CCNP-R/S or VMware or Linux

JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
Greetings,

I'm currently working as a Network/Virtualization Admin and need some insight on what I should specialize in, heading forward. Any help is greatly appreciated.

At this time, I have CCNA and VCP5-DCV certifications. I'm 43 years old and live/work in New York City.

I realize these are all completely different technologies, but I find them all interesting and having a hard time choosing. I feel it's important at this point in my career to pick something to specialize in as these are big big topics all on their own.

So, I thought I would reach out to the community and ask what you think is most lucrative, has more of a future at this point, and most exciting out of both these paths? Since I like them all, earning potential plays a big part here.
  • Do I continue to pursue a career in networking and go for the CCNP?
  • Do I dive further into virtualization and go for more VMware's certs?
I thought about combining networking and virtualization with VMware NSX, but I don't see too many job postings out there still for jobs. Not sure if it will be the future of networking yet.

Here are a couple examples of the
learning paths I had in mind:
Networking:
CCNP R/S, then Juniper JNCIA, as well as learning ASA and Checkpoint Firewalls, possibly the VCP6-NV as network virtualization sounds very interesting.

Virtualization:
VCP-NV, VCP-Cloud, possibly VCAP, learning Microsoft Hyper-V, and maybe Citrix. Possibly head toward AWS.

Linux:
RHCSA (Red Hat Certified System Administrator), RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer)
Someone from another thread said that the networking field is flooded with people and being a one-trick-pony is not going to get you far in that field any more.

While I have really enjoyed Cisco networking, I am seeing their focus starting to shift towards the Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud. I'm also seeing that the salaries for CCNP are not as high as the VMware VCP-DCV. So, this all had me wondering if pursuing the CCNP was the way to go, or if I should fully embrace virtualization or even start learning Linux.

I posted a similar thread in the general certification section, and while I had responses that suggested VMware or Linux, not one person thought that I should pursue the CCNP, and I was really hoping to have some of those as well. So, I decided to head over to the Cisco CCNP area and see if that changed the results at all, so I could weigh all my options and make an informed decision on which direction to take my IT career.

Thanks very much for your feedback!

Comments

  • bettsy584bettsy584 Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Do what your job requires mate, I used to just grab any certs but you soon find if you don't use them the study is pointless.

    I am pretty much only focusing on cloud now, I think all the other area's including VMware are going to diminish as time goes on. VMware as an example, load of clients I've worked with in the last 18 months are migrating to Hyper-V due to the costs of VMware. I read an article today stating VMware have raised the price on vSphere by $1000 yet again.

    I really enjoyed doing my CCNP DC. Although I wise I had done R&S now.
  • JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    bettsy584 wrote: »
    Do what your job requires mate, I used to just grab any certs but you soon find if you don't use them the study is pointless.

    I am pretty much only focusing on cloud now, I think all the other area's including VMware are going to diminish as time goes on. VMware as an example, load of clients I've worked with in the last 18 months are migrating to Hyper-V due to the costs of VMware. I read an article today stating VMware have raised the price on vSphere by $1000 yet again.

    I really enjoyed doing my CCNP DC. Although I wise I had done R&S now.

    Thanks, Bettsy584.

    I appreciate the insight. Well, my current job has Cisco, VMware, SANs (EMC, Netapp, HP), Servers (Mostly Microsoft 2008 R2 and some CentOS 7). I work with it all.

    Can you please tell me why you wish you had done CCNP R/S instead of DC? Especially since you are only planning to focus on Cloud at this point.
  • JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Bump.

    I'm wondering if anyone else can share some insight. I invested so much time and money into learning Cisco routing and switching, and now it seems like I need to head in another direction if I want to keep up and have a promising career ahead of me.

    I was hoping to hear from both sides of the fence. Cisco and VMware both. When I Google this subject, all I see are articles about NSX and how to get a vcp-nv without training. I already have a VCP-DCV, as well as a CCNA.

    Thanks.
  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Whether the networking field is "flooded with people" depends on your location and your industry. That said, I think you'll do a lot better having a combination of infrastructure skills as opposed to focusing on Cisco R/S.

    So once you change the thinking from "networking" to "infrastructure", what does that look like for your location/industry? What is that complete data-path? Where are the bottle-necks? What types of traffic needs prioritization and on what VLANs? If you can't answer those questions then I'd suggest you might have areas to consider learning more about.
  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'd also like to add that don't make your decision based on what someone said about the network field being flooded. That's just 1 person's opinion. I would say just go with whatever interests you more because there will always be high paying work for competent engineers whether it's in networking, virtualization, or linux systems. I know you said they all interest you but you must have a preference.

