AWS Associate vs. VMware VCP

I passed the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam this week, and rather than re-inventing the wheel with another recap post (you can find a great one here!) I wanted to do a little comparison.  I was thrust into the world of AWS earlier this year, so the learning curve was pretty steep in a short period of time.  On the other hand, I’ve been working with VMware for a number of years now, and am fairly familiar with both the technology and the certification process at this point.

The biggest chunk of my AWS training was the (surprise!) acloudguru course tailored to this exam.  I really hadn’t had any hands-on AWS experience prior to going through this course, so I was jumping in head first right at the beginning.  The acloudguru course gave a great introduction into AWS and then delved into the specifics that would be covered on the exam.  In addition to really good exam focused lectures, there were lots of labs that could be easily mirrored along to gain hands on experience in the AWS console.

After finishing the online course, working a couple small AWS projects and some other self study via blogs and AWS documentation, I sat the exam.  The exam was fairly tough and I felt like I probably wouldn’t pass the first time through.  Thankfully, my training to that point got me the happy screen after I hit “end exam.”  I feel like the AWS Solution Architect exam was a very good representation of an entry level certification for AWS.  In comparison to the VMware equivalent VCP, the AWS exam was the exact same format, but had more real world questions that seemed focused on ensuring that the test taker was familiar with not only AWS services, but how they interact together.  There were a few questions that “seemed” like they were trying to trick you, but for the most part they were very fair and reasonable.  I felt like my study was just enough to get me through the exam.  Granted, I’m certainly not a seasoned AWS expert, but I know a TON more than I did one year ago!

VMware’s comparable certification level is the VCP, which I first achieved as a VCP 4.  VMware does have a requirement (or at least did when I took it) to complete a vSphere Install and Configure class as a prerequisite.  I’ve upgraded my VCP through each version, so I’m familiar with more recent versions of the exam.  In my experience, the install class and lots of self study and experience with vSphere are not necessarily enough to pass the VCP.  There are ways to “prepare” for the VCP that will really help with some of the more obscure questions.  It seems like there are lots of questions on the VCP that can easily be Googled if you ran into that scenario/setting in the real world, versus really needing to commit to memory.  In general, the VCP seems to require more to be prepared for that specific test and specific test questions than general vSphere knowledge.  I’ve heard of amazing engineers who have tons of vSphere experience fail the VCP because they didn’t have the specific test prep that really is needed to succeed on the exam.

Certifications are definitely an important part of professional IT growth, but I feel like at the entry level, the AWS Associate exam was much more realistic than VMware VCP.  To VMware’s defense, I found the VCAP exams much more rewarding and requiring of actual VMware expertise.  Anyone else out there have similar experiences?  Drop a comment below!

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