My last 10 days were a trip to ….. I had been contacted by our certifications team and been informed that the dead line for the VCDX4 defense held in UK in may is March 21st. That e-mail just had started an alarm in my head as only 10 days was left, as I was still missing the VCAP-DCD & submitting a design to be eligible for attending the defense in May. Further, I was stuck with many customers proposals, sizing, & high level designs for that week. Being me I have decided to shoot for that dead line & that when an 18 hours work days started. I took two days and the weekend off & finished customers work that was in hand in the first 3 days & completed the design update from VI3 to vSphere in the first 7 days. The 3 days left I used them to cramp as much as possible of the VCAP-DCD materials that had thousands of pages to go through!!
Ok, so the testing center experience. Arrived with all kind of thoughts on my mind to the testing center who took about 20 minutes to be able to work their cam to get the picture of me required of the exam (As I needed more frustration by that time). Then they put me in 1x1m testing room with very uncomfortable chair that I had a back pain at the end of the exam. Ok, here comes the biggest tip about VCAP4-DCD I can give you and it was given to me by my Colleague Hany Micheal before I get into the exam which I wish I would have used it more wisely (“Exam time is too short, so don’t waste it reading every small bit of every question but scan through it go to the answer & see if you really need to go and digg more details. Further, don’t waste time on any question as the time is the most valuable thing when you are doing the VCAP4-DCD). I guess many others would keep this bit of info for them selves, but I will share this with you for the good of others. I have actually not made it to the last 15 questions of the exam!! I had the time out screen when I was on I believe question number 116 where the exam had 131 questions. When I saw the Time Out Screen I almost had heart attack, but they did not give me time for it as the Congratulation for Passing!! Screen came out so fast not giving me time for a heart attack. My score was not great, & I could have done much better if I really managed my time better from the beginning of the exam, but when you start the exam you think 4 & half hours are plenty of time, but don’t let that cheat you like it did to me. Its barely enough to go through the exam.
Ok, as most posts which is online is about the beta exam & how it look like I will describe how the official VCAP-DCD exam look like. The exam consist of 131 questions. Just like the beta the questions consist of multiple choice, drag and drop and design items (created with some kind of drawing engining that similar to visio). For the design items there is a good simulation released by VMware at VMware VCAP4-DCD Design Tool Simulator . Make sure you familiarize your self with the tool before the exam, as that can save you a bit of the precious time at the exam. Unlike the VI3 Design Exam there is 5 Design items instead of one in the VI3 Design course. Further, the Design items are just mixed with other multiple choice items. They have no dedicated time for them, but share the same counter with other items. That mean you will need to save time for them. At the begining of the exam it recommends that you utilize about 15 minutes per design item so that take 75 minutes out of your time & leave you with the rest of all the 125 questions. I have noticed others there is no review or previous question button in the beta exam. These are there in the official exam, but I really did not get time to use them. I have really wasted too much time on the first two design items, though I should not.
For me I can tell the design course was quite helpful although it is not enough by any mean to pass the exam. I have looked at the VCAP-DCD Exam Blueprint and downloaded every document it had in it & at least scanned through it. This at least give you the knowledge required, but will not give the design skills that you seems to only be able to obtain in the field rather than reading the materials.
Collecting all the materials in the BluePrint has wasted me some good time to only find out two days later that Ciano Kuraz has collected all of them in one place and posted them for easy download. So I thought I will share with you the link so you can save your self some time https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bwya9MeCRnv-MzMyNDBkNDUtMTdkYy00YzAzLWEzYTItMjZlN2ViZmU3OWI4&hl=it&pli=1
I believe another very good and essential resource to study is Duncan Epping HA DeepDive & HA DeepDive found at his blog yellow-bricks.com. You will not regret reading it two or three times as a deep understanding of HA & DRS & their advanced settings is critical to your sizing & design aspects which is what this exam is all about. Thanks Duncan for posting it & making sure its always up to date. Maybe you even want to get his book about HA & DRS, which I have already order but it will take a while to reach here being in Dubai (Not to mention the shipping by amazon to Dubai that is higher than the price of the book )
Make sure you know how to size an environment without having a tool to do that on your behalf as you don’t get these tools during the exam. Further, Make sure you know all the new features & changes in vSphere 4.1 as although the design course is still based on vSphere 4.0 the exam is totally based on vSphere 4.1 & covers the changes and new features in the new release. If you are going to have a different answer between the two releases I would base it on vSphere 4.1 unless stated other wise in the question.
At the end I would like to congrats everyone who already passed the VCAP-DCD exam, & thanks every single one who contribute a blog post or in the community form about the exam as they were very helpful to me during my study.
I am thinking to post my summary notes that I have created to review for the exam, but not sure if I will do that as too much materials are already online & not sure if I can really put a better one. It will all end up to my free time in the next two weeks.