Last month, I was happy to successfully pass my VCAP-DCV 6.5 Design exam that has also validated my VCIX-DCV 2019.
The exam was very challenging and tough from my point of view but I would say it was also fair. All the questions were from topics that you can find in the exam blueprint. So you know exactly what you have to study before taking the exam.
But I have to be honest with you, I didn’t pass on my first attempt. The thing is that I rushed to fast to take the exam thinking that I was ready but I wasn’t.
So what went wrong?Well, I thought that I well understood the different design concepts that are “Conceptual”, “Logical” and “physical”. But that was actually my weak point as I mixed up the whole concept in my head that led me to get confused with some questions.
After failing, I reviewed over and over the different design concepts by watching videos, reading blogs articles etc…
And then, the week following my first attempt, I scheduled to take the exam again a few days later. This time, I felt much more confident while answering questions than the first time, and I took my time to review all my answers.
But something very weird happened during the review of the very last question. The exam session somehow got stuck and I couldn’t even press the “End Exam” button. So I had to call one of the exam center employee to help me out. The guy had to log me out and tried to log me in again but it didn’t work. So he tried to log me in on an second computer and a third one but for some reason my account just couldn’t log in. You can imagine my frustration and that I was really under stress during these couple of minutes that seemed like an eternity to me as I was dying to get the result. And then finally I got logged back in but the system still took a while to get me in. And all of a sudden, I got the “Congratulations” page from VMware on the screen with my score. It was such a relief and all the stress just got away. I was so happy to succeed this time!
Some tips for the exam
- Read well the Exam Preparation Guide. You’ll find in the “Exam Sections” everything you need to succeed.
- During the exam, read the questions twice to make sure you understand properly what has been asked and not miss anything.
- Do not rush to answer the questions, you have plenty of time to complete the exam. But if you really hesitate, flag the question for review and move on.
You’ll find below all the ressources I used to get prepared before the exam. But first, let me give you some advices.
You must know and really feel confortable when dealing with the three design types that are “Conceptual, Logical and physical”. This is crucial to succeed with this exam.
Also know very well the four categories : “Requirements, Assumptions, Constrains, Risks” (RCARs) of the Conceptual design and know how to difference them. It can sometimes be confusing as you may think that you’re dealing with a non-functional requirement as it’s actually a constraint and so on.
Same thing with the AMPRS design characteristics: “Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability, and Security“. Know well how to identify and classify them.
Also, read up a lot on maximum configuration and limitations of vSphere 6.5 components and the new features.
Have a good read about vSAN, but also SRM and vSphere replication but don’t go too deeply into it. Reviewing the basic architecture of each of these products and the main features is enough.
Focus on dependencies so that each piece of your design follows a logic schema to meet a design requirement. And know how to properly migrate vSphere from 5.5/6.0 to 6.5 (Windows/VCSA).
Have a deep understanding of the vNUMA architecture and know the difference before and after vSphere 6.5, this is important as well.
- VMware Validated Design : https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Validated-Design/index.html
- VMware Design Metholology by ITQ : https://itq.nl/knowledge-hub/ type « vdcx » in the search area
- vBrownBag VCAP6 Video Series : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2rC-8e38bUXAB-VaBem953POgFDrk-Iw
- vSphere Security: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-65-security-guide.pdf
- VMware Design Metholology: https://technicloud.com/category/it-architecture/
- Virtual Design Master: Conceptual, Logical, Physical: https://technicloud.com/2017/07/07/virtual-design-master-conceptual-logical-physical/
- vSphere Networking: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/com.vmware.vsphere.networking.doc/GUID-CC021803-30EA-444D-BCBE-618E0D836B9F.html
- vSphere Configuration Maximum: https://configmax.vmware.com/guest?vmwareproduct=vSphere&release=vSphere%206.5&categories=1-0,4-0,2-0,3-0
- vSphere Best Practice: https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/techpaper/performance/Perf_Best_Practices_vSphere65.pdf
- Storage Protocol: https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/techpaper/storage_protocol_comparison-white-paper.pdf
- vSphere Storage: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-65-storage-guide.pdf
- vSphere Fault Tolerance : https://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMware-vSphere6-FT-arch-perf.pdf
- Working with design assumptions, the VCDX way: https://www.jeffreykusters.nl/2017/12/19/working-design-assumptions-vcdx-way/
- Cross vCenter Migration and Clone requirements in VMware vSphere 6.0 and later (2106952): https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2106952
- Virtual Machine vCPU and vNUMA Rightsizing: https://blogs.vmware.com/performance/2017/03/virtual-machine-vcpu-and-vnuma-rightsizing-rules-of-thumb.html
- Decoupling of cores per socket from virtual NUMA topololy in vSphere 6.5: https://frankdenneman.nl/2016/12/12/decoupling-cores-per-socket-virtual-numa-topology-vsphere-6-5/
- vSphere Features Not Supported with Fault Tolerance: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/com.vmware.vsphere.avail.doc/GUID-F5264795-11DA-4242-B774-8C3450997033.html
- vSphere Security Certificates : https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/com.vmware.psc.doc/GUID-779A011D-B2DD-49BE-B0B9-6D73ECF99864.html
I profit from this opportunity to thank all the guys that have made all the ressources above available so that we could all succeed with this exam. I really hope that you’ll find this article useful and that it will help you to pass and get your certification.
Well, after passing the exam I got some rest and stayed away from studying for a couple of weeks spending more time with my family, catching up with some tv shows and other stuff.
Now like any VCIX holders, I naturally think about the VCDX exam which is the ultimate VMware certification but also one of the most prestigious in the IT industry. But the VCDX exam requires a very long preparation and so much investment, and I honestly don’t know if I’m ready for such a journey.
Altought, I have other short term plans in mind as I decided to deeply explore the SDN area with NSX-T. I want also to go for the vSAN Specialist exam that I was planning to take earlier this year. I plan somewhere in 2020 to attend to some VCDX Workshops to really see where I stand but also to know how to get prepared for the design phase and so on. And when I’ll think the time has come… I’ll just go for the VCDX exam. Wish me luck.