Earlier this month, the National Bureau of Economic Research made it official: The U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007. As a result, companies are tightening their belts wherever they can. One area IT can look to for reducing expenses is virtualization, and IT professionals would do well to get educated in this growing area.
“When cost is the enemy, server virtualization is one technology that allows [IT departments] to serve their organizations more flexibly while reducing costs,” said Ed Walsh, president and CEO of software company Virtual Iron, in a recent news release. Walsh identified a number of benefits to virtualization, including streamlined infrastructure, reduced costs and increased business continuity.
For these reasons, it is becoming increasingly important for IT professionals to bring up their expertise in the area.
“We need to make sure IT staff have the skills that they need in order to support their organizations and the infrastructure and the [virtualization] products,” said Julieann Scalisi, managing director of Citrix Education.
The company recently announced a new training strategy for its education and certification program. “Given our current product offerings and the demand for virtualization products and the [related] skills, now was just the perfect time for us to expand into the virtualization market and have certification programs that were tied to meeting those needs,” Scalisi said.
The certification program has three tracks: administrator, engineering and architect — all with base- and advanced-level credentials. While the baseline Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) credential already includes virtualization offerings, the new education strategy will add specializations to Citrix’s advanced certifications: the CCAA (Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator), the CCIA (Citrix Certified Integration Architect) and the CCEE (Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer) — which is replacing the current CCEA (administrator).
Currently, CCA candidates can fine-tune their skills by choosing tracks in one of four solution paths: application virtualization, desktop virtualization, server virtualization and application networking. Advanced certifications for application virtualization are being rolled out now and will continue into the first half of 2009. Application networking will follow soon after. Advanced certifications for desktop and server virtualization still are in the planning stages, with a goal for rollout sometime next year.
When choosing a path, there are a number of factors for candidates to consider, Scalisi said.
“We encourage students to consider not only the current job role that they’re in, but a couple things,” she said. “One is where their company is going, what their company’s business challenges are and then where they want to go professionally. Do they have any career interests that they would like to be able to expand to be able to add the most to their organization and differentiate themselves in the job market?”
A certification under this Citrix’s new structure can increase a professional’s chances for career advancement, as well as higher pay. (The additional factor is experience.)
“When we’ve spoken to hiring managers, and even existing managers, what they say that they’re looking for now more than ever is a combination of certifications and related work experience,” Scalisi said. “Citrix certifications consistently appear in the IT salary surveys, and that demonstrates that somebody who is Citrix certified does have an opportunity for higher pay.”
The new virtualization paths will only add to the IT worker’s tool belt.
“[Managers] have come to know that they can count on our certifications to be an effective gauge of their employees’ skills and knowledge,” Scalisi added. “We’ve really taken a lot of steps in ensuring that our certification exams truly measure not only someone’s knowledge but their skills as well.”
– Mpolakowski, email@example.com