VCAPified! – VCAP5-DCA

vcap5-dca_logo_sm2At VMworld this year we had the opportunity to sign up for a VCP or VCAP-DCA or VCAP-DCD exam using a 50% off discount code which was valid for the few days of the conference in San Francisco. The requirement was that you had to sit the exam before November 30, 2012, so I sat the VCAP-DCA exam on November 12, 2012. I actually tried to register for an earlier date but the Pearson Vue web site had a problem where it would not let me pick any date in October for some reason.

The sign-up process was pretty standard, though the advanced certifications require that you first request authorization for the exam on the VMware certification web site, which can take a few days so plan accordingly. There were people onsite at the conference who were helpful in speeding up the process so you could schedule the exam using the discount code while you were there.   That aside that the standard recommendation that you acquire the exam blue print and study accordingly applies. The VCAP-DCA exam is different from the VCP in that it is a hands-on lab exam, so the best advice I can give is that you build your own lab and practice accomplishing the listed tasks as much as you can. If you are not very comfortable performing most of the configuration tasks then time management during the exam will be critical to get through as many questions as possible.

My biggest issues were time, and some of the features that I do not use. Obviously knowing how to perform as many of the tasks as possible with your eyes closed will help time wise.  Follow the blue print and notice how may of the tasks are not done in the GUI. This can be a big change for those who are not used to the command line and using the powershell cmdlets, so become comfortable with them. The exam questions were not overly difficult though slow connectivity from the test center was an issue.  I guesstimate that lack of time may have cost me 50 points or more. After the exam I opened ticket with Pearson Vue who forwarded to VMware - though I am pretty sure this was a test center issue. I was not looking for anything other than that they they fix the issue for all testers.  I will be returning to the test center for future exams after all. The results took a little over 3 weeks to receive, and I was notified that I passed, though with little to spare. A big part of the difficulty of the exam was simply not knowing what to expect, though now that I know I think that this will help significantly in the future. If you don't pass the first time I suspect then the second time will be much easier for simply having had the experience once before.

As just about everyone else says, preparation is key. Build a lab and make use of the various study guides available. Some examples are Jason's guide at (Jason is a local Seattle VMUG member), and that of Josh Coen at ValCo Labs. Another excellent resource is the Professional VMware web site which has a list of past podcasts related to various certification topics. They are a community-driven site and have live weekly webcasts you can join in on as well.  These sessions are recorded and made available as podcasts which are convenient to watch anytime, or even just to listen to on your commute to and from work (just don't watch the video when you're driving please). There are many other study resources out there, such as that by Sean Crookston, author of Managing and Optimizing VMware vSphere Deployments (which I highly recommend).

Anyway these are a few notes from my experience. I hope that adding these little bits of information to that provided by others will help you on your own certification journey.



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