My VCAP5-DCA study resources


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)

VMware VCAP5-DCA Official Certification Guide

Chris Wahl’s VCAP5-DCA Study Sheet

Nick Marshall’s vBrownBag VCAP5-DCA Series

VMworld 2014 Breakout Sessions
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

VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive (Epping/Dennerman)

Josh Andrews VCAP5-DCA Practice Environment

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


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:


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 --username=root --savesessionfile esxi1 system

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

esxcli --server -f esxi1 system version get

Will give you:


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.


Enter your criteria and click Search:

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!

Wednesday Tidbit: Join vMA to AD and restrict access

20150703 - VMwareAs part of studying for my VDCA550-DCA, I’ve started relying more on the CLI and a lot less on the GUI.  IMHO, the best tool for the job is the vSphere vMA.

For ease of use, I decided to add it to my domain and then lock it down so only certain users could logon.

First, logon to the vMA and add it to the domain:

sudo domainjoin-cli join

This will prompt you for the vMA super-user password you set during installation, followed by the password for the account you’re using to add the vMA to the domain. The vMA will then require a reboot.

Once restarted, edit /etc/likewise/lsassd.conf and add the AD groups you wish to have access to the vMA:

sudo sed -i "/require-membership-of/c\require-membership-of = NL\\\vMA Access Users" /etc/likewise/lsassd.conf

In this case, I created an AD group called vMA Access Users and used that.