Monday, August 27, 2012

Understanding and Clarification about VMware Certifications

I started seeing Tweets about the new Certification Roadmap released recently and tried understanding the requirements for each track.

Clearly by looking at it you can get an idea that it will be possible to attain all the VCAP level certifications and also the VCDX level Elite certifications but that will require your expertise in specific/all areas for related  products of VMware. Mainly we can categorize these in 3 different components.

1) VMware vSphere

2) VMware vCloud

3) VMware View/Desktop

Currently the requirements for any track of VCAP available the minimum certification level you need is VCP.

As by introducing VCP-DV (Datacenter Virtualization) people are getting confused when they decide to go for VCAP-Cloud or VCAP-Desktop certifications.

Technically as per @randybecraft this is ONE AND THE SAME CERTIFICATION as VCP.

So clear up the fog, VCP5 and VCP-DV is the same certification, which is the minimum requirement.

VCP-DT is the VCP level certification for the Desktop level examination based on VMware View and ThinApp. Once passing VCP-DT one can appear for the advanced level certifications VCAP-Desktop Administration and VCAP-Desktop Design.

For vSphere related certification VCP-DV is now considered which was VCP (X) before. Then one can go for VCAP-Data Center Administrator and  VCAP-Data Center Design.

For vCloud related certifications VCP-Cloud is the minimum to attain. Then once done they can go for VCAP-Cloud Infrastructure Administration and VCAP-Cloud Infrastructure Design

Now if you click this link, it will take you to the page where you can see the above diagram but then you can click on each certification and each icon/description will take you to the mylearn page of that certification.

Currently as the Legends says you can only click the Gray colored certifications and Yellow colored certifications. The Yellow ones which are noted as New Releases.going through verifications and will be published once everything finalized.

So I will put up the links for all the certifications with required courses and recommended courses (which ever are available to take) and keep updating as the courses are going public.

Keep revisiting this post if some of the information is not up to date.

Now coming to the Elite Certification track aka VCDX there are now 3 tracks available.

vSphere ( Requires VCP-DV, VCAP-DCA, VCAP-DCD)

View     ( Requires VCP-DT, VCAP-DTA, VCAP-DTD)

vCloud  ( Requires VCP-Cloud, VCAP-CIA, VCAP-CID)

And as per my understanding and assumption to have a competency one needs to clear all 9-10 certifications and then present 3 different designs for each product separately to become a VCDX but as there are no blue prints available for View and vCloud VCDX tracks you can keep checking the VCDX certification page and check any updates there. 

Hope this clears up the confusion and help you planning your Role Based Certification/s. You can also join the Linkedin Groups I have created where you can discuss about these certifications. These are version independent groups so you can discuss anything about any version of vSphere, vCloud and View. As the new version is released, you can start discussing about it without looking for any group for that version.

For vSphere VCAP-DCD



Good Luck and start preparing for VCDX.

Leave the feedback if you see any discrepancy and  I will update it.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Take on VCAP-DCD with spare Time at the end.

Yesterday I took my VCAP5-DCD Exam at the Pearson Vue Center in Toronto.

I have been that place so many times now so familiar with all the process and all.

I have appeared for version 4 few times as well with no luck. So decided to drop the idea to keep reappearing for version 4 and focus on version 5 instead.

Seriously I have to think twice about the certification Tread Mill as Jason mentioned in his post as its becoming aggressive day by day. For this year, so far, I have given 4 exams. VCAP5-DCA BETA (which I passed recently), VCP5-DT (Passed - VMware View based), VCP5-IaaS Beta (bloogged about the experience and waiting for result) and now VCAP5-DCD. Finished the VTSP 5 as well which I don't consider as a certification but still mentioning here as spent time to do it.

I found that each VCAP exams are very time intensive. There is a rule board each candidate has to read before entering in to the exam hall "You are not allowed to take any scheduled break in between this Exam" and I am always thinking where is the time to take a break for 3 Hr .45 Mins Exam.

But recently I found a nice post on VCAP5-DCD Exam experience by @jasonboche

In his post he put up a strategy on how to save time or rather create a time by attending the questions in different order.

Everyone who has appeared for this Exam knows that there are 3 types of questions as per the blue print.

1) Multiple Choice
2) Drag and Drop
3) Visio like Tool Design

As per Jason he suggested to flag all the Design questions and just finish the multiple choice and drag and drop at once.

Doing so, at the mark of 2 Hr.15 minutes after starting the exam, I was at question 100. Which means that I have completed all the other questions with enough time given to each question with no rushing whatsoever.

This gave me approx. 1 Hour and 35 minutes to finish the 6 Visio Design questions. I have started working on them and finished all of them by having another 12 minutes to spare which I have used to review the questions from 1 again (skipping the design ones obviously).

While I was at question 82 the pop up came up, your Time is over.

Unfortunately after pressing OK I did not get the popup like Jason but got "You did not successfully Pass the Exam". Score report came right away at the reception counter which says I missed the passing score by 68.

Now the above format can't be followed any more as there is a little (but Critical) update was made to the new Blueprint since October 26th 2012 which is published for VCAP5-DCD.

Page 3 of  Exam Blueprint Version 1.6 states that 

"1.2 Number of Questions

The VDCD510 exam contains 100 questions. The items include a mixture of multiple-choice, drag-and-drop items and design items using an in-exam design tool. A short pre-exam survey is performed, consisting of 7 items.

