During the past year VMware has released a series of network virtualization certifications for network professionals to gain expertise in software defined networking, and specifically how it integrates with existing physical networking.
"Some people may get this feeling that their job is in jeopardy" because of SDN, says Chris McCain, director of training and certification for networking and security at VMware. "The message is that it's not an us vs. them though. Virtual networking still requires networking skills, it's just a different implementation of that skill set."
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From a technical and engineering standpoint, McCain says virtual networking is not all that different from physical networking. Virtual networks still require a thorough and reliable physical network. But in a virtual environment those networks are controlled using software run through a hypervisor. Core networking functions like firewalling and segmenting - are abstracted away from the physical hardware and controlled by software.
To educate users about network virtualization technology, and specifically its NSX product, VMware has created an entire catalog of courses, training, exams and certifications. Training can be done in multiple ways, from online self-paced courses, to instructor-led live teaching sessions. There are also in-person trainings at VMware events and other locations around the country. Companies can even request VMware trainers come to visit their location.
Certifications range from a low-level Associate's certificate (which just requires an online training class) to a VMware Certified Professional (VCP), which requires at least three online or in-person training courses. There are two other higher-level certifications for implementation and design experts.
See more about VMware's certifications here, and the below graphic for VMware's certification progression.
Are the certifications really worth it? Ravi Venkatasubbaiah is an eight-year veteran of the VMware User Group (VMUG) board of directors and says in the VMware community, VMware certifications are highly regarded. "For employers, seeking candidates with a certification is a no-brainer if you're looking to ensure your engineer or architect is of good quality," he says. So, for networking professionals they can be invaluable.
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There are a number of other SDN and virtual networking certifications users can get. Cisco, for example, offers four Network Programmability Specialist certifications, including: business application engineer specialist; network programmability developer specialist; design specialist and engineer specialist.
More information about Cisco's virtual networking certifications can be found here.
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is developing a vendor-neutral certification, too. Users will eventually be able to get an ONF-Certified SDN Engineer or SDN Associate certification.
The SDN certifications are still in their earliest days. McCain, who runs VMware's virtual networking certifications, says there has been a lot of interest in network virtualization certifications and training. The VCP-NX training courses are the second-most popular offered by VMware behind vSphere training, he says. The VCIX-NV Implementation expert certification, which launched just last year, has been taken 200 times; the design certification the highest one, has 39 people certified. Users range from VMware administrators to network professionals, to security experts, McCain says.
Venkatasubbaiah from VMUG says network virtualization technology as a whole is still in its early days of adoption though. While there is a lot of curiosity about virtual networking in the VMware community, Venkatasubbaiah estimates that it is still years away from being a mainstream product for most mid-size enterprises.
VMware NSX network virtualization training starts at $3,750 for the NSX: Install, Configure, Manage training, which is a pre-requisite for the various VMware network virtualization certifications. Testing for the certifications ranges from $120 to $1,500 depending on the level.