Friday, March 8, 2013

VMware training is expensive in Australia: go to Singapore!

Vendors have a history of overcharging Australians for software. Someone realised it was cheaper to fly to the United States to purchase Adobe Creative Suite than to purchase it locally. Unfortunately, it’s the same case with VMware training.
VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage – the course you have to sit
This course (also known as the VMware ICM) is required if you want the VCP (VMware Certified Professional) certification. The course is mandatory if you want to be certified: if you haven't attended the course, you can't be a VCP even if you passed the exam. The good news about this arrangement is that every VCP has a minimum common level of knowledge, and the VCP hasn't been watered down like the equivalent Microsoft certifications. The bad news is that the course is AUD$3850 + GST. It's a nice cash cow for VMware, but not so good if you’re paying for the course yourself (like I did).

Why would you pay for the course yourself and not have your employer pay? Maybe your employer isn't interested in upskilling you in virtualization, or you're a contractor, or just someone trying to break into an infrastructure role. Getting VCP certified is a serious commitment and I hope to save you a few dollars if you're not lucky enough to have your training paid for.

All of VMware's training courses are listed on myLearn. If you click the Find a Class link, you'll have the option of searching for ICM. Here's a screenshot of the course details for ICM in Sydney.

Unfortunately, a 10% GST is applicable. 

However, the same course is available in Singapore for USD$2620, or only AU$2580! Is it cheaper to fly to Singapore, stay 7 nights, do the ICM course, then fly back for less?!

$3850 vs $2620? That's a saving of at least...fifty bucks!
It may very well be! Let’s put my theory to the test. To begin, the Australian price we need to beat is $3850 + GST (which is $4235, but I'll assume you don't own a company to claim GST). The course I've selected is at the VMware Singapore office on Temasek Boulevard. It starts on the 11th of March, but I like to arrive in a city a a day or two beforehand so I can settle in. If you were to fly from Sydney on the Saturday beforehand and return the next Saturday, it would cost you...

...after the customs user fee, immigration user fee, APHIS fee, federal transport tax fee,
security fee, passenger movement charge, passenger service charge, international surcharge,
facility charge and credit card fee, that comes to...
...$558.30, which leaves a few dollars for a hotel. The Porcelain Hotel is nice and it's close to the Chinatown NE4 MRT station, which is only four stops away from the Esplanade CC3 MRT station. Esplanade MRT is directly below the VMware Singapore office.

 You could stay at Hotel 81 for half the price,
but that place is a little strange.

The Porcelain is small and quirky, but at $953 it's very reasonably priced and has all the expected luxuries. In summary:

Cost of course in Australia if you don't own a company: $4235 ($3850 AUD + 10% GST)
Cost of course in Australia if you own a company: $3850

Cost of course in Singapore: $2620 USD ($2580 AUD, as at 2013-03-06 via Citibank)
Cost of return flights: $558.30
Cost of hotel for 7 nights: $953
Total: $4091.30

If you don't own a company and you're unable to claim GST, there's a $143 benefit in flying to Singapore, staying 7 nights, and attending the course at VMware's Singapore office! If you own a company, the GST rebate lets you attend the course approximately $250 cheaper than doing it in Singapore. But if I were you, I'd still do the course overseas because
  • You'll get to meet people in the wider Asia Pacific VMware community you wouldn't normally meet. It's a good opportunity to network with other IT infrastructure professionals from a different region and see what their challenges are.
  • The quality of the instructors is the same worldwide. It seems that the VCP instructors fly around the world.
  • You'll be interrupted by phone calls if you attend the course in Australia. How many times have you attended course and seen people miss important lessons because they answered work phone calls during class time?
  • The concepts taught in the ICM course are important and you'll be more focused if you don't have to worry about your usual day to day urgencies. The urgent always seems to overtake the important.
  • The VMware Singapore office has a well stocked pantry with plenty of drinks and Toblerones!
If you're considering going to Singapore for the VMware ICM but want to reduce the price, you could use airbnb and stay in someone's spare room. And if travelling isn't an option, you can attend the course online via WebEx: it's the same price as classroom delivery, without any of the interaction.

Whether you attend the course in Australia, over WebEx, in Singapore, or any country, there's a lot of content in the VMware ICM to cover. And if you're new to VMware, be sure to pick the method of course delivery which is most conducive to your learning. It might not be the cheapest, but I hope it is!

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