Well, they finally let the cat out of the bag!  A couple of months ago now, I took a day trip down to Martin, Tennessee to sit the VCP5 Beta exam.

After a few trials and tribulations getting there (remember all the flooding in the midwest earlier this year?), and them more challenges once I got to the testing facility (one of the other testing software packages didn’t much get along with the Pearson packages), I finally got to sit the exam.  I made it to the facility on time, but with the system problems, it was another 30-45 minutes of waiting before I could actually participate in the exam.

And _wow_ it was long!  And challenging!  This isn’t your father’s VCP exam, assuming most of the questions make it to the final product.  This exam was all about understanding – the product, it’s use cases, everything.  This new generation of VCP will be the sharpest yet (and I think that’s saying something – we’ve had some great exams over the years), and VMware is doing a great job of keeping the value of the VCP at a premium level.

The VCP5 is not a data-regurgitation exam, not can it be explicitly taught.  VMware still has the Install, Configure, Manage requirement if you hold no VCP.  But the class is not going to teach you the exam, just like it’s been since I got into this VMware thing in 2006.  It will, however, provide you with a good foundation with which to start.

If you’re a current VCP4, you can sit the exam with no class requirement until February 29, 2012.

Oh, and I”m writing all this because I finally got my VCP5 exam results.  I passed!  That makes the whole trip to Tennessee and all its trials worth it!



Well, it happened on Friday. I passed the VCAP4-DCD exam. So now I have two VCAP credentials to drop behind my name.

I was rather surprised by the exam. It was definitely challenging, and asked many questions that I didn’t feel I completely understood. I guess knew better 🙂 There are times when you’re out building these designs that you just don’t understand what the customer is asking, so it’s not so far-fetched, except that, in the field, you can clarify things with the customer. Not so much with a proctored exam.

As I did with the DCA exam, here’s my instructor’s take on the DCD. If you didn’t read my DCA post, I talk about the exam from this perspective because there are many resources already written about how to prep for the exam, but I don’t see many that discuss the overall mapping of VMware Education’s offerings to the exam. That is in part because VMware doesn’t tend to develop courses toward certification, but toward a job role. There is definitely some overlap there, however, as the certifications are also developed toward a job role.

Unlike the VCAP-DCA, the VCAP-DCD only has one instructor-led course offering support for the exam: vSphere: Design Workshop. vDW is a 3-day course designed to teach, not how to design, per se, but how to approach design. We all want to have a nice design checklist or if-then flowchart to take into all of our design engagements, but we all know how different each of those engagements will be. We can’t always follow leading practices for one reason or another, but that’s ultimately OK, because we can justify our deviations. And, really, that’s the key. How does a deviation map to a business requirement? That’s what the vDW is geared toward teaching. It’s really more an exercise in critical thinking, which is of paramount importance when putting together a design for a customer.

This critical thinking is absolutely validated in the VCAP-DCD exam. While absolutely not required, I would suggest, without reservation, the vDW course for anyone approaching the DCD.

As a couple of points of disclosure, though. I feel like I’ve been clear so far, but I will repeat that I am employed directly by VMware Education, and I would also like to note that the vDW is probably my favorite class to deliver right now. It’s also a partner competency requirement. So I may seem biased, and in many ways, I am, but I’ve been a big proponent of good instructor-led training for far longer than I’ve been an instructor.

Anyway, it’s off to the vCloud with me. I’m ramping up on the vCloud Director classes, so I hope to see you in one somewhere along the line!


VCAP-DCA (updated)

**Updated with some new comments about the Manage and Design for Security and Automation with PowerCLI classes**

Sure, lots have posted on this so far. What I don’t recall reading was the exam from the perspective of an instructor. So here goes 🙂

Unlike the multiple-choice VCP, the VCAP-DCA is 100% lab-based. You can’t learn this stuff from a book. You have to work with the product in order to pass this exam.

From a training perspective, though, there are classes that support this test. From my personal experience, they aren’t teaching what’s on the test, rather the general skills needed to pass the exam. VMware recommends a number of more advanced classes in support of the VCAP-DCA:

Now, I personally teach 2 of those 4 classes – Troubleshooting and Performance. I’ve never been much of a security guy, so I don’t teach that class (yet). My (rusted shut) scripting expertise dates back to my long gone days as a Solaris guy with BASH and KSH, meaning I need a little more time playing with PowerShell to teach the PowerCLI class.

Before we go any further, remember, I work for VMware Education, so my opinions may be just a touch biased, but I have also long had a chip on my shoulder toward those organizations who shun (or are quick to cut budget for) classroom training because “you can just read a book and learn it.” Instructor-led training (either online or in a classroom) have always proven invaluable in my eyes, because you not only get a jump start on the information/product/whatever, but you also get the networking with your fellow customers. Being able to hash our solutions with your peers, working with the ever-present “how does everyone else do it?” That is the value of instructor-led training that is so terribly often overlooked. But enough about that. Let’s talk about how these courses support the VCAP-DCA.

vSphere: Troubleshooting
This class really is the foundation to supporting the exam. That may sound a little odd, especially since I don’t recall seeing any questions like “This is broken, please fix it” in the exam. But there’s much more to the troubleshooting class than just troubleshooting. vSphere: Troubleshooting is a 4-day class that’s more lab than lecture (somewhere on the order of 30-35% lecture, 65-70% lab time). Of the lab time, it’s split about 60% troubleshooting, and 40% procedural.

