Today I passed my VCP 5 exam – a month before the cut off date for getting it done without the need to participate in the usual compulsory classroom training! (For those already holding the VCP 4 certification). It seems like just about everyone is doing one of these exam experience posts, so I thought I would join in and provide my feedback on the exam. I have also had a few people asking about how it went and for some advice on how best to study for the VCP 5 so hopefully this will be help to some. Parts of this post may be repeated information, but I will also detail my specific study routine below which will hopefully be helpful.
Whenever possible, I referred to the following two excellent VCP 5 study / advice pages – they are a great starting point and give a good overview of what you need to know and what you need to cover:
Next up, I got up to speed with the new VMware vSphere 5 features by doing the following:
- Upgraded my home vSphere 4.1 lab environment to vSphere 5 – if you don’t already have a lab, I wrote a (fairly lengthy) article last year about creating one for yourself using VMware Workstation over at Simple-Talk – Read more here. There are various improvements that could be made to this lab environment article, such as using the newer Workstation 8.0, linked clones, and creating some of your VMs such as AD / vCenter within your nested ESXi VMs, so if you do take a look, keep this in mind and take a look else where for newer versions of Lab setups using vSphere 5.
- TrainSignal VCP 5 DVD course – I got one of these ordered in and I watched the entire 17 hours set. Whilst some of it was repeated information for me – (working day in and day out with vSphere 4.x), there were still tons of new things I learnt and of course they cover all of the new vSphere 5 features in some fairly decent detail which was what I was primarily after! It was also good to get a refresher on vDS networking as I don’t use that too often in my day to day duties. Elias and David do a great job of explaining each feature and going through hands on installations / configurations.
- Lab work – I tried out all of the new features (except Auto Deploy) in my upgraded vSphere 5 lab environment at home. I still need to set up Auto Deploy to try it out for myself, but the TrainSignal DVD covered that for me, and I also read up about it in the official VMware documentation.
- Duncan Epping & Frank Denneman’s VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive book – I grabbed a copy on Kindle – this is a great resource to read up about the clustering features, and after reading through their “4.1 edition” whilst I was on holiday last year, I knew I was definitely going to be grabbing this latest refresh. I didn’t have time to read this through before my exam, but I did do a quick refresher on the new HA in vSphere 5 before the exam – it was very useful to know more about the inner workings of FDM and find out more about the new Master / Slave functionality of HA.
The important stuff that you need to know:
- VCP 5 Blueprint – currently, the latest version of this document is 1.41 – I used this and made sure I was up to speed on every section by downloading and reading VMware documentation on each objective in the blueprint. I also read a few blogs who covered the objectives in the blueprint with summarised notes and these were helpful to recap with.
Practise questions / tests
- Simon Long’s SLOG has some great practise questions to try out – I used these a couple of times to practise with – you won’t get these questions in the exam of course, but they are good to check that you know your stuff and practise with.
- VMware Practise exam – this is the official VMware practise exam – I took it once I was happy I was pretty much up to speed with everything. The practise exam I took on the VMware site had 30 questions to do in around 45 minutes. Apparently if you get a full 100% you can’t take it again, so they recommend you purposely answer one question incorrectly to ensure you don’t throw away your chances of using it again. I did this the day before my exam to see how I was doing.