| technology | system admin - Ross Heintzkill
Is the VCP-CMA Worth It?
When it first became possible to virtualize workloads, servers, networks and systems, many companies jumped at the chance. Virtualization is many companies' secret sauce for speeding up production cycles and increasing profits. But now the virtualization market is saturated – so many more vendors and more options have become available that making sense of it all has become a lot harder. Companies and teams went down the virtualization road to save time and money, but sometimes once you're far down it, managing your many different solutions and services starts to feel more and more expensive.
VMware is one of the world's leaders in virtualization software and their vRealize environment is designed for companies and teams who want better control over their many different data center solutions. If you're struggling to keep track of all your different utilities and services, or you need a way to automate the management of your public, private or hybrid cloud solutions, a VMware certification called the VCP-CMA might be the solution for you. Read on to learn whether the VCP-CMA is worth it for you and your career.
What Is the VCP-CMA?
The VCP-CMA stands for VMware Certified Professional – Cloud Management and Automation – it's VMware's professional-level certification in installing, configuring and optimizing their vRealize suite of applications. It may be a professional-level certification, but it's the first certification in their Cloud Management and Automation track. There's no associate-level or specialist-level certification that directly precedes it because of the advanced knowledge necessary for cloud management and automation it relies on.
VMware certifications are valid for two years, but many of their exams are updated annually. This is true for the VCP-CMA, which comes with a year designator to show which year you passed the exam. What this means for someone interested in earning the VCP-CMA is that you have to time your studying and exam-taking so that you test on the material you prepare for. But you should also stay on top of the changes and updates to the software every year so that you can easily stay up to date.
Earning the VCP-CMA also requires passing two exams, the VMware vSphere 6.7 Foundations Exam (2V0-01.19) and the Professional VMware vRealize Automation (2V0-31.20). The Foundations exam, 2V0-01.19, still has 2019 as its year designator and it's not certain when VMware will update that exam material. It's recommended that you pass this exam before moving on to the second VCP-CMA exam because so much of the vRealize suite is dependent on vSphere.
The second exam for the VCP-CMA, the vRealize Automation exam – 2V0-31.20 – gets replaced by the next version on December 31, 2021. Of the two, this is the exam that focuses on installing, configuring and administering a vRealize environment.
What Does the VCP-CMA Test?
The VCP-CMA cert has two exams, 2V0-01.19 and 2V0-31.20. The first VCP-CMA exam, VMware vSphere 6.7 Foundations (2V0-01.19) is just what it sounds like: a test that covers familiarity with configuring and managing vSphere networking, storage, virtual apps, and troubleshooting. The vSphere Foundations exam is a 105-minute, 65-question exam. The 2V0-01.19 exam has seven objectives, they are:
- Install and Configure vCenter Server 6.x and ESXi 6.x Hosts
- Configure and Manage vSphere 6.x Networking
- Configure and Manage vSphere 6.x Storage
- Deploy and Administer Virtual Machines and vApps
- Establish and Maintain Availability and Resource Management Features
- Perform Basic Troubleshooting of a vSphere 6.x Implementation
- Perform Basic Monitoring of vSphere Implementation
VCP-CMA's second exam, Professional VMware vRealize Automation 8.1 (2V0-31.20) is much more focused on data center automation skills. You'll be tested in simplifying and standardizing complex data center activities. The Professional VMware vRealize Automation exam is a 140-minute, 70-question exam. Many of VMware's advanced certification exams are all structured around the same seven sections and the 2V0-31.20 follows those sections, they are:
- Architecture and Technologies
- Products and Solutions
- Planning and Designing
- Installing, Configuring, and Setup
- Performance-tuning, Optimization, and Upgrades
- Troubleshooting and Repairing
- Administrative and Operational Tasks
The skills that go into being able to automate data center processes in repeatable, scalable ways fall into those seven sections of the exam. After proving your familiarity with automation in vSphere and your mastery of automation through vRealize, you're qualified to earn the VCP-CMA
How much does the VCP-CMA Exam Cost?
Earning the VCP-CMA costs $375 in total. It costs $125 to attempt the vSphere Foundations exam (2V0-01.19) and $250 to attempt the vRealize Automation exam (2V0-31.20). $375 isn't cheap – and that's assuming you can pass both on the first attempt.
They're narrowly focused exams that deal specifically with managing and configuring VMware technologies, they can be challenging. So, if you're not sure you can pass either exam, taking courses to prepare for them would be a good idea. If you do decide to get training or to take courses, the cost of them should be included in your overall cost of earning the VCP-CMA.
What Experience Do You Need for the VCP-CMA?
Officially, earning the VCP-CMA has only one prerequisite: at least one of VMware's training courses. There are 10 courses to choose from that deal with different use cases of different versions of the vRealize suite. Generally, the courses cover installing, configuring, and managing orchestration and extensibility features of the vRealize automation package. Otherwise, you can attempt the two VCP-CMA exams with no other experience. But passing them without first-hand experience using, managing and configuring the software packages would be extremely difficult.
