Why get VMware Certified and keep it current?

Today I decided to take a step back and think why I got certified in the first place(way back in 2009). People have very different motivations for getting certified, mine was not related to monetary gain or advancement at my workplace when I first (started using haha – they are a bit like an addiction) took a VMware exam.  I worked for a very small company and I wanted a way to prove to myself that I knew what I was actually doing; also prove to my employer that I knew what I was doing!

Enter the VCP-4 exam, I felt this was the perfect way to show that I did know all of the features, such as how to configure ESX(i)/vCenter, which license level gave you which specific features and most importantly what all of those cool features did/could do.  Working for a small company I did not have the luxury of getting exams paid for sadly, so when I decided to take my exam I needed to make sure I was ready, had put the time in to study and find every resource possible to learn all that I could.

My first attempt I was very nervous and unsure even though I had spent 2 months going over things I thought I would need to know. I failed, I not only failed I bombed it. I did not let it get my down for long and after that I decided to start fresh and go over this “blueprint” thing that I had downloaded but did not pay (enough)attention to. I began reviewing it and looking over various breakdowns of the blueprint on blogs like this one from Simon Long. I took another 3 months to study, really take time to go over the blueprint, and feel comfortable with all topics. During that 3 months I spent time reading over VMware documentation that was relevant to the blueprint and learning everything I could.

I lined up another exam date and was ready to give it a go after months of study time. I was still nervous but felt much better about taking it this time. I had gained more confidence after putting in the study time and felt like I could really do this(now that did not mean that I didn’t get a little flustered whilst taking the exam). I passed this time with flying colors. I felt on top of the world after that.

Moving on from the first pass:

I really started reading more and more after passing that first exam. I setup a home lab and found many answers to my questions on the VMware community page, and on Twitter. The community that was around at that time was already really amazing as people were so helpful and eager to answer questions.

Did this actually help you or your career and why keep taking them?

So, why take these exams and put all of this time in? Well, again I started this to justify my knowledge to myself really. I kept taking these over the years as the versions changed and new exams came out; I wanted to push myself to learn more/new technologies and show it by passing these exams. By passing these exams I got an opportunity to interview for an amazing position. Part of why I got the position is I took the time to pursue these certs on my own and kept learning. It made a huge difference in my career passing these certs and moving into a role where I have had and still have tons of room to grow.

Looking back at this first exam I really learned what VMware was expecting and that you can’t ignore the blueprint!! The issues I have/had thinking about this one is that you had to memorize so many config min/max settings that many people found to be useless. Moving on from version 4 I feel that VMware has correct this issue and is testing for much more “real life” applicable knowledge from people attempting these tests. I also felt that it was a huge benefit to setup a home lab going forward with my career and future exams. Having taken many more exams since the VCP4 I really have a good process for prepping for the exam which includes reviewing the full blueprint. A fantastic example of covering the blueprint is what Mike Preston did on his blog  when he covered his 8 weeks of VCAP which I used for my first VCAP!

 

Never stop learning!

 

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Certification upgrade paths

So I spend a good amount of time(read far too much time) on the VMware Education blog site, it is a great place to get the current information on new courses, videos, free labs and certification news. I was looking over some older posts before taking my VCAP6-DCV Deployment exam and found this post. It is about getting your DCV certifications upgraded to version 6 and the new VCIX.

After reading the above I think it is interesting that, if I am reading this post correctly and I like to think I am, you can take either the Deploy or Design exam to get upgrade your version 5 VCAP-DCV certs depending on which v5 exams you’ve passed. To quote the page:

“To upgrade from a VCAP5, complete the alternate VCAP6 certification. For instance, a VCAP5-DCA plus a VCAP6-DCV Design would earn you the VCIX6 designation.”

So having both the VCAP5-DCA + DCD and having passed the VCAP6-DCV Deployment exam I should get an upgrade to the VCIX shortly. I’ll post back my experience on how long this takes.

 

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Update: I opened a case and have received a reply stating I also need the VCP6 passed for the upgrade to happen. I have yet to see that via a public doc and per the attached screenshot I do not feel this is the case. More to come:

vcap-upgrade

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Update: After providing more info and documentation is was decided that you do not need the VCP6 in order to get the VCIX6-DCV. I have been informed this will reflect in my transcript in the near future! Hopefully this does not happen to anyone else going forward.

VCAP6-DCV Deployment passed!

vmw-lgo-cert-adv-pro-6-data-ctr-virt-deploy-k

A few days ago I sat and passed the fully released version of the VCAP6-DCV Deploy exam! I failed the Beta version of this exam a few months ago but even then I felt this was a good exam that covered great topics. Having the VCAP5-DCA/DCD passed so this should upgrade my certs to the VCIX6-DCV.

Here is a quick breakdown of resources I used, my experience and notes I can share that are important before sitting this exam:

Review the new platform interface “disclaimer”! There are some tricky limits that you need to be aware of before sitting this. At the time I am typing this Control, Alt, Backspace do not work. This means that if you miss type something and instinctively hit backspace to correct your error you will not be able to. If you want to use that nifty ctrl + c and then ctrl + v to say… copy and paste something that will not work either. Hopefully this is changed in the future. Also check your screen resolution, I overlooked this for 2 hours and had a terrible time with scaling.

Resources used:

Much like other exams the breakdown/blue print is key. I go over the blueprint for each exam since they can literally touch on any topic listed. A great breakdown comes from Kyle Jenner’s study guide which can be found at vJenner.com and you can find him on twitter @kylejenneruk. Another great resource is Pluralsight’s video training. There are slack and google study groups that you can join as well.  Building a home lab for this or any exam I think is helpful. Having said that I’m lucky enough to work with many different VMware products in my current role that are covered in this exam. There are also Hand on Labs that you can use if you do not have a home lab.

