VMware skills extend beyond virtualization into SDDCs

VMware's technology is growing, and IT admins must grow their skills in kind. The admin role is growing beyond virtualization, and a holistic view of IT is increasingly necessary.

New courses are emerging to help IT administrators extend their VMware skills from virtualization to the software-defined...

data center.

At one time, data center technicians could carve out sustainable careers just with the ability to manage virtualized servers. However, VMware's movement to software-defined data centers (SDDCs) requires new VMware skills that break down these traditional system silos. IT admins must learn how to manage compute infrastructure in a cohesive and holistic manner that extends beyond virtualization.

Movement to technologies such as the cloud has shifted how IT admins manage computing resources.

"In the past, data center professionals focused on physical connections and troubleshooting at the physical layer," said Bill Ferguson, owner of Parallel Connections and an independent trainer. "Now, they need an understanding about the entire platform and how all devices run."

New VMware skills demand new education

New classes and certifications are emerging to teach VMware SDDC skills. For instance, Global Knowledge, which trains about 5,000 professionals per year, offers a workshop on the VMware SDDC that reviews the VMware services that can form and extend modern data centers.

Students learn how to use VMware vCenter Orchestrator to extend the functionality of the vCloud Suite and take advantage of software-defined networking. It also teaches students to understand capacity management, backup and data recovery, compliance, and log management.

New certifications are also emerging. VMware designed the VMware vRealize Operations 2017 Specialist course, which helps technicians plan, manage and scale SDDCs. The course provides students with useful VMware skills, such as unified monitoring, automated performance management, cloud planning and capacity optimization. Graduates can help organizations streamline and automate IT operations for applications across physical, virtual and cloud environments. 

VMware SDDCs demand a wide knowledge base

The benefits of such training and certification abound.

"A product like VMware vRealize offers an amazing number of features, but technicians often spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to use them," Ferguson said. "It is similar to a smartphone. The user often only takes advantage of about maybe one-tenth of the full functionality."

To increase use of these functions, the courses teach students how VMware skills function in the workplace by actually deploying services and tools rather than limiting them to a conceptual understanding from a manual.

The move to VMware SDDCs can push IT admins out of their comfort zones.

"Traditionally, VMware technicians only needed to know how to manage the hypervisor," said Torsten Volk, managing research director at market research firm Enterprise Management Associates. "Nowadays, [admins] must understand other items, like the enterprise network.

"Increasingly, VMware administrators are turning into NSX experts. They are working their way up the protocol stack and performing tasks like segmenting networks."

Increasingly, VMware administrators are turning into NSX experts. They are working their way up the protocol stack and performing tasks like segmenting networks.
Torsten Volkmanaging research director, Enterprise Management Associates

New classes are emerging to fill those voids. For example, Learning Tree International offers the VMware NSX for Internetworking Experts Fast Track. During the course, technicians install, configure and manage VMware NSX networks.

Students learn how NSX intersects with and virtualizes the functions of a Cisco-based infrastructure in leaf-spine and traditional core aggregate access architectures. They also identify prerequisites for NSX; configure and deploy NSX management, control and data plane components; and configure, deploy and use logical switches.

Widen the IT skill base

The need to become well-rounded also extends to network technicians, according to Ferguson, who began teaching NSX classes three years ago.

"In some cases, we have networking experts who know nothing about VMware, and in others, VMware technicians who know nothing about the network," Ferguson said. "Rarely do we get individuals who have a balance of both."

Server virtualization skills will soon be insufficient to maintain a top position in IT. Admins must develop new VMware skills that extend their expertise and embrace a holistic view of IT. New courses and certifications are available to enable that transition.

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