In case you haven’t heard, VMware has overhauled its certification program this week, to encourage even more advanced virtualization solutions. That in itself is significant in the short. But I think this change also signals the first in a series of training and skills development initiatives that are intended to support the latest holy grail of the high-tech industry: the converged data center.
First, this week’s news. VMware has created a new designation called VMware Certified Advanced Professional, a level that recognizes how virtualization can be used to underpin infrastructure that will be critical for the development of IT-as-a-service platforms and for cloud computing models in general. In fact, Cisco has said that its Data Center Networking Infrastructure (DCNI) badge has been the fastest growing certification in the company’s history.
This level isn’t the most advanced level in the program: That would be the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX), of which there are only 50 professionals worldwide. Rather, the new Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) certification is meant to be a stepping stone up to the VCDX elite. Here’s the requisite quote from Enis Konuk, who is the vice president of worldwide technical services for VMware:
“We expect the addition of VCAP certification will increase the skills of thousands of IT professionals, providing advanced knowledge to strategically implement and manage virtualization soluions to derive maximum value for their company or customers. The addition of VCAP to our program comes at a critical time as many companies need advanced skills to consider how to evolve their data centers to be more cost- and energy-efficient–all the while maximizing productivity.”
Just in case you needed even more explicit direction about what VMware is hoping to achieve, there are two specialties to choose from within the VCAP program: one for those with a role in data center administration and one for those focused on designing in a “multi-site, large enterprise environment.”
This seems to me to be one of the first steps toward skills development and certifications focused on covering the needs of a converged data center. Right now, even though the technologies that inform the data center are (in theory) coming together — servers, storage and network — these functions and roles are all handled very much separately. The skills for one aren’t necessarily transferrable to another.
I think it is very significant that if you want to become a VAR or data center integrator for the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) Coalition, you need to go out and invest in separate certifications for all three of the participating technology vendors: Cisco, EMC and VMware. This despite the fact that the infrastructure being created by the coalition is supposed to be integrated more seamlessly than it otherwise would be if you cobbled together the separate pieces on your own. Hewlett-Packard has its own data center designation, of course, which dovetails with skills in its adaptive computing technologies.
What does all this mean? In my opinion, there will be a whole lot of turmoil in the world of certifications, as technicians who have been trained to be product experts need to start thinking in a bigger context. Think of all that training content that needs to be migrated and mapped and phased in and phased out.
My guess is that you’ll see more certifications along the line of management, design and architecture and that the product specialists will increasingly find themselves in team roles, as part of initiatives managed by others. How that will fly with engineers used to doing their own thing is anyone’s guess.
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