Exam experience:

My experience was really good from a performance side of things. The new platform works well aside from the above noted issues. I wasted so much time since I forgot about changing the resolution. Be careful on your time management, I spent a good amount of time on the first few questions without realizing that an hour had passed. Time management is key as I ended up having 8 questions left with about 35 minutes remaining. Keep an eye on that clock! Do not give up even if you are short on time see what you can do! I felt like the topics covered were fair and things a well rounded VI admin should know or at least tinkered with to keep current.

Hopefully this is helpful. Please reach out to me on twitter/slack/linkedin/email if you have questions.

vExpert 2016

vexpert-badge

As you could probably guess I am a vExpert 2016! I’m very thankful and honored to be part of this group. Already getting emails/info/perks from the community and Corey Romero is pretty amazing. One of the best perks being a FREE year of PluralSight access.

I can’t thank Corey and everyone else involved enough for all of the hard work they put in to make this program happen. Congrats to all of the other 2016 vExperts!! The full directory can be found here https://communities.vmware.com/vexpert.jspa and I can’t help but link to my own listing as I’m very proud of this – Me!

VCIX-NV

VMW-LGO-CERT-IMPLMT-EXPRT-NTWRK-VIRT_K

A few days ago I sat the VCIX-NV exam. This was not the first time that I had taken this exam but it was the last as I did manage to pass ! I will try and break down what I used to study for this exam and how my experience was.

To start, I do not work extensively with vSphere/NSX networking daily as far as installing/configuration goes but I do get a good amount of exposure to troubleshooting these areas. I was able to get some more hands on experience and some great breakdown thanks to my colleagues @Virtsouthwest(Mike A) and @Tompkins_23(John T).

Resources used:

Overall there are many resources out there for this exam and I will list a few that I found very helpful in preparing.

Jason Nash’s pluralsight courses found here were fantastic. I have always found pluralsight courses helpful for learning something new or getting more in depth into things. There are two courses, an intro course and a NSX Network Services course.  If you have a subscription these are a must watch.

Iwan Hoogendoorn’s set of NSX videos found on YouTube are a great breakdown in video form of the blueprint for this exam. HUGE thank you to Iwan for this content since it seems if you know all of the points in the VMware exam blueprint you will do just fine.

Martijn Smit’s blog LostDomain has a downloadable guide that breaks down the VCIX blueprint in detail with screenshots(I really like screenshots). Again it is vital to know each point in the blueprint for VMware exams. This guide is a perfect resource for knowing each point.

Exam experience:

Overall I had some issues much like others that have written about this exam. There are just some bugs with the version of NSX used in the exam. Be sure that if you do have an issue you get some help ASAP. I ran into issues that I can’t go into but I ended up needing assistance which resulted in a fix. I was able to keep moving forward with my exam and I was still in a decent mood(keep calm if you run into issues). Moving past the issues, I thought the exam itself did a good job of covering a wide range of network items that one could expect to run into in the course of being a VMware Admin/NSX Admin/vNetwork Admin. As I said above, know and be able to complete each point in the blueprint!

VCAP-DCD5.5 – 3rd time is the charm

Yesterday I sat the VCAP-DCD5.5 exam for the 3rd and thankfully the FINAL time. It has been the most difficult exam I’ve take yet but well worth it. Coming from pretty much just an admin background I had plenty to learn.

A quick summary of the resources that I really needed in order to pass and thanks to the people that created them:

PluralSight – Scott Lowe <–Really hard to say how much this course helped me out. Not just for the exam but for my overall design knowledge. I HIGHLY recommend watching this entire training and keep a copy of the VCAP blueprint handy to take some notes.

Paul McSharry’s blog called Elastic Sky and his book found HERE which is the Official VCAP-DCD Cert guide. This is a must read, I read this book twice and it is loaded with great information. I couldn’t have passed the exam without this book(in case you are wondering yes I have the paper version…just a personal preference).

Gregg Robertson’s blog TheSaffaGeek is loaded with amazing resoures. Gregg has resources for all sorts of exams including the VCDX which Gregg now holds.

James Burd’s blog Burdweiser has a fantastic write up about Auto Deploy dependencies which I was personally weak on.

Like I said the 3rd time was the charm 🙂

vcap-dcd-pass

VCAP-DCD5.x attempts and resources

I’ve been working on and off for about a year trying to get my level of knowledge up in order to pass the VCAP-DCD5.x Cert. At the time of typing this up I have failed the exam with a 287(which 300 is required) but feel really good about taking this again soon! This is not an easy exam for me as I am more of an Admin and do not have a Design background.

I have been using resources from all over but would like to note a few places that really have helped me:

PluralSight – Scott Lowe <– Can’t say how much this course has helped and I really enjoy the PluralSight courses. Overall it is a VERY helping part in my studies.

Paul McSharry’s blog called Elastic Sky <– The site in general is very helping and worth browsing over the entire thing for virtualisation ideas and answers. I found the page dedicated to the VCAP-DCD very useful and it provided a nice write-up of the exam and links to many other resources that have helped me along my journey. I also happened to have purchased his book that is written for the DCD and find it to be a MUST read before taking this exam.

Gregg Robertson’s blog TheSaffaGeek  <– Has many resources linked and reviewed on this page. All of which are worth reading. Greg is a great resource for any VMware cert it seems 🙂

Hopefully the next post I make about the DCD is one with me passing it in time to focus on the VCIX and vSphere6 exams… If I do end up using other resources I will be sure to add them here. Best of luck to all of the others who hope to pass this!