Interested in virtualization, what basic certs to get besides VMWare?

DmaulDmaul Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello all,

What a great forum this is, glad I found it.

Background - I have a 4 year degree in Information Systems from a university and 7 years of experience in systems administration, mainly Windows 2000/XP, hardware and networking. Some security, database and web development experience too.

My goal is to get a VMWare cert and work as a systems admin with an emphasis on virutalization. I would then see where that takes me, maybe get Citrix certs or see what else is out there, but I am very interested in virutalization in general.

My question is, since my degree is from 2003, should I get some basic certs? I have none. I was thinking of getting an A+, should I get a Network+ too? MSCE? Or should I go the CCNA route? Anyone working or going into virtualization care to comment? Should I get these b4 the VMWare cert?

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • earweedearweed Member Posts: 5,192 ■■■■■■■■■□
    With your experience I wouldn't bother with te entry levelcerts as you don't really need those. If interested in Virtualization there are always the MS Virtualization certs where you couldd get The MCITP: Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization Administrator by taking the (70-652 or 70-659) and 70-669 and 70-693. I probably wouldn't bother with the MCSE:2003 at this point in your career either but instead get the MCITP:SA or EA for Windows Server 2008 (the exams now cover Server 2008 R2).
    The VMWare certs are expensive as you have to take a VMWare approved course in order to get the cert. There are a few universities which offer the courses online (there are threads in the virtualization forum on this but I don't have time right now to look them up)
    When mentolmoose and a few others who are really knowledgable about this subject get on this thread later you'll get a lot of good info from them.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • tbgree00tbgree00 Member Posts: 553 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I am working toward the VCP for a couple years down the road and asked myself the same question you are asking. I talked to a VCP at a VMForum event and he gave me some good advice. He said you can't be a good VMWare admin if you don't have a good understanding of the equipment you are virtualizing.

    I don't know your situation exactly, if your current company has the job you want then they would know what would help you out the most. It sounds like you are trying to push out of the Desktop Support and into the server room.

    If you are in a position to touch servers and don't want or need to touch client computers I would think the A+ would be unneeded. In our vSphere environment we have a dedicated set of switches just for our hosts, virtual switches, and run Windows Server 2003 on all our machines. I felt that the MCSE was a good start to really learn the server material. No, it doesn't address virtualization but it does show that you have exposure to the concepts required to deploy the server technology.

    I think Net+, MCSA, and CCNA would be killer next to a VCP. You could always go for the MCSE or the MCITP if your company wants you to or you feel it would fill a gap. MCSE is still highly referenced in job postings and will be retiring eventually.

    If I decide to actually sit the VCP I would like to finish the MCSE, get Sec+, and the CCNA before looking into the classes. Maybe it would be overkill but I really want to know how to work on a physical system before I start advertising myself for virtual administration.
    I finally started that blog - www.thomgreene.com
  • bertiebbertieb Member Posts: 1,031 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Dmaul wrote: »
    and work as a systems admin with an emphasis on virutalization.

    I think this is a key statement in your question. I think you've had some good advice already in this thread, but to chip in with my pennies worth I think you should concentrate on sys admin initially with a view to concentrating further on virtualization a bit further down the line.

    Virtualization crosses several fields - for example you may have a requirement to virtualise existing physical servers or implement a new set of virtual servers. These will likely be running Windows or Linux with associated services on top (SQL/Exchange etc) so experience in these kind of areas is important for you to do this successfully and get it right first time. I'm not saying you have to be an uber-expert or have experience in everything here (because you can't). It is often common to engage experts in each area who will liaise with you as part of the virtualization process and a solid sys admin background will help you to be able to communicate effectively and understand their requirements. Likewise, an understanding of networking is useful as chances are you'll be using iSCSI somewhere and your ESX hosts will obviously need to connect to one to be of much in a production environment. Experience in these areas will certainly help in key areas of Virtualization.

    There are some awesome blogs out there from people being involved in Virtualization on both VMware and Hyper-V and most appear to have come from sys admin or similar backgrounds, so I'd recommend hunting a few down and having a read as when i started to get involved in virtualization a few years ago they opened my eyes to a few things and helped me to get things into perspective.

    You seem to have some good Microsoft experience behind you so have a look at MCSA/MCSE or the MCITP paths which will help fill in a few gaps and bring you up to speed post Windows 2000 and then maybe the CCENT/CCNA route all of which will be areas a competent sys admin will be looking into - I think you're past the A+ and maybe the Network+ based on your experience. Don't forget, you can always use virtualization to help with your studies so you'll be learning some of the key principles there too!

    You have to take an (expensive) course as well as the exam in order to become VCP certified so my advice would be to try and get your employer to fund this if possible.

    Oh yeah, and welcome to the forums :)
    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they are genuine - Abraham Lincoln
  • Chris:/*Chris:/* Member Posts: 658 ■■■■■■■■□□
    To be a good VM administrator you need to have knowledge in Networking, SANs, Operating Systems, Server Hardware, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.