    I would go for the CCNP then CCIE or other CCNP's(especially CCNP DC in your case). I would also probably skip the Juniper, unless your job demands it.
  • Burns82Burns82 Member Posts: 68 ■■■□□□□□□□
    What's your drive like to study? Like mentioned before do with what relates to your work, I love virtualisation but don't have the op to get involved in at work, so I have shifted my focus towards design and wireless as that is my works current requirement,

    If you have the drive to study do you ccnp r&s as having a solid foundation of the fundamentals is a excellent, plus so many server guys I worked with have ccna but would never put them in front of a switch or router😊
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Member Posts: 879
    You can do all three. CCNP:RS in not such a momentous undertaking that you are forever doomed to only study networking.
  • JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the responses, everyone. This is more of what I needed in order to make a decision.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    For one cert I'd pick VMware because I think it has the brightest future and it covers a wider area than the other 2. Linux would be a distant second and has a very bright future especially if you get into AWS, then again VMware might get a stranglehold on AWS with the recent announcement. Lastly cisco, where the future is very uncertain, networking will be around for the long haul but I think it's changing, the restructuring at cisco is a sign.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Something to consider about the networking track, is that it is a bit more stable knowledge-wise. Linux is sort of the same at the core, but a lot of the extra bits and pieces are all new learning all the time. VMWare is quite dynamic, partly because virtualisation like this is newer, but also because it is a larger product with lots of depth and breadth. So it depends on what you prefer - constantly learning to stay at the cutting edge or something more sedate where you can develop really deep knowledge of a field.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    techfiend wrote: »
    For one cert I'd pick VMware because I think it has the brightest future and it covers a wider area than the other 2. Linux would be a distant second and has a very bright future especially if you get into AWS, then again VMware might get a stranglehold on AWS with the recent announcement. Lastly cisco, where the future is very uncertain, networking will be around for the long haul but I think it's changing, the restructuring at cisco is a sign.

    Thanks, techfiend. The restructuring at Cisco is precisely why I've been looking into this; wondering if my original plan to go for the CCNP:RS is the way to go, or if I'd be better off building on my other Associate level cert (VCP-DCV). Beyond that, I have always been interested in learning more about Linux and wondered if that would be a good thing to get into right now as well. I miss the days when it was clear what direction I was heading! icon_surprised.gif

    You're saying VMware might get a stranglehold on AWS? What do you mean? ...and what recent announcement are you referring to?

    Thanks.
  • SeekBytesSeekBytes Member Posts: 143
    techfiend wrote: »
    Lastly cisco, where the future is very uncertain, networking will be around for the long haul but I think it's changing, the restructuring at cisco is a sign.

    Can you expand with regard this point? Pretty curious.
  • JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    OctalDump wrote: »
    Something to consider about the networking track, is that it is a bit more stable knowledge-wise. Linux is sort of the same at the core, but a lot of the extra bits and pieces are all new learning all the time. VMWare is quite dynamic, partly because virtualisation like this is newer, but also because it is a larger product with lots of depth and breadth. So it depends on what you prefer - constantly learning to stay at the cutting edge or something more sedate where you can develop really deep knowledge of a field.

    That is interesting, OctalDump.

    Given that you have the CCNP:R+S, RHCSA, and VCP-DCV, maybe you can give me some advice on which way I should go, given that I'm interested in all of these. While I could certainly do all three, I think I should focus on specializing in just one of these areas and mastering it best I can.

    Which of these would you feel would be the most rewarding, financially, career-wise moving forward?
    Do you feel that Cisco networking will one day soon be fading out, especially for those of us that invested so much time and money to learning the CLI?
  • SeekBytesSeekBytes Member Posts: 143
    Do you feel that Cisco networking will one day soon be fading out, especially for those of us that invested so much time and money to learning the CLI?

    I am personally completing the CCNP RS. I can say that the time spent it's not dedicated to learning the CLI. It's about learning the standards that make Internet running.
  • JacktivatedJacktivated Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
    SeekBytes wrote: »
    I am personally completing the CCNP RS. I can say that the time spent it's not dedicated to learning the CLI. It's about learning the standards that make Internet running.

    I completely understand. My questions weren't really all about the CLI. It was just an example of all the other stuff I was asking. I've been networking for several years now and have been CCNA certified for most of that. So, I realize that half the material, if not more, is in regards to the concepts, and not just the commands.

    But I'd really like to get your point of view on the rest of what I was asking, seeing as you have certs/experience in all three of the areas I'm asking about.

