Top 11 Virtualization Certifications

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A certification in virtualization can help IT experts attain industry-wide experience, build credibility, and advance their careers by helping them keep pace with evolving technologies. Virtualization changed how IT businesses work, giving enterprises a means of maximizing server hardware usage, provisioning and scaling environments, and streamlining testing—all of which led to faster development lanes. Two decades later, virtualization still holds the key to successful IT infrastructure, but it’s no longer just about server consolidation. It now underpins cloud computing, containerization, network security, and IT resilience. As virtualization evolves, so do the job requirements for those who work in the field.

Here are the top virtualization certifications available in 2023:

1. VMware Certified Professional—Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV)

VMware continues to dominate the virtualization world. According to ControlUp, 68 percent of organizations running virtual machines (VMs) use VMware. Currently the company offers more than 21 virtualization certifications, including the VCP-DCV, which provides an industry-relevant understanding of VMware ESXi, the most popular virtualization software for data centers today. CIO magazine cited it as one of the top 15 IT certifications available.

VCP-DCV certified professionals have access to VMware’s professional community, which offers networking and knowledge exchange opportunities.

Skills Acquired: VCP-DCV prepares individuals to set up, deploy, and manage VMware server and storage clusters. As such, the certification is ideal for network and storage admins who want to get hands-on experience with vSphere, vCenter server operations, virtual networking, performance optimization, and cloud networking.

Requirements: VMware requires professionals to attend an authorized VMware vSphere training course before attempting the VCP-DCV certification exam. The most recommended is VMware vSphere: Fast Track (VFT).

Duration: 70 questions to be completed in 105 minutes

Cost: VCP-DCV consists of two exams, and a training module. The VMware vSphere training module costs $4,250. The certification costs vary based on the candidate’s location, and currency exchange. Usually, the two exams cost $250 each.

Recertification: The VCP-DCV certification does not expire. Professionals can take a recertification exam or earn a higher-level certification anytime.

2. Citrix Certified Associate, Virtualization (CCA-V)

Citrix’s Xen-based virtualization offering works well with Microsoft Azure and is well-suited for system admins looking to specialize in virtual applications and desktop products. The company also offers professional certifications across verticals from associate to intermediate and master levels.

Skills Acquired: The CCA-V certification provides systems and desktop administrators the skills to install, configure, and manage virtual apps, cloud connectors, StoreFront, security, and authentication along with other Citrix application products. Even Citrix direct consumers recognize the certificate, giving it an added advantage for job applicants with a CCA-V certification.

Requirements: To acquire a CCA-V certification, candidates must pass the 1Y0-204 exam. The test contains questions around basic Citrix Virtual Apps and desktops architecture.

Duration: 90 minutes

Cost: $200

Recertification: The CCA-V certification is valid for three years. Professionals can update their certification after taking the 1Y0-204 exam, or attending the training course on Citrix virtual apps, and on-prem cloud administration (CWS-215).

3. Oracle VM 3.0 for x86 Certified Implementation Specialist

Oracle VM’s virtualization certifications are curated for Oracle Partner members and may not be suitable for a generalist audience. The program is ideal for professionals looking to either sell or execute the Oracle VM solution across the virtualization space.

Skills Acquired: With the Oracle VM 3.0 for x86 Certified Implementation Specialist certification, professionals can get hands-on experience installing and discovering OVM servers, configuring storage and network repository, and managing guest VMs and templates, as well as doing live migrations and  monitoring and troubleshooting Oracle VMs.

Requirements: Oracle has a 61 percent minimum score for the 1Z0-590 exam. It is ideal for intermediate-category professionals with some industry experience in Oracle VM, VM deployment, and virtual networking components.

Duration: Two hours

Cost: $245.

Recertification: In general, Oracle certifications do not expire, though they may become outdated.

