Home > Certification, VMware, vSphere > VMware Certification Expirations–Good or Bad?

VMware Certification Expirations–Good or Bad?

Very recently, VMware has announced that their various certifications will expire after 2 years.  VMware’s specific information can be found at: http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=46667&ui=www_cert.

There seems to be a lot of uproar on the community.  One such example can be found on Vladan Seget’s blog: http://www.vladan.fr/vcp-for-life/, and other examples of people posting their feels can be found all over (http://vninja.net/vmware-2/vmware-certified-professional-recertification/, http://www.patrickkremer.com/?p=1178, http://ecktech.me/vmware-certification-expiration/).  Comments range from “why would they expire them”, “this isn’t fair”, “2 years is too short”, “I earned that” and more.  While I understand those thoughts, I do see why they did it, and agree.  Hear me out…

Other vendors expire their certifications.
Cisco currently has a 2-3 year recertification – http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/certifications/index.html#~Recert

Microsoft currently has a 3 year recertification – http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-ca/certification-overview.aspx

Juniper has a 2 year recertification: http://www.juniper.net/us/en/training/certification/already-certified/recertification/

NetApp has a 2 year recertification: http://www.netapp.com/us/services-support/university/certification-faq.aspx#faq10

So why the uproar over VMware changing their policies?  The general commentary seems to be based around the following complaints:

* “The course requirement is only present for VMware, which makes it too expensive” – except the course is NOT a requirement for recertification.  You can simply take a parallel VCP or an uplevel VCAP exam, and qualify for recertification.  In fact, you used to have to take a “What’s New” course to meet qualification for the next level.  This doesn’t appear to be true any more.

* “So I lose my old VCP3/VCP4/etc?” – no, you retain those, as long as you’ve recertified. 

* “This is just a money grab for more certifications” – perhaps.  That’s always been the debate about certifications.  It’s how the game is played, so suck it up.

* “Why can’t I continue to say I’m certified on the old product?” – technology changes.  Event he same version gets service packs, new best practices, things that do and don’t work.  You need to keep up.  Yes, you knew what you knew two years ago, but do you still know it?

* “Certifications take too much time” – I know, I’ve written I think 16 exams in the last 24 months.  I’m well aware. 

Personally, I think it’s an amazing idea and about time.  I DO see the value in certification and continual training.  I play in my lab, I keep up on blogs, I talk to people in the industry, I participate in betas, etc.  I think it’s good that if I choose to recertify, that I will not only obtain MORE recognition, but that I will stand out among peers who allow things to lapse.  I’m tired of working with people who learned how to do something the “2003” or “2008” way and have no idea that there are any other ways to do it.  No idea what even THAT product did in full, never mind new releases.  

Also after the last while of performing interviews looking for skilled candidates, it’s amazing how many times you’ll see:

*  “Certified on Windows 2003” – great – so in 11 years, you couldn’t find 2 hours to go write an exam, eh?   Tell me about how you view “lifecycle” and “phasing out” liabilities like unsupported/unpatchable products?

* “CCNA (Expired)” – hey, I have that cert too, and not only is mine NOT expired, *I* signed an agreement stating I would/could not use the recognition after it expired.  So why are you?  Morals?  Ethics?  Adhering to policy?  Not for you I guess. 

* “VCP3 – heavily experienced with vSphere 4” – so did you KNOW anything vSphere 4?  I’m FINE with on the job training, as that’s how you’d pass the exam without a course requirement, so that’s expected.  But did you button mash the new release, or go through the syllabus and blueprint to understand more than the crib notes to get you in the pool, but now you’re stuck?  And what happened with vSphere 5?  Did you and/or your company choose to not upgrade?  Why?  Because you own products without SnS to allow for free upgrades?  So you don’t believe you should have support.  Because there was no compelling reason to upgrade?  I guess you don’t need 2012 or 2012 R2 support on your vSphere 4 environment. 

* “What if they don’t release a new version of vSphere in 2 years?  Sometimes they don’t” – then branch out.  Get a VCP-DT or VCP-IaaS.  Or go big, and get a VCAP-DCA – if you’ve been working with the product deeply for 2 years, you should be able to do so.  It’s a tough exam, but it’s also very fair, and incredibly self-satisfying to achieve.

I get it.  Everyone wants everything to last forever and be free.  But VMware is actually coming LATE to this party, this isn’t new.  When Microsoft finally did it, should have been the sign for everyone that it was coming. 

Start investing in yourself people.  if you’re going to stand on a soapbox saying “I shouldn’t have to recertify, I know the old product!” then go ahead and stick with that.  Guys like me want to know who you are, so we know where the dead weight is.  There’s enough out there for home or cloud based labs, you can do labs on a laptop, VMUG events, cross training by peers, $50/month unlimited training accounts, etc.  If you can’t find a way to keep your certs up, I don’t want to work next to you.  I’ve done it for too many years, and I’m tired of doing your work too.  If your company isn’t paying for your exam or asking for certifications, everyone should be asking why large company/enterprises are okay with button mashers running their mission critical businesses. 

What may happen, is that enterprises won’t see the value in training or certifications, but VAR’s will.  They already do, to a point, as they need certifications to be able to meet the next level of partnership, with various benefits.  If your employer doesn’t want to pay for your training and certification, and you have to do it on your own time and dime – it’s entirely likely your NEXT employer will REALLY appreciate it.  Sooner or later, when all the ‘companies’ don’t invest, the only place to get a certified non-button-masher will be through a VAR – and probably the same employee you boss had last year, just at a considerable markup.  And I’m fine with that, because that makes US the product, and we’re more valuable.

