Is the VCP-DCV Worth It?
VMware software and products are popular among enterprise organizations, so heading down a career path centered on this technology isn't a bad decision at all. All of VMware's products are highly proprietary, so generic experience only serves as a background and foundation to learn about their offerings. When companies are hiring IT professionals to work on VMware equipment, they want to see documented expertise, and the easiest way to qualify that is with a VMware certification.
The crown jewel of VMware technology is vSphere, the company's prized server virtualization platform. Of the four certification paths that the company offers, the Data Center Virtualization (DCV) track is most closely interwoven with vSphere.
What is the VCP-DCV 2020?
The VCP-DCV is VMware's Professional certification in the Data Center Virtualization track. VMware has four levels of certification for every track:
- VMware Certified Professional (VCP)
- VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP)
- VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX)
- VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX)
The VCP is considered the baseline certification for any serious professional working with VMware technology. You can earn a lower, generic cert: the VMware Certified Associate—Digital Business Transformation (VCA-DBT), but this certification has a different focus. The VCA-DBT is designed to give a basic overview of VMware's products and services, which is useful for sales representatives and marketers who are positioning the company's solutions, but it isn't something we would recommend for anyone in a tech position.
The reason is simple: to earn a VCP-DCV, you should have 6 to 12 months of experience working with vSphere. If you don't have a basic grasp of the applicable technology by then, something has gone horribly wrong.
What Does the VCP-DCV 2020 Test?
VMware standardized all of its exam blueprints along seven domains. Even though all exams align with this structure, the objectives you can expect to see on the test vary by certification—and some don't have any testable objectives in one or more of the domains. Here's what you can expect to find on the VCP-DCV exam:
- Section 1: Architecture and Technologies
- Section 2: Products and Solutions
- Section 3: Planning and Designing
- Section 4: Installing, Configuring, and Setup
- Section 5: Performance-tuning, Optimization, and Upgrades
- Section 6: Troubleshooting and Repairing
- Section 7: Administrative and Operational Tasks
One thing that VMware does well is outline precisely what you need to know to pass their tests. You can download a VCP-DCV Exam Guide here, and you'll find several pages of detailed breakdowns across each testable objective in all domains.
The VCP-DCV exam itself consists of 70 single- and multiple-choice questions. It's more knowledge-based than application-based, and with the specific roadmap the company provides, you shouldn't encounter any surprises when you take it. You'll have 130 minutes to complete the test, which is plenty of time to think through each solution before responding.
How Much Does the VCP-DCV 2020 Exam Cost?
VMware certifications often generate much weeping and gnashing of teeth when it comes to price points. The actual exam cost isn't bad, $250 for the VCP-DCV 2020. But you have to take a required, VMware-approved course as a prerequisite to sit for the test, and those are pricey — generally in the $4,250 to $4,500 range. For the VCP-DCV 2020, you have eight options:
- VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V7]
- VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V7] – On Demand
- VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale [V7]
- VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale [V7] – On Demand
- VMware vSphere: Troubleshooting [V7]
- VMware vSphere: Fast Track [V7]
- VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale plus Troubleshooting Fast Track V7]
- VMware vSphere: Advanced Administration Workshop [V7]
Total cost for a VCP-DCV is going to run about $4,500.
What Experience Do You Need for the VCP-DCV 2020?
The most important prerequisite for the VCP-DCV is a soft one. On the exam page, VMware simply states that you should "gain experience with vSphere 7.0," which is a bit nebulous. However, in the Exam Guide, the company gets a bit clearer, identifying the specific standards of a "Minimally Qualified Candidate," or MQC.
An MQC should have "6-12 months hands-on experience implementing, managing and troubleshooting a vSphere 7 infrastructure." To pass the exam, you should also have a working knowledge of "storage, networking, hardware, security, business continuity and disaster recovery concepts." Beyond these guidelines, there isn't much VMware is looking for. Remember that a VCP is the baseline professional certification, so this is the first real step an IT professional will take in the VMware world; everything after the VCP simply builds on that foundation.
Who Should Take the VCP-DCV 2020?
The better question to ask is who should stop at the VCP. If you're an engineer or architect and are planning on earning any of the higher-level certs, you'll have to get a VCP first: it's a prerequisite for all of the others. From that perspective, anyone who plans on working with VMware's data virtualization technology should get a VCP-DCV.
Beyond just a baseline certification, the VCP-DCV is a destination for many professionals. According to the VCP-DCV Exam Guide, prime candidates for this certification are "typically administrators, capable of performing deployment and administration of a virtual infrastructure using vSphere."
VCP-DCV 2020 for Systems Administrators
If you look at the domain and objective breakdown for the VCP-DCV, you'll see two consistent themes. The first is knowledge-based and evaluates your understanding of the larger VMware picture. The second, and far more prevalent, focuses on your ability to create and configure within a virtualized server, i.e., precisely what you would be doing as a systems administrator. If you're a sysadmin working with vSphere, this cert is a must-have.
VCP-DCV 2020 for Network Administrators
Although systems administrators and network administrators have a large crossover, their roles tend to differentiate more with larger organizations. Enterprise companies have more room for specialization, and VMware tech is common among sizable businesses. As a network administrator in an enterprise organization, you'll deal with virtualization regularly throughout your career, so a VCP-DCV is a certification that would add noticeable value to your resume.
VCP-DCV 2020 for Pen Testers
White hat hackers are in high demand across the board, and there are essentially two groups of certifications that will shape the direction of your career. The first is comprised "generic hacking skills" and is represented by accreditations like the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
The second group is more specific to technology but doesn't necessarily have anything to do with penetration testing itself. The VCP-DCV is an excellent example. Many hackers can find their way around a vSphere server using the same techniques they would elsewhere, but when a company wants absolute assurance that their VMware virtualized servers are secure, a pen tester with both a CEH and a proprietary certification becomes a very valuable commodity. While certainly not a requirement for ethical hackers, a VCP-DCV could carve out a profitable niche for your career.
Is the VCP-DCV 2020 Worth It?
When you look at all of the factors, the only real reason why the answer would be a "no" here is the price tag of the required class. VMware certifications are in perpetually high demand, they're widely recognized, and they are frequently used to validate specific skill sets. If you work in any IT role from sysadmin to architect in a company that uses vSphere, you will profit from earning this certification, in terms of both experience and salary.
This is an excellent certification to have when searching for a job, but ideally, you will have earned it while you have a job—and your employer pays for the class. If you can secure that benefit, the answer to the above question is an unqualified yes. If you have to pay for it out of pocket, the answer is still yes, but timing will likely play into when you get it instead of whether you do.
Using the VCP-DCV 2020 to Learn Skills
The VCP-DCV cert is the baseline professional certification for vSphere data center virtualization, and any higher-level role will need to earn a VCP as well. VMware outlines a very specific set of abilities in their VCP-DCV Exam Guide, so using this as a roadmap for your journey to this or anything higher is a great way to ensure you're learning all the skills you'll need for a career in this area.
Using the VCP-DCV 2020 to Validate Skills
The VCP-DCV exam is heavily knowledge-based, although many of the questions are geared toward understanding real-world setups. Higher-level VMware certifications, such as the VCAP, are technically better at validating skills than the VCP is, but earning a VCP-DCV certainly demonstrates you know what you're talking about.