The procedural labs are the big thing here. They help define how to do things with all kinds of commands and processes that aren’t covered in our other classes. The CLI becomes very important in this class.

The troubleshooting lab time is (at least, how I run it) also exceptionally valuable, as it’s minimally directed (we inject a problem into your environment, give you a “help desk report” with the symptoms, and from there, you get to use your wits and the standard vSphere tools to resolve it). This minimal direction gives you the time to work at your own pace, and learn what it is that you want or need to learn.

Bottom line, take the class if you can. It’s good online if you can’t travel, but it’s better in a classroom if you can get there. Either way, watch for me – this class is great! 😀

vSphere: Manage for Performance
Another solid performer. This is a slightly shorter class, clocking in at 3 days, but it’s really no less valuable. The Performance class focuses on individual host performance, which seems a little counter-intuitive if you look at the generalized vSphere message that the individual host doesn’t really matter. But from a performance perspective, the performance conflicts will come intra-host, rather than inter-host (generally). This class most certainly accounts for that.

The Performance class supports the DCA a little less directly, but is still rather valuable.

The remaining two classes, vSphere: Manage and Design for Security and vSphere: Automation with vSphere PowerCLI, I don’t (yet) teach. As such, I’m unfamiliar with their contents, aside from very high level, and can’t honestly say how much they can impact the exam. But I have to recommend the PowerCLI class after some of the questions I saw on the exam. It rather shocked me that there were PowerShell/PowerCLI-related scenarios on the exam. But that also goes to show the both the popularity and the push from VMware for management through PowerShell.

After going back and skimming through some of the material in the Automation and MDS courses (after taking the exam), I can say with confidence that both of them do indeed provide some good supporting material for the VCAP-DCA exam. If you have the opportunity, take advantage of these classes as well as Troubleshooting and Performance!
**End Update**

Today will be 10 business days since I sat the VCAP-DCA, and I should get my passing results today (well, that’s my story until they show up and tell me otherwise). After that, I’ll be diving into the VCAP-DCD, partially for my own edification, but partially because I think it will also become an instructor requirement to deliver the vSphere: Design Workshop course (and I’d really like to continue teaching that class).

Stay tuned for more ramblings, I’m going to try to keep up on it this year!


A New Year

And hopefully that means I can start working a little harder on this blog. I never make any guarantees, but it’s possible 🙂

This past year has been a wild ride. Professionally, I got out of consulting and joined VMware Education so I can teach full-time. There were changes internally shortly after I joined that changed my perspective about that a little – ultimately good, once the dread of change washed over me and passed. Essentially, it means I’m much more busy with class delivery, which I am very much good with.

Personally, I have tried (very unsuccessfully) to help my better half sell her house. The problem we ran into is that we just can’t compete with bargain-basement prices on foreclosed homes in the area. We’re going to have to continue on carrying two households until the real estate market resolves itself. How long will that be? Your guess is as good as mine!

I also stopped smoking analog cigarettes this year thanks to personal vaporizers (also known as PVs or electronic cigarettes). Sure, anti-smoking folks still see them as terrible as analog cigarettes, but if you check out this study, there’s evidence mounting that PVs most definitely less bad for everyone. Being a longtime smoker, I’m used to the anti-smoking vitriol, and still saddened that it’s become a moral crime. I’ll be talking, from time to time, about my vaping hobby/habit, so if you’re unfamiliar with PVs, feel free to ask questions!

I broke down and jumped in with the iPad crowd, and I can’t be happier. I use my laptop less and less frequently these days because of it. Expect more to come on that front as well.

As for the next calendar year, well, we’ll see. I tend to not set too many specific goals right away, thanks to the ease of becoming overwhelmed. Professionally, I’m gunning for my VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD this year. 25% of that goal was passed on 12/30 when I actually sat the DCA exam. Work was driving me to that, as I will have to be DCA certified to continue to teach the vSphere Troubleshooting and Performance classes. I should hear shortly as to my DCA fate. The DCD certification is more of a preemptive strike, as it would make sense that we will begin to require it of our instructors to continue to deliver the Design Workshop, which I also currently teach. When I get the results from the DCA, I’ll post more about it and my experiences.

On the personal front, we’re trying our hands at the property rental game, just to offset the cost and vacancy of Jen’s house. Maybe we like it, maybe we run screaming into the night after the first lease expires. We’ll just have to see.

I’d say this blog will be changing, but that would be redundant, as it never particularly coalesced into anything over the course of the past year. So maybe I can get this blogging thing nailed down this year!

Thanks for reading!