    Earn your Network+ and work through the Microsoft Certifications on the server side. Linux is used in virtual environments as well so a solid understanding of that is required as well. A CCNA would be great to have but it is not required, typically the network admin setting up the switches that connect to the server clusters and SANs will be CCNA to CCNP level though, keep that in mind.

    Being a VM administrator means you are not a typically just a Windows Admin nor a Linux Admin but work with both and can be both.

    SAN knowledge will be required to set up the means in which VMs will access stored data and possibly the VMs themselves. So you need a good background in iSCSI and Fiber Channel. If you do not have a SAN administrator at your location that job may fall on you as well.

    Knowledge of blade architectures and deployments would also be beneficial.

    Cheers

    Welcome to TE
    Degrees:
    M.S. Information Security and Assurance
    B.S. Computer Science - Summa Cum Laude
    A.A.S. Electronic Systems Technology
  • astorrsastorrs Member Posts: 3,139 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Chris:/* wrote: »
    To be a good VM administrator you need to have knowledge in Networking, SANs, Operating Systems, Server Hardware, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.

    Exactly, to paraphrase a friend of mine:

    To be successful, virtualization admins must be able to speak many foreign and difficult technology languages: San-ese, Network-ese, Application-ese, Manager-ese, Database-ese.
  • bertiebbertieb Member Posts: 1,031 ■■■■■■□□□□
    All very true. There was another type of 'ese' I wanted to add to that list (after a bad day) but I don't think the post would have lasted long :)
    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they are genuine - Abraham Lincoln
  • DmaulDmaul Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you for all the quick replies!

    From what I gather, the VMWare cert is in demand and unique enough to get someone in the door fairly quickly with lots of opportunities, would you say that is correct?

    After analyzing my skillset and weaknesses, I think I would be best served getting a Network+ and a MCSA, as I am weak when it comes to Windows Server 2003.

    Any other advice is appreciated.
  • bertiebbertieb Member Posts: 1,031 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Dmaul wrote: »
    From what I gather, the VMWare cert is in demand and unique enough to get someone in the door fairly quickly with lots of opportunities, would you say that is correct?

    Only if you speak lots of 'ese' as astorrs said with the knowledge and experience to back it up. Like all certs a piece of paper alone won't do much at all - apart from maybe getting you past the odd HR person - unless you REALLY know what you're doing ;)

    Good luck on your journey!
    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they are genuine - Abraham Lincoln
  • Chris:/*Chris:/* Member Posts: 658 ■■■■■■■■□□
    As Bertieb stated you really need the experience so lab up as much as you can afford to.

    There are a number of contractors I know that put VMware on their resume after just installing ESX in a server. They get really great paying jobs for a little while then they lose those jobs.

    Start with Network+ move to MCSA/MCSE (at least the knowledge). If you choose to go down the MCSE path it will take a while but it is worth it in the end in my opinion. Earning an MCITP after an MCSE is not a bad goal either.

    Take an RHCT (RH133) class which is fantastic but not cheap if you can. Another good resource to understand how linux and unix work would be to read this book cover to cover:
    Amazon.com: UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook (4th Edition) (9780131480056): Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent R. Hein, Ben Whaley: Gateway

    Then download Virtual box and practice using Fedora or CentOS since most of the corporate world uses Red Hat.

    Start reading about SANs in detail I am told this is a really good book if you cannot get the hands on experience.
    Amazon.com: Information Storage and Management: Storing, Managing, and Protecting Digital Information (9780470294215): EMC: Books

    Download a network emulator there is plenty of advice on the Cisco forms for that. Build a bargain box and download a free copy of VMware Server:
    VMware Server, Free Virtualization Download for Virtual Server Consolidation

    Practice setting up a network on one box with multiple NICs and setup VMware server on an additional box and have it talk to a network emulator. This is cheap and it will give you some excellent experience with theory.

    Read Scott Lowe's Book it is really good for getting you up to speed very quickly:
    Amazon.com: Mastering VMware vSphere 4 (Computer/Tech) (9780470481387): Scott Lowe: Gateway

    Try and get a job in a heterogeneous server shop that works with clustering and SANs the experience you will gain will be invaluable. Then save your pennies for VMware training. I did the Install, Configure and Manage course for VI3 but I could get a lot of hands-on experience with the work I do. If you cannot get that experience I would recommend the Fast Track course so you get the other two courses material wrapped up into one. After the courses go back to VMware's website and read the exam blueprint and study towards it.

    Install, Configure and Manage:
    Virtualization VMware vSphere Install Configure Manage V4.1 at Global Knowledge

    Fast Track:
    Virtualization VMware vSphere Fast Track V4 at Global Knowledge

    VMware is very popular right now and does pay very well if you really do have the knowledge. Best of luck to you and I hope this does help.

    Cheers
    Degrees:
    M.S. Information Security and Assurance
    B.S. Computer Science - Summa Cum Laude
    A.A.S. Electronic Systems Technology
  • erpadminerpadmin Member Posts: 4,165
    Dmaul wrote: »
    Thank you for all the quick replies!

