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Not all vendor certifications provide the same value for IT professionals, but it's hard to go wrong with VMware or Citrix certifications for desktop and application virtualization.
IT pros can expand their knowledge of Citrix and VMware virtual desktop and application deployments to boost their own value to their organizations.
Attaining these certifications is time-consuming and can cost hundreds of dollars, however. So, IT pros should find the best application and desktop virtualization certifications for their current roles.
What types of certifications are there?
Citrix certifications and VMware certifications differ slightly. The two vendors' app and desktop virtualization certifications include a range of expertise levels. Both organizations start at an Associate level, followed by Professional and then Expert. But VMware includes an Advanced Professional level between Professional and Expert.
VMware offers a Desktop and Mobility certification that covers the latest version of its Horizon and vSphere platforms. Once an IT pro achieves a Professional-level certification for Desktop and Mobility, he can choose a specialty -- either deployment or design -- for his Advanced Professional certification. The deployment option focuses more on optimizing virtual desktop and app delivery, whereas the design option targets the architecture of the deployment.
Citrix certifications for desktop and application virtualization involve learning the ins and outs of XenDesktop and XenApp. The process begins with the Associate-level certification that covers basic tools, such as Citrix Director. IT pros can take on more advanced tools, such as Citrix App Layering, with the subsequent Professional certification. The Expert level certifies that IT pros have the necessary skills to design an entire Citrix-based deployment on their own.
Citrix and VMware offer certifications for cloud-based deployments of their virtual application and desktop platforms, as well. The Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on Citrix Cloud certification covers XenApp and XenDesktop use specifically with Citrix Cloud. IT pros who use Microsoft Azure deployments can get their Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on Microsoft Azure certification.
Both of these Citrix certifications only have one level. IT pros can prepare for both of these certifications with Citrix's course, titled CXD-252: Moving to the XenApp and XenDesktop Service on Citrix Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
VMware offers a Cloud Management and Automation certification with the same tiers and specializations as its other certifications.
How can IT pros earn and maintain certifications?
To achieve the highest level of certification, both VMware and Citrix require IT pros to begin with an Associate-level certification. Citrix and VMware recommend IT pros familiarize themselves with the technology they want a certification for in advance, so they have a functional base of knowledge from which to work.
VMware requires anyone attempting to earn a virtualization certification to pass a foundation exam and attend a training course before taking the certification exam itself. Citrix's approach is more hands-off, offering an abbreviated training course for more experienced IT pros and requiring only the certification exam. For each certification, both Citrix and VMware provide comprehensive study guides that mirror the sections on the actual exam. The real exam is a timed online test that typically costs several hundred dollars.
The cost of certification exams and courses can prohibit some IT pros from staying up-to-date. Some organizations may sponsor the total cost of the certification process, but IT pros who don't have support from their organizations to pursue these VMware and Citrix certifications will need significant capital to achieve one or several high-level certifications.
Further, organizations will probably only sponsor VMware and Citrix certifications that directly benefit their deployment. IT pros looking for certifications from both VMware and Citrix should only expect financial support for fees associated with the virtual app and desktop software with which they work.