Virtualization simply means to create virtual servers, operating systems, desktops, files, storage or networks. It basically includes the use of software to allow hardware to run multiple operating system images at the same time.
Virtualization adds a layer of protection and prevents you from committing mistakes. It allows you to test just about anything without disturbing an existing system or spending on a new setup that may not be useful in the long run.
Since over a decade, virtualization has been able to transform the IT sector. Also, with the increasing demand and adoption of virtualization by IT companies, it is safe to comprehend that virtualization is here to stay.
With the enhanced demand in virtualization expertise, the vendor offered certifications have become more valuable as they provide expertise in specialties such as that of an Administrator, a Systems Engineer and a Data Center Architect. Thus, becoming certified makes you a more desirable IT professional.
There are four most popular certifications that can provide you the expertise you need.
VMware initiated its journey with a single virtualization certification, the VMware Certified Professional (VCP). VMware certification is considered as the most popular and widely recognized credential in the virtualization industry. The certification requires the candidates to go through a VMware authorized training course before attempting the certification exam. This certification validates your expertise in handling VMware vSphere 4 (VCP4).
Upon successfully passing this exam, a candidate becomes eligible to sit for the VMware’s intermediate level certification, namely VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP). This certifications enhance your skills further and makes you proficient in VMware virtual infrastructure.
Upon this lies the VMware’s top-level certification, the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). This is the hardest certification to achieve as it requires you to be certified in both VCP and VCAP, and demands a VCDX application that must be accepted and subsequently, one must present and defend a VMware vSphere based virtual infrastructure design and implementation plan. Due to this trivial procedure, many refrain from getting certified in VCDX. Only a few have successfully cleared the exam and they are often regarded as ‘special people with special experience in a special certification’.
Microsoft offers virtualization certifications in the Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification tier.
Microsoft offers three levels of certifications, where previous levels are required as prerequisites for the advanced level certifications.
The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Cloud Infrastructure credential serves as the entry-level certification and provides you with the basis for advancing towards other virtualization certifications.
Then comes the professional level credential i.e., the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Windows Server 2012 (or 2016) certification which introduces you to Windows Server Virtualization. The certification comprises of three challenging exams. This certification serves as a prerequisite for MCSE.
This certification is followed by an expert level certification, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) Cloud Platform and Infrastructure that validates your skills in Azure and Windows Server Virtualization. This certification requires only one exam to be cleared.
Citrix offers an end-to-end certification in virtualization. It provides two certification tracks.
Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) — The certification focusses on the virtualization skills required to plan, integrate and execute a robust virtualization infrastructure that is strong enough to fulfill the most demanding enterprise requirements. The certification demonstrates an individual’s knowledge of Citrix virtualization technologies such as XenApp, XenServer, Provisioning Server, and XenDesktop.
Citrix Certified Integration Architect (CCIA) — This Citrix certification proves your expertise in analyzing, designing and implementing dynamic virtualization environments from the data center to desktop. To earn a CCIA credential, a candidate needs to first clear the CCEE exam. Also, a CCIA candidate should possess experience in architecting Citrix virtualization based solutions before planning to attempt the exam.
Cisco Data Center certifications provide the skills necessary to design, implement, troubleshoot and maintain enterprise-level data centers containing business critical applications.
The beginning certification in virtualization that Cisco offers is the Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) Data Center. CCNA certification is the starting point for the other professional and expert level certifications.
Next comes the Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Data Center certification which is a professional level certification designed for professionals involved in senior-level engineering and administrator roles. A CCNP credential is earned by passing four CCNP data center exams. A relevant experience of five to eight years is also recommended.
The next or the expert level certification is the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Data Center. CCIE certification requires at least eight years of relevant experience in this field. Professionals certified in this credential demonstrate technical skills at the highest level and plan, design, implement and manage highly complex and modern IT data center infrastructure.
VMware is often considered as a high profile certification as compared to the others, though each is capable of teaching you how to virtualize your production environment. Understand the kind of products that you use or may be using in your career and then choose the certification accordingly.