I’m all for processes and policies that make me stand out amongst peers.  I worked my ass off to get here, and I’m proud of it.  if you want to stay certified, put some work into it.  It’s really NOT that hard.  It’s ONE exam every 2 years people, per vendor.  If your employer has you so spread thin, jack of all trades, that you can’t recertify on 6 products every two years (and that almost certainly IS too many!)– perhaps it’s time to have a talk with your employer about their expectations and investments.  Maybe it’ll help all of us out when we stop seeing job postings for “Needed: 8 years experience with Windows 2012, must be expert in WAN, MPLS, Firewall, Data Center, SAN, Fibre Channel, vSphere and Hyper-V with Citrix, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL, Oracle, and Windows 2000/2003/2008/2012 (because we can’t lifecycle to save our ass), Cisco, Load Balancers, Automation, ITIL, and making the perfect pancake. – willing to pay just slightly more than what Costco clerks earn, enquire within!”  (Probably not, but it’s nice to dream)

If you want or need help, a place to learn, lab space, or just a peer or mentor to assist you – just reach out.  If I can’t help you, I’ll put you in touch with someone who can.  That’s the other part of the community I like being part of – everyone’s willing to reach down and pull up a peer rather than stand on their heads – IF that person really WANTS to learn.  If you can’t find a way to make it work, in a community so full of resources, drive, and want… it probably wasn’t for you in the first place.

Good luck, and happy studying!

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Categories: Certification, VMware, vSphere
  1. Alexandru Covaliov
    March 11, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    Good read,
    But how about companies ready to upgrade to a newer version but without paying for training or exam? I think there are many of them. Just because they are Ok to give you couple months to study new product instead of paying for the exam or course. I passed training courses with my personal money and passed the exam. My boss doesn’t know that I’m certified and even with that he will not pay me more, just because I have certificate. If I solved many issues before, why he should pay me now having a certificate? Right?
    Lets accept short term of certificate (2 years is too short), I do not agree with the deadline of March 15, 2015. I passed exam at the end of 2013, why I have to pass it again at the beginning of 2015 and not the end of 2015? I’m ok with the exam, but any exam is a stress and need time to prepare for it. And what happens if for some reason I fail the exam? Can I try again after March 15th, 2015, or I have to pass training courses?

    • March 11, 2014 at 7:18 AM

      Alexandru:

      Thanks for stopping by. For companies ready to upgrade, they don’t have to have certified staff on hand, unfortunately. Unlike say, a driver’s licence, where it’s mandatory to have one to operate a vehicle, there’s no similar expectation here. It wouldn’t be the first company I worked for that didn’t invest in anything and expected to get by with hopes and dreams – but it’s not realistic.

      It’s great that you saw enough value in yourself to get training and certification. However, you really should be making it clear to your boss that you’ve done so. Even if they’re not paying, which is part of the discussion – why does he not even know? If your current employer won’t pay you anything additional for self training and certification and expanding your knowledge base – so that you can provide better services to him and ensure the smoother operation of his company, I have a comment a few have heard me say: “That’s okay if YOU don’t appreciate me, my NEXT employer will.” It’s not always something you do for the current employer, as much as to ensure that you have options available to you when it’s time to move on. I’ve seen many guys who didn’t bother with certs because their current employer didn’t care, only to be 5-8-10 years down the road, and have their employer REALLY not care, and have to cut them out of the budget because “it’s nothing personal”. Now this guy is looking around for work, trying to prove he knows and/or is good at the product(s) and only has his word. Which is all most of us have, but during the interview every boost helps to stand above the next guy, so why not take it?

      In relation to the term of the expiration – it’s not really any different than my Cisco, EMC, NetApp, Juniper or now even Microsoft certs. It’s not reasonable to pick on VMware for doing what the industry is doing – you either need to pick on the industry as a whole, or not at all. However, I’m on board with the 1 year from announcement arbitrary deadline, you have my full support on that one. 2 years is one thing if you knew it was coming and had time to prepare. If they change the rules of the game halfway though – and then take away half the time – that’s completely unfair. I’ll back you on that, for certain!

  2. suresh
    March 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    This sucks, Its better to support, encourage and transition to hyper v, since mcse, mctp dont have expiry or time limit. passing with so much effort for nothing…. let client know that i did not updated my knowledge, it doesnt matter to me, so why dont vmware leave my validity as is.

    • March 11, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      Why exactly would it be better to transition to Hyper-V? Microsoft *also* is expiring certifications and requiring recertification – http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-ca/mcse-certification.aspx. Specifically:
      Q.Do I need to recertify my MCSE and, if so, what are the requirements?
      A.Yes, recertification is required. To recertify your MCSE certification, you must pass the applicable recertification exam once every three years.
      Granted, it is every 3 vs 2 years, but its still required.

      So you’re going to spend time and effort learning a competing product, and certify on that, and perform migrations in technology, to avoid recertifying? That will certainly neither cost less, nor be less effort. And you’ll still be in a situation where you need to recertify.

      A lot of guys are saying “but my clients/employer are still on the version I’m certified for, so why upgrade” – to which I’d suggest because sooner or later they will upgrade? Because YOU care about lifecycle even if they don’t? Because YOU care about your perceived knowledge? If your clients are all vSphere 4, and a VCP4 is fine to comfort the client as to your skills – what will you do when they now say “I’m ready to upgrade to vSphere 5/6/etc”? Surely you’d want to demonstrate that you have knowledge of, and experience with upgrades and migrations, and are certified?

      How can that be a bad thing? We have to renew driver’s licences. Other vendors all ask for recertification too. This isn’t a “VMware” problem. If you’re not happy with this process, then you’re upset at the industry, to which VMware was one of the last hold outs.

      No one is FORCING anyone to upgrade. If you want to continue to be recognized, you must continue to demonstrate the skill.

  1. March 10, 2014 at 8:09 AM
  2. March 10, 2014 at 9:44 PM

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