4. Red Hat Certified Specialist (RHCS) in Virtualization

Red Hat’s RHCS in Virtualization exam is suited for NetOps administrators working specifically on the Red Hat Linux virtual infrastructure. Red Hat products are in consistent demand, making the RHCS-V certification future-proof for roles in virtualization management and administration.

Skills Acquired: Skills validated by this certification include installing the Red Hat virtualization manager and Red Hat virtualization hypervisor, managing storage, working with virtual machines, and creating networking objects and cluster policies. The Red Hat certification also equips candidates for VM networking, configuring VLANs, and implementing high availability in Red Hat virtualization, and provides insights into data and recovery solutions.

Requirements: Red Hat doesn’t have any formal prerequisite to complete the certification. However, native proficiency in Linux will be handy to understand basic concepts. Candidates can take the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator Training prior to the RHCS in Virtualization.

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $400

Recertification: Red Hat certifications do not expire; they do, however, become outdated. To verify their cretification, candidates can contact Red Hat directly with their certification ID.

5. EMC Cloud Architect (EMCCA) Virtualized Infrastructure Certification

Dell’s parent company EMC has released three certifications on virtualization over the years, the most recent being the EMC Cloud Architect for virtualized infrastructure. EMC also offers study materials. Training courses and mock past-year questions are available at authorized training centers and through an individual’s user-login account.

Skills Acquired: The EMCCA provides hands-on knowledge about data centers, virtualized servers, network storage, implementing cloud strategies, cloud migration, and updating data centers on virtual machines and cloud extensions. Professionals who complete the EMCCA can also opt for the IT as a Service (ITaaS) certification, a specialist course for engineering leaders.

Requirements: EMCCA is a beginner-level course with no prerequisites. However, clearing the certificate can open higher-level certification avenues for developers.

Duration: 60 multiple choice questions from GRC, management, and design to be completed in 90 minutes. Non-English native speakers are eligible for an extension.

Cost: $200

Recertification: This certification does not expire.

6. Microsoft Virtualization Certifications

HyperV, Microsoft’s Azure-nested virtualization, has made ripples in the market, and many companies are looking to adopt Azure for higher interoperability with their current Microsoft infrastructure. Job-seekers might see this as an opportune time to earn a Microsoft Certification and boost their chances of landing a job with Microsoft partners.

Microsoft offers several virtualization certificates to network administrators, including MCSA: Windows Server 2012 for Windows Server virtualization, Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate (WSHAA), MCSE: Cloud Platform for Azure Virtualization. Microsoft also allows professionals to customize their certificates by combining exam schedules across courses.

Skills Acquired: Microsoft’s certifications provide work experience with Azure and Window frameworks, executing nested virtualization, configuring on-prem, high availability environments, and more.

Requirements: A professional sitting for this exam must have six months of experience working with Azure and sound knowledge of Azure’s core services.

Duration: Three hours

Cost: $165

Recertification: Role-based certifications are valid for one year and free to renew.

7. Cisco Professional Certifications

Cisco’s professional-level certifications consist of two main programs: the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP). CCNP is the first step of the ladder and is a prerequisite for other Cisco-powered virtualization certifications.

Skills Acquired: The CCNP certification helps professionals plan, deploy, and troubleshoot network designs, data center basics, collaboration technologies, and network automation.

Requirements: To sit in the CCNP exam, an IT professional must pass the CCDA and CCNA certifications.

Duration: Each exam lasts approximately 75–120 minutes

Cost: Between $900 and $1,200.

Recertification: CCDP certification is valid for three years. Candidates can earn the certificate by taking the exam again or opting for a higher-level certification course.

8. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator—Associate

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has the largest market share among cloud providers, and today the majority of enterprises build their businesses on AWS. System administrators aiming to level up their career would do well to get an AWS certification. The AWS Certified Sysops Administrator certification is designed to test skills for deploying and managing workloads in an automated environment.

Skills Acquired: The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator provides hands-on experience with AWS operational management, incident management, business continuity, and deploying tolerant AWS machines.

