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VCP exam prep: Learn what help the VMware course provides

The VMware Certification Professional badge is for admins with network, storage and data center virtualization know-how. Get insight into course specifics and structure.

Vendor certifications help showcase a person's expertise in a technology, tool or vendor, and they can help IT administrators secure promotions and pay increases. But certain certifications -- such as ones from VMware -- require training classes and prior industry experience.

The VMware Certified Professional (VCP) badge is not entry level, and instructors presume you have an understanding of storage, networking and virtualization. These classes are not designed to show you how to do virtualization tasks from square one; they build upon your knowledge and experience, and make you much better with the vendor's products.

The VCP offering is a weeklong course that costs approximately $4,000 plus exam fees, and its completion is a prerequisite to register for the certification exam. This is an entry barrier to many people and might be why there are so few VCPs when compared with the number of certified admins for Microsoft, Amazon or Cisco technology.

The VCP is VMware's main certification. It has specializations in data center virtualization, network virtualization, cloud management and automation, desktop and mobility, and digital workspace.

VMware has several other certification types. The VMware Certified Technical Associate for IT ops admins is self-paced, covers general knowledge topics and does not require a mandatory class to sit for the exam. There is also the VMware Certified Advanced Professional for virtualization architects, the VMware Certified Design Expert for expert-level architects and the VCP, which is the gold standard for a virtualization professional.

Taking the class doesn't mean you'll pass the test. You must have some virtualization knowledge before you start the certification path to VCP.

A foundation of knowledge is key to certification

The VCP course is not an entry-level look at virtualization. You will be more successful in the course if you know what the course covers and what virtualization concepts to know beforehand.

Storage is a key component of VMware product performance and capacity. The VMware courses in data center virtualization or Horizon reference how VMware technology works with storage, but you must understand storage groups, RAID and IOPS.

The VMware classes do not cover basic storage concepts. If you are unfamiliar with these VMware products and how they support virtualization technology, you will face knowledge gaps.

The same goes for networking technology if you pursue a VCP network virtualization certification. Key networking technologies are part of VMware offerings, but it's not information you should expect to learn from a VMware class or certification path.

VMware technology combines multiple technology disciplines under one virtualization roof. To achieve a VCP, you must be familiar with key storage concepts, design and performance metrics, as well as networking aspects such as virtual LANs, gateways and switches.

Though VMware technology is virtual and uses software-based management, it helps to know about CPUs, server cores, nonuniform memory access and how to configure virtualized hardware.

How VMware certification courses work

Each VMware VCP training module builds on the previous lesson. If there is a module or concept you don't understand, and you don't address any questions, it can be tougher to grasp future module content as the course progresses.

Look at VMware training as an advanced professional-level training and go into the program knowing basic technology concepts. These courses spend more time on advanced topics where it is beneficial to work with an instructor so that you can ask questions and clarify concepts.

The VCP setup spends more time on advanced virtualization concepts and translates to better exam success because you have in-depth subject matter knowledge. VCP courses don't cover technology basics, but instead focus on specialized knowledge and help you optimize VMware infrastructure management.

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