VCAP-DCV Deploy Exam Experience

After postponing this exam for too long, I finally took the time to study for and take the VCAP-DCV deploy exam. To be honest, I was kind of looking forward to this exam. I love playing in the lab and getting my hands dirty in an environment. So to be able to take an actual lab exam was pretty exciting to me.

In this post, I will try to give some pointers and tips that might help you pass the exam. Please note that I took the exam for the 6.5 version but the same logic applies to other versions.

Preparation

Unlike the design exam, the deploy exam is a lab exam. This means you need to know how to do the stuff you’ve been reading and talking about. But, there are still some similarities. For starters, know the blueprint. This comes back for every exam, but read the blueprint upfront and know what topics are going to be covered on the exam. You should be intimately familiar with these blueprints by now.

Documentation

Although it’s a lab exam, you do have access to all the documentation VMware has on vSphere 6.5 in a folder on your desktop. Unlike what I read in some other posts, you do NOT have access to Adobe Reader in the lab. All PDFs will be opened in the browser, which means you can’t do a search in the entire folder anymore. Keep this in mind, read the documentation, and know where you need to look to find certain commands or info on a topic.

Community resources

As you might have guessed, there are already some great resources available in the community and I’m probably going to be linking the same ones that everyone does but that just shows how good they are.

  • Kyle Jenner’s VCAP6-DCV deployment study guide is the resource that I used the most. Kyle has put a lot of time and effort into explaining every topic covered in the blueprint. Make sure to go through every topic thoroughly.
  • Graham Barker’s VCAP6-DCV exam simulator is great to get a feel for what kind of questions will be asked and what depth they go to. Although the HoLs listed are no longer available, you can still perform these tasks in another HoL or your own lab.

Lab

But the most important resource I used while preparing was my lab. The VCAP exam covers nearly every vSphere feature there is. Like me, you’re probably not familiar with every feature there is. Make sure you lab these things more than once so you know how to do them. If you’ve got a lab that’s set up perfectly, try to get one of your colleagues or friends to break things in the lab. This will come in handy when you’re doing the exam. If you don’t have a lab, just spin up one of the vSphere 6.7 labs and start playing around.

You could also rent a server for a month or 2 like I did, and start building a nested lab. But that’s a topic for another post.

Besides that, there’s no replacement for real-world experience. I would not recommend taking this exam until you’ve got about 1 – 2 years of daily hands-on work done with vSphere. This will make the exam a lot easier.

Exam experience

The exam itself is presented to you in a HoL like fashion, it’s the same UI. If you’re not familiar with how HoLs work, be sure to start up a few so you’re familiar with the interface and how you can change and use the interface. Also, try booking the exam in a center where they have big screens. My test center has 24″ screens, which helped A LOT.

I found the lab to be reasonably performant and had no issues with connection whatsoever. The only minor annoyance was letters appearing more than once while typing but this is probably due to latency. Just be sure to read what you typed if a command fails.

Time management is crucial for this exam, that’s what a lot of other people told me at least. With that in mind, I tried to get the questions done as fast as I could without rushing through them. If I was stumped on one part of the question, I would write it down on the piece of paper I got, and move on to the next question. After I got through all questions, I started going back to the ones I didn’t complete. This will also prevent you from getting frustrated/stuck on 1 question, taking a break will give you a fresh look at the question.

I finished the exam with 42 minutes to spare so I never really felt that I was in a hurry to get everything done but your mileage may vary.

When doing the exam, read the questions carefully. It happened several times that I quickly read a question, started doing things, and afterward re-reading the question to find out I had not done several things.

Make sure you’re familiar with the CLI and PowerCLI, these things can come in handy for doing certain things faster. Also, try to open up the flash client again before taking the 6.5 exam. During the 6.5 days, the H5 client wasn’t yet fully-featured so you may not be able to use it for all questions.

Results

I took the exam on a Friday at 10 AM, so I was expecting to get the results on Monday or Tuesday after that. Around 8 PM I got an e-mail saying that I passed! This was a very pleasant surprise and big kudos to the VMware education team for providing the results so quickly.

I hope this post will help you prepare for the exam, good luck!


VCAP6.5-DCV Design Exam Experience

This year, I got the opportunity to go to VMware Empower 2019 in Lisbon. The ticket includes a free exam voucher so I used it to take my VCAP6.5-DCV Design exam. I’m glad to say that I passed! The exam was a lot harder than I expected though.

Having just done the VCP exams, I did not expect the VCAP to be that much harder. In this post, I will try to share some tips that I found useful during preparation and how I experienced the exam

VCAP

Let’s start by clarifying what a VCAP actually is. VCAP stands for VMware Certified Advanced Professional. VMware qualifies the “minimally qualified candidate” as follows in the exam blueprint

A minimally qualified candidate (MQC) achieving the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 in Data Center Virtualization Design is capable of developing a conceptual design given a set of customer requirements, determining the functional requirements needed to create a logical design, and architecting a physical design using these elements.

