This Monday I re-sat my VCAP5-DCD exam after having marginally failed it the first time in January this year. I wrote a fairly extensive blog posting about my opinions about the exam and the additional resources I planned to use. I would recommend people read that posting first if you haven’t as I still maintain 95% of the pieces I said and mentioned in there are true about the exam. This time I thankfully passed the exam and with not a bad score of 333 also.
For this attempt i did use a fair portion more resources and actually think I studied more this time than I did for my first attempt. I thought I would list the resources I used or re-used for this attempt and am planning on adding the resources mentioned here on my VCAP5-DCA & DCD Study Resources page if they aren’t mentioned on there already:
– I read the official VMware book Building a Virtual Datacenter to try help me get the holistic view and mentality you have to maintain during the build of a virtual datacenter and how every decision can have an impact on another portion of your environment and design. The book was really good and I would recommend it but I have to admit I did skip certain portions as I had covered them in books that had them covered much better and in more depth.
-I bought the kindle version of the new VMware vSphere Design book from Forbes Guthrie and Scott Lowe. I bought the kindle version as the paperback version wasn’t out in Europe for a while and my timeframes for studying were very tight. The book is utterly brilliant and covers both vSphere 5 and 5.1 and I would HIGHLY recommend it for the exam and anyone who works with VMware.
-As I stated I would, I read the VMware press book Managing and Optimizing VMware vSphere Deployments by Harley Stagner and Sean Crookston which helped me gain more knowledge around all the portions of a design and the link each component in the design has. The main piece from this book that i really liked was the operational portions as you can’t do a design without having the end goal and plan of it being able to run for a long time after you have left (if you are a consultant like I am).
-The main thing I really focused on was going through the whole vSphere Design workshop course notes, lab guides and answers to the lab guides and made sure I understood every single portion and why certain decisions were made by VMware in the completed designs of the labs. If you haven’t been on the course I would beg management to put you on it as it covers every portion you need to know for the exam and gives some great tips for the exam (no I cant tell you what these are)
I was more nervous for this attempt than my first attempt as I really wanted to pass it this time as with having a five week old little one my studying schedule took a knock and I actually postponed the exam for two week later from it’s initial date due to not getting through portions I wanted before the attempt.
Once I got into the exam and started making my way through the questions with each question I felt I had got correct or very close to correct i became more and more confident. I also think i managed my time a bit better this time and wasn’t as overwhelmed by what they were asking of me. Before the exam starts they tell you how many visio style questions you are going to get so I wrote down the numbers (1-6 for me) and marked them out after each one so that I knew how my time management was going. I did have two drag and drop questions in my last three questions which used up my time and meant i only had around 8 minutes left by the time I completed the last question. The result came up and very quickly and I was in shock that it stated congratulations and actually started feeling dizzy after not having been able to eat much before the exam due to feeling sick from nerves and not having drank much as I knew I couldn’t afford toilet breaks.
For this attempt i came across and learnt a few tips for the exam which helped me with the visio style questions and allowed me to be sure portions were connected correctly.
-There is a scissors icon beside the bin in the right hand bottom corner that allows you to cut a connector/connection you have made in error without moving loads of portions across the page by trying to move the connection to the bin. I did this drag and drop mistake a few times in my first attempt and it really hurt me as it moved portions off the screen and so meant I had to redo pieces.
-Make sure connections have stuck to boxes by carefully trying to move the box and seeing if the connector follows. This is related to the piece above and is a good tip to make sure you have connected the boxes correctly. Also make sure you connect the correct portions together as I noticed once or twice I didn’t click the correct piece and so the pieces I meant to have connected were actually not connected so be careful where you click.
-Do practice designs at home on paint or visio or even word to allow yourself to visualise how you would do different visio style designs scenarios so that when you are in the exam and maybe see one of them you know what your final designs should look like.
So now that I have both my VCAP5-DCA and DCD I can start designing my VCDX infrastructure and submit the design for defence for the VCDX5 accreditation. I still need to do some soul searching and decide when I want to submit as it’s a serious amount of work to complete all the required documents and my planned design is only about 60% where I want it to be before submitting it so I’m estimating around 40 hours of work to get it all ready which isn’t easy to find with a 5 week old, a full time job as a consultant and my sanity maintained. I will most likely slowly start building my design and documents and submit for PEX early next year although I may be drawn to do it sooner or later.
For those looking to do either of the exams I would recommend starting right away and also booking a date for it so that you are pushed to get through everything, the exams are very challenging but there are amazing resources out there which will help you gain the knowledge to pass the exam and with loads of lab time and practicing you can pass them. Good luck to all those who are preparing or looking to do the exams and hopefully my resources page and this blog help you.