Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with Ross Wynne, a Technical Architect Consultant who works at one of VMware’s Premier Partners, Triangle Computer Services in Ireland.
Over the years, Ross has built skills and continued professional training through a variety of VMware educational and certification programs. Today, Ross offers consulting services to UK & Ireland-based VMware clients working across multiple products and services, including VMware vSphere®, VMware vRealize® Orchestrator™, VMware vCloud®, and VMware NSX®.
In the following interview, Ross offers his experience and insights into the value of getting – and remaining – certified with VMware.
Why is it important for people to continue building skills and training, particularly with VMware?
One thing is that the market and technology is constantly changing. That means that as a professional, it’s necessary to stay up-to-date, informed, knowledgeable about what’s new and what’s changing. A major benefit of doing a course with VMware is that you not only get outstanding, in-depth training in a particular product, but you also get the opportunity to test for a certification proving your knowledge.
What’s the value of getting certifications?
I can probably answer this best through my own experience. To date, I’ve passed about 20 different certifications with VMware. I did my first one — a VCP3 [VMware Certified Professional 3] — in May of 2009. Up to that point, I had a couple of years of job experience, but I didn’t have a way to validate my knowledge. From a career perspective, getting this certification was completely life-changing. Within a month of receiving my certification, I had a very attractive offer for a new job. This was due to the recruiter being able to simply search for VCP holders in Ireland and know that I met a particular set standard for the role that they were looking for. Beyond this, though, I had much more confidence in my knowledge when contributing to solutions within a team.
The reality is, you can say that you’re an expert in your field, but simply saying you’re an expert in something doesn’t amount to much on a CV or in an interview. What a certification does is it validates your experience to prospective employers. By definition, it creates a minimum standard by which an employer can assess your skills.
What’s your experience been like taking courses with VMware?
For me, I’ve had really enjoyable experiences taking VMware courses. There are a few different types of courses for beginning, middle, and advanced knowledge. One of the best things about the courses is that you can start off with the free online Foundation courses which you can take from the comfort of your own home or office when time allows. But when you are a bit more serious about your learning, there are whole host of excellent classroom courses. These classes have the added benefit of direct access to experts — course teachers who really know their stuff. You get the opportunity to have all of your questions answered, and then bring back what you learn to your company or employer. Additionally, VMware courses are a great networking opportunity. With the classroom courses, you get to spend time doing deep dives and sharing knowledge with peers who are as passionate as you are.
How important is it to renew your certification?
Keeping your certifications up-to-date is important because it proves that you still know what you’re talking about and are current in the market. New and updated technology stacks come along every few years, and while there are similarities between versions, there are always new features that can improve your day-to-day working life. Keeping your certification up to date proves that you know how to upgrade, fix, deploy, and manage whatever changes have come along. There was a point when I let one of my certifications expire. I was applying to a job, and it’s likely that I was well-qualified, but because my certification wasn’t up-to-date, there was no way I could prove that I had the knowledge compared to other candidates.
VMware has made it really easy for people to renew certifications. If your certification is expiring, instead of taking another course for the latest upgrades, you can just go and sit a VCP exam in the same track or a different track. Better yet, you can challenge yourself with a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) exam. The VCAP exams are tough, but immensely satisfying when you pass!
Of the courses you’ve taken, which one stands out to you as a favorite?
I would definitely have to say that my favorite learning experience was the brilliantly titled NSX Ninja Course (aka, NSX Design & Deploy). During that course, we focused exclusively on network design. For me, it was exciting to meet so many likeminded people, get feedback on my thinking, and get to see how other people approached the same challenges. It was great to interact with people who were at a similar level and to geek out together on tech that we all get so excited about.