Thoughts on VCP Recertification


imageThanks to Twitter and Patrick Kremer’s article, I caught the recent news that starting 10 March 2014, VMware will require VCPs to recertify every 2 years to keep their certification current.  You can read VMware’s release here.  I took the time to read the comment threads on Patricks’ and other’s blogs to get an idea of folks’ reactions.  Since you asked, here are my thoughts on the subject.

I shouldn’t have to say that it’s obviously VMware’s prerogative to change or create new policies regarding their certification programs.  This shouldn’t be a topic of conversation. 

What can and should be discussed is what those interested in VMware certifications think about the change.  I recall backlash from the CompTIA community many years ago when they, too, introduced recertification policies.  The amount of negative feedback from CompTIA members made them change their minds on the specifics of the change within a week of their original announcement.  The details of the CompTIA change surrounded the idea that the certifications that once lasted a lifetime were now going to require recertification.  When the change was announced, all currently held lifetime certifications had a timer draped around them with a countdown to recert.  This infuriated certification holders and training companies because they felt they had been duped.  CompTIA fans, testing, and training companies were advertised a lifetime certification. Money exchanged hands based on a mutual understanding and advertisements that the certifications were for a lifetime.  With the change, people felt that CompTIA was no longer honoring what they advertised.  The amount of feedback was so great that CompTIA changed their minds, at least regarding this particular part.  All current certification holders will retain their lifetime certifications for the version of test they passed.  Only new certifications would be held to the new standards.  This seemed to satisfy the crowd.  This also left it up to employers to determine which version of the tests they wanted to honor.  For instance, I worked as a government contractor at the time of the announcement and I believe the government stated they only accepted the latest Security+ test version.  So everyone kept their current certs, fine, thanks, but if we chose to continue our employment, we’d meet the requirements by getting recertified.  All this is to say that if folks don’t like the policy, let VMware know your thoughts (@VMwareEducation on Twitter) – who knows, it may do some good.  John Mark Troyer of VMware Communities Roundtable fame stated this much on the twitters yesterday.

Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think the recert policy makes much sense because the exams are already product specific – they date themselves.  If you only identify yourself as a VCP2 or VCP3, we understand those technologies are obsolete and therefore, you’re not “current” with the certifications.  It’s the same with Microsoft certifications.  If you identify yourself as an MCSE on 2003, we understand that technology is quickly becoming non-existent in data centers in favor of Server 2008 and now 2012.  The need to recertify comes naturally with the technology as long as it’s clear which versions we’re talking about.  If you’re only VCP2 and have not kept current, to generically market yourself as a VCP, while technically accurate, is likely a misrepresentation of your current certification level.

This is not the case with something like an A+ certification where product version numbers are not tied to the technology.  The requirement to recertify makes sense because over time the technology changes but cannot necessarily be labeled by the certification name.  So if you recertify every 2 or 3 years (assuming the exams are updated regularly), you’re considered current on the latest technology.  Version or product specific certifications don’t suffer from this because their longevity is intrinsic to the cert itself.  This ties into an argument I read that perhaps VMware shouldn’t use the word “expired” or “revoked” but rather “retired” when speaking of older certifications.  Let them keep their certification, don’t revoke it, but clearly label it as retired.

Maybe for the first time (please comment if otherwise), VMware has released a VCP test based on a minor version of code, VCP-550 based on vSphere 5.5.  Perhaps the recertification policy change ties to VMware’s plans to regularly release tests based on minor versions instead of only the major versions.  Sure, one can broaden their skillset by passing a VCP exam in a different track, but what if they want to stay in their current track? Should they be forced to take the same test?  If the exam has been updated for minor versions this might be possible.  Minor versions, though, don’t normally have major feature additions so there might not be too much to add to an exam update.  And now that I think about it, Cisco exams don’t get updated too often either.  Their certification holders must many times, either retake the same tests they passed the first time or broaden their skillset.  So maybe frequent exam updates aren’t needed.

Whether VMware’s new policies make sense to me or not, I’m looking forward to the urgency it puts on me to take more tests.  I’ve become too lax recently and I need to step it up!

Edit (24 March): John Mark Troyer recently hosted VMware’s Certification team lead on the Communities Roundtable discussing this very topic. Please give a listen to hear about this change from the horse’s mouth.

Listen Now

All the best,

Mike

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