Microsoft Says It Wants To Help VMware Experts Stay Relevant In Data Center

The new certification, focused on server virtualization powered by Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager, is aimed at VMware Certified Professionals (VCPs), VMware's most popular certification program.

Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise division, described the new virtualization certification as a way for VMware experts to "future-proof their career," in a blog post Wednesday.

[Related: Microsoft Adds Backup And Recovery To Windows Azure Public Cloud ]

"As demand for Hyper-V grows, there are substantial career benefits for virtualization professionals who are 'bilingual' -- i.e. those that are comfortable with both Microsoft and VMware platforms," Anderson said in the blog post.

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Microsoft is offering free online training for the virtualization certification on Nov. 19 and 20. The single exam required for the certification costs $150, but those who take the free training will get a free voucher.

VMware couldn’t be reached for comment.

Chris Harney, founder of the Virtualization Technology Users Group (VTUG), which describes itself as a "platform independent" organization focused on virtualization vendors, told CRN it's important for VARs to be familiar with both VMware and Microsoft these days.

"This is going to help people with the transition between VMware-speak and Microsoft-speak," Harney said of Microsoft's virtualization certification.

For example, when it comes to virtual networking, the new Microsoft certification can help people understand the difference between VMware's Nicira network virtualization and virtual networking in Hyper-V, Harney said.

Many companies are having trouble finding expertise with Microsoft's System Center management software, which manages desktops, servers and the virtualization platform, said Harney, adding that the new certification could help address this skills shortage.

Microsoft has come a long way since launching Hyper-V in 2008, but VMware holds a commanding lead in the data center. According to IDC figures released in May, Hyper-V had a 27.6 percent share of the server virtualization market in 2012, compared to 20.3 percent in 2008. VMware accounted for 56.8 percent share, compared to 65.4 percent in 2008, according to IDC's figures.

Microsoft and VMware have been going at it like the Hatfields and McCoys for years, bickering incessantly over whose technology is better and most cost effective. But the reality is that many companies are using multiple hypervisors, including KVM, which is seeing more interest as more companies look at OpenStack.

Microsoft's influence in server virtualization is growing, and the new certification looks like a way to keep the momentum going while also dividing the attentions of experts who work with its biggest rival.