Top VMware Certifications And Benefits Partners Need To Leverage

‘Partners getting these certifications that are highly valued across our very strategic areas of the IT industry is critical,’ says Jenni Flinders, vice president and Global Channel Chief at VMware in an interview with CRN.

The VMware Certifications You Need To Know About

Global channel chief Jenni Flinders wants partners to understand which VMware certifications are the most valuable in 2019 as the virtualization superstar is preparing to launch its new VMware Partner Connect program early next year.

“We’re going to keep driving the value of our certifications in the industry, especially as we launch Connect,” said Flinders, vice president and Global Channel Chief at VMware in an interview with CRN. “Partners getting these certifications that are highly valued across our very strategic areas of the IT industry is critical, but it’s also how we identify partners who have the most certifications so we can get their story out to customers so customers know who’s the best of the best.”

Flinders is spearheading the new VMware Partner Connect program that changes the way the company engages and incentivizes its channel community. Flinders and Robin Gunn, vice president of worldwide education delivery and sales, explain to CRN the certifications and the benefits achieved through certifications that partners need to drive in 2019.

Breaking Down VMware’s 4 Certification Levels

VMware currently has a total of four certification levels: VCA (Associate), VCP (Professional), VCAP (Advanced Partner) and VCDX (Design Expert). These certifications count towards achieving VMware’s Master Services Competencies.

VCA is the entry level certification ideal for administrators and executives who are making decisions about VMware solutions. VCP is designed for administrators and engineers who install, configure, manage and optimize VMware platforms. The VCAP is an advanced certification level targeting the architects and engineers who design and build VMware solutions while also offering management and optimization skills. The highest level of certification is VCDX, tailored to the architects who design, build and manage VMware solutions and systems for customers.

“Our VCDX are our all-stars,” said Gunn. “We only have about 200 of them across the globe. They are the top of the top.”

VCP and VCAP Certifications for Cloud Management And Automation (vRealize)

The fastest growing VMware certification is Cloud Management And Automation, which is arguably one of the most important Master Services Competencies as VMware strives to become a hybrid cloud and cloud transformation leader. Two certifications in Cloud Management And Automation that partners should achieve is the VCP and VCAP levels. These certs are designed to increase skills around installing, configuring and optimizing VMware vRealize for cloud solutions.

“The cloud certifications are the most relevant in the market now,” said Gunn. “The one that’s growing the most is our Cloud Management and Automation. Over the last six months, we’ve seen that grow 25 percent. We’ve had a tremendous market response from that. IDC says cloud certified IT professionals are 5.5-times more influential than non-certified staff and are 35 percent more influential in conversations with executives. That’s where you’re seeing the largest salary increases in that area for attaining that certification.”

VCP and VCDX Data Center Virtualization Certifications (vSphere)

VMware’s Data Center Virtualization certifications are for IT professionals who are designing, installing and managing VMware vSphere environments in real world productions. The VCP certification for Data Center Virtualization validates that a partner understands how to implement, manage and troubleshoot a vSphere infrastructure. The certification provides the capabilities to offer a powerful, flexible and secure foundation for customer agility that can accelerate the transformation to cloud computing, according to Flinders.

“With vSphere, which is data center virtualization, that’s our most popular certification,” said Flinders. “We’ve led in that area for a very long time.”

The company’s long history in data center virtualization is why VMware is pushing partners to extend their capability into the highest VCDX certification level. The elite group of VCDX professionals is comprised of design architects highly-skilled in VMware enterprise deployments around the newest versions of vSphere.

VCP Network Virtualization Certification (NSX)

The VCP certification for Network Virtualization helps a partner transform the economics of network and security operations for a customer. This VCP certification validates a solution provider’s ability to install, configure and administer NSX regardless of the underlying physical architecture.

The innovation engine around NSX has been on fire lately. In a recent interview with CRN, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said the NSX software-defined networking and security platform is on the fast track to beat all competing solutions, including Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure). Gelsinger also said NSX has a “radical” security vision that includes the recent launch of VMware’s new Service-Defined Firewall that aims to provide intrinsic security by leveraging its position in the hypervisor for full stack visibility and control.

Desktop And Mobility Certifications (Horizon)

VMware’s Desktop and Mobility certifications are one of the four pillars to the company’s Master Services Competencies. Desktop and Mobility certs are designed to drive skills around designing, installing and managing a VMware Horizon View VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) environment deployed on vSphere. First introduced in 2013, Horizon has become one of the leading platforms for virtual desktop and applications by providing customers access through a single digital workspace.

The Desktop And Mobility Master Services Competency was one of the first competencies VMware unleashed last year. The competencies aim to better integrate partner-led services into the core foundation of VMware’s go-to-market efforts.

“Our four pillars of certifications, which align with those Master Services Competencies, are our Cloud Management and Automation, Data Center Virtualization, Network Virtualization, and Desktop and Mobility,” said Gunn. “It’s really looking at accelerating the cloud journey that our partners and our customers are on together. So transforming network and security and empowering our digital workspace – those are really three big areas that we're looking at.”

Removed Two-Year Recertification Requirement

VMware recently removed the mandatory two-year recertification requirement to allow partners to upgrade and recertify when it’s the best for the solution provider. The recertification policy of a two-year upgrade was in place to help partners maintain their relevancy through upgraded certs and skills. However, VMware changed this policy in February to allow partners to recertify when it’s important or viable for them in real-time with their customers.

“Our partners said, ‘Hey, if we’re working in a particular version or particular product set, we don’t want to come back and have to recertify right now. We want to recertify and get close to the product that we’re deploying at the time that we’re deploying it.’ We understood that,” said Gunn. “They don’t have to recertify in two years anymore, but every certification carries a year with it. So if they have a 2018 or a 2019 particular set of certifications, we know exactly where they are at.”

Discounts And Subject Matter Experts

Becoming VMware certified comes with many discounts that partners might not be leveraging -- including discount admission to events, such as VMworld, and invitations to beta classes. Additionally, VMware will pay for certified partners to help write blogs and content for the company’s website.

“There’s nothing more that this technical audience enjoys than partnering with each other and hearing about each other’s war-stories,” said Gunn. “We’re actually using them as subject matter experts and we’ll help fund them. We’re delivering that digitally through mobile applications right now. So they can actually become VMware experts on our site once they’re certified and be able to contribute content to that site. It’s really exciting because it builds their brand.”

Overall, Flinders said VMware Partner Connect is redefining how the company partners with solution providers based on certifications in order to achieve the “next wave of growth.”

“We’re messaging this really strong to our partners to say, ‘We want to double down with folks that are really investing and differentiating themselves by achieving these certifications and competencies,” she said. “They choose how they want to differentiate themselves with us in the market to become the best of the best. That allows us to then integrate that with our core sellers all the way down to the territory level to say, ‘Here’s your best partners that can go drive customer outcomes.’ So really looking at scale, but in terms of high-quality, high-customer outcome based on our portfolio. We’re bringing co-sell to life through Connect. Whatever we can do to make sure we’re delivering what the partners need is very important to us.”