Like many people who go through the process of attempting to achieve VCAP (VMware Certified Advanced Professional) level certification, I’m going to share some of my journey. To summarize, for those who are mostly curious about the result, I passed on my first attempt after being 100% convinced there was no way I would pass. Since this site was down during the earlier stages, I’ll also include my VCP and VCA experiences.
VMware’s VCP certification requires that you attend one of their classes. This set the barrier reasonably high from a cost perspective. Since I have worked with vSphere for over 5 years, I opted to do the Optimize and Scale class because it has the most relevance to my current role. During the week of the online class, I used the many breaks to read Bill Furguson’s “The Official VCP5 Certification Guide” published by VMware Press. I scheduled the exam for a week after my class to ensure what I learned was fresh.
The testing center PC was pretty antiquated and slow, but I completed the test within the allotted timeframe. I didn’t really pay attention to the official blueprint prior to the test, otherwise I would have known to dig deeper into some areas. I won’t mention the specifics, simply because of the NDA around the test, sorry. Just know that you need to know everything on the blueprint! This test gives you the score immediately and I was surprised to have passed. I credit my many years of working with various operating systems for giving me the ability to make educated guesses when I wasn’t sure of the answer. This was the hardest test I think I have ever taken–even compared to the VCAP test.
I scheduled the exam for late in the afternoon, which also happens to be one of the times I have the least amount of focus. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be allowed to have my phone in the room with me. I’m sure that was an oversight on my part with some of the communication. Being on a rotating on-call schedule makes availability very important so it is worth noting, especially for scheduling any future exams.
I didn’t pay much attention when VMware announced the VCA entry level certifications at VMworld. I had completed my VCP at this point, so it didn’t make sense to spend any money on the tests. Then they started giving out free testing vouchers… I opted to go into the VCA-DCV cold and passed with a very strong score. I went through the online class for the VCA-Cloud and then did that exam, and got a passing score… definitely not a stellar score, but passing. I’m planning to spend some time playing the vCloud stuff soon.
On to the main topic… After passing the VCP5-DCV test, I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to take the certification process. And I don’t know that I have that answer yet, either. I started to research the VCAP5-DCA exam since that was the next logical step with my hands-on admin experience. It was during this process that I came across the many VCAP exam experience posts that walked people through the process of taking the exam. During VMworld Europe, a 50% discount code was available and I took that opportunity to register for the exam. The exam had to be scheduled for no later than Dec 31st, so I scheduled it for Saturday, December 28th in the morning. I wanted a weekend so that I didn’t have work-related stress knowing that I can’t have my phone in the room with me. After retrieving my phone, I had a message about some problems and I spent the drive home discussing them with a colleague.
The DCA (Data Center Administration) exam has 26 multi-part tasks testing hands-on administration and troubleshooting skills. The single biggest factor in this exam is time management. The approach I used was to write 1 through 26 on the dry-erase board, then go through all of the tasks to determine if they are creation (C) or admin (A) tasks and make a note of the type of task (DRS, Networking, Storage, etc). Most of the tasks are fairly independent, however, there are some admin tasks that build on creation tasks. For example, you might have a creation task that sets up DRS and then an admin task later that has you configuring DRS rules. I went back to the beginning and started moving through the exam as quickly as I could, focusing on the ones I knew the subject matter the best. By the end of the allotted testing time, I still hadn’t started on 5 or 6 of the questions, if I recall correctly. I thoroughly enjoyed taking the test, and simply chocked it up to a good experience that I would have to redo. I just didn’t think I had finished enough of the questions to pass. At the end of the exam, you simply get a message stating that the exam will be scored and that you should expect the result within a few weeks (I think they say 15 business days).
Well, I got my results on January 6th. I was nervous opening the attached PDF even though I was sure I didn’t pass. I opened it on my phone, so I had to scroll down to see the score and grade. I was practically jumping for joy when I read my score and that I actually passed! And then a certain level of disappointment set in… I was looking forward to taking it again!
For studying, “The Unofficial Official VCAP5-DCA Study Guide” by Jason Langer and Josh Coen was my primary go to guide. They link to a number of other sites, whitepapers, and reference materials that dig fairly deep into the topics. I also did a simply Google search on “VCAP DCA exam experience” and read just about every post I could find.
Thanks to the wonderful community that has put together all the resources! Now on to the VCAP5-DCD…