Last Saturday, I have thought it is finally the time to attend the overdue VCAP5-DCD exam. After obtaining my VCDX4, I have decided to award my self some break of doing certification exams, which got me to push my VCAP5-DCD exam beyond what I originally anticipated. Last Monday, I looked at the availability of the next exam slot for VCAP5-DCD in a nearby test center and Saturday 21st of June was it. That meant on Saturday morning while people are cheering for their favorite team to score in the World Cup, I was scoring through my VCAP5-DCD. The good part, I have won my game and got the “You have Passed” message at the end of the exam.
I thought I might share my experience on here and some tips of what to study.
Let me start with my VCAP5-DCD experience:
- This exam is a real marathon. I went to the exam with this being expected already from what I have read on other blogs. While 4 hours for 100 Questions sound like a lot of time, I had only 3 minutes left when I got to question 90. It is important to note, I was already running through questions as quickly as possible as I kinda expected it to be tight on time, but still were barely got to Q99 when the exam timed out. Managing your time through this exam might be the toughest part.
- I can confirm that the back button is working in the version of the exam I took, unlike older versions that seems to be taken by other bloggers. Not just that, but they have the functionality of marking questions for reviews. On the other hand, I can almost guarantee it that you will not need this functionality. If in doubt read point one above.
- Finding a testing center that offer the exam in my area was a challenge and I had to drive for over 90 minutes to get to the closest test center that offered an appointment within two weeks. I wanted to point this out to ensure you plan scheduling your exam ahead of time.
- While the Design Tool and its scenarios were definitely improved from the previous version, I still found my self at certain situations being not sure where to place a particular item (for example, place VMs within the storage box, on top of it or in the host or on top of it). I think it still need a bit more tuning. Further, be prepared for these to take you 15 to 20 minutes each.
- There was no breaks scheduled in the exam, and I think it would be nice to have an optional break within a 4 hours exam that is already tight on time.
VCAP5-DCD Study Material:
- This is one of the exams out there, where is there is no substitute for experience. I have yet to find a material that cover all the topics in the exam with the depth required for this exam. Start with the blueprint and try to get your hand on every material it point you to, & if you don’t have have a direct design experience then look into some deliverable of others.
- I have purchased the “VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5- Data Center Design” book, but I can tell you that this is only useful if you are looking for something to highlight the design methodology rather than going into the technical details and best practices. It is a good book, but not enough for you to pass the exam. Further note, the questions supplied with this guide is much shorter and simpler than the ones on the exam. Don’t get me wrong it is a good book if you are looking to understand the design methodologies at VMware, but it will not cover the technical skills nor best practices the exam will evaluate you for.
- I would highly recommend you watch the brown bags, as they are free and cover a lot of the topics questioned in the exam.
- Below is some extra reading that I do recommend:
- vBrownBag episodes <== This is really worth it.
- VMware High Availability Deep Dive
- Configuration Maximums: VMware vSphere 5
- vSphere Lock Down Mode
- VMware vSphere 5.0 Availability Guide
- VMware vSphere High Availability 5.0 Deployment Best Practices
- Performance Best Practices For VMware vSphere 5.0
- VMware vSphere vMotion Architecture, Performance and Best Practices in VMware vSphere 5
- VMware vSphere 5.0 Upgrade Best Practices
- vSphere Networking Guide ( See Page 77)
- Performance Study of VSA in VMware vSphere 5
- Best practices for vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) Networking (VMware KB: 2007363)
- Storage I/O Enhancements in vSphere 5.0
- Understanding Memory Management in VMware vSphere 5
- Best Practices for Performance Tuning of Latency-Sensitive Workloads in vSphere VMs
- Impact of virtual machine memory and CPU resource limits (VMware KB:1033115)
- Setup for Failover Clustering and Microsoft Cluster Services
- If you don’t know what RPO and RTO are, or if you can not distinguish between requirements, constrain, risk, assumptions and so on. Then I would recommend then you look at the “VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5- Data Center Design” as that what that book is good at but don’t stop there and look at these sections in few actual designs and research it a bit more online. If you don’t want to spare that cash buying the book, it sound like the vBrownbags do as much justice to the topic and its free!.
- TCP and UDP Ports required to access VMware vCenter Server, VMware ESXi and ESX hosts, and other network components (1012382)
- Make sure to practice the design simulation tools. You can find a link to it at: http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=30484&ui=www_cert
Hope these guides help you get a bit more prepared. I would highly recommend you go through a design exercise before attempting this exam if you don’t do that on daily basis as it is heavily focused on that.