VCAP5-DCD – In The Bag!
I had originally planned on sitting this exam at the end of the month, but I had gotten to the point in my studying that I felt like my brain had absorbed all it was going to, so I went ahead and took the plunge.
I’m happy to say that I passed with flying colors.
This time around I knew what to expect going in. I managed to finish the exam with more than an hour left on the clock. This had a lot to do with the fact that I was much more familiar with the design tool and how to manipulate the various objects. The design tool is a bit “wonky” to put it in technical terms, but it is usable once you get the hang of it. My biggest advice here is to lay out all the base objects and leave plenty of real-estate between them for the connections. Add in the connections last, and avoid moving anything that has an existing connection attached.
I also had a better understanding of how to interpret the case studies associated with the design questions. For practice on this, I used the lab exercises from the vSphere Design Workshop course.
I have already posted here my impressions of the exam on my first attempt, and I don’t really have much to add to that, other than to reiterate that this is a long exam, and it is mentally exhausting. Make sure you are well rested before attempting it.
Basically I just went back and re-read all of my previous study material. I have a previous post which lists all the books, videos, etc that I have been using. The only real changes/additions were:
Building a Virtual Datacenter – This is a VMWare Press book, and it is mostly very high-level. It doesn’t dive too deeply into any specific subject (like most of Scott Lowe’s material for instance).
VMware vSphere Design 2nd Edition – This is the updated version of Scott Lowe’s and Forbes Guthrie’s vSphere Design book. This edition covers v5 and it is an excellent resource.
If I had to list one resource that was the most beneficial, I would certainly have to say it was the course notes from the vSphere Design workshop. Before this attempt I had read that book cover-to-cover several times until I had it basically memorized. (Thanks to this blog post from Gregg Robertson).
Here is the deal: that course (and the associated lab work and notes that accompany it), do a very good job of covering the objectives in the exam blueprint. It does so from a very high level in most cases. For example it wont really explain exactly “why” (from a low-level technical aspect) you don’t use a round-robin multi-pathing policy when dealing with an active/passive filer, but it does say that it is not a supported configuration (because of path-thrashing obviously). In order to really get the “why” in most cases you need to dig a bit deeper and use the other resources I have mentioned.
All that said, the Design course and notes pretty much follow the blueprint exactly. Study this. And keep in mind that no detail is too small. Even if it is just very briefly touched on in the course notes, it could potentially be a major design requirement or constraint on the exam.
Aside from what I have already covered here, and in my first attempt experience, I have the following tips:
Really look at the blueprint. If there are any particular areas that you feel like you might be weak on, focus your study there. The test will cover every point in that blueprint. No joke.
Practice scoping cluster sizes based on various requirements for CPU, Memory, admission control policy, and fail-over capacity. Know the math back and forth. If you are really good at this, it will save you loads of time on the exam.
Really understand inter-dependencies. I cannot stress this enough. This is where I futzed up on my first attempt. There will likely be one or more seemingly minor design requirements in the case study that will severely alter your design. You have to know how to spot these. For example, (and this is in the blueprint, so I don’t believe I am violating NDA here), If MSCS is a requirement, you better be fully aware of what that does to your design. For instance, if I am using MSCS, and I have an active/active filer, you need to know how to properly configure the multi-pathing policy. That is just one example there are many others. Again, pretty much everything is covered in the vSphere Design course notes, (albeit from a very high level, and sometimes might only be a sentence or two).
That’s pretty much it. I am on to prepping for the VCAP5-DCA now. I will throw together a list of resources and a preparation strategy once I figure one out.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment!