VCAP5-CID Exam Experience
I sat the VCAP5-CID (Cloud Infrastructure Design) exam yesterday, and thankfully managed to pass. I wanted to throw together a quick post explaining my exam experience and the preparation work involved. I hope that this is of assistance to someone out there who may be considering sitting this exam.
First off, this was a challenging exam. In terms of difficulty when compared with the other VCAPs I have taken, I would rank this one at the top. This exam is about 3.5 hours and I was under the 3-minute mark when I submitted the last answer.
What made this exam the most challenging for me was the networking portions. I consider myself to be very adept at vCloud networking, however I also happen to be a very visual person, and I usually need to draw out or whiteboard most any complex networking design. On this exam, that costs you time, and time is one thing you can’t really afford to waste here. There were 115 questions on my exam, and 5 of them were design scenarios. Each of the design questions took me on average about 20 minutes to complete. Because of this, the last hour or so of my exam was a constant race against the clock.
The problem I ran into was that after about 2+ hours in the exam, mental fatigue starts to really take its toll, and at that point, when I was presented with a question that was describing a very complex network architecture, I wasn’t able to picture it clearly in my head, and I had to go to the dry-erase board to draw it out.
If I had to retake this exam, the first thing I would do would be to make flash-cards of virtually every network design possibility, and make sure that I am able to picture each of them in my head. For example, what does a fenced vApp network that is connected to a routed Org network look like? How would a VM in that vApp best communicate with an identical vApp in the same organization? A different organization? How and why should a static route be used in this scenario? If I were able to easily picture that in my head without having to draw it out, it would have saved a ton of time. Especially with double-nat scenarios.
The vCloud Architecture Toolkit is excellent. You can find it here. I have read many vendor-supplied white papers and product documents over the course of my career, and I have honestly say I have never seen one that is as well put together and easy to read as the vCAT books. I was actually so impressed that I pre-ordered the hard copy version of these books a few months ago (to have as a reference resource on my desk).
The portions of the vCAT that I found most useful for this exam are the “Architecting a vCloud” and “Consuming a vCloud” books. Both are directly called out numerous times in the exam blueprint. I probably have read each of them cover-to-cover at least a half-dozen times. There is also some good information in the “Operating a vCloud” book. Specifically for this exam, the “vCloud Infrastructure Operations Center of Excellence” is well documented here. You will certainly be tested on that. Make sure you understand each of the roles and responsibilities of each of the actors in that model.
One tip here, for study purposes, I found it easier to use the vCAT documentation center (either online or downloadable offline) vs. the PDF versions. This is basically a web version of the vCAT. It allows you to search across all documents, but more importantly (for me anyway), it breaks up each topic into small easy-to-digest chunks. It is much easier to confirm that you fully understand a topic before moving on to the next one in this manner.
The vBrownbag videos are great. They do a excellent job of covering the blueprint objectives. I used them extensively during my preparation to identify areas that I felt weak in. Gregg Robertson over at thesaffageek.co.uk actually hosts these presentations, and he has a great page here that links to each vBrownbag video that covers a specific blueprint item for this exam.
There are some great courses on TrainSignal. The two I used for this exam were “VMware vCloud Director 5.1 Essentials” by Chris Wahl, and “VMware vCloud Director Organizations” by Jake Robinson. Both of these are great courses. They tend to be aimed more at a VCP level in a lot of cases, but I still found them to be very useful. Chris and Jake are both great instructors.
4) The Blueprint
Of course the exam blueprint. Downloadable here. Like any VMware exam, everything you will be expected to know is on the blueprint. And like any VCAP that I have taken, this one follows it to a T.
What I did here was go line-by-line through the blueprint, and then use the vCAT search function to locate the section(s) that discussed that specific item. After I felt I had a solid understanding, I moved on to the next one. I also took the time to read through all the documentation that is specifically called out in the blueprint. Most everything is covered in the vCAT, however there are some items that are better presented in the actual product documentation.
Thats about it. I opted not to take the VMware supplied course for this exam (VMware vCloud: Design Best Practices), mainly because at the time that I had looked into it, the course was still focused on vCloud director 1.5. However this may have changed by now, and I know that in the VCAP5-DCD exam, the suggested course was extremely helpful.
I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me, or comment below with any questions.