These virtualization certifications are in demand in 2017. Find the most valuable certification for your career path on Tom's IT Pro.
In today's competitive IT job market, virtualization is a must-have technology skill set, fueled by the exploding popularity of virtualization and cloud computing. IT pros can get started in this red-hot technology space with these five best virtualization certifications for 2017.
In both up and down economic times over the last several years, IT job opportunities related to virtualization have remained an unadulterated hot spot on the job market. As we looked at top IT jobs, top IT pay and top IT certification surveys for the last five years, in fact, we saw at least one virtualization entry in every single one of them. That makes it nearly unanimous that virtualization is a good set of skills and knowledge for any IT professional who works with systems, networks, or IT infrastructure and/or architecture to pursue and possess.
Virtualization is a technology space where the platform rules. This explains why the top certifications originate from vendors who offer their own specific virtualization platforms and tools. These leading companies include VMware, Citrix, Red Hat, Cisco and Microsoft. Though there are other virtualization players in this niche, they don't really compete with these large and well-established companies.
As it's a company whose virtual machines, hypervisors and related technologies dominate the virtualization market, it should come as no surprise that VMware also has a multi-tiered, robust certification program.
VMware currently offers a number of well-recognized and highly sought-after credentials. You'll find Associate, Professional, Implementation Expert, Advanced Professional, and Design Expert levels in the VMware Version 6 program, spread among Data Center Virtualization, Cloud Management and Automation, Network Virtualization, and Desktop and Mobility solution tracks.
Note: VMware certifications are geared toward the VMware vSphere product, the latest incarnation of which is Version 6. Although some VMware Version 5 credentials are still offered, VMware is phasing them out.
VMware credentials form a certification ladder, in that more senior-level credentials generally require candidates to earn a lower-level credential as a prerequisite. For example, the VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) requires one or more VMware Certified Professional (VCP) certifications, the VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX) cert requires two VCAP certs, and the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) cert requires a VCIX certification.
According to VMware, the VCP6 — Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) is the company's most popular certification, with "more than 100,000 professionals certified around the world." Because of its status within the VMware certification program, and because it's a steppingstone to more senior VMware certs, the VCP6-DCV is our focus.
With a long history of remote access servers and services, Citrix is arguably the virtualization technology provider of the longest standing in the marketplace.
Citrix virtualization solutions have definitely ramped up in the last five years, as the entire virtualization marketplace has also matured. The Citrix certification program reflects the Citrix solution areas of App and Desktop Virtualization, Networking, and Enterprise Mobility Management, with a focus on the skills necessary to design, deploy and manage XenDesktop 7, NetScaler and XenMobile Enterprise, respectively.
Citrix offers three virtualization credentials, including the Citrix Certified Associate — Virtualization (CCA-V), Citrix Certified Professional — Virtualization (CCP-V) and Citrix Certified Expert — Virtualization (CCE-V). Credentials are valid for three years, and candidates are required to pass the current exam to recertify.
In our research of job boards, the CCA-V, CCP-V and CCE-V appear in roughly the same numbers. In addition, the CCE-V figures prominently on certification forums and in benchmark surveys, and it's nearly as popular with hiring managers as the CCP-V. Therefore, if you achieve the CCP-V credential, consider moving up the certification ladder and obtaining your CCE-V.
Citrix technology is incredibly popular in many data center operations. Where Citrix virtualization technologies are used, Citrix certifications will be valuable to the IT professionals who work in them. Such expertise remains in high and steady demand. Below you'll see the requirements to obtain the CCP-V credential.
Red Hat is another important player in virtualization certification, with its Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator (RHCVA) credential. This certification requires passing a hands-on, performance-based, three-hour exam in the tradition of the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA).
The RHCVA credential aims to identify individuals who are qualified to install, configure and manage Linux virtual machines using Red Virtualization.
Cisco is an undisputed networking powerhouse. Because data centers and the networking infrastructure that supports them are increasingly going virtual, we feel that the Cisco Unified Computing Specialist certifications fit squarely into our top five list. The two certifications of interest in this category are the Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Design Specialist and the Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Support Specialist.
The Design Specialist credential recognizes engineers who plan and design Cisco-based data center virtualization solutions from the bottom up. Candidates must be thoroughly familiar with the Cisco Unified Computing System B and C Series, server virtualization software and operating systems, and other Cisco data center products.
The Support Specialist credential identifies IT professionals who can deploy a virtualized data center based on the Cisco Unified Computing System. Support Specialist candidates must know how to implement the Cisco Unified Computing System B and C Series, know how to troubleshoot the system, and be familiar with next-generation Cisco Nexus products.
Each specialist certification requires successful completion of two exams. Once achieved, the certifications are valid for two years. To recertify, a candidate must retake and pass the current specialist exams or pass the current Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) or Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) written exam.
Globally recognized, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Private Cloud cert targets IT professionals engaged in careers such as network management, server administration and system programming. Those attaining the credential possess skills and expertise necessary to implement and manage private cloud solutions using Microsoft technologies.
Candidates may certify on either Microsoft Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008, but we've chosen to concentrate on the requirements for Windows Server 2012 here. (By early 2017, these exams will have Windows Server 2016 counterparts, now currently in development.) Five exams are required to obtain the credential. Successfully completing the first three exams results in the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) credential; completing two more exams earns the MCSE: Private Cloud.
Those who want to upgrade their Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) credential to the MCSE: Private Cloud must complete two or three exams, depending on which MCITP they hold.
The credential is valid for a period of three years, and one exam is required to maintain the credential. Microsoft occasionally offers the Second Shot program, which lets exam candidates retake the exam for free if they don't pass the first time.