Two weeks back I made an attempt for VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Data Center Design 5.5 exam but I failed, scoring 280. Later on I felt I have much better understanding of vSphere design but need to focus on what is required to pass and planned to retake the exam in one week of time. I hope the community can learn from my faults and prepare for this challenge. This is a very tough exam and viciously technical but now I’m glad to say I possess VCAP DCD and DCA. Mainly DCD is focused on design methodologies to implement large scale VMware infrastructures whereas VCAP-DCA focused on real time advanced troubleshooting and implementation skills.
When I saw the result on screen that I didn’t clear, I had few thoughts, first anger that I was so close to passing score and another I felt that I had let myself down. I was anxious about sharing my result with other folks. I felt like I had let down everyone who believed in me. So geared up quickly for next attempt in one week so the momentum should not drop. This entire week I have explored all Do’s and Don’ts and also I have connected with several VCDX and DCD folks for suggestions. Joined few of the community to follow the preparation guidelines and discussions. The important thing is that preparing for this exam, I have also explored so many things and become better at what I do by an order of magnitude.
I am trying to share some of the emotional and technical phases I went through. Before sharing my study notes, here are my top 5 views on this.
- Numerous folks said this before but I have to also say the same; field experience is an essential element in my opinion. Doing several vSphere designs and working with this technology for last several years, certainly helped me a lot.
- Unquestionably, A lot of reading of-course.
- Through scan of blueprint
- Take a chill pill to be relaxed and do not do much review or thinking, just prior to the exam.
- Time management and quick reading of long design scenarios.
If you really want to crack it, explore books, whitepapers, vBrownbags, articles, blogs, KBs, lab, YouTube etc.
- The observable thing to start with will undoubtedly be the official exam blueprint
- Focus more on below listed areas:
- vSphere network design and best practices (very important)
- vSphere network policies for security, load balancing etc.
- Compute sizing for workloads and clusters
- Resource pool parameters
- Auto deploy design scenarios
- vSphere storage design and best practices
- vSphere HA cluster advances parameters, performance and design decisions
- Other vSphere features like vMotion, SDRS, RDM etc.
- vSphere APP HA
- vSphere vAPP advanced design decisions etc. etc
- Have a glance at this practice test: http://virtualtiers.net/
- Refer vSphere design guide document, mostly on network section.
- I suggest to plan the time affectively (My plan was 2 hour at max for 8 design questions i.e. 15min in average and minimum 30min for the master design. Remaining 13 drag and drop question in 65 min balance time i.e. max 5min per question (total time = 120min + 30min + 65min) This timeline is applicable only for non-English countries because we get 215min. However please try to complete before the time so there will be an option to review few of the questions. Indeed I was keep on tracking the time for each question. The master design question may come little late so be prepared accordingly.
- There are lots & lots of text to go through for most of the design questions. If you are like me (English not being the first language) then you might spend more time per question but try to summarize the whole design scenario quickly and start working because you will definitely come back many times to review the scenario.
- Recalling about the difference in my multiple attempts and the fact that my knowledge level didn’t change much between several attempts, the only elucidation is that exam technique means a lot. Even if you study everything very thoroughly, you also need to focus on what is significant from the exam point of view.
- Reference URLs: (There are tons of materials available over internet but just focus on design. We need to know everything but only design items are the prime focus here.)
- Blueprint - Read it very well and make sure you cover everything including the links.
- Go through all the available blogs and training materials over internet for DCD.
- Focus on what the exam is for i.e. Design in this case. Know how to calculate resources as you would need to do hardware sizing for virtual infrastructure designs including clusters etc.
- Ask for extra erasable sheets as you may end up writing more data points for the lengthy design scenarios.
- Do as much as you can do for each question and move on to be on time. Keep a track of how many questions and what type of questions you have done and pace accordingly.
- Try to quickly find out the important section of the design scenario, instead of spending more time for each and every line. Because you have to come back to the question many times.
- Prevent anxiety, reach the exam center before the time, make sure you are prepared for next 215min nonstop breath taking moments.
- Do not spend more time to read and understand the design scenarios.
- Do not focus on install, configure and troubleshooting stuff. This part will not be helpful for VCAP-DCD exam. However that will be helpful for VCAP-DCA.
- Do not awake whole night just before the exam to quickly cover all the topics.
- Do not do last minute review at exam center which may put you in to panic mode.
Generic Design Diagrams For Only Reference: