Tag Archives: exam

VMware Cloud on AWS Management Exam 2019


It’s been a busy few weeks for me. Earlier on this month I wrote about sitting the VMware Cloud Provider Specialist Exam and continuing on from that I decided to pursue the VMware Cloud on AWS Management Exam.

As I previously discussed with the Cloud Provider exam it falls into a new collections of exams from VMware that are aimed at providing skills and achievements rather than certifications. Now if you’re a little confused let me clarify it a little more. Unlike the Cloud Provider which would require you to hold a VCP and provides you a badge denoting you as a Specialist. The VMware Cloud on AWS exam has no prerequisites and gives you a Skill VMware / Acclaim badge. All straight-forward right?!?! If you’re still confused, don’t worry about it for now, many people are.

Covering off some of the fundamentals of this exam. It’s a non-proctored web based exam. Meaning you can sit it whenever and where ever you like. You have 30 questions with 45 minutes which to complete it in. So while not many questions, you have only a minute and a half on average to answer each question.

Being honest, it’s a fairly basic exam comparative to other VMware exams available. You’re not going to be overly challenged over the 45 minutes. We do have to put this exam into context a little here though. As I mentioned above this exam is classed as a Skill. It’s not a certification so the question count and difficulty of those questions are kind of reflected here. I would rate this Skill exam a little below the level of a Specialist exam like that of the Cloud Provider I took recently.

If you look at what it’s trying to achieve as an exam it does hit the mark. Prior to studying and sitting this exam I really knew little about VMware Cloud on AWS. I had been to many sessions and presentations on VMC over the last year or so. In all the sessions I’ve seen they did a great job of explaining what it is but I still really didn’t know how to use it or all the little intricate things it was capable of. Having now studied and taken the exam, I have a much more thorough understand not just of the product but how it’s actually used and managed.

The types of questions you will see in the exam can be broken up into two basic categories. Simple high level questions of what VMware Cloud on AWS can do and what those services are. Then the slight more technical, but still relatively simple, questions on how to actually perform a task.

My study consisted of the VMware Cloud on AWS: Deploy and Manage three day course. It’s a paid course which you can do in the classroom or on-demand, the latter which I did. This was the bulk of my study which I crammed over three nights after work. The course covers 95% if not 100% of what is in the exam. I supplemented this with a very short demo of the VMware Cloud on AWS -- Getting Started Hands-on Lab and briefly looked at the VMware Cloud on AWS Sizer and TCO site and the VMware Cloud on AWS | FAQs.

Final Thoughts:
While far from being a deep technical exam. It does a decent job on testing your knowledge of the product and validating those skills. Certainly from my view point it encouraged me to actually spent some time studying VMware Cloud on AWS which I had been otherwise avoiding until now. Don’t expect to become a guru on the product afterwards but take the exam for what it is a learn something new if you haven’t delved into it until now.

VMware Cloud Provider Specialist Exam 2019

After many months of procrastinating I finally decided to sit the VMware Cloud Provider Specialist Exam (5V0-32.19). The exam was released at the end of August 2018, so it’s been available for quite a few months now. This comes after a long wait from the vCloud community asking for a specialist / dedicated exam around vCloud Director and its product suite.

The first thing to note with this exam is that it’s not a certification but rather falls under a new collection of exams from VMware that are better represented by Skills and Achievements and are acknowledged through VMware / Acclaim Badges (as shown by the one above).

The exam is non-proctored web based. Meaning, like me, you can take the exam first thing in the morning before starting work. This is a format first released by VMware with their VMware Certified Associate exams a number of years back. The exam is 40 questions sat over 60 minutes with the standard 300 passing score. The exam is predominately focused on vCloud Director but also cover numerous other products in the vCloud Suite of products and the Cloud Provider program

It’s a relativity solid exam, I feel sitting in between an Associate and Professional certification in terms of difficulty. Having used vCloud Director and its various suite of tools for quite a few years now. I took this exam cold with no additional study. I managed to answer the 40 questions in a little over 30 minutes and then spent 10 minutes reviewing about a dozen questions I was a little uncertain on. Generally speaking, with these kind of exams, you either know or don’t know the answer. So trust you gut instinct and put your answer as the first thing that comes to your mind. Then flag it for review if you are truly uncertain.

