Friday, August 8, 2008

Virtualization Certification Trifecta

For a long time, there was only one player in the Virtualization certification market - VMware with their VCP. I was waiting for them to broaden their certification beyond the initial certification, so I was please to see the announcement of the VCDX program.

VMware is no longer the only one in the virtualization certification race, as Citrix has released their Xen CCA, and Microsoft is preparing a virtualization certification as well.

So how do those certification programs compare in difficulty and return on investment?

Let's start with the first program out of the gate - the VCP.
  • Difficulty: I found this certification to not be incredibly difficult for people that have spent a good amount of time with VMware, and have had access to the official training materials. This certification has some "paper certification" protection in the sense that to be a VCP you must have completed some form of official training. I'm not sure I completely agree with this requirement, as I have seen some passionate fans of the product being held back by the lack of training budget.
  • Return on Investment: Very high in my opinion, but I think that large company HR departments aren't looking for the VCP yet , it seems to be more the consulting companies specializing in Virtualization that know to ask. A quick search of found 96 of the 1547 VMware jobs in the US looking for a VCP. Just for a point of reference - a search for MCSE found 1801 results. Here's an interesting article on the value of the VMware certification:
Now the VMware VCDX - of course the tests are not fully released so this is all speculation based on the announcements that were made.
  • Difficulty: I think this will be the king of Virtualization certifications for the near future. I think that for the rest of 2008 and probably well into 2009 there will be less than 1000 of them. I think the most difficult part for the majority of people will be the Submission of a successful VMware Infrastructure design plan.
  • Return on Investment : I think this will be very high for high end consulting jobs, and elite enterprise customers - I don't see it being a big draw for the average job. Oddly enough - there are already 4 jobs from looking for the certification. The VMware Enterprise Administration exam is just being released this month.

Citrix CCA in XenServer - They appear to have recently released a new revision of this exam - A02 that is focused on the XenServer Enterprise Edition 4.1 product.

  • Difficulty : While I have not taken this exam (yet), from the material available it appears to be very similar to the VCP in difficulty level, without the requirement to take the training class that tends to restrict some people.
  • Return on Investment : Hard to say. It appears to be a niche skill right now, and most of the people that are actually looking for Xen on are actually VMware consulting companies. I found no jobs looking for Xen CCAs It is possible that companies are training up internally rather than searching for external talent.

Microsoft's 70-652 Technical Specialist : Windows Server Virtualization, Configuring. The test is planned to be released this August. (link courtesy of Mark Bradley)

  • Difficulty: Based purely on the published exam objectives, I would place the difficulty somewhere between VCP/Xen CCA and VCDX. I think anyone with a background in Windows clustering will tend to have a advantage on this exam.
  • Return on Investment : Time will tell. There are already 16 jobs on looking for Hyper-V and the Microsoft marketing machine is only getting started. I think the strength of Microsoft name and marketing arm will drive the value of this certification very quickly.
I would definitely like to go for the trifecta of Virtualization Certification, with a VCP, XenServer CCA, and a MS TS in Hyper-V. Having a little product diversity never hurt the resume.

I would be interested to hear other people's opinion on the value of the various certifications, so feel free to leave a comment, I would be especially interested to hear from my new readers in the UK and Australia as to how you see the value of the various certifications in your local job markets.


Jason said...

I just took the class and passed the test for VCP a few days ago. Iv'e used Vmware products for years though. I was surprised to see the salary estimate from for a VCP at $123K. I've started looking around for that $123K as I've hit a platue in my salary for the past 3 years or so (been in IT for 10 years now and like yourself, have a list of certifications). Could vmware consultanting really be that hot right now?

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