Hmm, how to hop on the bandwagon of those lamenting the changes in VMware’s VCP certification program without rehashing the 80 Bajillion other blog posters who have done the same. I know, start with an inflammatory title (this tip brought to you by intarweb trolling 101). I recommend you check out Vladan’s good overview here before proceeding.
So lets start with this, the VCP isn’t a very difficult certification to begin with. Compared to the MCSE (excluding NT4), CCNA, RHCA, CompTIA and others its very narrowly tailored towards a specific product. It’s focus is primary on vSphere and a few corollary products that make up the basic foundation of the vSphere suite. Sure there are about 5000 pages of documentation if you were to read the entire blue print set of documents, I’d say about 50% of that documentation is “this page left intentionally blank” or a the requisite pages of any technical dedicated that speak towards terminology, form, and layout. Even with that, there are so many VCP guides, and videos out there on how to pass it (Shamless Plug for vBrownbag), that I believe that its a very achievable certification. Now the advanced certs are a totally different thing, and I do feel like there is more than just a “sit down and study” for a few weeks level of effort to required to achieve them. If this program was designated at only the VCAP’s then I wouldn’t have a quibble.
All that said, there is nothing in this new move that has anything to do with staying technically relevant. VCP certifications are product version specific, VCP3, VCP4, VCP5. Having your VCP3 doesn’t automatically give one klout when doing a 5.5 deployment. It simply denotes that you had the requisite knowledge pertaining to that specific release of the product. This is what is perplexing to me about the new changes to the cert process. In order to stay up to date with your prior certs, you have to have a current cert. At least that’s how I’m understanding it.
Here is my transcript, with my VCP4 and my VCP5 listed. I was way late to the VCP5 game, and didn’t get it until this last July. That means its good until July 2015 (well past the release date of vSphere 6). But whats odd to me is that my VCP4 expires in March 2015. Exactly how does that work? Am I supposed to go recert on VCP4 in order to stay relevant? If I pass VCP-DT, it somehow makes my prior VCP4 certification relevant again, exactly how does that relate to my VCP4 and automatically bump its status into current? This makes no sense.
As a business you are always looking for additional revenue streams, training and certification can fall into this classification. As a brief aside, I always felt that the mandatory requirement of Install Configure & Manage were an unnecessary money grab, same with the What’s New course required if you didn’t get your updated VCP in the time period allotted.Those courses are basic, and in no way will taking them alone allow you to pass the VCP, in fact if all you did was take that course to pass the VCP it’s an almost guaranteed fail. So with their no longer being required for prior VCP holders, that is a welcome change that comes with these new program.
Now onto whats new. Putting a 2 year limit on that initial cert, that if it expires nullifies all of your previous certifications is in my view an attempt to drive revenue. I know there are many who will disagree with me on this, and there is a valid point about other certs that require a 3 year or longer recert scheme (2 years in my view is too short, but dovetails nicely with the VMware release cycle), but they don’t nullify your past certifications when they do it. If you pass your CCNA it can expire, but it doesnt state that you can no longer say you have a CCNA, its simply not current. VMware is saying if you are not current, then you are no longer a VCP Period.
From the financial side, I know you are probably thinking to yourself, well its only the test fee and time required to study. For some people that is a burden, for others it is not, I dont see that as particularly relevant because all certifications require that, but what puzzles me is, Why Now? If there is no financial aspect to this change, then why make it at all? Certainly the partner ecosystem gets affected most significantly. All those prior VCP’s have to recert every 2 years now.
To bottom line this one, I perceive its another in a series of actions from VMware that see them moving away from their end user roots, and into a more corporatist future. This program change shows a lack of forethought, and to me a lack of community awareness, and for a company that prides itself on community and end user outreach, I simply don’t understand the reasoning behind this move. That’s exactly what happened with the vTAX. VMware misread their customers, significantly. I wouldn’t bet against yet another change on this policy coming out a few months from now, that makes subtle changes and backtracks on some aspects of this policy.