Cloud, DevOps, Evangelism

The VCDX Brain Drain (or VMware Should Be A Net VCDX Exporter)

I have a growing concern about the future of the VCDX certification track.  Its certainly a vested interest; as a current VCDX, I want the certification to be hard to achieve, well marketed and valuable within the industry.  Why?  Because I like money, of course.

So my concern is this: it appears to me that VMware is aggressively hiring VCDXs, which I think is wrong, and dangerous to the future of the certification.

Currently, VMware employs ~45 VCDXs, when I count through the VCDX page and apply some recent knowledge of moves.  In the past year, VMware has directly hired at least 4 VCDX from partners.  I believe there may be more.  I wont name them directly, because this article isn't about them (I applaud their personal choices), its about VMware.

VMware should not be hiring VCDXs from partners.  In fact, I might go so far as to suggest VMware probably should avoid hiring existing VCDXs at all.  I believe this presents two dangers to the program itself.

  1. By draining the partner pool of VCDXs, VMware is effectively telling partners, "sure, go ahead and spend many thousands training this person up to VCDX level, paying for their hotels, defenses, etc - when you are done, we will go ahead, swoop in with a sweet offer you can't match and take them."  This is hardly the way to engender loyalty among partners.  The natural outgrowth of this tactic is that partners will no longer be interested in supporting the candidacy of a VCDX, simply because it wouldn't provide them any value.
  2. The size of the VCDX pool is of crucial importance.  Too small, and customers either don't know about the certification (and therefore don't recognize the value a partner with the certification brings).  Too large, and it becomes nearly routine (think A+ certifications), and therefore of low value.  The pool needs to be large enough to be known, small enough to be a little rare, but again large enough so that there is a reasonable chance that a customer can find a partner with a VCDX or two (or three) on staff.  By hiring and employing so much of the VCDX pool (nearly 40%, by my count), VMware artificially limits the number of partners than will create or employ a VCDX, thus reducing the visibility and value of the certification itself.

Of all the players (partners, VMware itself, vendors, people), the ones with the most opprtunity to fix this is VMware themselves.  With the VERY solid braintrust they have, existing large VCDX pool and the extensive resources and PSO-style options, VMware should be a VCDX-production machine.  It should be trivial (and a goal) for them to hire good people, train them up to VCDX level, get them certified internally and then (eventually, after a couple years paying their dues in PSO or what-have-you) going out into the partner community.  This have a number of effects:

  • The VCDX population grows to a larger size (which it needs to).
  • The partners are no longer afraid of supporting a VCDX candidacy
  • VMware gets all the VCDX power it needs

This has some parallels to other top level certifications that some colleagues have brought up.  Specifically, they mentioned Cisco CCIE, and if I also believe that Cisco should not hire CCIEs.  I'd argue that, currently, given that there are thousands of CCIEs, that the pool size is no longer a problem, and that Cisco is in a different position.

With VMware out of the business of hiring partner VCDXs, partners & vendors can go back to supporting VCDX candidates without fear and VMware can produce those that it needs internally.