    From what I gather, the VMWare cert is in demand and unique enough to get someone in the door fairly quickly with lots of opportunities, would you say that is correct?

    After analyzing my skillset and weaknesses, I think I would be best served getting a Network+ and a MCSA, as I am weak when it comes to Windows Server 2003.

    Any other advice is appreciated.


    To add to what everyone else stated, don't be a paper tiger. Even if you got your VMWare cert tomorrow and get the interview the next day...someone is going to want to know what YOU have done with VMs in a live production environment AND/OR what can you do with VMs in a live production environment.

    Rather than get a cert because it's the hotest thing right now (and it is, no question), as many have already stated, learn what you can about the underlying technology and don't be that paper tiger cert guy. If you're going to get into virtualization, do it because that's what you want to specialize in for the career, NOT because it's hot. Because I'll tell you something, people who have been doing IT for awhile can smell folks like that a mile away and you will either get a low paying job you will hate, OR you will not be considered at all.

    Learn the technology, then get the cert. Don't learn the technology for the cert's sake. That's paper-tigering... :)
  • DmaulDmaul Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    erpadmin wrote: »

    Learn the technology, then get the cert. Don't learn the technology for the cert's sake. That's paper-tigering... :)

    Great advice, thank you, I certainly don't want to be that guy. I have a bit of experience with VMWare but not nearly enough, I am working on setting up my lab now to get more hands on experience. I also have plans to some small VMWare projects for friends pretty much for free, I will do this while studying for the exam, after the course.
  • DmaulDmaul Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Wow Chris:/ that is a lot of great info, thank you very much for taking the time to do that! Will check it all out.
    Chris:/* wrote: »
    Practice setting up a network on one box with multiple NICs and setup VMware server on an additional box and have it talk to a network emulator. This is cheap and it will give you some excellent experience with theory.

    Yeah I am in the stages of setting up a lab at home right now, will definitly be looking to obtain some additional hardware in the next couple of days and looking to try your setup, need at least 1 more solid desktop. Thanks again.
  • Chris:/*Chris:/* Member Posts: 658 ■■■■■■■■□□
    No problem glad to help.
    Degrees:
    M.S. Information Security and Assurance
    B.S. Computer Science - Summa Cum Laude
    A.A.S. Electronic Systems Technology
  • MentholMooseMentholMoose Senior Member Member Posts: 1,524 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Welcome to the forums. When I took the vSphere Install, Configure, Manage course, it was recommended to have the CCNA. You can get by without it, but it is helpful. You will need to know some networking fundamentals to work with vSphere, such as VLANs, VLAN trunking, and bonding (link aggregation, EtherChannel, or whatever you want to call it). You will configure these in vSphere, and possibly on the physical switches the ESX hosts are connected to.

    If you aren't using physical Cisco switches, the configuration may differ from what you learn on the CCNA, but it will at least be similar since most switch manufacturers borrow Cisco command syntax. However, if you are using vSphere Enterprise Plus, you may work on the Cisco Nexus 1000V, so knowing the topics specific to Cisco on the CCNA will come in handy.

    I would also recommend the MCSA, or MCITP: SA. The latter is probably more useful since it has more Active Directory coverage, or do the full MCSE. You need to be comfortable with installing enterprise applications with database back-ends on Windows in an AD environment. Several vSphere components run on Windows Server, including vCenter which is critical to any vSphere implementation. vCenter leverages AD, and ESX hosts can now connect to AD, so you need to know it.

    Some Linux familiarity is necessary. For the purposes of the VCP, this requirement is fairly minimal. You need to have basic familiarity with Linux file systems and layout, and some command line skills. Also, virtual appliances are typically Linux-based, and there are some covered on the VCP. Besides actual vSphere components, basic familiarity with Linux will be useful since you might need to touch Linux guests running on vSphere.

    As others mentioned, taking a vSphere course is a pre-requisite to becoming a VCP. You can take the VCP exam at any time, but unless you also take the course you will not be a VCP. The official courses are in boot camp format and can cost US $3000 or more. An alternative is the Academy Program which lets regular schools offer the courses as a quarter or semester long course at their tuition rates (I took it at a community college for about $200). Hopefully your employer will pay, but if not you can try this.
    MentholMoose
    LFCE - MCITP: EDA7, VA, SA, EA - MCSA:S 2003 - CCA (PVS 5, XD 3 / 4 / 5, XS 5 / 6) - VCP 4 / 5
  • scott28ttscott28tt Member Posts: 686 ■■■■■□□□□□
    If you do go down the VCP route, be sure to have a good look around my blog for lots of VCP4 advice in terms of the qualifying training courses, what you need to know for the exam, etc.

    VMware Training and Certification

    Scott.
    VCP2 / VCP3 / VCP4 / VCP5 / VCAP4-DCA / VCI / vExpert 2010-2012
    Blog - http://vmwaretraining.blogspot.com
    Twitter - http://twitter.com/vmtraining
    Email - [email protected]
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