The Growing Importance Of Virtualization Certification

As demand for IT professionals with virtualization skills increases, certification can be a difference-maker for job hunters.
Posted September 8, 2008

Lynn Haber

Any IT professional who’s missed the buzz about virtualization might as well keep his head in the sand.

For the rest of the IT community it’s clear that talk about enterprise server virtualization adoption isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.” So the question is whether certification in virtualization technology is a must-have.

With vendors like VMware, Citrix and now Microsoft in the virtualization certification game and the job market for IT professionals with virtualization skills sizzling, it would appear that many individuals would stand to benefit from sinking time and money into this specialized training. Red Hat offers Enterprise Linux Virtualization training for Red Hat Certified Technicians (RHCT) or individuals with equivalent knowledge.

What’s clear is that there’s no doubt that getting certified in virtualization technology matters.

“It just matters to some, not to everyone,” says Cushing Anderson, program vice president at IDC.

He says that today many IT professionals get on-the-job virtualization training. “Organizations aren’t training in advance of virtualization initiatives,” Anderson says.

Fast-rising Market

But where virtualization is relevant to an IT professional’s career -- such as storage, server management and PC management -- certification can put them ahead of the curve. IDC projects that by 2011 the market for virtualization services will reach about $12 billion.

Today, Tom Silver, senior vice president at Dice, reports about 1,500 open job postings out of approximately 8,500 posted on the company’s IT job site reference virtualization skills -- a small percentage but a fast-growing job area nevertheless, he says.

Silver is on the same page as Anderson when considering a certification in virtualization, noting that it depends on an individual’s career path and where they are on it.

“If you’re looking to get a job or move into a new area, certification can help. But certifications can be a mixed bag because once you’re in the door, employers aren’t as interested in certification versus whether you can do the job,” says Silver.

Jason Martin, vice president services at VMware, says that people who take the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) training should have some hands-on experience with virtualization already.

The vendor reports that it’s seeing a shift in demand for its VMware Certified Professional (VCP) on VMware Infrastructure 3 from the channel community to large enterprises.

“It’s becoming requisite training for IT staff who will install and manage VMware,” Martin says.

In fact, he expects that by year-end more corporate IT professionals than channel partners will pursue VCP education. The VCP allows IT professionals to demonstrate their virtual infrastructure expertise, according to Martin.

Microsoft's Enters Game

The relatively new VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) is a more advanced certification targeting design architect of VMware enterprise deployments. Likewise, trainings such as the Citrix CCA for XenServer matters most to individuals or companies with a direct investment in the vendor’s products.

Most recently upping the ante for virtualization experts is Microsoft, with the launch of its new virtualization products. The vendor also announced a road map for certified technical specialists in virtualization.

The vendor will offer four Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications on virtualization, two are which are available now: Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Configuring; and Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring. Available later this year will be: Windows Server 2008 Virtualization, Configuring; and System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Configuring.

The four certifications are designed to validate skills on the features and functionality of key Microsoft technology areas such as Window Server 2008: Hyper-V; System Center: Virtual Machine Manager; Terminal Service Virtualization; and, Application Virtualization, according to the company.

Industry experts warn that rather then getting caught up in the virtualization buzz, individuals should only consider undertaking a certification track if they’re interested in managing complex architectures.

“Virtualization is very technical. So while the technology may be hot, only pursue it if it’s your bliss," says Anderson. “Otherwise, you’ll be a dull employee.”

Tags: Linux, Microsoft, virtualization, IT certifications, VMware

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