I was on EMC training last week. To be more specific, I was on “Virtualized Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure” training, and took the “E20-018 – Virtualized Infrastructure Specialist for Cloud Architects” afterwards.
First off, I passed the exam, which I’m happy about. Second, I’m still not sure how happy I am about the training and the exam itself.
When it comes to the training itself, we are talking about a week long, instructor led training. It covers several aspects of what would or could be considered elements of a virtualized data center, as well as cloud technologies.
You will start off with an overview of some of the definitions that make up cloud computing. A reference there is the definition of cloud, as it is defined by NIST. There is a reference the three service models of cloud computing, as well as the phases that you usually see when building a cloud infrastructure and the five key characteristics of a cloud delivery model.
You will also get an overview of the technologies that can be used to deliver a cloud like infrastructure. That includes stuff like different synchronization models, hypervisor types, link speeds (think of dark fibre as an example) and technologies used within a virtualized environment that range from a live migration, to the ability to offer services and service catalogs in a self service environment.
You also take a stab at things like governance, risk and compliance. You will get an idea of the things you can run in to when you create or even work with such an environment. You will references to things like the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, and business driven frameworks and best practices like ITIL.
Mix that up with some labs that focus on giving you food for thought when designing a cloud like infrastructure (there is no hands on in the labs, just paper and teamwork), and it sounds like you have a pretty decent training.
Or does it?
I have two main problems with the course itself. For one, I think that it’s based too much on the standards and concerns out of the US. I think that people absolutely need to be aware of things like the Sarbanes–Oxley act, but I also feel that models and concerns should be highlighted for companies that are not bound by this act. Or at least tell these people why the rationale for these acts might be useful to implement, besides the “you legally have to” way of explaining.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to consider these kinds of things, especially in a cloud like environment where you more quickly are able to cross global and legal boundaries, but then also focus on things that you might encounter outside of the United States.
The second concern is much harder to address, since one might get the feeling that you are not being taught anything new. And I think this is the much bigger issue. In a sense, anyone who has been working on the “* as a Service” environments will not really encounter anything new, and they might feel that EMC is just stating the obvious in their course. Techies that attend the training will probably leave with a feeling of “not enough examples and hands on, too much fluffy stuff”.
I think that they are partially right. For me it was a large part of what I have already encountered more than once. On the other hand, it’s good to see that people are working on standards, and the course itself brings together a lot of the things that you encounter, but might not knowingly consider. It’s “food for thought” if you will. And as with all such classes, you get a chance to exchange ideas and perspectives with your classmates, and that might be the most valuable thing about this class, especially with a topic that is harder to grasp (from an actual technology used/where do i start standpoint).
Read carefully! The biggest piece of advice I can give you, since sometimes the wording of the questions is just plain odd. Also, make sure you have an idea of the technology used in data centers, and virtualization across different tiers. Examples of the last one could be things like storage and network virtualization.
Spend some time on getting to know what governance, risk and compliance is all about. Have some sort of insight of what are the driving factors behind GRC.
The certification can be achieved, even without the training, but I feel the way some questions are asked is perhaps the biggest issue you can face in passing the exam if you already have some experience in designing or working in cloud like environments.
And let me wish you some good luck if you attempt to take he certification! One important note is that the EMC E20-001 is a mandatory prerequisite before attempting the certification, so make sure that you have that one if you want to be an EMC certified cloud architect.