During the exam you will be designing solutions based on customer scenarios using an in-exam design tool. These items take significantly longer to complete than the multiple choice or drag-and-drop items, and time should be budgeted accordingly during the exam.
Once you have provided a complete answer or design for a given exam item and advanced to the next item, you will NOT be allowed to return to that item and the item cannot be flagged for later review. Please ensure when taking the exam that you have completed each answer and/or design before continuing to the next item. Drag-and-drop items and Design items will prompt you for confirmation that the item is complete before advancing to the next item."


So now my suggestion would be to put full focus on what you are attempting and give your 100% or 200% what ever you think the best for each question and spend the time wisely on each question. You will be notified about the completion of the Design (Visio like) and Drag and Drop Questions until you finish them properly and then you can move forward to the next question. Now I am not sure if you can still flag the multiple choice questions as its not clear from the blueprint but I assume so.

Also thinking about a situation where the candidate not finishing the Design/Drag n Drop item correctly then how much time he think should be good enough to spend and finish it? If not then may be the only choice is to Skip it and go for the next one. But as the questions can't be skipped what other choice the candidate might have.

This change is very crucial to anyone who is going to attend this Exam as you need to restructure your strategy for your attempt and DO THE BEST on each item/question in one SHOT only. NO more Second chance.


Now the material I used /will be using again for preparing this Exam are as follows

1) Blue Print
2) Official Documentation
3) Design Book by Scott Lowe, Forbes Guthrie and Maish S K
4) vBrownBags on VCAP-DCD (both US and APAC versions)
5) Official Documentation
6) Customer case studies
7) vSphere  Design Train Signal Videos by Scott Lowe

I know the above should be enough to Pass but frankly speaking without the actual Design hands on experience or involvement in some kind of Designing for vSphere solutions, I find it difficult somewhere which I am missing for sure. The feedback on the report is not helping at all to find out the area I missed mostly. Which should be corrected based on the items missed by the candidate and just not suggest in general all the areas which needs focus again.

 vSphere Design Workshop is definitely a good option but not lucky enough to go for one yet.

Time to start preparing for the next attempt from today itself as took 3 days of vacation (to study) for this Exam and cant let my family suffer by taking their time. I think this is enough for this year.

I am ready to do any Design Grilling (as @vcdxnz001 offered) to get some more exposure on the Design side which is for me is the other side of the coin.

Wish me luck and Good Luck to all !!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

VCAP-DCD - Objective 2.1 and 2.2 on Logical Design

Objective 2.1 –Map Business Requirements to the Logical Design
·         List the fundamental components of the vSphere4 environment.
·         List the fundamentals of the VMware virtualization architecture.
·         List the phase of logical design.
·         List the detailed steps that go into the makeup of a logical design.
Skills and Abilities
·         Define a logical design.
·         Apply the detailed steps that go into the makeup of a logical design to a particular customer environment.
·         Distinguish between a logical and physical design.
·         Given a situation, translate given business requirements and the current state of a customer environment into a logical design.
·         Introduction to VMware vSphere
The logical design includes the relationships between all major infrastructure components, while considering:
The conceptual design
Constraints and risks

The logical design is useful for understanding and evaluating the design of the infrastructure.
Does it meet the goals and requirements, while staying within the constraints?

The logical design does not include physical details:
For example, vendor models, host names, IP addresses, and port connections

The logical design is based on the information documented in the conceptual design and considers all constraints and risks. Where there are risks, they should be communicated to the organization along with a recommended action, so that a decision can be made and the design can move forward.

Use the logical design to create the physical design.

A physical design includes specific vendor and implementation details:
Vendor models, host names, IP addresses, port connections, LUN sizes, number of CPUs, and other specific physical details

In the end, a good design:
Involves the organization’s key stakeholders and SMEs
Balances business goals and requirements with technical considerations and best practices
Has documented rationales and considerations
Includes enough detail to be unambiguous
Is not unnecessarily complex
Is repeatable

At the beginning of any design project you need to develop a high level vision for the project. This high-level vision includes the project
scope, goals, requirements, assumptions, and constraints.

The conceptual design focuses on achieving the organization’s business goals and requirements.

The logical design includes the relationships between all major infrastructure components and is useful for understanding and evaluating the design of the infrastructure.

A physical design includes specific vendor and implementation details.

Design criteria should include usability, manageability, security, and cost.

Educate key stakeholders and SMEs about vSphere and virtualization so that they can provide valuable input during the design project.

Designing is a balancing act between technical best practices and the organization’s goals, requirements, and constraints.

Objective 2.2 – Map Service Dependencies
·         Identify basic service dependencies for infrastructure and application services.
Skills and Abilities
·         Analyze service dependencies to determine requirements for the logical design of a multi site environment.
·         Identify the upstream/downstream service dependencies.
·         Having navigated logical components and their interdependencies, make decisions based upon all service relationships.
·         Product Documentation

Depending on the project, the optional installation and configuration document might include only high-level steps for implementing the design. On the other hand, the document might include step-by- step procedures for implementing the design. The level of detail typically depends on the cost of the project and whether the design is product-oriented or solution-oriented. A solution-oriented project typically includes more details specific to an organization’s needs.

In either case, these documents can refer to online VMware documentation for detailed step-by-step instructions as necessary. Assume that the reader is familiar with basic vSphere operation.

At a minimum, these documents should include the products listed above.