This quote, together with the exam title, give a clear picture of where the focus for this exam is. You are also expected to know all the topics that were handled in the VCP exam and in much greater detail. After all, this is an advanced certification exam.

Preparation

During my preparation, I read a lot of whitepapers and articles. Below you can find a list of the ones I used. Don’t limit yourself to just this list, there’s a ton of content out there created by fellow bloggers and VMware itself. Also, make sure to read other posts like this. Most people also link to content that helped them during their preparation.

Official resources

Community resources

  • Graham Barker’s VCAP prep guide is a must read for everyone in my opinion. It’s written for the VCAP6 exam but the design parts still apply to 6.5
  • David Stamen’s tips helped me a lot during my exam, definitely recommend reading them!
  • the vMusketeers created a VCAP6-DCV Design quiz that you should try for sure. I found that test to be harder than the exam itself. It really tests your knowledge on the core design concepts.
  • Daniel Paluszek created an extensive blog post with a lot of material in it. I used it a lot.
  • Jeffrey Kusters’ blog on designs, requirements, etc. really helped me understand these concepts

Exam experience

For me, this was the hardest exam that I’ve done so far. Questions were multiple choice style and also drag and drop style. Obviously, I can’t go talk about the questions but the things I can tell are that you should really be familiar with these concepts

  • RCAR (Requirements, Constraints, Assumptions, and Risks)
  • AMPRS (Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability, Security)
  • RTO (Recovery Time Objective)
  • RPO (Recovery Point Objective)
  • All vSphere features. design and architecture of all components should be known
  • all vSAN features, how to design it and how the architecture works
  • Replication, SRM, …
  • Conceptual, logical and physical design

Now that I passed the exam, my focus will shift to preparing my upcoming VMUG session and afterwards the VCAP6.5 deploy exam. Exciting times ahead!

I hope that this post gives you a good idea of just how much preparation is required to pass the exam. If you have questions or additions, hit me up!


Looking forward to the coming year

It’s been fairly quiet on the blog front lately, with this post I’m trying to pick it back up again 🙂 I decided to put the blog in a fresh new theme, I really like how it turned out! It looks a lot cleaner now.

2016 in review

When I started this blog last year, I made a goals page that lists everything I wanted to get done that year. A quick review:

  • Earn the VCP6-DCV certificate –> FAIL. I only managed to get part 1/2 done, I haven’t gotten to part 2 yet, but it is one of the top priorities this year.
  • Become CCNA  –> FAIL. I will be taking this one off the list. When I have some more time, I might pick it up. But for the moment, I feel my knowledge is good enough to get by.
  • Learn PowerShell –> PASS. Last year I started performing routine tasks using PowerShell. Eventually, I was able to automate some of the things that I had to do frequently. Over the past year, I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for the language and I’m constantly discovering new things! I will be continuing with this until I feel that I have mastered it.
  • Publish code to GitHub –> PASS. I published 2 scripts that I created. I also made my first ever pull request and added some tests to the awesome Vester project (If you don’t know it, check it out here!). When I get some more free time, I will be looking for some more projects to contribute to.
  • Attend VMUG(s) –> PASS. I managed to go to both the Belgian as the Dutch VMUGs and I’m hoping to do it this year as well.

2016 was also a big year on a personal level. In august, I changed jobs and started working for Realdolmen as a system engineer. This was one of the best decisions I have made recently, working here gives me the chance to interact with some of the smartest people I know. I get to work with complex and interesting environments and I’m learning new things every day!

But the most important thing I did, was asking my girlfriend to marry me. She said yes and we’re getting married this coming May, I’m very much looking forward to it!

Looking forward to 2017

Obviously the biggest thing for me this year is my wedding. Shortly after that, 29 colleagues and I will be climbing the legendary Mont Ventoux by bike. I’m riding a lot again and found the joy of cycling again.

On a professional level, I will also be setting a few goals for the coming year.

  • Earn the VCP6-DCV certificate –> This is the first thing I want to get done education wise this year. It’s possible I won’t have time to do this until the summer, though.
  • Continue learning PowerShell –> There’s a ton I don’t know yet, and a lot that I can do better. I’ve started to put most of my code in functions and I will be looking into building some modules where I can.
  • Upgrade my MCSA to 2016 –> With the release of Server 2016, it’s time to upgrade my MCSA. I don’t want to let it expire, which would mean I would have to take the first 3 exams again.
  • Keep the blog more active this year –> Changing jobs in the summer, starting cycling again and preparing for our wedding has eaten up most of my free time since august. I’m hoping to find some more time to keep this blog going with some new content!
  • Wildcard –> I’m keeping this one open for something else to do the coming year. I’m not entirely sure what it is yet, it will all depend on the amount of free time I have and how the other goals have come this year.

A short list this year, but with a lot going on in my personal life, this feels reasonable.