Over the weekend, VMware quietly announced a new certification policy – existing holders of the VMware Certified Professional and higher certifications would need to recertify within two years of their most recent certification or lose them. This announcement has caused a bit of an outcry on social media channels as the news spread.
After taking some time to think about it, the policy makes sense. VMware releases a new version of vSphere every year, and while the new versions are usually marketed as point releases, they contain a lot of changes and additions to the way that the underlying system operations. There are enough changes that vSphere 5.5 is a different beast than vSphere 5.0.
The policy, which you can read in full here, is that you have to recertify within two years of your most recently passed exam. If you passed a VCP on January 1st, 2013, you would have until January 1st, 2015 to pass the same VCP, a VCP in another category, or a VCAP exam for your certification to remain valid.
VMware isn’t the first vendor to propose, or implement this sort of policy. This has been Cisco’s policy for years, although Cisco allows the certification to remain valid for three years instead of two.
VMware’s motivations, as outlined in the announcement, are to ensure that VCP holders are keeping their skills up to date. Some members of the VMware Certification team have also made comments in #vBrownbag podcasts about wanting to increase the number of people who hold VCAP-level certifications, and the requirement to recertify is one method to encourage that.
There are other vendors, and entirely other fields, that require certification/license holders to retest, relicense or recertify on a regular basis. And while someone in IT doesn’t have as much on the line as a medical professional, teacher or a licensed/bonded engineer in the mechanical/structural/electrical/aerospace/etc. disciplines, VMware does have a vested interest in making sure that it’s certification program retains it’s value as their products change.
However, this change is far from perfect. The biggest issue that I have with it is that certifications are only valid for two years. I think that certifications should be valid for three years, or VMware should at least provide a 1 year grace period where someone with a lapsed VCP could take a new exam without having to retake the class.
I also think that there needs to be more of an incentive to go take the VCAP-level exams. These exams, especially the administration ones, require a lab set up to practice the items on the exam blueprint. In order to encourage this, I think that VMware should provide anyone who registers for a VCAP-level exam with NFR license keys for the products covered in the exam.
One thing that I think VMware did right, though, is that they granted a one year grace period and removed classroom prerequisites for anyone who holds an older VCP. This will allow a number of VCP holders to get current without having to sit through classroom training.