So what should you do if you want to take and pass this exam? It’s a little tricky for me to definitively recommend study material as I relied on my previously gained knowledge of the vCloud Director and it’s various product line. I would certainly say this is an exam for someone that administers and engineers vCloud Director solutions. That’s generally going to be someone in the Service Provider space. If you don’t use vCloud Director I would question the real benefit you would gain from this exam, with the exception of forcing you to study up on the various products that go into this exam. If you’re still set on this exam and don’t have access to vCD you’re best bet would be Hands on Labs HOL-1983-01-HBD -- VMware Cloud Provider Program -- vCloud Director for Service Providers.

There is no formal Blueprint that I’m aware of but there is an Exam Preparation Guide PDF for the exam on the VMware Certification site. It has quite a lot of Sections and Objectives to work through and a huge amount of reference material. This could be quite a challenge for someone new to vCloud Director to work through.

Generally speaking though you will need to know vCloud Director. It’s the core focus of this exam. The exam is also based on vCD 9.1. This is extremely important to know. For example things like supported databases have changed in recently releases of vCD leading you to in incorrect assumption for the answer. While it’s unlikely you’ll be asked to specifically do something around point and clicks. You will more likely need to understand all the different terminologies and constructs used in vCD and how they relate back into vSphere.

You should understand the concepts and components behind vCloud Extender. What it is, what it does, and how you might use it. The same goes for vCloud Usage Meter and it’s newer SaaS offering Usage Insight. While I don’t recall but you may see some questions around vCloud Availability too.

You’ll also probably see a few questions around a new product, Cloud Provider Pod and Cloud Provider Hub. Very few people would have hands on experience with this new product. It’s basically an Orchestration platform to stand up an entire vCloud Director stack from bare metal. I’d recommend watching the VMworld presentation Introducing VMware Cloud Provider Pod presented by Wade Holmes which should give you all the high level information you need on it.

Final Thoughts:
As mentioned above, this is a solid exam. It covers quite a lot of different products in VMware’s Cloud Program Program / vCloud suite. It’s ideally suited to Service Providers using vCD. vCloud Director is a very intricate product with many external dependencies. The exam is a great way to validate and acknowledge those skills you have acquired with vCD and associated products.

Recap: VCP-NV Certification (2V0-642)

Earlier this week I took and passed the VCP-NV (2V0-642) exam.  I do have to say it was a really good experience.  It’s one of the few exams I really did enjoy studying for and sitting.  So I thought I might use this as an opportunity to post a short recap of my experience and what I used to study and pass the exam.

Getting some of the technicalities out the way all of which can be found at VMware’s VCP-NV landing page.  The 2V0-642 exam is VMware’s updated version 2 of the original VCP-NV exam which officially came out back in 2015.  Back then it was a 120 questions and by all accounts much harder than this new revised version.  This revised exam, based on NSX 6.2, is 2 hours long and 77 questions with a standard 300 passing score out of 500.  If you currently hold a VCP the process to certification is fairly straight forward.  Take and pass the 2V0-642 exam and earn certification.  If you don’t hold a VCP you have a number of pre-requisites to meet.  Again, all of which can be found at the VCP-NV landing page.

So first how was the exam?  As I mentioned above, a really good experience.  Gone are the days of having to take a pre-exam survey.  Just acknowledge the Terms and Conditions and the exam begins immediately -Awesome.  The questions were well laid out, clear, and descriptive enough to understand.  Of course it wouldn’t be a real exam without one or two confusing questions and there were a few of them, but only a few.  The exam questions are all weighted so at the end of the day it is a level playing field for everyone.

So what was my process for studying for this exam?

I guess firstly I’ve attended many presentations and watched a number of high level videos on NSX but nothing really deep on the product, nothing really exam helpful.  A few months back (the week before VMWorld) I attended the 5-day Install, Configure, Manage course on NSX 6.2.  This was a great course and a good primer into learning to use NSX.  Very helpful grasping the fundamentals in being able to get started.  Well recommended for everyone getting started.

