Introducing The VCP 5
Virtualization is a standard technology in most IT shops today, and cloud computing based on virtualization is rapidly evolving into the primary computing platform for many enterprises. And among virtualization providers, VMware is the clear leader in the marketplace today. Its products provide the virtualization platforms of over 250,000 enterprises and companies, including over ninety percent of the Fortune 1000. It follows that certifications in virtualization, and specifically VMware, are in high demand these days.
The Virtual Certified Professional, or VCP, is VMware’s first level of certification centered on the vSphere virtualization platform. The latest version of the VCP is the VCP5, introduced in July 2011. The VCP5, like all previous versions of the VCP, is focused on evaluating a candidate’s ability to install, configure, and manage VMware’s virtualization platform, including skills like installation of ESXi hosts, use of VMware vCenter Server, networking, security, and configuration of high-availability.
The VCP is a little different from most certifications, in that VMware requires potential candidates to complete a class prior to testing for the certifications. There are several options in terms of qualifying classes, based on the candidate’s specific background and educational needs.
The standard class is VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V5.0], and it comes in a few different formats. The class can be completed either in-class or online, and it takes 5 days to complete the class within either format. According to VMware, the class is really designed for professionals who already possess a certain level of knowledge and experience with VMware, and are taking the class primarily to ‘round out’ their base of knowledge prior to taking the exam. VMware estimates that the content covered in the class comprises approximately 80% of the subject matter found on the actual exam, so prospective VCP candidates should be prepared to augment what they learn in the class with additional study and/or experience.
Additionally, there is another class that, while also 5 days in length, covers a greater breadth and depth of subject that the standard class. This class, called VMware vSphere: Fast Track 5.0 is a more intense class which adds additional learning centered on the design, installation and configuration of clustered and highly available virtual environments. While this course is intended to cover more ground than the standard course, it’s still highly recommended that students have pre-existing knowledge and experience of the vSphere platform.
And lastly, if you’ve already earned the previous version of the VCP (the VCP4), you have the option to take the class VMware vSphere: What’s New [V5.0]. It’s a two-day class, and focuses primarily on the new features in VMware vCenter 5 and vSphere 5, and how to upgrade vSphere 4 to 5. It assumes that the student already has knowledge and experience related to vSphere – which is reasonable, given that VCP4 accreditation is required as a pre-requisite.
The exam which VCP candidates must pass to obtain a VCP is called the VCP510 exam. The VCP 510 exam is comprised of 85 questions, along with a short 8-question survey that you take prior to the exam. The test is timed, with a limit of 90 minutes. Candidates who take the test in non English-speaking countries are allotted an additional 30 minutes.
Interestingly, while VMware retires various exams over time, the certifications themselves do not expire. In other words, the VCP 5 certification currently has no expiration date. VMware has stated that this policy is subject to change, but there are currently no plans from VMware to introduce expirations for the VCP certification (or any other VMware certification) at this time.
Once a candidate successfully achieves the VCP, they can continue their education and certification by attempting higher-level certifications from VMware, such as VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP), and potentially the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). But, regardless of whether or not you decide to pursue additional certifications in virtualization, the VCP is a widely recognized and valuable certification, and well worth having in its own right.