A total of a year's worth of experience is VMware's recommendation. A year would probably ensure you've encountered most of the challenges you'll be faced with. For the first exam, vSphere Foundations (2V0-01.19), you'll want at least six months of experience with installing, configuring and managing vSphere itself. During that time, you'll want to find chances to deploy and configure storage, networking and compute solutions inside the vSphere architecture. Since the test covers creating and administering vSphere virtual machines, you should know how to use the component pieces of vSphere to optimize, secure and troubleshoot VMs.
As for the second VCP-CMA exam, the vRealize Automation exam (2V0-31.20), VMware recommends at least six months of experience working with the vRealize suite. First, you'll want experience with the Lifecycle Manager, the more deployments you've managed the better. Since so much of the vRealize Automation exam covers solving unique automation problems based on different vendors and cloud environments, you'll need to understand all the basic concepts of cloud management like public, private and hybrid clouds, multitenancy, storage, security and network.
vRealize also contains a number of component software packages like Cloud Assembly Services, Service Broker, Code Stream and vRealize Orchestrator. You should have first-hand experience using them in order to pass the exam. Last, the VCP-CMA includes questions about extensibility, identity and access management, and Kubernetes clusters and zones, so you should have experience managing each of those within the vRealize suite.
Who Should Take the VCP-CMA?
Administrators, developers and virtualization engineers should consider taking the VCP-CMA. The VCP-CMA is the first certification on the way to earning an Advanced Professional certification in design or deployment, or an Expert certification in cloud management and automation with VMware technologies. So if you see yourself eventually managing huge cloud deployments, the VCP-CMA is where you should start.
VCP-CMA for Administrators
The VCP-CMA is worth it for certain administrators – especially those who are responsible for the automation of delivering IT services using VMware. If you already work with VMware and already automate virtualization solutions, the VCP-CMA will give you a credential that proves your expertise to your employer. Not only that, preparing for it will reveal gaps in your knowledge and expose all the inner workings of the automation suite you're already using.
On the other hand, if you're an administrator who's considering the VCP-CMA, it's important that you keep in mind that the VCP-CMA is a VMware certification specific to vSphere Automation. This isn't a certification for learning broad virtualization skills that will transfer to any virtualization provider – it's for administrators who work with vSphere and vRealize. That said, the VCP-CMA would be worth it for administrators who are considering adopting VMware virtualization solutions, or who want to learn about virtualization automation management.
VCP-CMA for Cloud Developers
The VCP-CMA is definitely worth it for cloud developers who are interested in expanding their skills and making their resume look particularly good. The VCP-CMA is a well-respected credential from one of the world's largest virtualization providers, having it represents specialized expertise and skill with setting up automation solutions that an employer can rely on.
Many cloud developers are already good at designing and developing great cloud systems that connect data centers, optimize bandwidth, or manage delivery models. But what VMware and vRealize provide a cloud developer are the tools necessary to automate all those solutions. Cloud developers who earn their VCP-CMA don't just provide robust cloud services, but they know how to get different cloud solutions to talk with one another automatically, and then provide all those services on their own – without needing a human to do it themselves. That saves time, manpower and money for your employer.
VCP-CMA for a Cloud Engineer
For cloud engineers who deal with VMware technology on a regular basis, the VCP-CMA is well worth it. Although most cloud engineers will want to eventually move on to earning their advanced professional or expert-level VMware certifications (VCAP-CMA Design/Deploy, and VCDX). Cloud engineers who work on enterprise deployments should aim for the VCDX, but cloud engineers who work with more limited deployments will find the VCP-CMA a worthwhile investment of time.
The VCP-CMA is a highly regarded certification that a cloud engineer can use to add weight to their resume. Having it shows familiarity with creating efficient solutions that manage a network's cloud services on their own without the need for whole teams of administrators.
Is the VCP-CMA Worth It?
The VCP-CMA is worth it for IT professionals who work in virtualization and with VMware technologies already. Even if you don't work with VMware, a professional credential in cloud automation could make you competitive for positions at companies that do. Not only that, having the VCP-CMA can be useful for showing you how your current automation solutions differ from VMware's. When your manager or employer has questions about transitioning to vRealize for your cloud automation needs, having the VCP-CMA is especially worth it.
Using VCP-CMA to Learn Skills
Preparing for professional certifications is a great way to learn all the skills of a job – from the most basic to the most advanced. Passing the VCP-CMA requires a foundation of knowledge not just in the fundamentals of cloud technology and public, private and hybrid cloud solutions, and not just vSphere operations and management, but also automation of different IT services inside a cloud deployment.
If you think you've got a gap in any of those three elements of cloud management and optimization, you can use the VCP-CMA to learn all the skills necessary to qualify as an advanced cloud developer. Courses that prepare you for the VCP-CMA can expose gaps in your knowledge of cloud administration as they advance your understanding of what's possible with automation.
Using VCP-CMA to Validate Skills
There are usually two reasons an IT professional earns a certification, either to learn the skills of a particular job or to prove to employers that they've learned them. Certifications that are provided directly from the vendor of the technology itself are often valuable to employers. After all, as a company, they've already spent money on the software in the hopes it'll provide services and solutions. When employees are trained in actually using it, both the technology and the employee only become more useful.
VMware is one of the world's largest providers of virtualization technology, and their certification program is well-respected. Preparing for the VCP-CMA and passing its two exams will make you a more valuable virtualization engineer and will validate your skills in automating cloud solutions to employers. It can even help you get promotions or land new jobs.