Next came actually using the product in a real lab environment.  I think this is a requirement!  Bare minimum you should be using VMware’s Hands on Labs but even better is to have your own environment.  I’m lucky enough to be preparing for a production deployment and had a test lab to deploy and play with.  Having your own environment constantly available is hard to beat.

vBrownBag YouTube videos!  There is a VCP-NV series available on YouTube.  The videos are based on the original VCP-NV exam and are a few years old but still very relevant.  Actually still extremely relevant.  There’s eight videos to hunt around for which cover the original objectives with the exception of Troubleshooting.  The Objectives match up very closely.  The 2V0-642 exam has one main new Objective which covers Cross-vCenter.

In terms of reading material i would highly recommend going through the official NSX online docs pages.  Lots of mindless reading but you will find that exam questions come straight out of that.  And truthfully you will learn a huge amount doing that.  Just remember to focus on version 6.2.  I’d also recommend the Cross-vCenter NSX Installation Guide PDF from VMware.  This is also in the online docs but I found the PDF easier to consume which I found to be hugely informative and the exam did test heavily on this for me.  So I was very thankful to have focused on this reading.

And that was basically it.  Practice hands on what you have learnt and read.  Troubleshoot in your lab as you are building it out.  A few solid study days on the weekend and you should be in a really good position to take and pass the exam.

 

VCP5-DCV Delta done and dusted

Over the weekend logic and common sense failed me and I decided to sit my VCP5-DCV Delta Exam.  Since VMware introduced a recertification policy back in March 2014 I’ve been buying my time to renew.  My deadline was approaching and with the limited time offer to sit a Delta exam recertification I jumped on it.

To date I’ve seen nothing out there on user experiences taking the Delta exam, though, it’s only been three weeks since the VCP5-DCV Delta exam has been available.  So unfortunately taking this exam would be unchartered waters.  I’ve been psyching myself up all week so that wasn’t going to phase me 🙂

I had my plan ready for first thing Saturday morning.  I would fire up the vSphere environment on my new NUC test lab.  Download all the PDFs in the VCP5-DCV Delta Blueprint.  Then cram like I’ve never crammed before over 48 hours and take the exam Sunday night.

Step 1 was Requesting Authorization on the VMware MyLearn site.  I had already performed this earlier on in the week and was authorized the same day, my authorization was valid for 10 years, I guess just in case I became a little busy.  Step 2 was booking for the VCP550D exam on the Pearsons website first thing Saturday morning.  There’s nothing like preparing for an exam than knowing you’ve already paid to take it.  The exam cost was $130 AUD ($120 USD).

Next I downloaded and studied the Blueprint.  65 questions over 75 minutes, that’s 1 minute 15 seconds per a question.  Vmware are notorious for pushing time limits in exams 🙁  The MyLearn site states that only new material between vSphere 5.0/5.1 and vSphere 5.5 would be on the exam yet the blueprint contained everything that would be in a full VCP exam.  This made study a little difficult.  I wasn’t going to study everything obviously.  So I took advantage of the FREE 1-hr online course -VMware vSphere: What’s New Fundamentals of V5.5 to help prepare for the exam.  I used that has the basis of what I needed to study.  The online course was a good starting point of where to start the deep dives into the PDFs.  What I found was absent in the video, but clearly mentioned on the blueprint, was vCOPs and vSAN.  Something to keep in mind.

Next came the mind numbingly hard part of reading the PDFs.  I focused heavily on some of the new guides, In particular, the Replication guide, Data Protection, and Storage.  By Sunday afternoon (after a day and half of reading) I had covered most of the material in the PDFs.  The only exception being the three vCOPS PDFs totalling 400 pages which I refused to read!

Next came taking a few practice exams off the VMware MyLearn site.  I knew the questions would be broader than the Delta exam so I just focused on the new 5.5 material.

As the end of Sunday approached it was time to take the exam.  Now If it’s not clear by this point, this is an online exam.  For the people that don’t know what that means.  It is an open book exam!  Now I don’t want hate messages.  It’s an open book exam!

So this is where my three monitors got put to good use.  Monitor 1, the exam window.  Monitor 2, Google.  Monitor 3, the Advanced Search function of Adobe Reader set to search all PDFs in the Blueprint folder.

Now if you’ve read this far, plain and simply, I’m not going to give you the answers.  I feel, though, based on my experience I can comfortably recommend what you need to be studying.  So know your vSAN, know your vFlash, know your VDP, and know Replication.  It felt like the lower end of 50% -- 75% was this new material and the rest was standard VCP knowledge material that we should all know.  Looking at the exam at a high level it’s set in the format of a traditional VCP exam.  So if you can remember back to your last one expect the same types of questions worded the same way.

