vExpert NSX – My First Certification – Education path to the full stack engineer

The vExpert NSX program are running a series of community initiatives on certification and Network Virtualisation at the moment.
This is my contribution to the  first in  the series  “My first VMware Certification”.

Why did you decide to take your first test and what was your motivation?

I decided to take my first VCP  to learn more about the technology.

I was going through a transition from a Windows SME role to an engineer within the datacenter using more than one skill set.

What was your journey for the first test?

While working in a Windows team,  a VMware data centre project was started.  This was new to everyone.  The kit arrived, and the consultancy installed and left in 3 days.  Now what? No one really wanted to touch it,  and it was left to the Windows team to build “Virtual” versions of the development platforms.

I effectively learnt on the job,  making mistakes a long the way.   This I found to be one of the most enjoyable parts of my  VMware journey.  Everything was new and although seemingly scary,  I wasn’t in a production environment.  I was working with developers and have the ability to test throughout.

Having the grounding of real time on the product helped me with the certification immensely.

Were you nervous, how did you study?

I was a multi holder by the time I took my first VCP.  I was used to taking these computer based  tests – so I thought.

I was, however,  a little concerned about the other areas of the datacenter that VMware has to integrate with.

I decided to read around the subjects, go back to basics especially networking and and storage.

For example,  I had never used iSCSi at the time, being FC based.

How did it benefit your career as well as your community?

The VCP was extremely helpful to me.  It gave me a reason to step out of my comfort zone of being a Windows SME and see inside the datacenter.  I  found areas of the great interest.

From a business perspective  I studied  both the theory, and  practically used  the main features my company was using and I could manage the platform effectively.

I transitioned from Windows Engineer into the datacenter team with a focus on virtualisation.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity  to build a virtualisation team and successfully place VMware into the production area of the company datacenter.

Knowing what you know today, what are some of the pain points in this certification that you can share with your audience?

A major pain point for someone just starting out, is the amount of other technology  that VMware integrates with.

This is the actual area I still find exciting and interesting today, however it is often daunting being faced with VMware technical areas to learn and study, while still picking up the underlying datacenter concepts.
I would suggest to keep reading around the other  subjects,  listen to podcasts, and talk to other professionals in the team.  This is now even more important with concepts such as the “full stack engineer”.

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