Tag Archive for certification

VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide – Book Review

The VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide (with DVD) by Paul McSharry

Written by Consultant, VMware Certified Trainer and vExpert Paul McSharry, the VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide is an excellent resource for solidifying and testing your knowledge in advance of sitting the actual exam, as well as a useful reminder guide for your day to day role in design.

As I mentioned in my VCAP5-DCD Exam Prep Resources article, I saw my study as being split into two distinct areas, Holistic Design and Technical Design. For me, this book falls very much into the former category, mainly covering the process and methodology for producing a design.

The main chapters are:

  1. Introduction to Technical Design
  2. Creating a Design
  3. Thoughts on Good Choices for Virtualization and Design
  4. Developing a Design on Paper and Delivering It Physically
  5. Virtual Machine Design
  6. Project Execution
  7. Tips for Passing the Exam

I was fortunate enough to attend the official VMware Design workshop (for v4) run by Paul a couple of years ago and his personality and teaching style really come through in the book. For me the strongest positives in the book are:

  • Great use of real life examples and case studies throughout the book
  • Plenty of great practice questions at the start and end of each chapter as well as the included practice exams. For me this was one of the most valuable features of the book as it helped me build confidence in my knowledge and highlighted areas for improvement.
  • Many tips / suggestions of processes and activities to use in your real design engagements, my favourite or which is to spin up an internal wordpress site or similar and use that to disseminate project information to stakeholders and users.

The only minor tweak I would like to have seen would be in the practice questions, where there are some questions which require multiple answers. In the real exam, VMware generally specify the number of answers to select [e.g. Select three of five answers]. This would have been good in Paul’s test questions too.

The print version of the book also comes with a DVD that includes test exams, another great resource, especially when genuine (not brain dump!) tests are not common and can be quite expensive. I did not have time to go through these tests prior to my exam, so cannot reasonably comment on their quality, but based on the sample questions in the book I would suggest they should be of a good standard.

The book is available from all the usual outlets including in both hardback (with DVD) and Kindle formats.

To summarise, I can whole heartedly recommend this book, not only as a key component in your VCAP5-DCD study, but as an excellent reference resource for designing vSphere infrastructures out “in the wild”.

Finally, keep an eye on my blog later HERE I will be providing an opportunity for one lucky person to win a signed copy of this book!

Disclaimer: I was kindly provided a copy of the book by Paul, however there was no expectation or requirement to review or publicise the book.

The Self Study Era

I was prompted to write this article after the release of the new VMware Certified Associate (VCA) exam.

One of the most interesting and and best things about the VCP programme is the barrier to entry. Unfortunately in this age of brain dumps, it is all to easy to be a “paper MCSE”, having simply memorised all the answers to a load of exams and passed them without actually knowing the subject matter. Individuals like this usually become unstuck pretty quickly, and it makes a bit of a mockery of the whole process.

In this age of austerity, doom and gloom, employers won’t or don’t want to pay for professional training, which means this barrier can be pretty high! Gone are the days where companies may have the budget to send people on multiple training courses per year. I was extremely lucky at the start of my career to get the opportunity to attend all the courses for my MCSE (about 8 IIRC!) in the space of a couple of years! At many companies today, employees are lucky if they are sent on a single one in that time.

Fortunately it’s not as bad as it sounds, because gone are the days where there used to be only the official course books or in-person training available. Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, today we have many many more resources available to us, including:

  • Many free online community-generated resources. It never fails to impress me how people are willing to give up their free time to generate this content and help complete strangers improve their knowledge and skills.
  • Inexpensive virtualisation at home using VMware Workstation, GNS3, etc allowing you to virtualise and create an entire lab for whatever it is you’re studying. For most technology you can get away with as little as 8-16GB RAM in an old PC, as long as it has a CPU with VT-X extensions you’re golden! This for me is the best way to learn any product – lab it, lab it, lab it!
  • Free online labs from many vendors such as VMware’s http://www.projectnee.com/HOL and Microsoft’s http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs/ so even if you cant afford to have a home lab yourself, you can still get your hands on the tech.
  • If you work for a vendor partner you can often get access to their “Partner University” content for free.
  • Free practice exams from many of the vendors on their learning pages.

If your employer has minimal budgets for training, there is no point moping about it. Invest in yourself (be it financially or in time) and meet them half way.  Embrace the fact that you have joined one of the fastest moving industries in the world, show some initiative and study in your own time!

VMware Certified AssociateSo how does this relate specifically to the VCA I hear you ask? Well if I were starting my career again from scratch, the first thing I would be doing is passing the VMware Certified Associate exam of my choice, based on the free VCA training from VMware, and all of the free resources above. If you pull your finger out, you can even get 50% off the VCA exam for a limited time.

Once you have this one in the bag, then is the time to approach your employer and ask for them to fund your VCP course. They will know you’re serious as you have invested your own time, effort and money (for the exam), and they should already be starting to see the benefits in your additional skills.

At that point, considering the time and effort you have put into your development, if your employer isn’t willing or able to match that investment by paying for either exams or further training / materials, then maybe they’re not the right employer for you. Take your newly learned skills and put them to good use! 🙂

Has VMware just killed some certification kudos?

Oh come on, at least let me finish the outline!?

So I woke up this morning to what would seem to be an innocuous email from VMware Education confirming some changes to the candidate IDs. Nothing much interesting here:

“To streamline the certification exam registration process, and provide you a single consolidated view of your training and certification histories, we have updated our candidate tracking systems. Part of this update was the creation of a new Candidate ID for all users. Your former Candidate ID VCP###### has been replaced by VMW-########X-########. This new ID will be recognized at both vmware.com/certification and pearsonvue.com/vmware.

From now on, when you are ready to register for a VMware certification exam, you will begin at vmware.com/certification. Once you have registered with VMware and received authorization, you can proceed to pearsonvue.com/vmware to schedule your exam date, time and location.

Please keep your new Candidate ID handy. Should you misplace this email, you can find your Candidate ID by logging in at vmware.com/certification to access myPreferences.”

Until we get to this bit:

“Note: We will no longer be using “Certification Numbers” such as 00001 or VCAPDCA-123456 going forward. If you are a veteran certified individual, you’ll find your original VCP Certification number reflected in the last digits of the new Candidate ID.”

I may be reading this wrong, but it would appear that you will no longer have a VCAP or VCP number… Perhaps worse still, maybe not even a VCDX number?!

Not massively important in the grand scheme of things (especially since VMware jumped from ~550 to >2000 when the VCAP5 came out so it’s hard to keep track of how many there are now as it is!). Still, a bit of a downer for people who want to show that not only have they been certified, but were perhaps some of the pioneers in doing so.

Just my 2p… I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this? Does anyone actually care?

%d bloggers like this: