#VMworld 2016 – VCAP6-DCA Deploy Exam Experience

| 29/08/2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

vegasGreetings from Day 1 of VMworld US 2016!


Every year I try and make use of the VMworld discount at the exam centre, and this year was no exception I sat the VCAP6-DCV Deploy exam, and results are still pending! Overall it’s a good exam, there was very little of the spelling and grammatical errors I’ve complained about in the past, performance was OK and the level of difficulty was good.

In terms of study, I have to confess that I didn’t really study for this exam – I’ve been using vSphere 6 since it’s first beta and I felt fairly confident in the blueprint content. There’s a tonne of stuff out there if you are studying, a quick google will find what you need. We’ll see if my confidence was misplaced when my results come through!

My exam strategy is not a new one, I complete all the questions I am 100% confident on, and write down the numbers of the questions that I’m not to circle back on if I have time at the end. I got through the first pass with about 45m remaining, and about 6 questions partially completed or not touched. At this point I went back through and used the documentation (which was pretty quick to access, top tip!) to answer the questions I felt I could complete. By the end of the allotted time I’d completed all but 2 questions, one was partially complete and the other untouched.

Overall, I think this exam is a step up from the VCAP5-DCA and is in line with the quality that seems to be coming through the pipeline now. I’ll update this page later when my results come in.

Update 15:59 29/08/2016

I just received my results and I’m pleased to say that I passed with a score of 377!



| 30/10/2015 | Tags: , , , ,

Apologies in advance if this is post is a jumbled nonsense, I’m still way too excited!

This morning I woke to the news that I have passed my VCDX-CMA!

This was my second attempt at VCDX and although the first failure was a painful experience, the lessons learned from it were invaluable to take into the defence the second time around. Failing doesn’t have to be a negative experience – if there is one thing that I will take from the VCDX program it is that there is ALWAYS more I need to learn, and I can always do better. Learning has to be a way of life (in this industry especially!) and the minute you stop, you start falling back.

My defence went better than last time (clearly!) but I still wasn’t confident that I’d pass. In fact as the wait went on I started thinking more and more like I’d failed, but I think it’s easier to remember the bits you struggled with than the questions you answered effortlessly!

According to the VCDX directory, and it looks like I’m only the 3rd 5th person in the UK to hold the VCDX-CMA! *Edited: There are some additional CMAs for double VCDX’s added now*

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#VMworld2015: VCIX-NV Exam Experience

| 12/10/2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

vmworld2015-logoFor the last few years at VMworld I’ve taken advantage of the discounted exam price and booked a “have-a-go” exam – typically an exam I’ve been wanting to do but not necessarily had the time I wanted to study for it. Since I have been fairly immersed in the NSX world for the last week, sitting in an NSX design and deploy class and surrounded by some very smart networking guys, I changed my “have-a-go” exam from the VCP6-CMA to the VCIX-NV.

The exam experience was a double edged sword – on the one hand I really enjoyed the tasks and found all the questions to be fair. On the other hand I found the latency and the interface to be a real struggle, I needed to reload the web interface 20-30 times, each time costing me 30 seconds – that’s 10-15 minutes of wasted time. I also had to be swapped over to another terminal because mine crashed, with 10 minutes to go to the end.

The exam room was cold…very cold. Nearly four hours in a t-shirt in a heavily air-conditioned room and I was shivering. I should’ve learned from the last time but I didn’t! It’s also a long time to go without a drink too – I was gasping by the time I left.

My initial impression was that I’d failed the exam – I didn’t complete several (3-4) of the questions and I made a mistake early on which I had to spend a long time unpicking. After and hour and 20 minutes I’d only completed 4 of the 18 questions. So when I hit the “finish” button I assumed I’d have a 10 day wait for a failure – fortunately the exam was marked and the result sent to me a couple of hours after the exam was completed, a pass with a decent score Smile

I’d recommend anyone planning to do the exam to go through the blueprint – Martijn Smit (@smitmartijn) has a great VCIX-NV study guide based on the blueprint which you can also download in PDF format. There are two VMware Hands On Labs that cover all of the blueprint functionality, so I would strongly recommend doing those too – and you can do the HOL but not follow any of the guides – break it and fix it.

