I'm considering exactly what the title says. I've spent the better part of the past month reading/watching about the topic. I mainly researched the VMware product line (really, an ecosystem), along with Certification paths. I'm leaning towards the main DCV dish, with a side of CMA as needs come by. I am now building some sort of 'plan' for myself, contemplating the next 2-5 years or so with a VCP6-DCV goal in mind. There are a number of questions I need to ask to the actual pros, though. (highlighted in bold for anyone wishing to skip the following wall of text)
First of all, I'm heavily questionning my background. I wish it were enough to dive deep into vSphere right now, but is it? I mean, beyond VCA... I like to think "I can do this, I'm good admin material, I know it", but would an employer see it through the same lens? Probably not. My question is, would you hire ─ at the bottom of the IT/VMware ladder of course ─ this individual? Here's a quick, honest-to-god profile (please skip if you wish as none of this italic part speaks of VMware).
- I'm 32, male, I live in France (but plan to move abroad to a more dynamic region, in terms of technology and the economy in general).
- My 'official' pro background in IT is fairly limited ─ back in 2005 I trained & worked (at the same time) for about a year and a half on general admin/network. So, mostly windows 2000-2003-XP, general IT concepts; we had an HQ with about 30 users and 30 distant sites (car rental company present all over Paris), everything VNC'ed to the server room which hosted a dozen Dell Edge something (distant profiles etc.). Applications such as MS Office or credit card payments (Wynid) were served virtually through Citrix, and I had the opportunity to even run it at home in my lab to learn. It was back in 2005, but the basic concepts of networking, directory management or virtualization seem pretty clear to me, even as of 2015.
- At that time I was young. Well, younger, at least. When I realized that what needed fixing weren't really the computers but the users (j/k... or am I?), I cut short my IT experience and did other, unrelated jobs, even spending some time back at the university to learn law and a bit of sociology (political theory, social interactions, things like that). Enriching, and I can use all of this to fuel my vision of technology, but now I want back in IT as a professional. It's an obvious vocation I've been ignoring for too long.
- Ever since my teens, I've been dabbling in computers.
- Learned Dreaweaver 3 with a bible in just over 3 months and made my first website back in 2000.
- Since 2005 I've always had a windows server at home ─ it seems like it's not really my home unless it's a domain. I've been sharing coffee daily with ADDS ever since.
- I like starting from scratch, designing and building entirely new IT systems (my home is my lab) every other year.
- All my hobbies, at some point, got "computerized". For instance I learned everything I could about metadata for media/content files, from the Dublin Core principles to real-world popular DBs schemas (MusicBrainz notably) passing by actual implementations on my system, just because I need my music and video files to be properly sorted and browsed "smartly", you know... Also built a few home audio/video studios setups for friends...
- Many people around me come to me for advice on technology, of any kind ─ I like science and tech, always reading up the latest and greatest, and apparently able to research what I have yet to know. I get good feedback on my advice, more often than not.
- These are just a few examples of a trend in my life that says "I don't work in IT, but on a daily basis I spend a few hours, often having actual fun, with geeky-IT tasks, even just reading".
- I'm extremely thorough by nature. Reading and carefully understanding, checking and applying a Best Practices whitepaper is often a paradoxical treat to me ─ it may be somewhat boring come page 14, but it's just beautiful when a system runs close to perfection, I often find a deep motivation for these ironing-out/optimization tasks. I'm also very practical, down to earth. I love ideas, I get my good share of it, but ultimately what matters to me are actual results ─ though I never rush things unless I have to, I'm infinitely patient with a project. I spend hours designing, testing (seeking real-world proofs-of-concept) so I don't mess up in actual production. I like things neat, sober and efficient, from variables to comments and names passing by external documentation ─ which I highly value, probably stems from my research-oriented mind. I do document my home setups to some degree!
Do these things matter? Do they help me, along with these certifications, or is my professional IT inexperience, at 32, the end of that road?
From what I've read, I'm fairly confident that with the right self-traning, hands on, I have a shot at VCA6-DCV. Practical questions:
- I can get a good book, I can get online training, I probably can build a decent lab for virtualization at home. But how can I get hands-on with the software?
- Evaluation doesn't seem like an option since it's limited in time.
- Unless, maybe, one can get several trials as long as everything is freshly reinstalled. Being a lab we obviously don't care to break everything every 60 days or so, but does it work like this with VMware trials?
- Is there any way I can run a non-productive fully-featured VMware ecosystem at home, just for the sake of training? (note: I'm willing to pay for that right, just can't or rather won't afford $2000 licences of course, I'd rather spend that on training classes)
- I've discovered the fabulous VMware Hands-on Lab.
- Is it really free, unlimited?
- If yes, I suppose that's the recommended way to get hands-on VMware products?
- Should it be the only way, how can I verify that my practices are good in the long run (days, months, years...) if I can't run the systems for more than a few hours? My understanding of IT is that making things work at first is only the prologue to a long day-to-day care and management of systems and apps, and I wouldn't want to miss that kind of understanding with mission-critical infrastructure such as virtualization. Seems like the mother of all critical-to-monitor and analyze/report/optimize etc. That doesn't happen in a few hours. I find myself puzzled by that apparent contradiction between training and real work.
Now, let's assume I pass my VCA6. Then what? How do I go from there to VCPx?
- With my rather unconventional background, as seen from IT, can I land a level 1 vmware admin job if I get a VCA6-DCV? (I'm doubting, thus also considering maybe VCA6-CMA as well, to demonstrate *more* motivation and skills). I mean, are these VCA's even remotely enough, or should I brush up, say, on my Windows server/system admin and get a basic certification there before I aim at VCPx VMware certifs?
- Assuming I manage, eventually, to have a job involving VMware datacenter products (ESXi cluster, vSphere, vCenter etc.), I understand that 2-5 years worth of pro experience are recommended to consider VCP-DCV. I assume a motivated individual, training at home on top of work, getting involved socially with the community and so on, would probably fall in the lower end of that range. From your experience, is being hands-on at work 'enough' to truly understand and master (read: work skillfully with) VMware products? (again, with VCP in sight) I'm asking since, more often that not, you don't touch critical settings, unless you absolutely have to, in a prod environment (for instance, if my company, back in 2005, hadn't allowed me to run citrix at home for a few months for training's sake, I just wouldn't have gotten my hands dirty enough with it to be able to administer it, later on this job). Which leads us back to my previous questions about hands-on in a lab environment. Which lab, where, and how?
- And importanly enough, about how much would it cost me, overall, from VCA to VCP, including one mandatory class, and the necessary long-term hands-on training?
Sorry for such a long post but I wanted to hear back from the community with enough understanding of my situation. Please be frank and don't hold back, I need to hear the truth about my chances at this, and the sooner I realize how to proceed, the better. Currently, I'm beginning to train on ESXi and vCenter Server (awesome products, btw!) Any help in reaching my VCP endgame will be greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance for any light you might shed on my path.
PS: I apologize for any english mistake, it's not my mother tongue.