VCAP5-DTD Exam Experience

So, today, Tuesday 10th September 2013, I sat my first ever VCAP exam (the VCAP-DTD) and I’m delighted to say I passed. I thought, as I have blogged about the exam already and worked through the exam blueprint, I would talk a little about the exam and hopefully try and pass on some useful tips/information.

Disclaimer: I’ve obviously accepted the NDA before sitting the exam, so I will not release any direct information on the exam, so please don’t ask!

I’ve already blogged about the exam in some detail over on my VCAP5-DTD page so I won’t repeat that here, go take a look if you are not already up to date.

The exam itself is, as others have said in their exam experience blogs, is tough. Very tough. It not only tests your ability to design large scale and complex VMware View environments, you need to be able to design the supporting components that the View infrastructure will reside on (vSphere, Network and Storage).

The multiple choice questions are more complex and tougher than those set out in the VCP exams, as you would expect being the advanced certification, however I believe these questions are very fair. The drag and drop style questions are tricky too and require some working out, don’t whizz through these questions, take your time, as I would image these are some big hitters on the overall exam scoring (I don’t know this, I’m just assuming). The Visio style diagram questions are again tough, (see a pattern emerging here?) however contain all the information you need and more to successfully answer the question.

In no particular order, here is what I would recommend to any people planning to sit the exam:

  • Time is of the essence in the exam, with 195 minutes available, I ran out of time when reviewing some the of the questions I flagged to return to at the end. Ensure you don’t get bogged down with the Visio style questions.
  • Take care to read the questions multiple times. At times, you may think you don’t have all the required information. It will be there, in-fact I found there was more than needed, so ensure you understand what the question is asking of you, especially with the Visio and drag and drop style questions.
  • Take extra laminate sheets in for your workings out. You WILL need them, I took 3 sheets and used up both sides of all, with little space for the last few questions.
  • In contrast to what I stated over on the VCAP5-DTD page, I did have access to a calculator within the exam. Perhaps they realised some of the maths you need to do is simply too much of an ask given the type of exam and time restraints. Perhaps others can let me know if they have experienced any different lately?
    • Even with a calculator, be prepared to size your designs from raw numbers.
  • Know how to size environments of all sizes. Ensure you know how many infrastructure components (vCenter, Security Servers, Connection Servers, Load balancers) are required to support varying sizes of scenarios.
  • Understand the storage options available to you in VMware View, and be prepared to be questioned on all of them.
  • Be prepared to answer question on VMware ThinApp and ensure you understand Load Balancing concepts and methods of 2 factor authentication.
  • Read the exam blueprint, know it inside out. It’s there for a reason and covers everything you need to pass the exam. I did, and I passed at first attempt.

With regard to study materials, what would I suggest? My VCAP5-DTD study guides of course, they helped me pass! Aside from these be sure to check my list of books, I used them all at various points, also check out the APAC vBrownBag’s previous recordings as these were also very valuable. Finally, after some general advice from my esteemed Xtravirt colleague Gregg Roberston, practise diagramming different scenarios. I got some Magic Whiteboard from Amazon and drew out countless scenarios until I could do them fairly quickly. It think this helped in the exam.

So, onto the next exam(s)… VCP-IAAS, VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD – Yes I am a glutten for punishment.

Thanks for reading and if you are sitting an exam soon, good luck!