Passed VCAP6.5-DCV Design … Yes! Finally VCDX6

Passed VCAP6.5-DCV Design … Yes! Finally VCDX6

VCAP6.5-DCV Design … finally

This morning, I finally got around to taking the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 Data Center Virtualization (VCAP6.5-DCV) Design exam. I have been planning this exam and blogging [1, 2] about preparing for it for quite a while now. Due to all sort of planning issues I kept postponing the exam. In the end I decided to run a study group at ITQ with a couple of likeminded enthusiasts. Being kind of the initiator of this study effort, I felt the pressure to actually plan and pass the exam. So, when my co-worker Wesley beat me to it (great job by the way!), I decided to just plan the exam and deal with it. I love some healthy competition 😉

VCAP6.5-DCV Preparation and study material used

Since I passed my VCDX certification last year, and I’m regularly working as a consulting architect in VMware related projects, I’m still pretty comfortable with identifying and classifying Requirements, Constraints, Assumptions & Risks (RCARs) and the Availability, Manageability, Performance Recoverability & Security (AMPRS) design qualities. On the other hand, I don’t work day to day with vSphere 6.5 a lot. So, I put the most effort in learning about vSphere 6.5 features and capabilities. vSphere 6.5 was released around the time I was preparing for VCDX so I might have missed out on a couple of details. My first stop was the Pluralsight vSphere 6.5 What’s New video training. This gave me a good basic overview of all the new vSphere 6.5 features. My VCDX design was based on a vSphere 6.0 environment so I was already pretty familiar with that version’s specifics.

I also put some time into studying the vSphere 6.5 documentation set. I put some extra effort in the vSphere 6.5 Availability Guide and the vSphere 6.5 Upgrade Guide. I also went through the vSphere 6.5 Installation Guide and, since I was expecting some questions about SSO topologies and upgrade/migration paths, I also downloaded the Platform Services Controller Administration PDF.

Thoughts on the VCAP6.5-DCV Design exam

What a difference with the previous design exams! Despite my relative low score, I have to say this exam didn’t feel all that hard. I obviously missed some questions but overall I thought is was quite easy. There were some specific details I missed in some areas. In the end, I didn’t have a whole lot of preparation time, so with some extra study time I’m sure I would have covered these areas way better. Previous VCAP level exams were real energy drainers. I had almost an hour left on the clock so there was no time stress whatsoever. The new exam interface is a big improvement. The Visio style questions in the previous design exam were a real nightmare so I’m really glad VMware got rid of those. The current exam is just multiple choice and some drag and drop. This makes the exam a lot easier. Being completely honest … I am kind of wondering if it wasn’t too easy. Passing a VCAP always felt like a huge victory and I didn’t have that same sense of fulfilment this morning. Having finally upgraded my VCDX5 to VCDX6 DOES make up for that though!

Tips for the VCAP6.5-DCV Design exam

As my colleague Wesley put it after passing his exam: “if you know vSphere 6.5 and RCARs and AMPRS, then you’re good to go”. I completely agree. If you work with vSphere 6.5, know it’s features, their capabilities and their limitations and you make sure you know how to identify RCARS and AMPRS then you should be able to pass it. Since I am mostly working as a consulting architect, I needed to dive into the technical bits of vSphere 6.5. If you have more hands-on experience with vSphere 6.5, you may have to put some more time and effort in the RCARs and AMPRS.

I would suggest you also take the following into account when preparing for the exam:

  • Make sure you understand the core features of DRS and HA. Understand which business problems they help solve and what limitations and drawbacks are involved.
  • Understand upgrade/migration scenarios from previous versions
  • Read up on vNUMA and EVC
  • Make sure you understand the difference between Availability and Recoverability
  • Understand interoperability limitations between vSphere features (if you enable feature XYZ, which other features can’t be used anymore)

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