My VCAP5-DCD experience

| 07/08/2015 | Tags: , , , ,

VCAP-DCD-1A few months ago I decided to tackle the VCAP5-DCD exam and when booking I gave myself 2 months to study before the date of the exam.

I was keenly aware that at least in this calendar year the VCAP5-DCD exam and undergone some changes E.G. it no longer had multiple choice questions (think VCP5-DCV in terms of format)

There was a wealth of knowledge out there from people whom had either passed/failed or were currently studying so it didn’t take too long to get an understanding of what disciplines/knowledge VMware were looking for in the exam.

I elected to study for around an hour a day to hopefully cover all of the material required without burning myself out. While this did work for the most part, there was the inevitable last few days of cramming and panic.

As I am sure you have heard many times before I cannot say much on the actual exam but I did finish it with 13 minutes to spare, I was aware others had struggled to get everything done in the allocated time.

Being honest I did not expect to pass, as some of the questions were really quite brutal in their ambiguity (my opinion) but to counter this (during the exam) I would complete the questions in the following order (master design, design and then others) before ensuring I re-read each question to double check I had not missed something and in some cases I had and I was able to correct some mistakes I had made.

There is no question time management is the key, you have to be ruthless and disciplined to ensure you get time to cover the design questions as well as the other questions in the exam but it is possible!!

Also factor in the usual “what answer is VMware actually looking for?“, as with any tech related exam, they are looking for -their- answer, not necessarily the answer or solution others would perhaps use or do out in field.


VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience

| 15/10/2014 | Tags: , , , , , ,


It is with great relief that I can announce I have passed my VCP NV (Network Virtualisation) having been caught out by the difficulty of the exam and failing previously.

Exam Preparation

I was fortunate to attend a VMware internal bootcamp (roughly equivalent to the ICM course) for NSX and have had experience deploying production NSX environments, so that is by far the best preparation. As always, the exam blueprint is crucial, you *have* to know all areas covered there. I’ve also been reading the documentation and design and deploy guides published by VMware, and completed the basic and advanced hands on labs that are also freely available. On top of that there is the official practice exam which I strongly suggest you do as it reflects the real exam well, and there are a series of fantastic practice tests by Paul McSharry available while provide a decent test of knowledge.

Exam Experience

It’s a typical VMware VCP level exam consisting of 120 multiple choice questions with 120 minutes to answer them. That’s 1m per question, it may not sound a lot but there are plenty of questions you will answer in seconds. I completed the exam in about 1h25m. Other than that there’s not a huge amount to say about the exam itself due to NDAs!

Advice for takers

Study the blueprint, it really does cover everything you need!
It seems obvious, but know the packet walks and understand how encapsulation changes packets
Have a clear and precise understanding of the components and architecture, and what the use cases are
If you have access to the binaries, install, break, fix, remove, repeat! If not, HOL, you don’t have to follow the guides, you can do your own thing.

Next steps

My score wasn’t great (a pass is a pass right?) so I’m keen to go back over some weaker areas to start with. I am definitely going to look at recertifying my expired CCNA, as this is really good knowledge to take into any NSX engagement. With the VCIX exam recently released, I’ll look towards that also. Finally, lots of lab work with vCAC 6.1 and NSX to really maximise its potential. NSX shines when you see it automated.

VCP5-IaaS – Exam experience

| 17/01/2014 | Tags: , , , ,

VCP5-Cloud So this morning I took the VMware Infrastructure as a Service exam (VCPVCD510) to gain the VCP5-Cloud qualification. The IaaS exam is available for existing VCP5-DCV holders to take without any other pre-requisites. I am very pleased to say I finished the exam in good time and scored 466/500 – the pass mark is 300.