.  At Microsoft we see private cloud more of as a how and not a what.  It is about the automation and process and not just about virtualization.  In a sense knowing about the hyper visor and virtualization technologies is really just table stakes. 

This is not to say that there is not value in the VCP certification, it is just to say that the certification approach of both companies is very different.

Certifications at any level are a good thing.

I know early on in my career my certifications from NT 3.5 and up were a differentiation for me.  The certifications were not only lucrative for me but also the training centers I worked for.  Back in those days certifications were life, and being an MCT certifications were a requirement for my job.

Fast forwarding to today’s day and age, certifications still provide a way for all of us to showcase our technical credibility.  If you are currently a just a MCSE or a VCP today, I would highly recommend that you also look at getting the other certifications to help balance out your knowledge and technical portfolio.  This will provide not only more value for you but also for your employers

I hope you enjoyed this post, and please comment.  If you missed any parts of the series take a look here:

VMware or Microsoft? – The Complete Series