Where I felt I was weak on and would also recommend.  Know your vSphere Editions and high level vCOPs 😉  If you’ve done your VCA-DCV certification you’ll been fine with that knowledge for vCOPs.  Just focus on your knowledge of what Badges are and what they are comprised of.

So now long story short I am recertified for another 728 days.

As an open disclaimer I’ve been using vSphere 5.5 since day one of release.  I’ve been closely following all the new technologies that have been accompanying vSphere 5.5.  Keep that in mind before you say this was a paper certification.

References

Recertification Policy

VCP5-DCV Delta recertification exam

Pearsons VMware exam registration site

My VCA experience

When a friend sent me a link to the offical VMware Certified Associate (VCA) site shortly after release I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed.  I think my official response back to him was ‘meh’.   You had this exam track that you could take online, at home.  What challenge is that?!?  It looked like a cert targeted at the virtualization sales consultant.  But then came October and I strangely changed my opinion.  VMware had a few offers on table, when combined, allowed you to sit the exam for free.  How could you refuse!

I heard about the offers mid October and was already in the middle of unrelated study with some tight deadlines.  Never the less on the following quiet Friday after work I sat down and read through the blueprint of the VCA -- Data Center Virtualization exam.  It all looked very straight-forward.  Watch a 2.5 hour training course and a handful of short PDF {marketing} documents.  I think I got about 20 minutes into the fundamentals training video and skipped to the end.  The plan prior was to study and take the exam on Sunday.  Being free, though, I thought what the hell and just sat the exam right there and then.  75 minutes and 50 questions to answer.  It took me 35-40 minutes to complete the exam.  I scored somewhere around 430.  There was some satisfaction but I was really searching for it.  The questions held no real technical depth.  It was really more around knowing the concepts and basic vSphere terminology.

So confident I was, a few days later (Sunday), I sat the VCA Cloud exam.  Out of the three Certification tracks VMware have, Cloud is no doubt my weakest one.  Never the less I applied my same logic from the VCA-DCV --It’s a free exam and I can always take it again.  A few questions into the exam and I new I was in trouble.  Against better judgement I opened up a browser window and started searching for answers.  Great, I was starting to find the answers now.  But time was against me.  I couldn’t find the answers fast enough.  I finished the exam with 5 minutes left and wasn’t feeling confident.  I failed with a 298.  What are the odds that I failed by 2 points.  Pretty good if you search the net.  People always fail by 1, 2, or 3 points.

Feeling embarrassed I went to bed to rethink my VCA-Cloud tactics.  The following Friday night I pulled up the Cloud blueprint.  Took the 3 hour course video and read through the PDF documents referenced in the blueprint.  Saturday morning, I woke up, opened up a browser full of tabs on VMware Cloud material and sat the exam.  This time the answers came much easier to me.  With no need to reference any online material, bar one question, I completed the exam in 40 minutes with a score of 485.  With a little more satisfaction and much needed vindication I tried to find some pride in the score.  Not bad for one nights study.  Though we’ll ignore the fact that more than half the questions were the same as my first attempt.

Time was against me in the month of October and I wasn’t able to sit the third VCA-WM end user (Desktop) exam.  The multiple discount codes to sit the VCA exams for free have now ended.  One VMware offer still exists till the end of the year to sit the exams for half price.  Normally $120 US  you can sit it for $60.  I have to admit my interest to pay (only) $60 to sit a VCA isn’t really there.  My only motivation is really to just get that Hat-Trick.

In a recent VMware Communities Roundtable podcast with John Arrasjid (@vcdx001), they spoke about the VCA track.  It was an interesting podcast that helped answer a lot of questions I had around the VCA track.  They spoke about the objective of the VCA track.  Its intended target audience.  Why it was chosen to be an ‘Open Book’ exam.  Oddly it didn’t even occur to me that it was expect you would search for the answers online during the exam.

While my criticism of the VCA track has somewhat diminished I still have my doubts on it’s validity in the community.  I was a little worried about being so negative in the post.  But the truth is these are just my opinions and I just needed to get it out there.

vca_certs