Taking the Microsoft certification path to VDI

Brien Posey

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It's one thing for an organization to decide to deploy VDI, but it is quite another to effectively support it. One way to ensure that staff has the skills necessary to deploy, manage and support VDI is getting everyone certified.

The most appropriate certifications vary depending on which vendor's VDI offering you deploy. If you're implementing VDI on Windows Server, it's a good idea to get familiar with the Microsoft certification path. Even if you are using a different vendor's products, you'll learn what may be involved in the certification process.

When you choose a certification path, you must not only consider the vendor, but also the version. Microsoft, for example, made some major changes to its certifications following the release of Windows Server 2012.

Windows Server 2008 R2

For a Windows Server 2008 R2 platform, Microsoft actually offers a VDI-specific certification track. There are two primary exams that will be the most helpful to virtualization administrators. These include:

If you are looking for formalized VDI training, Microsoft offers a five-day training course that is specific to VDI. The course is 10324A: Implementing and Managing Microsoft Desktop Virtualization.

Windows Server 2012

Microsoft certifications do not include a virtualization-specific track for Windows Server 2012. Instead, virtualization is considered to be one of the operating system's core functions, and the certification path reflects this new philosophy. In fact, Microsoft's MCSE Desktop Infrastructure track seems ideally suited toward VDI deployments.

There are five exams required for those seeking the MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure certification:

The first three exams are only loosely related to VDI, but there are a couple of benefits to taking them anyway. First, these exams cover the infrastructure components on which the VDI deployment will be based. Topics such as failover clustering and Hyper-V management are covered on the first three exams. Plus, passing these three exams means that you earn an MCSA certification for Windows Server 2012.

The last two exams in the series focus heavily on VDI. The fourth exam is all about the desktop infrastructure, and the fifth focuses on desktop applications.

The desktop operating system

Regardless of whether you are using a Microsoft VDI platform or something from a third party, it is a good idea for IT staff to take a desktop operating system-specific exam. This ensures that you will learn the various OS-specific nuances that you can tune to help it function efficiently in a VDI environment.

The primary exams that are available for Windows 7 include:

Those who wish to deploy Windows 8 in their VDI environments should consider these exams:

Earning advanced IT certifications takes a lot of work, but it can be extremely beneficial for administrators to get certified before deploying VDI. Doing so ensures that you are adequately prepared to deploy, manage and maintain both the virtual desktops and the underlying infrastructure.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: Microsoft's MCSE Private Cloud and new virtualization certifications or view the full guide: Need-to-know IT job requirements

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