    Thanks a lot.
  • CCIE #50693CCIE #50693 Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You have to be careful at this point in your life/career. I have both VMware and Cisco backgrounds. I always end up working on Cisco for obvious reasons. I have done as many VMware projects as Cisco, I just happen to be a CCIE and that usually points to Cisco for me. Your an admin now, pick whether you want to be an admin or engineer. Once you pick, you will likely be heavy on that track, network in my case. If you like and want to continue both, then I would suggest Consulting as you'll get a mixed bag. CCNP R&S for sure, real world networking pretty much requires that level of understanding, CCNA doesn't do it. VCP5 NV/DCV is also really good. I'm pursuing NSX just cuz it's fun. Just remember, if you want to be VMware, your gonna be a server guy to, the two go together. If you want to do network, CCNP is a great start. Then you'll have to decide what special track to go down. Just remember, engineer or admin, Network or Servers, answer those questions, and you'll know which direction to go. Nothing says you can't do both. I did, glad I did ;).
  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I don't think you can go wrong with CCNP R/S & VCP-NV and I'd even throw in VCP-DCV. Staff that only understand a subset of the OSI model are always at a disadvantage to those who understand the entire thing. I can tell who can think on their feet when I ask about how Ethernet over IP might look. At that point, I'm not looking for an RFC compliant frame inside a datagram/packet. Someone who draws a frame inside a datagram/packet gets points.

    Now whether you chase the CCIE and how you market it is another story. If there's a project you want to work on and you think you might get pigeon-holed from having a CCIE, if you have a CCNP, claim it and neglect-to-mention the CCIE. There are industries (gov't) where people hear CCIE and bow and pray... and then pigeon-hole you. You don't have to advertise a CCIE to exhibit CCIE knowledge.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/13/vmware-cloud-on-aws/ vSphere on AWS.

    3 months ago at the local VMUG SDN dominated the Cisco booth, same at VMworld last month. As vendors move towards SDN the demand for pure network pros is going to reduce significantly. I think VMware NSX and AWS are already making an impact. I agree network knowledge is stable but that's because it's not progressing quickly. Those very knowledgeable in networking should be fine but I think it's going to get more and more difficult to get in and climb the networking ladder.

    VMware is getting into everything infrastructure in a pretty sensible manner. While the certs are all over the place I think the core datacenter certs are sufficient to obtain new positions.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • SeekBytesSeekBytes Member Posts: 143
    My personal note is that CCNP RS means nothing. So, unless you have a few years in RS, getting a job as a network engineer won't be easy.
    I am questioning myself about the next step, which is not only related to what I like, but it's also a question of what problems I need to be able to solve out there. In simple words, what's in demand in 2016. Network Engineers keep reminding me that without a CCIE RS equivalent knowledge, tackles Data Center (in case you want to understand the cloud from the SP' side) it's very difficult. If you want to focus just on the application, I guess we're talking about working on hypervisors and cloud platforms. And if that's the case, I see a lot of demand for AWS, Vmware, and both Linux/Microsoft.

    That's only my view.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Given that you have the CCNP:R+S, RHCSA, and VCP-DCV, maybe you can give me some advice on which way I should go, given that I'm interested in all of these. While I could certainly do all three, I think I should focus on specializing in just one of these areas and mastering it best I can.

    Which of these would you feel would be the most rewarding, financially, career-wise moving forward?
    Do you feel that Cisco networking will one day soon be fading out, especially for those of us that invested so much time and money to learning the CLI?

    Well, I don't hold CCNP yet, but I am a fair way down that path. If you look at the certifications in isolation, then CCNP is the clear winner. It's the most asked for in job listings. I wouldn't get too hung up on CLI, I think the really important thing at CCNP level is that you have a deeper understanding of the underlying protocols, so that you can make intelligent decisions about implementation and troubleshooting. A lot of that remains the same even in SDN and virtualisation, and across vendors. Once you know what should be possible, you know what to look for to make it possible.

    As others have alluded to, a 'paper' CCNP isn't worth as much as a CCNP backed by experience. Typically, CCNP is mentioned in connection to Senior Engineering roles (or higher), so you'd need to dress up your other experience to highlight your networking experience. A typical listing will mention Cisco certification, some specific technologies (eg BGP, Nexus) , and usually throw in another vendor or two (eg HP, Juniper), and another speciality (eg wireless, security, voice, datacenter).


    VMware tends to be lumped in with Infrastructure and Systems, so that it isn't that common that a listing will mention only VMware certification. It's nearly always mentioned along with Windows and/or Linux plus a whole bunch of other things. Which is good if you have a systems type background, since you can bring a lot of that to the table already. But as a stand alone certification, it's not great (yet).

