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Essential virtualization certifications for IT professionals

As companies move beyond virtualization, the need for IT pros with fine-tuned expertise in cloud administration, ethical hacking, legacy infrastructure migration and automation rises.

Organizations with virtualization infrastructures are shifting their focus toward Agile software development and the cloud. They still need employees to maintain virtualized legacy equipment, but new technology also means a need for new expertise, such as cloud infrastructure knowledge.

"There is an IT skills gap because technology is emerging faster than the training programs needed to keep up with it," said Lisa Jones, global product director for Cisco's Global Knowledge Training based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

As the IT landscape continues to change, the demand for employees with specific virtualization certifications will increase. In response, VMware Certified Associate - Digital Business Transformation (VCA-DBT), AWS SysOps Administrator - Associate, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies (AZ-300), and VMware Certified Professional 7 - Cloud Management and Automation (VCP7-CMA) certifications have emerged to fill the rising need for fine-tuned expertise.

VMware Certified Associate - Digital Business Transformation

With the cloud's increasing popularity, the IT virtualization certification market has shifted away from an emphasis on technical, hands-on system skills to higher-level business expertise. To address this change, VMware developed the VCA-DBT certification, which is geared toward IT professionals who can help companies move legacy infrastructure to new cloud-based platforms.

Prior to the certification process, IT pros must understand the wide range of platforms associated with VMware's Cloud Foundation and Cross-Cloud Architecture. This particular certification also validates IT pros' understanding of virtualization concepts and how they drive change in an enterprise's digital agenda. The certification covers more than 70 different product areas, including VMware's vRealize, vSphere, NSX and vSAN.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate

As the IT landscape continues to change, the demand for employees with specific virtualization certifications will increase.

AWS has become the top public cloud provider, according to Synergy Research. VMware's joint agreement with AWS means that businesses need IT pros who are familiar with both the AWS infrastructure and virtualized systems. The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate certification is geared toward systems administrators who deploy, manage and operate fault-tolerant AWS systems.

IT pros must understand how to select the appropriate AWS service based on their company's compute, data or security requirements; identify and deploy AWS operational best practices appropriately; estimate AWS usage costs; identify operational cost control mechanisms; and migrate on-premises workloads to the public cloud.

Certified Ethical Hacker

Security continues to be a top concern for businesses, and ethical hackers perform legitimate services for IT companies and other organizations. A CEH earns $116,306 annually, the 11th highest paying virtualization certification in the IT job market, according to Global Knowledge.

An ethical hacker's job is to identify and repair application and system security vulnerabilities so businesses might preemptively thwart potential exploitations by criminals. The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants oversees the certification process. The CEH certification requires IT pros to be conversant in specific areas such as footprinting and reconnaissance, network scanning, vulnerability analysis, malware protection, social engineering, denial of service, wireless network attacks and IoT vulnerabilities.

Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

Many organizations are searching for IT pros to help them deploy their public cloud services effectively, and the competition for such employees is fierce. A cloud architect earns $154,504 -- at time of writing -- according to ZipRecruiter. Microsoft public cloud services have proven to be quite popular because of its large installed legacy base of Windows servers.

The AZ-300 certification ensures that IT pros can deploy and configure system infrastructure, implement workloads and security, create and launch applications, and allocate resources to the cloud. This certification is ideal for IT pros who have prior knowledge and experience with managing Azure subscriptions and resources, configuring and managing VMs and networks, evaluating and performing server migration to Azure, and implementing and managing advanced virtual networking and application services.

VMware Certified Professional 7 - Cloud Management and Automation

Increasingly, IT support staff focus more on orchestration -- coordinating a number of automated tasks -- rather than performing a single task. The VCP7-CMA certification is designed for this change. Training courses provide IT pros with experience using vSphere 6.7, vRealize Automation 7.x, VMware vRealize Orchestrator, vRealize Log Insight and vCloud Air.

IT pros must pass the VCP7-CMA Design exam, which ensures that they know how to install, configure and administer a VMware vRealize environment and automate key data center processes in a way that ensures redundancy and scalability, before receiving the certification.

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