Thursday, March 9, 2017

Benefits of VMware Certification

This is hard to get my head around, but I have been doing IT for 25 years. In that time I have had the opportunity to get certified from multiple vendors. I remember my first one (you always do!) and it was IBM Baseband networking.  I was working for what was at the time, a local computer retailer, MicroCenter when they had two stores. I had just been hired as a build engineer. I was the guy in back putting together the PC components the sales team just sold you. I was talking with one of the senior technical support specialists about career pathing and networking came up as a topic. I found I could get free training from IBM, take a test, mail it in and get certified. Yeah, I know – 25 years ago, remember?

I learned the value of vendor certification as a method to advance my career and test my knowledge. I became certified on Okidata printers, HP Laserjets and many, many more consumer electronics. I
changed jobs to one working for a Novell reseller where their requirement was that everyone be a Certified Netware Engineer (CNE).  I had already bought the student kit for the first test in the series called Networking Fundamentals. I paid for it myself using money I originally planned to use for college and if I recall correctly, it was $1,100. This very act showed to my potential employer that I was serious about getting the certification and getting a job with them.  I earned additional certifications (ECNE, MCNE, various levels of CNE like 3, 4 and 5) all through self-study and only being reimbursed for testing fees if I passed the exam.  That was great incentive as someone starting out in IT!

I set my goals on the holy grail of networking certifications, the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE). I was working for a partner at the time where they supported me by paying for classes and tests but they stopped short on buying the hardware required to get past the difficult CCIE lab. After a discussion with the lab proctor I convinced my wife, who has ALWAYS been supportive of my certification goals, to invest over $5,000 in used Cisco gear. We chose to make the investment in my certification with the hopes that it would pay off in increased opportunity, salary and viability in the work force. I passed and earned CCIE #5851 on April 28, 2000 in Routing & Switching.  I went on to get a second CCIE in Storage Networking when I was at Cisco.

By now you have either checked  out or are wondering what this has to do with VMware.  Let’s get to that point specifically. My first VMware certification was a VCP3 when I worked for Cisco and we were doing Nexus 1000v networking.  I found it odd that VMware forced me to go to a class before I could take the test and get their certification as that was not what Cisco did. I am glad I did as I learned a TON about vSphere in the class and still hard a hard time with the test.  Having this certification helped me design and build N1K networks and have some credibility with our customers. I also could speak their language and understand many of the challenges they faced.

Fast forward a few years and as a new VMware employee focused on NSX I had a new certification track to undertake. I started with the VCP-NV which I passed a few months after NSX hands on, internal training that counted as taking ICM and talking about the product almost daily. I could have easily stopped there, but didn’t.  VMware has the VCIX-NV which is a much more hands on exam. I had been working with NSX for almost a year on a regular basis and still didn’t pass the first time. It’s a tough exam and I also had the opportunity to help develop the current version of the exam. (Sorry! - 😉)  My VCIX was transformed into a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP6-NV) recently as part of a certification alignment. 

The VCIX-NV/VCAP6-NV really helped me raise my game. I had to dig deeper into the product and it helps with customers who are familiar with the certification. They know I’m not just some dude off of the street but have made the time and financial commitment to earn the certification.

I am a big fan of vendor certification and over my years in the industry I have made the financial decisions and certainly time and effort commitments to earn them. They have opened so many doors for me that very well could have remained closed just simply by having these certifications. Novell, Cisco and now VMware, the song remains the same. There is tremendous value in certification.  My next goal is VMware’s highest certification the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX).  Yes, it is expensive and yes it is a lot of work. That doesn’t change my mind on the value. I’ve learned over 25 years that it’ll be worth it – it always is.

Let’s hear your comments on certification.