Monday, 13 February 2012

Passing the VCP for vSphere 5

With time running out on being able to certify as a VCP5 without having to take a course, I've spent the evenings of the last few weeks revising and testing in the home lab. As with previous exams, the scoring is emphatically not percentage based and is graded between 100 and 500 with a passing mark of 300(!).

Well, I passed, with a score of 378 (higher than when I did the VCP4) which I was very pleased with, but thought I'd share a few thoughts on the process:

Despite a lot of experience with vSphere and reading up on all the topics in the exam blueprint (this is a must if you want to pass!), I still found myself having to make guesses in a few of the questions. This is because some questions seemed to be more "trivia" oriented and you would only know the answer if you had done that exact operation outside of the exam.

On the plus side, you will note that the exam blueprint doesn't require you to remember a list of configuration maximums anymore!

There are 85 questions to complete within 90 minutes and I found that I answered them all with about 15 minutes to spare, but because I had marked quite a few for review, I used all the time available.

For revision, I used the aforementioned exam blueprint which contains pointers to various VMware documents. This is a huge amount to digest, but it's worth a skim read of all these docs.

I also used Scott Lowe's Mastering vSphere 5 book which currently seems to be the de facto book on the subject, although I did make reference to some parts of Mike Laverick's VMware vSphere 4 Implementation (yes, the previous release) as I feel it gave a better explanation to some sections.

Finally, there is no substitute to hands on experience, and the home lab was fully utilised with 3 nested ESXi servers, both the Windows vCenter Server and the vSphere Appliance tested, along with the VSA, Update Manager, Distributed vSwitches etc.

Special mention must go to the following two sites which have written notes on each of the blueprint sections, both are excellent and really helped in my revision:

It's worth noting that as a regular user of the "Enterprise" version, getting experience with the "Enterprise Plus" features in the lab (thanks to the 60 day trial) is very important as otherwise there are many things that I would never otherwise see. Hopefully the community effort to reignite the VMTN program is successful and we can all benefit from using the full feature set in our home labs.

So that's the VCP out the way until the next big release. More certs later this year...