    Linux is much more nebulous. They don't tend to ask for certifications much, and when they do it is usually RHCE or RHCA. The RHCSA isn't worth that much. What they do ask for is experience with lots (and lots) of technologies, zabbix, apache, mysql, nagios, puppet, ansible, etc etc etc ad nauseum. Again, that is usually quite achievable if you have that background. Otherwise you are looking at junior roles, and even those can be quite intimidating.

    So, CCNP is a safe bet. VMware is still in a great position to get into "early". Although lots of companies have implemented virtualisation, most aren't yet taking full advantage of all its features - due to lack of staff skilled enough to implement them. So there is lots of room to add value. Knowing some Linux is never going to hurt you, but to get into a linux specific role, you'll need more than just RHCSA or even RHCE, and need to play with whatever techs are flavour of the month.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    In the long run you should do what you enjoy. If you enjoy all of it and looking for the quickest climb up the ladder VMware I've seen has the biggest potential. 2 years of vSphere experience and a VCIX has the potential to make just as much if not more than 5 years+CCIE. Who knows what VCDX will bring but it's quickly garnering prestige, $500k+ potential in NYC is my guess.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'd skip the VCP-Cloud, that's for sure. The VCP-NV seems cool, but you're right, a lot of people aren't asking for it. It's not a product that you can lab up at home to learn. If you were going to take the ICM course for it, I'd say maybe that's a good option

    Having both networking and VMware knowledge is a plus (at least for me). With VMware, the VCP is good enough for most jobs. Having the knowledge to properly virtualize/troubleshoot Tier 1 applications is what's most important. Unless you're going to work for a VAR, in my opinion, the higher level VMware certs aren't going to make much of a difference

    Since you like VMware and networking, maybe take a look at CCNA Data Center.
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    techfiend wrote: »
    2 years of vSphere experience and a VCIX has the potential to make just as much if not more than 5 years+CCIE. Who knows what VCDX will bring but it's quickly garnering prestige, $500k+ potential in NYC is my guess.

    I'd have to disagree. Under 200k
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Is NYC that low paying in IT?

    With 2 years experience I make close to the equivalent of 200k in NYC. I know a local VCIX with 3 years of experience making twice as much.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Not sure I'd consider 200k low pay. Not sure where you are living. What type of company does the VCIX work for?

    I'd even say a network architect is somewhere around 170k.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    It could be the comparisons I've seen between MN and NYC which is a little more than double the COL/salary. Maybe very heavy on Manhattan?

    VCIX works in the financial industry which is a big factor. He's making 160k with 2 years of help desk and 3 years of systems admin, engineer and recently architect. He's in his low 30's and the only certs he's ever held are A+ and 3 VMware certs. I'm a little envious but I also don't want to have my life revolve around IT like his does.

    That said VCAP6 is probably next in line for me but I heard it's really difficult. VMware certs except VCP aren't mentioned often on job listings but they carry a lot of weight in tech-minded companies.
    2018 AWS Solutions Architect - Associate (Apr) 2017 VCAP6-DCV Deploy (Oct) 2016 Storage+ (Jan)
    2015 Start WGU (Feb) Net+ (Feb) Sec+ (Mar) Project+ (Apr) Other WGU (Jun) CCENT (Jul) CCNA (Aug) CCNA Security (Aug) MCP 2012 (Sep) MCSA 2012 (Oct) Linux+ (Nov) Capstone/BS (Nov) VCP6-DCV (Dec) ITILF (Dec)
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    techfiend wrote: »
    It could be the comparisons I've seen between MN and NYC which is a little more than double the COL/salary. Maybe very heavy on Manhattan?

    VCIX works in the financial industry which is a big factor. He's making 160k with 2 years of help desk and 3 years of systems admin, engineer and recently architect. He's in his low 30's and the only certs he's ever held are A+ and 3 VMware certs. I'm a little envious but I also don't want to have my life revolve around IT like his does.

    That said VCAP6 is probably next in line for me but I heard it's really difficult. VMware certs except VCP aren't mentioned often on job listings but they carry a lot of weight in tech-minded companies.

    I'd say don't move to NY :) The COL is definitely higher. I see a lot of manager positions making over 200K, but not much for virtualization/network engineers.

    Financial companies always pay more, so I can see that. In NYC, you'll see very high salaries for Hedge Funds and startups.

    Personally, I prefer to stay in NJ. The commute to NYC daily gives me a headache haha

    VCAP are very difficult exams, I have nothing against them. I'd start with the Deploy exam, if you're going to do both of them
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