VMware certification framework, long walks on the beach, teddy bears…

I am not a VMware administrator. I know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but I occasionally have to look things up in the docs, or hunt in the GUI for where some alert may be burried. I spend a fair amount of time in the labs, honing my skills, but it is generally for the purpose of understanding more about the products I represent, and being able to speak intelligently about them. I have been a VCP-DV since 2010, but I have worked on VMware ESX since 2006. I consulted on and wrote a great deal of documentation and many designs prior to becoming a VCP. I have the utmost respect for the certification, knowing how challanging it was for me, and how I continue to struggle with the exam itself, largely because I need to be better disciplined about sitting down and studying for it, and because I am not dealing with it as an administrator.

That being said, I am not a fan of the current certification process for VMware. I have brought this up to the education services team as well as those in the community, and we have seen some changes, but I think we need to see more. Looking at other vendors, EMC or HP for example, certifications are geared at career paths. As a consultant I obtained the EMC Technical Architect certificaiton on the VNX products. It was challanging, and required three exams, but it was very focused on design with some interface and hands on knowledge required, but for the most part, it was around design principals which are specific to the product with some general design principals. HP’s storage architecture certification was similar, very focused on good design and solid product knowledge.

The main thing that differentiated these from the VMware certification process was the seperation of an architect track from the implimentation and engineering tracks. It is important for a architect to be able to understand the admin and engineering functions, VMware’s entry point with a very specific administration exam is counter intuitive. Continuing on with the new VCIX certification, formerly VCAP, requiring an implimentaiton exam again seems to be a bit off.

In my opinion, VMware Education should look at seperating out the tracks, and changing some of the course work to reflect this. By forcing everyone up a single path the value of the lower certifications are diluted, as it becomes a core requirement for many companies. That being said, I think that there should be some cross over one each exam and in each course. We need to drive more people to a higher level. I will also say that the addition of the Network Virtualization track to the others is refreshing, I am excited to see that we are growing the education and certification tracks, but there needs to be more clarity and better paths to get more advanced certifications.

One final thought I would leave you with, certifications are not the end all be all, much like education. I hold a BS and an MBA. The first thing I learned when I finished those is that my learning had just begun. As IT professionals it is incumbent upon us to continuously learn, grow, and improve. Versioning certifications is a necessary evil to make sure we are keeping up with our learning, but it falls to each of us to make sure we are pushing ourselves to learn, to seek out mentors, and to grow our own career.

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VMware certification framework, long walks on the beach, teddy bears…

If you always do what you’ve always done…

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. These words of wisdom come from Henry Ford, someone who was all about disruption.

Looking at the tech industry, I sometimes think we are becoming more deeply divided than ever. When I started, it was very divided between developers and infrastructure. Developers wanted admin access to everything, for better or for worse, and infrastructure fought to keep developers from getting access to anything. Within infrastructure, we became siloed, typically separating critical infrastructure into something similar to storage, servers, and networking. Of course this varies, and smaller companies generally merged these out of necessity. This has created significant stagnation for many in the IT industry, both personally and as a group.

Within IT we can no longer afford to be siloed. I have talked about this in the past, but I can’t say this enough. We need to start creating disruption within our own teams. Cross functional teams are no longer just a good idea, they are the future of IT. Moving to the software defined datacenter, the policy driven datacenter, requires that a team be made up of all resources required to complete a project or support an application.

As we continue down the path of further automation and application driven infrastructure it is time to disrupt our teams, learn broader skill sets, and move to an agile architecture, engineering, administration, and support model. That or we can keep doing what we have always done, and keep sending our users to the public cloud since it is easier to get things done.

If you always do what you’ve always done…

The times they are a changin

Disclaimer: I am a VMware employee. This is my opinion, and has been my opinion for some time prior to joining the company. Anything I write on this blog may not be reflective of VMware’s strategy or their products.

With this weeks announcements from VMware, there has been a great deal of confusion on what made it into the release. So as not to add to it, I wanted to focus more on something you likely missed if you weren’t watching closely. As I said in the disclaimer, this is not a VMware specific post, but they do seem to be in the lead here.

For many years I was big on building management infrastructure. It was an easy gig as a consultant, it scales and it is fairly similar from environment to environment. Looking back, it is a little funny to think about how hardware vendors did this. First they sell you servers, then they sell you more servers to manage the servers they sold you, plus some software to monitor. When we built out virtual environments we did the same thing. It was great, we did less physical servers, but the concept was the same.

If you pay close attention to the trends with the larger cloud providers, we are seeing a big push toward hybrid cloud. Now this is not remarkable unless we look closer at management. The biggest value to hybrid cloud, used to be that we could burst workloads to the cloud. As more businesses move to some form of hybird cloud, it seems that the larger value is not being locked into on premise cloud management software.

At VMworld 2014, as well as during the launch this week, VMware touted their vCloud Air product. Whether you like the product or not, the thing that caught my eye is the outside model of management. Rather than standing up a management system inside the datacenter, simply lease the appropriate management systems and software. Don’t like your provider, great get another. Again I want to point out, I am using VMware as my example here, but there are others doing the same thing, just not on the same scale yet.

While this is not going to be right for everyone, we need to start rethinking how we manage our environments.  The times they are a changin.

The times they are a changin