In a perfect world, mistakes would never happen. Unfortunately, that is not realistic, mainly in the world of networking. But when you bring virtualization into the mix, you add a layer of protection! Virtualization allows you to configure a system, operating system, hardware, and more to test just about anything without compromising an existing system or buying an expensive new setup that may not even work in the long run.
The ability to try new things will not only preserve the integrity of your current system but also enhance your efficiency as a company.
Time to Get Certified
Certifications are a vital part of any IT pro’s career. They help you get started with the basics and further yourself into a specialization, especially with the modern advancements of virtualization. Everywhere you turn, virtualization is being used across the IT field, making related certifications extremely popular.
The certifications you’ll need to get vary depending on focus and competency level.
There aren’t a ton of virtualization certifications out there, but that can be good news. A lot of the guesswork about certifications goes when you have a narrower field of options. Let the products you use (or want to use) guide your certification decisions and priorities. Here are some of the best certs to chase in the beautiful world of virtualization.
Networking juggernaut Cisco offers a variety of certifications that cover and capitalize on virtualization knowledge and skills.
The Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) Data Center is where virtualization begins for Cisco. This cert sets you up for the Professional-level and Specialist certifications, so consider it your starting point for Cisco virtualization.
The Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Data Center certification is made up of 4 exams and is a beast. There are exam options that provide you to choose the most appropriate path for your cert, to a certain extent.
Unsurprisingly, the industry leader in virtualization certifications is VMware. There are lots of certifications offered by our friends at VMware, but our favorites are a couple of their most popular options.
If you need to work your way up to the VCP-level certifications, start with vSphere 6 Foundations. This is a newer certification for VMware and well worth your time to get up to speed with the knowledge and skills you need for the VCP cert.
The Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) certification gets top marks for giving you the information that you need to be competitive in the field.
- 2V0-621: VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization
- 2V0-621D: VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Delta
And we have our eye on the VMware version 7 certifications that are new on the scene. VMware does not offer a v7 Data Center Virtualization cert just yet, but we’re looking forward to seeing that soon.
Microsoft’s approach to virtualization is based on system administration where you might find yourself administering servers, managing networks, or even programming systems. There are a couple of certifications that will help you bridge your virtualization and sysadmin skills.
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2012 certification is one of the most popular Microsoft certifications for IT pros and introduces you to Windows Server virtualization. This Certification is made up of three exams, all of which have a reputation for being challenging. But the spoonful of sugar that may help this medicine go down is that the MCSA is a prerequisite for Expert-level certification.
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE):
Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification address a couple of key Microsoft technologies: Azure and Windows Server virtualization. Under Microsoft’s new certification structure, you have the opportunity to choose exams from a pool of options, giving you the opportunity to customize your certification. You get the MCSE by passing just one exam, but then you must take a new exam every year to keep your certification current and valid.
Citrix products are prevalent in the IT industry, and if you find yourself working with those products, Citrix certifications will be very valuable to you. Citrix is a long-time player in the virtualization landscape and offers three certifications you should pay attention to in your professional development:
- Citrix Certified Association – Virtualization (CCA-V)
- Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V)
- Citrix Certified Expert – Virtualization (CCE-V)
Each of these certs focuses on Citrix’s flagship product, XenDesktop, moving you through a sequence of increasingly sophisticated skills and product knowledge.
Linux sysadmins, unite! Red Hat offers a variety of virtualization certifications that are highly important for sysadmins who have been unshackled from the big vendors. Red Hat provides a vast array of certifications, many of which include virtualization, but there is one cert that stands out as a must-have for your virtualization career path.
The Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator certification begins your Linux virtualization career and certifies your knowledge and ability to manage and deploy virtualization infrastructure, hosts, and guests using Red Hat Virtualization. The RHCVA also sets you up to get the Engineer- and Architect-level certifications.
It’s essential to never rush head-first into the process of becoming certified. Sit down, take a look at what is available, and determine what is going to fit your needs best. Some certifications come in varying levels of skill, wanting a step-by-step process to move up the ladder. Building a game plan ahead of time can save you energy and time, and we have even laid out a right certification pathway for getting a career using the virtualization and cloud in the past.
So, are you going to virtualize?
Which do you prefer: A server that can only run one operating system? Or a server that runs a Hypervisor that makes multiple virtual machines, which can run on a variety of operating systems that are all highly configurable at little or no extra cost? The second option is going to be the most cost-effective and efficient for any organization. Any supervisor would be thrilled to take benefit of the flexibility and cost effectiveness of virtualizing your production environments.
Certification offerings from VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and Red Hat will teach you how to virtualize your production environments. VMware recently dropped two new certifications on their VMware Certified Professional 7 track, the VMware Certified Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation (VCP7-CMA) and the VMware Certified Professional 7 – Desktop and Mobility (VCP7-DTM) to help you master their newest products.
Choosing which certification to pursue can be tricky but creating a guideline to which certifications will benefit you and your career will help you map out a track that will benefit you as a networking pro. One strategy is to start with the products you use at work. Let the products you are currently using determine where you begin, then let your curiosity and excitement over virtualization technologies decide on your next steps.
As virtualization and cloud computing continue to develop and become more and more intertwined in your environment, your knowledge of virtualization will not only make you invaluable to your company but also open doors for possible career pathways you never even knew about.