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  • Mike Ghazaleh

Learning VMware from scratch?

Maybe you've been a storage, network, or security engineer for a while - or maybe you're just brand new to IT. Whatever background you're coming from, we'll discuss the best place to start in learning VMware.


But before we get started, let's clarify something.


VMware is a company...with a lot of products. So when someone says "I want to learn VMware" - it could quite literally mean one of 30 different products.


In most cases, people mean "I want to learn about Virtualization" - and more specifically, VMware ESXi, or vSphere/vCenter.


If this sounds like you, you're in great hands! Let's jump right into it:


Your First Step


If you have no idea what Virtualization is, VMware has a "Cloud and Virtualization Concepts" course that you can access through their partner, NDG. You can see a list of the other free courses at VMware's site here.


Step Two


Now that you hopefully have an understanding of basic virtualization concepts, the next step is to focus in on VMware's product offerings - specifically, ESXi. I'm a big fan of taking certifications to show me exactly what I need to learn, and thankfully, VMware has a cert that fits the bill - it's the VMware Certified Technical Associate - Data Center Virtualization. This certification covers everything you'd ever want to know as a beginner about ESXi and vCenter. As far as study materials go - my best advice for the VCTA is this:


  • Check out the exam blueprint here - you should bookmark it or save it. This tells you exactly what will be tested on the exam. Use this as your guide on what to study.

  • Optionally - sign up for VMware's learning subscription which does provide a VCTA-DCV course. I believe it is $250/year. The course is decent, but be forewarned - it has absolutely no video, it's all reading.

  • Take advantage of the official VMware blogs, and youtube channels - immerse yourself in the lingo and tech, and it will become easy a lot faster.

  • Although not required, I'd highly recommend signing up for a free VMware Hands On Labs (HOL) account at hol.vmware.com. VMware has tons of labs available for you to play with the technology, and they have great lab guides which you can work through. If you don't do the HOL labs, you are definitely missing out.


Step Three


Assuming you've now studied based on the exam blueprint, maybe taken a course, and played with the HOLs, your next step is to sit the exam. I've taken a lot of exams over the years, and I can confidently say that this is a passable exam, and if you fail - don't look at it as a negative thing. Failing is just an opportunity to learn more. I once failed my CCIE written exam two times in a row before finally passing on the third try - it happens.


I Passed, Now what?


After you've completed the VCTA-DCV, you can either look at other tracks (such as Network Virtualization - or NV), or you can advance your studies further and go for the VCP-DCV - which is the next step after the VCTA. Let me warn you about the VCP though - it's a lot more technical, and does require you to take an actual VMware class (the class was $4300 last I checked). It's worth noting that if you have a CCNA or higher Cisco certification - you are exempt from taking the class but ONLY if you go after the VCP-NV (Network Virtualization).


Anyway- that's all for today, best of luck in your studies!


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