Requirements: A candidate must pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate (SAA-C02) test before taking the certification course. Previous experience with AWSEC2 is a plus, but not required.

Duration: 25 hours online

Cost: $150

Recertification: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification expires after three years and can be recertified at any time by retaking the exam.

9. IBM PowerVM Certifications

IBM’s PowerVM certifications are training courses ideal for developers exploring a career in logical rationing and power systems.

Skills Acquired: Candidates will gain skills in PowerVM configuration; implementing logical partitions; partial processors; reallocating memory; virtual local area networks (VLANs); graphical user interfaces (GUI); host ethernet adapters (HEA); and working experience with hardware management console (HMC), N_Port ID virtualization (NPIV) configuration, and simultaneous multithreading (SMT).

Requirements: Working knowledge of power systems, IBM i (OL52G) and HMCs are a plus but not mandatory.

Duration: The certification training lasts three days in the classroom and virtual formats.

Cost: Location-dependent; around $200

Recertification: N/A

10. Nutanix Certified Professional, Multi Cloud Infrastructure

As VMware’s fiercest competitor, Nutanix has dominated the VM market, with a consistent increase in user base, and its Nutanix Certified Professional—Multi Cloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI) certification is already one of the top 15 highest-paying certifications.

The NCP-MCI certification is ideal for IT professionals already involved in the Nutanix environment, either through clients or third-party vendors. The course helps professionals deploy the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform and configure customized NutanixVM products in an organization.

Skills Acquired: Candidates will gain an understanding in deploying Nutanix AOS nodes, clusters, and blocks; configuring Prism Element; VM management; troubleshooting Nutanix AHV hosts; data protection; and virtual machines.

Requirements: Previous working knowledge of Nutanix cloud platform is required.

Duration: 120 minutes

Cost: $199 for the NCP-MCI 5.15 exam

Recertification: The NCP-MCI certification is valid for two years. Candidates can earn the certificate by retaking the exam or opting for a higher certification course.

11. HPE ASE—Server Solutions Architect V2

The HPE ASE—Server Solutions Architect V2 from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is an ideal choice for individuals already working in the HPE ecosystem. The intermediate-level course helps candidates to step up in the roles of pre-sales specialist, HPE server solution architect, and independent consultants.

HPE conducts the certification exam via Pearson VUE. Candidates must register at the official testing center, but can purchase the training online.

Skills Acquired: This certification teaches how to design, manage, and implement HP solutions, including Synergy, Apollo, and BladeSystem, as well as how to understand HPE server use cases and integrate it with networking components. It also teaches proficiency in infrastructure optimization and troubleshooting.

Requirements: Candidates need to pass the HPE ATP—Server Solutions V4 certification before taking the HPE ASE exam. The ATP certification ensures professionals are equipped with a foundational understanding of HPE server technologies.

Duration: Three hours. The exam pattern includes both MCQ, and lab-based questions around server architectures, virtualization,networking, and storage.

Cost: Location-dependent; around $400

Recertification: The certification is valid for three years. Candidates can earn the certificate by retaking the exam or opting for a higher certification course.

Bottom Line: How to Become a Certified Virtualization Professional

Technology changes rapidly. Keeping up with it is critical for IT professionals, and certifications offer many benefits beyond just education. They can assure prospective employers or customers that you’re well-trained in the specifics of a vendor implementation and well-equipped to install, troubleshoot, or upgrade their particular systems. They can also increase your value on the market and lead to better pay. If you’re currently working in virtualization and interested in expanding your skillset or an IT professional looking to pick up virtualization skills, the certifications listed in this article are the best ones available.

Read next: 5 Top Storage Virtualization Trends

Avya Chaudhary
Avya Chaudhary
Avya Chaudhary is a contributor to Enterprise Storage Forum and Datamation. Previously she was an engineer with a history of experience working with NGOs and civil societies.

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