VMware has been expanding and growing it’s Tanzu portfolio for modernizing applications and running Kubernetes on any cloud for a while now. Likewise, our VMware Cloud Provider partners have shown increasing interest in adopting this portfolio and build attractive modern application and Kubernetes services for their customers. They now have access to the VMware Cloud Director Container Service Extension, AppLaunchpad, Bitnami, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) with Tanzu Basic and most recently, Tanzu Mission Control (TMC) as the SaaS-based Multi-Cloud and Multi-Cluster global control plane for managing Kubernetes Deployments on any Cloud.
Just like our portfolio, our partners’ services evolve and grow towards modern applications and workloads. Many VMware Cloud Providers feel the need to invest in the skills and enablement resources on this new topic. This happens through training, certifications, as well as additional self-service learning resources. The knowledge gained through these resources will become increasingly important for cloud platform operators, solution architects as well as professional and managed services staff.
In this blog post, we will discuss a range of relevant training, enablement, certification and study resources that our partners can leverage in order to build the skills necessary to sell, architect, operate and manage VMware Tanzu-based products and services. Many of the links provided in this post require a VMware Partner University Login.
VMware Partner Solution Competencies
Besides the core benefits of having skilled staff that can successfully implement and manage VMware Tanzu-based solutions and workloads, certifications are also an important pilar of achieving VMware Partner Solution Competencies. VMware Solution Competencies are a proven route to revenue and profitability. The benefits include business growth, where Solution Competency partners have 2-4x greater average annual sales over non-competency partners, as well as solution rewards and access to additional resources.
The VMware Modern Applications Platform Solution Competency provides a foundational step for partners to gain product expertise, and successfully sell and deliver VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and VMware Tanzu Mission Control solutions. This competency is ideal for partners who would like to get started building practices in Kubernetes operations, site reliability engineering and DevOps.
Beyond that, VMware Master Services Competencies are designed to validate a partner’s capacity to deliver services related to specific VMware technologies. The Cloud Native Master Services Competency designates partner organisational expertise to run and manage VMware Modern Application solutions. It validates partners deep understanding of Kubernetes administration core concepts and proficiency in networking, security and application lifecycle management to ensure the continuous delivery of applications on Kubernetes-based platforms.
Both Solution Competencies require a certain number of certified individuals and accreditations, which we will discuss in the next section.
Certifications and Accreditations
Let’s look at some of the Tanzu certifications and accreditations that are relevant for VMware Cloud Provider partners to build, sell and operate modern application services and achieve the respective Solution Competencies. For some of these, I’ll also share real-world exam preparation experience.
VSP and VTSP for Tanzu Standard (2021) Accreditations
Accreditations are a necessary component of VMware Solutions Competencies. Individual partner employees can earn accreditations that recognize their knowledge of VMware solutions and operations. While the VMware Sales Professional (VSP) Accreditation teaches basic sales techniques for select VMware solutions with multiple products, the VMware Technical Sales Professional (VTSP) is a specialized technical pre-sales training for sales engineers. VSP and VTSP VMware Tanzu Standard accreditations provide the knowledge of all the fundamentals that partners need to effectively sell Tanzu Basic and Tanzu Standard editions. Partner Sales staff will learn about how VMware packaged the capabilities of the Tanzu portfolio into well-defined solutions that target their customers’ most common challenges.
Both accreditations include online learning sessions and a multiple choice online test, which can be found in Partner University.
VMware Certified Specialist – vSphere with Tanzu 2021
While it’s currently not a required certification for a Partner Solution Competency, this Specialist Badge provides an important step for technical experts looking to gain and validate vSphere with Tanzu knowledge and expertise. The VMware vSphere with Tanzu 2021 specialist badge holder knows about how vSphere with Tanzu can be used to orchestrate the delivery of Kubernetes clusters and containerized applications in a vSphere environment. It certifies that the badge holder possesses extensive knowledge on deploying and managing VMware vSphere with Tanzu.
