VCP today, I think?!?!

-- Part 1 --

Finally after two years I’ve managed to make the effort to sit my VMware Certified Professional exam.  In itself, not really news worthy.  So why is it up on failsys?  Well… because of the process I went through.

Anyone can sit a VCP exam, but pass or fail, to become certified by VMware you need to attend certain authorised training courses first and meet VMware’s prerequisites.  Two years back I attended the vSphere: Configure, Install, Manage [V4] course.  Now don’t get me wrong, it was a great course.  The instructor was knowledgeable and knew how to sell, present, and generally get the most out of the course material.  After this four day course I expect to be able to sit the exam.  At the conclusion of the course speaking to the instructor, someone who had sat the exam and going through practice tests, I realise that I was nowhere near ready.  The exam went well beyond the high level overview of course material on how HA worked.  You needed to know more than just the concepts about SANs, iSCSI, FC.  Stuff that I thought I had but realised might not be good enough.

VMware provide a thorough Exam Blueprint document that is intended to provide all the objectives of the exam and links to VMware documentation that cover those areas.  The amount of documents and pages to read is quite disheartening.  Fortunately work paid for the course but I still felt a little cheated afterwards.

Fast forward 18 months later, vSphere 5 had just been released, and I had still not sat the VCP exam.  In between that time I had happily studied and passed other non VMware exams.  So when a new job asked what training I would like to do chose vSphere: What’s New [V5].

Image 1. Requirements as of November 2011

What’s New [V5], at the time and still is, solely not good enough to become certified.  In late 2011 you still needed to have sat the vSphere ICM [V5] course or during the certification grace period currently be a VCP4.  I would either have to sit the VCP4 exam or talk work into also sending me on the full vSphere ICM [V5] course.

Fast forward another 6 months.  The prerequisites have changed a few times and now allows a non VCP4 holder with the right qualifying course to take the VCP5 exam.  When I was offered an exam voucher at the end of last month I decided to cram and finally take this exam.

Image 2. Requirements pre June 2012 (notice the non specific VCP4 course requirements)

Image 3. Requirements on VMware Training website June 2012

So after two years I’ve finally sat the exam and believe I finally met the complex and ever changing VCP requirements.  From what I gather the VMware certification process after passing the exam can take as long as 6 weeks.  Seems like VMware lack Microsoft’s automation in this process.

I have mix opinions on this whole process.  I’m one of those people that like certifications.  They’re certainly not, ‘the be all to end all’, but they are a nice to have.  They show that you’ve gone that extra mile when you didn’t have to.  I’ve seen many resumes over the years pass my desk.  Many students, fresh from Indian University, and more certifications on their CV than I can count on my fingers.  Too many certifications can obviously be a bad thing when not put in context.

VMware’s approach of having to meet course requirements is a good start.  It is frustrating though when those courses have little relevance to the exams.  It feels like a token donation (a large donation at that) to the training provider to achieve certification.  When you have Indian training institutes selling budget courses due to the high turnover of students and other regions around the world paying high premiums it does seem unfair.

In all honestly I’d like the see the prices of courses come down, maybe 5 day courses shorten to balance the price reduction.  To counter this, courses and / or certifications could only be obtained with a corporate sponsor.  Now lets be completely honest here.  VMware courses are very specifically directed at the experience IT worker who has been in the industry at least 24 months.  Having a corporate sponsor (not a training institute) would dramatically cut down on paper certification university students fresh out of school.

Are there better ways?

Appendix

VMware VCP Homepage

VCP5 Blueprint (Login Required)

Part 2 -- VCP Today

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