My VCAP5-DCA study resources

VCAP-DCA

This is a list of resources I used to pass the VCAP5-DCA (VDCA550) exam.

The first place to star is the exam blueprint.  This really is the go-to resource for everything you can expect to be tested on.

Exam blueprint (v3.3)
http://mylearn.vmware.com/lcms/web/portals/certification/VCAP_Blueprints/VCAP5-DCA-VDCA550-Exam-Blueprint-v3_3.pdf

VMware VCAP5-DCA Official Certification Guide
http://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/0789753235

Chris Wahl’s VCAP5-DCA Study Sheet
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8JynlqprJW2c1BXSURNUDFsZXM/view?pli=1

Nick Marshall’s vBrownBag VCAP5-DCA Series
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0TJ1rQudTo&list=PLgKUP8MebCghDhhtd1hl3h2cqYqL_G2Rw

VMworld 2014 Breakout Sessions
http://www.vmworld.com/community/sessions/2014/
I especially found the following helpful:
STO2197 – Storage DRS- Deep Dive and Best Practices
NET2745 – vSphere Distributed Switch – Technical Deep Dive
INF2427 – DRS – Advanced Concepts, Best Practices and Future Directions
BCO2701.1 – vSphere HA Best Practices and FT Technology Preview
INF2311.1 – vCenter Server Architecture and Deployment Deep Dive

VMware’s Hands-on-Labs
http://labs.hol.vmware.com/

VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive (Epping/Dennerman)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/VMware-vSphere-5-1-Clustering-Deepdive-ebook/dp/B0092PX72C

Josh Andrews VCAP5-DCA Practice Environment
http://sostechblog.com/2015/03/05/vcap5-dca-practice-environment-test-track-v-550-lab-on-a-laptop-ii/

Together with the above I used a number of the VMware PDFs, namely:

vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-55-command-line-interface-concepts-examples-guide.pdf
vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-551-storage-guide.pdf
vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-55-availability-guide.pdf
vsp_powercli_55_usg.pdf

Oh, and maybe a few of these too… 🙂

Red Bull

VCAP5-DCA… passed!

VCAP-DCAToday I received the news… I passed the VCAP5-DCA exam.  It was tough, but it’s certainly achievable.

Now that it’s behind me, and before I begin the journey to VCAP5-DCD, I thought I would take a few moments to document my journey.

As you’ve no doubt read elsewhere on the web, time is not your ally.  As the blueprint will tell you (section 1.2), the exam “consists of approximately 23 live lab activities” … meaning it is task-based.  You are expected to perform these tasks at a fast pace… so if you don’t know the answer to something you won’t have much any time to stumble through the PDFs.

The blueprint is the first and last word on what you can expect from the exam – if it’s in there then it’s fair game.  So whilst I felt I had most of this covered, there were grey areas I needed to brush up on like vCO.

After I read the blueprint, I chose a multitude of resources to help me study.  These can be found here.

On the day of the exam I wasn’t apprehensive.  I decided to treat it more like an afternoon at work, and to try and enjoy it (after all, I do enjoy what I do for a living).  I arrived at the testing centre thirty minutes early, and after all the Pearson formalities were dispensed with I got to work.

My game plan was to look at each question for no more than a couple of seconds, and if it looked like I could complete the task relatively quickly then I would attempt to.  If not, I would move forward to the next and come back to it.

The plan worked.  I got through the exam with all but one of the questions answered… and no amount of time was going to solve that one.

As VMware made me (and everyone else) sign an NDA before sitting the exam, I obviously can’t reveal anything about it.  However, I can say that the following tips helped me enormously:

esxcli syntax

Unless you’re Rainman, there’s not much point in trying to remember esxcli‘s myriad of commands.  Use the command list function, and grep for a specific target. For example, syslog:

esxcli esxcli command list | grep syslog

Will give you the following:

esxcli1

This tells you that to set a parameter you need to start in:

esxcli system syslog config set

That example was taken from vCLI, but the vMA operates the same.  Note that in local mode (when esxcli operates on the host) you don’t have to specify –server or credentials.

Session file

Use a session file with esxcli… this will save lots of time:

esxcli --server esxi1.uk.mdb-lab.com --username=root --savesessionfile esxi1 system

Then the next time you connect use -f to specify to session file:

esxcli --server esxi1.uk.mdb-lab.com -f esxi1 system version get

Will give you:

esxcli2

Advanced Search

Finally, as the DCA is an open-book exam, be familiar with the Advanced Search function.

Open one of the PDFs, then navigate to Edit —> Advanced Search.  Select the All PDF Documents in radio button and navigate to the folder containing the VMware documents.

search1

Enter your criteria and click Search:

search2
The PDF reader you have access to on the exam may or may not be Adobe Reader. However, it still has the ability to search through multiple PDFs using the technique above.

Practice practice practice!

All the reading in the World will not help if you can’t execute all the tasks in a real environment very quickly.  Every day I put in at least two hours in the lab, using a combination of the GUI, CLI and PowerCLI.

As I said, the exam is tough but if you know your stuff it is achievable.

Now onto the VCAP-DCD!