Achieving this Certified Specialist Badge requires a current VMware Certified Professional Datacenter Virtualization 2020 or 2021 certification, as well as completion of the VMware vSphere with Tanzu: Deploy and Manage [V7] training. Once these requirements are fulfilled, the last step is to take the VMware vSphere with Tanzu Specialist Exam (5V0 23.20). This is a 62-item exam, with a passing score of 300 using a scaled method and the exam time is 125 minutes. It is a proctored exam and can be taken remotely from home or the office, without requiring travel to a test center. More information on the exam can be found here.
The candidate should have basic knowledge of Kubernetes and containers, at least 12 months of experience with vSphere, as well as experience with NSX-T and network, virtualization and OS experience or education. The exam questions are aligned with Tanzu Basic and vSphere with Tanzu, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service (TKGS) as well as vSphere with Tanzu Lifecycle Management.
Exam Experience: To prepare for and pass the exam, hands-on experience with vSphere with Tanzu will be a great advantage. Before I took the exam, I made sure to have my vSphere knowledge up to date to the latest version 7, which I needed to verify by passing the VCP-DCV 2021 exam. Afterwards, I prepared by studying the specifics of vSphere 7 with Tanzu, how to install, configure and manage it, as well as the fundamentals of native Kubernetes. Some great resources can be found in the VMware Documentation, Kubernetes.io as well as KubeAcademy. KubeAcademy from VMware is a free, product-agnostic Kubernetes and cloud native technology education program built by a team of expert instructors. It turned out to be a great resource which provides an accessible learning path to advance your skill set, regardless of where you are on your Kubernetes journey.
The questions were a good mix of all aspects about the vSphere 7 with Tanzu lifecycle, as well as about basic kubectl commands. I highly recommend practicing hands-on using the following labs:
VMware Certified Professional – Application Modernization 2021
A good next step in advancing a partner employee’s Modern Application knowledge, is training for and passing the VMware Certified Professional – Application Modernization 2021 (VCP-AM) exam. The VCP-AM certification validates a candidate’s expertise with VMware Tanzu Standard Edition including vSphere with Tanzu, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and Tanzu Mission Control. This certification also demonstrates fundamental cloud native skills including containerization, Kubernetes, and application modernization.
For partners, VCP-AM having certified staff is a requirement to achieve the respective VMware Partner Solution Competencies for Modern Applications.
The certification requires the candidate to attend one of the following trainings, if they do not hold a valid VCP certification already:
- VMware vSphere with Tanzu: Deploy and Manage [V7]
- VMware vSphere with Tanzu: Deploy and Manage [V7] – On Demand
- VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid: Install, Configure, Manage [V1.0]
- Kubernetes Foundations
- VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid: Install, Configure, Manage [V1.3]
- VMware Tanzu Mission Control: Management and Operations 2020
Neither of these trainings is required if candidates hold one of the following certifications:
- VCP7-CMA or Newer
- VCP6.5- DCV or Newer
- VCP-DTM 2018 or Newer
- VCP-DW 2018 or Newer
- VCP6-NV or Newer
- VCP-SEC 2020 or Newer
Since it proves knowledge of Tanzu Standard Edition, the formerly discussed vSphere 7 with Tanzu Specialist exam provides a solid basis that covers Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service. By adding one or multiple of the above trainings, the candidate gains knowledge of the additional Tanzu solutions included in Tanzu Standard, mainly Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Multi-Cloud and Tanzu Mission Control.
Once all requirements are fulfilled and the candidate is well prepared, it’s time to take the exam. The VMware Application Modernization (2V0-71.21) exam, which leads to VMware Certified Professional –Application Modernization 2021 certification, is a 55-item exam, with a passing score of 300 using a scaled method. Candidates are given 130 minutes to complete the exam, which includes adequate time to complete the exam for nonnative English speakers. Just like the vSphere 7 with Tanzu specialist exam, this is a proctored exam taken on-site or online in a test center.
The candidate is recommended to have at least 6 to 12 months of experience with Tanzu Standard, can understand and describe features and capabilities of VMware Tanzu Standard Edition components including VMware vSphere with Tanzu, TKG and TMC. They must also be able to explain the VMware Tanzu vision and have hands-on experience with containerization, Kubernetes and Application Modernization concepts. They should be able to perform common operational and administrative tasks in an environment where Tanzu Standard Edition Components are present, including basic troubleshooting and repairing of TKG clusters. It is required to identify the primary components and features of Tanzu Mission Control, among others cluster lifecycle management, Role Based Access Controls, security policies, cluster inspections and data protection. In addition, they should understand and be able to describe the steps for installation and setup of Tanzu Standard Edition Components, perform lifecycle management, troubleshooting and repairing of TKG and TKC clusters.
Exam sections that are covered in the exam include the following:
- Section 1 – Architecture and Technologies
- Section 2 – Products and Solutions
- Section 3 – Planning and Designing
- Section 4 – Installing, Configuring, and Setup
- Section 5 – Performance-tuning, Optimization, and Upgrades
- Section 6 – Troubleshooting and Repairing
- Section 7 – Administrative and Operational Tasks
Exam Experience: When I took the exam, I prepared by completing Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and Tanzu Mission Control hands-on labs, on top of the hands-on experience I already gained with vSphere 7 with Tanzu. Since TMC is a SaaS offering, hands-on labs are particularly helpful and I suggest taking the following:
- HOL-2132-91-ISM – VMware Tanzu Mission Control Simulation
- HOL-2133-01-MAP – VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG)
- HOL-2133-81-ODY – VMware Odyssey – Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) – Getting Started
Beyond using hands-on labs, I leveraged the VMware TKG and TMC documentation to fully understand the concepts and operational aspects of both solutions. Especially the TKG command line was important to understand and remember from a syntax perspective.
VMware Certified Master Specialist – Cloud Native 2021
Another relevant modern application certification is VMware Certified Master Specialist – Cloud Native 2021. While the VCP-AM is required for partner to achieve the VMware Modern Applications Platform Solution Competency, this certification supports partners that want to achieve the Cloud Native Master Services Competency.
The successful candidate for the VMware Certified Master Specialist – Cloud Native 2021 exam, has the knowledge and skills necessary to architect a Kubernetes-based platform supported by complimentary technologies from the Cloud Native ecosystem for continuous delivery of applications. The required VMware Cloud Master Specialist Exam (5V0-71.19) is a 67-item exam, with a passing score of 300 using a scaled method. Candidates are given an appointment time of 105 minutes, which includes five-minute seating time and adequate time to complete the exam for non-native speakers. Actual exam time is 100 minutes.
The Linux Foundation – Certified Kubernetes Administrator
In contrast to the other exams and certifications covered in this post so far, the VMware Certified Master Specialist candidate most hold a valid Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) credential by The Linux Foundation and have completed all recommended training courses for this credential.
The CKA online exam consists of hands-on only problems, so called “performance-based items”, that need to be solved by the candidate using the command-line within two hours. According to the Curriculum, v1.21 of the exam covers the following:
- 25% Cluster Architecture, Installation & Configuration
- 15% Workloads & Scheduling
- 20% Services & Networking
- 10% Storage
- 30% Troubleshooting
Helpful tips and studying resources for CKA exams can be found here.
Exam Experience: Having done the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer exam, which is very similar to the CKA, I can report that the remote proctoring experience is similar, too. Candidates should as always check that their system requirements are met and that they have a quiet place with stable internet access.
The test environment consists of a Linux command line with the required commands available to solve the performance-based items. Hence, in-depth hands-on experience is a must to pass this exam. Beyond that, candidates have access to the online Kubernetes documentation URLs:
Knowing your way around these pages is therefore a big advantage in finding the required information from the documentation in a timely manner.
More information can be found in the CKA Curriculum.
Additional Information and Resources
More information and resources to support partners that are getting up to speed with VMware Tanzu can be found here:
- Hands-on Labs
- Partner University
- VMware Certifications
- VMware Tanzu Documentation
- VMware Tanzu Youtube Channel
Additional Certifications for VMware Modern Application topics are the following:
- VMware Certified Technical Associate – Modern Applications
- VMware Certified Professional – Spring 2021
- VMware Certified Specialist – Cloud Foundation 2021
Good luck with your certification!