As promised previously, here is a list of the resources I used when studying for the VCAP5-DCD exam.
In terms of the resources I used for the VCAP this time, I see them now as being in two distinct categories, technical and holistic.
Technical resources (unsurprisingly!) are all about learning the ins and out of the vSphere product, the 1,000,000 different configurations, and settings which can be applied to meet a requirement. Its also important to learn a reasonable amount about the technologies which interact with the vSphere platform such as networking, storage, firewalls and a few typical business critical apps (Exchange, SQL etc). The majority of my technical study this time round was spent simply studying the notes I took during my VCAP4-DCD (see here and here).
Holistic resources are those which help you to look at the bigger picture; learning how the different vSphere and other technologies interact, which ones to use to meet a specific requirement and most importantly, what the impact of certain design decisions are on the rest of the design / other technologies / features.
A balanced mix of both resources should see you well prepared to take the VCAP-DCD.
The following is a list of all of the technical resources I used:
- VMware vSphere Design by Forbes Guthrie, Scott Lowe & Kendrick Coleman
This is the essential guide to vSphere Design and I recommend buying, reading, memorising and consuming it whether you’re doing the VCAP exam or not! I will remind everyone as I do every time, there’s no point filling your shelves up with dead trees if they will only remain current for a couple of years, so eBook where possible!
- APAC VCAP-DCD Brownbag Video Series by Alastair Cooke et al.
I used these first time round for my VCAP4-DCD but had another listen in the car this time. Well worth the time, do not miss these, especially the excellent video by Harley Stagner. I particularly like this as it really goes into the thought processes in comparing different solution options and their subsequent impacts.
- VMworld Videos
The full VMworld content is usually opened up for free 12 months after each conference. These are an amazing goldmine of information. I have listed out many of the videos I used in my VCAP4-DCD prep guide. I would recommend watching any videos with similar titles such as best practices for networking, storage, etc and any areas you feel a little weaker on. Again this is a great resource whether you choose to do the exam or not.
- VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive by Duncan Epping & Frank Denneman
The definitive technical guide to vSphere. Nuff said!
- Technical resources from my VCAP4-DCD exam
These resources are almost all just as relevant now as for the version 4 exam. I would only recommend perhaps updating slightly with the newer versions of books mentioned, and the newer VMworld 2012 videos.
The following is a list of the more “holistic” resources I used:
- Designing VMware Infrastructure by Scott Lowe
Absolutely superb guide to architecture, which Scott maintains at a high level teaching you how to make design decisions, not plumbing the depths of the technical. Lots of good real life examples too and presented in Scott’s unique style which I always find holds my interest with ease. Well worth subscribing, even for a month. You can even get a free trial for up to 200 minutes to test it out.
- The VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide (with DVD) by Paul McSharry
A great resource to use in your final week of study. It ties together everything you have learned, gives you many practice design decision questions as well as including some practice exams. I will be publishing a review of this book shortly, along with a chance to get your hands on a signed copy, so stay tuned! You can also find some extra practice questions here on Paul’s blog.
- Conceptual, Logical, Physical: It is Simple by John A. Zachman
This white paper describes the differences between a Conceptual Design, a Logical Design and a Physical Design and is meant to assist VCAP-DCD candidates in better understanding these concepts. I found it very useful, and would highly recommend to anyone still trying to get their heads around these concepts.
- Cloud Infrastructure Architecture Case Study by Duncan Epping et al.
This is a great example of a design document which shows some of the design decisions and documents the 4 key design factors: Requirements, Assumptions, Risks and Constraints in a realistic example design.
- VCAP5-DCD Exam Blueprint
Make sure you understand everything in this before you take the exam!
- Plain old experience!
If you have been designing vSphere environments for more than a year or so, frankly you almost certainly have the skills already top pass the exam with minimal study. As an engineer with minimal design experience I found the VCAP4-DCD very tricky. 18 months later having worked as an architect for 12 of those, it was a very different experience.
- The Saffa Geek VCAP-DCA-DCD Guide
Worth mentioning on its own is THE definitive resource guide for VMware exams. I always stop by on Gregg’s blog and utilise as many as possible!
- Exam experiences
I find these are great for picking up great tips for the exam. For these, Google is your friend, but FYI mine is here!
That’s about it for now, take care and best of luck!