IT Career JumpStart

Dec 14 2008   8:58PM GMT

Can Virtualization Certs Get Real?

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

As the former series editor for Exam Cram, I still get new titles from that series in the mail from its publisher, Que/Pearson Education. On Friday, the VCP/VMWare Certified Professsional Exam Cram by Eliaz N. Khnaser (Que, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0789738059) showed up at my doorstep. This got me to thinking: “Is virtualization technology ready to get real in terms of useful, career enhancing certifications?”

So far, my research turns up a resounding “Maybe!” Let me explain: Virtualization technology is white-hot, and is carving out a space for itself in data centers and IT operations around the world. There’s no denying that VM tools and technologies are changing the ways that IT and individual practitioners do their jobs, set up servers and clients, and make things work from the desktop all the way into supercomputer territory.

But the issue with many certifications, especially those that focus on mass markets(read: sizable enough to be economically “interesting”) , is their ability to be used effectively as cookie-cutters. That is, they must be able to stamp out umpty-ump copies of themselves in a form and fashion that both IT professionals seeking certification and IT managers and HR professionals, seeking to fille open positions, make promotions, and create new job roles can all agree is useful, relevant, and productive in the workplace. Thus, the real question with VM technologies is “Are we there yet?”

Certainly, the appearance of the VCP certification argues that steps toward sufficient commiditization and standardization are underway. Even more encouraging, there’s MSTS exam 70-243 System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Configuring available as well.

Although the contents and coverage of the VCP are perfectly reasonable and respectable, I’m still a little leery of this credential for the simple reason that VMWare also requires candidates to complete (and more important from the perspective I’m about to elucidate, pay for) a VMWare authorized training class on related subject matter. At $3000 a pop, the vendor’s incentive to sell classroom seats all too easily gets confused with (or overtakes) their desire to create a sizable population of certified professionals.

Microsoft’s entry into this space–where authorized training is not required (though it is recommended) to earn certification, and where many pathways to credentials always exist, including self-study–helps to lend more credibility to VMWare’s efforts than may be comfortable for both parties involved. One thing’s for sure: VM technology is here to stay, and more and more of us IT professionals are going to have to master its wiles and ways. Hopefully, these certifications will help that process along.

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  • Cruicer
    I’ve been in the technology for quite a number of years and have seen my share of the "alphabet soup" recruits in my day. You all know the type, those that have every acronym known to man behind their name. But when the rubber meets the road they have no clue. Yet there are a few good certs out there such as Cisco's to name one. I typically steered away from the candidate that had the so said "alphabet soup" titles as this simply proved to me that A. Either this person can take the multiple choice exams pretty good, or B. Spent a lot of money w/ the Exam Cram type of help aids. Rather I would look for the candidate who had a few years experience and knows the lingo during the interview process. If I had two or three candidates whom were pretty even with knowledge and real world working experience then I would look for a certification, this would then show me that the individual had the motivation to get the cert whether it was for a promotion or a previous job requirement. Certs are good, but until the Microsoft’s and the VMware’s testing centers put individuals in real world situations where they need to think about the answer instead of memorizing the answer to me they are only good to be used as the "tie-breaker" or something an individual has to have for a promotion. I hope that VMware will "Get Real" so the VCP has a solid reason for being behind ones name.
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