VMware Certified Master Specialist – HCI 2022 (5V0-21.21) Exam Review

A few weeks ago, I successfully passed the 5V0-21.21 exam which is mainly based on vSAN 7, which awarded me the title of Master Specialist HCI for the first time 😃.

And I thought it would be nice to share my experience and provide some tips to anyone willing to take this exam.

VMware Certified Master Specialist – HCI 2022 Digital Badge

Before I give you some advices to prepare for the exam, let’s first review the prerequisites.

  1. (Required) Hold a VMware Certified Professional- Data Center virtualization 2020, 2021or 2022 Certification
  2. (Required) Hold a VMware Specialist – vSAN 2020, 2021 or 2022 badge
  3. (Required) Attend one of the required training
  4. (Recommended) Attend the recommended training
  5. (Required) Pass the VMware HCI Master Specialist Exam

Exam Overview

First of all, note that this exam is quite tough and much more challenging than the vSAN Specialist exam that I found easy in comparison to be honest.

This exam is composed of 50 multiple choice questions that you need to answer in 100 minutes. That should be more than enough to understand well each question and find the good answer.

Like any exam, take the time to read well each question, and even twice if you have any doubt or if there’s something that you don’t fully understand. But if you feel that you spend too much time on a question, just mark it for later and move on.

What to expect and how to prepare for the exam

You must have a deep understanding and very good knowledge of the product and its features to successfully pass this exam.

It is critical that you know very well vSAN’s architecture and best practices as you’ll get many designing questions whether your environment is in a standard, stretched, or 2 nodes configuration.

Moreover, you must know all the steps to upgrade a vSAN environment and how to use vSphere Lifecycle Manager to update your nodes.

As you’ll be tested on how to implement a vSAN cluster from scratch, you must know as well how to migrate for example a standard vSAN cluster to a stretch cluster and vice versa. Also, know how to decommission a vSAN cluster and what maintenance mode you should select based on a given scenario.

Talking about maintenance, you must know how to replace a drive from a disk group whether it is the cache or a capacity drive in a Hybrid or All-Flash configuration. Think also about the impact that you must take into consideration to replace a disk after enabling “Deduplication and Compression” or “Compression Only”.

You will be questioned also about new vSAN 7 capabilities such as HCI Mesh, so know well how work these features and when to use them. And do not forget how the Witness node works in vSAN 7 as there is some evolution here as well and especially in a 2 nodes cluster configuration.

Please do not neglect any other VMware products such as VMware Cloud Foundation, vSphere Replication, vRealize Operations etc… as you’ll have some questions asking you how these products work with vSAN but also what value they can add in a specific use case.

Know well how to use vSAN file services like iSCSI, SMB, NFS etc…

Now that you know what to expect for the exam, let’s go through some study resources.

Study Ressources

Read the blueprint, every section that will be covered in the exam is there.

I also highly recommend practicing a lot if you have a home lab, if not you can still access VMware Hand on labs here for free. Real designing and implementing experience will also definitively help you to succeed.

That being said, please find below some resources to help you study for the exam.

VMware vSAN Documentation

VSAN with vSphere Replication


vSAN Design Guide

vSAN Use Cases and Industries

vSAN – Operations and Management

Reference Architectures Quick Links

I hope that you enjoyed that blog post, and I wish you good luck with the exam.

4 thoughts on “VMware Certified Master Specialist – HCI 2022 (5V0-21.21) Exam Review

  1. Hansen

    Hello, i was taking exam in december 2022 and i fail because the question so different with blueprint. There is vSAN ESA question, and networking question. Are in your exam there is question like this also?

    1. Teddy Post author

      Hi Hanser,

      This is really surprising as this exam hasn’t been updated yet with vSAN 8 content.
      You shouldn’t have questions on vSAN ESA at all.

      Very odd!


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