Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Value of IT Certifications

I recently passed the VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization exam. The last VMware certification I took was in 2007 when I passed the VMware Certified Professional 3 exam. It’s nice to have the latest VMware certification under my belt.

VMware certification is a little bit unique, because it requires one-week training and hands-on experience. You will find it difficult to pass the test without hands-on experience. Most of the questions in the test are real life scenarios and you can only understand the questions if you have encountered them in real life.

Some people argue the value of certifications. They say that certifications are useless because most of those people who have them are inexperienced. I agree that experience is the best way to learn in the IT field. I can attest to this after almost 20 years in the field. But IT certifications are valuable for the following reasons:

1. Not all IT certifications are created equal. While some certifications are easier to pass just by reading books, most IT certifications such as VCP (VMware Certified Professional), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), and RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer) certifications need a high degree of experience to pass the tests.

2. Not all people are lucky enough to have access to expensive hardware to gain hands-on experience nor lucky enough to be assigned to IT projects to get the maximum exposure. Some people take the certification route to get knowledge and experience.

3. Not all IT knowledge is learned via experience since not all scenarios can be encountered in real life. Some are learned via reading books and magazines, taking the training, and passing certification tests. For instance, if your company’s standard is Fiber Channel for VMware datastore, the only way to learn about iSCSI datastore is to read or get trained on it.

4. IT certifications are solid evidence of your career. It will be very useful, for instance, when looking for a job. Prospective employers do not have a concrete evidence of your accomplishments, but a solid and trusted IT certification can prove your worth.

5. And finally, seasoned IT professionals, just like me, take certification tests to validate our knowledge.

Important Features and Capabilities in the New vSphere 5.1

vSphere 5.1 has been released several months ago, and among its new features and capabilities, I think the important ones are the following:

1. Larger virtual machines. Virtual machines can now have up to 64 virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and 1TB of virtual RAM (vRAM). This means that enterprise apps such as SAP, large databases, email, and other high demand apps can now be virtualized without worrying about CPU and memory resources. The goal of attaining 100% virtualization in the Data Centers can now be realized.

2. vSphere Data Protection and vSphere Replication. vSphere Data Protection is used to backup and recover virtual machines. vSphere Replication is used to replicate virtual machines to remote Data Center for disaster recovery. No need to integrate third party tools such as Veeam for backup or Zerto for replication to remote DR site.

3. vSphere 5.1 eliminates the need to reboot virtual machines for subsequent VMware Tools upgrades on Windows.

For a complete list of the new features and capabilities, go to this website:

However, the vSphere Web Client is now the core administrative interface for vSphere. The vSphere client is still available but I’m afraid it will not be supported in future releases. I still like the vSphere client because it’s more roubust, stable, and faster. In addition, there are a lot of plug-ins that are still not available in the Web Client such as the NetApp Virtual Storage Console for VMware vSphere. We use NetApp for our datastore and this plug-in is very important to us.

Accomplishments as a Toastmaster Club President

As the Toastmaster year draws to a close, I am proud to say that our AbbVie Bioresearch Toastmaster club, where I am the President, achieved the President’s Distinguished Club award, the highest award a club can get. We obtained this award because:

1. two of our members completed the ten Competent Communicator speech projects;
2. two of our members completed the ten Advanced Communicator speech projects;
3. two of our members completed the ten Competent Leadership projects;
4. two of our members completed the Advanced Leadership projects;
5. we signed up 13 new members;
6. all of our officers were trained in both the summer and winter Toastmaster Leadership Institute (TLI) trainings;
7. we submitted our membership dues on time;
8. we submitted officers and members list on time;
9. and we maintained a membership base of 38.

In addition, our club sponsored a Youth Leadership Program, an eight-session, workshop-style program, designed to enable the youth to develop communication and leadership skills through practical experience. Our club also premièred the movie “Speak,” a powerful and inspiring documentary about conquering life’s hurdles and finding your voice.

We also held several Open Houses to attract new members and held Speech Contests to enhance our members educational experience.

All of these accomplishments were made possible because of the untiring and enthusiastic efforts of our officers and members.

Being a Toastmaster officer is challenging. I have to constantly motivate people to attend the meetings, volunteer for roles, and finish their communication and leadership projects. But it is a very rewarding experience. I learned practical skills on leadership, management and organization. I learned “people skills” such as interpersonal communication skills, conflict resolution, and patience. But there is no better reward than knowing that our club members are getting better in their speaking and leadership skills.

I signed up for an Area Governor position for the next Toastmaster year and I am looking forward to bigger challenges.