After putting it off for far too long, I recently sat both the VMware Certified Professional 5 – Datacenter Administration (VCAP5-DCA) and Datacenter Design (VCAP5-DCD) exams, with the DCA on August 12 and DCD on August 26 while at VMworld in San Francisco.
VCAP5-DCA Exam Prep
Since I had taken and passed the VCAP4-DCD last year, I was much more worried about the DCA. I studied for the DCA more than I’ve studied for any exam, probably ever. While I’ve been a VMware admin/engineer for several years now, the live lab format of the test made me very concerned, especially since this was my first time taking the exam. Here are the resources I used in my preparation:
- Jason Nash’s (JasonNash.com) excellent VMware vSphere Optimize and Scale (VCAP5-DCA) video course on TrainSignal, now PluralSight (Note: The TrainSignal link is my affiliate link, so feel free to use it to sign up if you want to support the blog.) This video course covers every single facet of the VCAP5-DCA blueprint from VMware, and it does it in a way that is very easy to understand, while not assuming too much. I really enjoyed the course, and I commend Jason both on the content of the course, as well as his teaching style.
- Jason Langer (VirtualLanger.com) and Josh Coen’s (ValcoLabs) Unofficial Official VCAP5-DCA Study Guide – Link. This guide was a handy reference, especially on some of the esxcli commands that I don’t end up using in my day job as a consultant. I typically used this up in one screen while going through lab scenarios in my other monitor. Great resource.
- Chris Wahl’s (WahlNetwork) VCAP5-DCA Study Sheet. I used this guide to keep track of what I’d gone through in the blueprint, as well as the depth in which I’d gone through it. It made it easy to check off things I knew and things I really needed to cover. Thanks, Chris!
- VMware VCAP5-DCA blueprint – Link. Everything you need to know for the test. Absolutely required to read through it at least once.
VCAP5-DCA Exam Day
As with every exam I’ve ever sat, I was nervous. I pulled up to the PearsonVue Professional Center in Vienna, VA (all VCAP exams must be taken in a Pearson Professional Center :eng101:) and popped in. After all of the usual pleasantries, I sat down and started the exam. Without divulging NDA information about the exam, I’ll say that most things I encountered on the exam were things that I would have known just from doing day-to-day administration of a large vSphere environment. There were a few esoteric configuration and troubleshooting items, but for the most part, it was right in the wheelhouse for a vSphere admin with a few years of experience.
After the exam was over, I felt surprisingly good about my chances. I was unable to answer four of the questions, but I felt like I had 90-95% of the rest of the exam down, aside from an input issue I had on one question. Then, around three weeks later, I had my results – pass!
VCAP5-DCD Exam Prep
I didn’t do too much studying for the DCD. vSphere design is a very significant portion of my job, so I’m very comfortable determining design requirements, risks, and so on. That, and my previous experience with the version 4 exam made me very comfortable with sitting the exam without too much prep work.
I did end up brushing up on terminology and skating through the blueprint to make sure there weren’t any surprises. I primarily used Jason Langer’s VCAP5-DCD Document Package (Link), as well as the official VMware VCAP5-DCD blueprint (Link).
VCAP5-DCD Exam Day
I ended up taking the DCD on Monday the 26th of August, the first full day of VMworld San Francisco festivities. VMware had set up a certification area within the Moscone Center itself, which made it easy to get in and out while not taking up an entire day of the conference. Since I can’t talk about the contents of the exam, I’ll say that the Document Package and, of course, the official blueprint, cover everything that you need to know for the exam. Some basic diagramming and/or Visio skills will also go a long way in being able to lay out the design scenarios properly.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait three weeks for results on this one – another pass!
Since the only thing next in the vSphere Datacenter Virtualization certification track is the VMware Certified Design Expert – Datacenter Virtualization (VCDX5-DCV), and I feel nowhere near ready for it, I’m really not sure where I go from here. I do a lot of View work, but I’m not really interested in pursuing VCAP certs for the View track (I got the VCP5-Desktop while I was at VMworld, as well). Due to focus on vCloud Director in the Cloud track VCAP exams, and the fact that vCloud Director is going away, I’m not interested in pursuing them, either.
Maybe CCNA-DC? CCNP-R&S?
Time off? Yeah, right. J