Get Your Read On

I just wanted to spend some time to tell you about two great books recently released by Pearson publishing. Both are focused on VMware vSphere 4 and will help you do two things…learn more about vSphere and how to administer it, then help you to pass the VCP-410 exam which is needed for VMware Certified Professional (VCP) certification.

The first book, VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise by Edward Haletkyis now in its second edition which includes details into the new features found in vSphere 4.1. As you may or may not know, Edward runs VirtualizationPractice.comand has been a virtualization evangelist for quite some time. In addition to the blog site, Edward is also the moderator and host of the Virtualization Security Podcast. If you’re looking to expand your vSphere knowledge I’d strongly suggest checking out this book, there is even a free chapter available for download.

Once you’ve read Edward’s book and have configured your own vSphere environment in your home lab, the next thing to do is prepare for the VCP-410 exam. VCP4 Exam Cram: VMware Certified Professional, 2nd Edition has just been revised to include all of the latest updates to the VCP-410 exam. Elias Khnaser takes you through what is needed to become VCP Certified, it provides coverage and practice questions for every exam topic. The book contains an extensive set of preparation tools, such as quizzes, Exam Alerts, and a practice exam, while the CD provides real-time practice and feedback with a 75-question test engine.

There you have it, two great reads on expanding your knowledge around VMware vSphere 4. You don’t have to take my word for it, but the job market around virtualization is growing like crazy so learning as much as you can and becoming certified is the clear cut way to jumping into this great line of work!

Get Your Contest On!

Would you like a free copy of the VCP4 Exam Cram? The nice people at Pearson gave me 10 copies to give away and one of them could be yours! I’ll make this contest really simple, I will be giving away 5 copies to readers that comment on this post and 5 copies to followers on Twitter. That means you have 2 chances to win!

Chance #1: Post a comment on this page expressing your interest in becoming VCP Certified.
Chance #2: Follow me on Twitter(@rick_vmwaretips) and send a tweet to me that says you want to become VCP Certified (example:  @rick_vmwaretips I’d love to get my hands on the VCP4 Exam Cram!)

UPDATE: Contest is now closed, I will be notifying the winners tonight and they must respond by Monday to receive their prize. Entries made after 2/24 at 8:30am PST are ineligible.

Fine print:  Contest ends February 24 at 8:30 a.m. PST.  Winners must respond by February 28 at 11:59 PST or prize will be forfeited.  US residents only.

Created on February 21, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification, Good Reading.

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VMware VCAP-DCA #1

Last week on Twitter I publicised that I received the official document stating I achieved my VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Datacenter Administration Certification in vSphere 4. I’ve known for a few months that I passed the DCA exam because of e-mails that VMware Certification sent out, but what I did not know was my actual certification number.

Participants of the VCP, VCAP and VCDX certification tracks are assigned certification numbers when they successfully pass the required exams for that track. For example, I’m VCP #7315 which I received when I passed the VCP2 exam and I’m VCDX #21 which I received when completing all necessary steps for VCDX certification.

So I received in the mail the typical “Welcome Kit” that you receive with your certificate. In this kit I received the Congratulations letter, my free copy of Workstation, a nice vCAP hat and the actual certificate. To my surprise my number is VCAPDCA-1 which means I was the first person to take and successfully pass the DCA exam. Quite exciting!

I’m a fairly humble person, as most people would say about me, but I am pretty stoked about being #1 and by no means would I consider myself in the same category as VCDX #1. Thank you VMware for allowing me to be part of such as great certification beta program! I can’t wait to see what other great programs you come out with.

Created on February 11, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification.

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VCDX4 Annoucement

It makes me very proud to announce that I received my VCAP4-DCD Beta Exam results and much to my surprise (honestly) I passed!

Congratulations on passing the VMware Certified Advanced Professional on vSphere4 – Datacenter Design exam! You will receive an email notification from once your certification status has been confirmed and added to your VMware Education Transcript (allow 10 days).

Based on the following VMware Education diagram, currently holding the VCDX3 certification and passing the VCAP4-DCD exam upgrades you to the VCDX4 certification.

VCDX4 Upgrade Path

Thank you VMware for allowing me to be part of such a great education program. Now it’s time to celebrate a little!

Created on January 11, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification.

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VMware VCAP4-DCD BETA Exam Experience

Just like Jason Boche and Chris Dearden I was able to take part in the VCAP4-DCD Beta experience. I took my exam in San Diego on Tuesday (11/9) which was a lot nicer than having to drive up to Orange County like I did for the DCA exam.

Both Jason and Chris did great write-ups on it, the exam was 131 questions and they gave you 3hrs 45mins to complete. The first portion is the NDA acceptance then on to a questionnaire asking you to set your level of understanding. The test had three different types of questions, including;

  1. Traditional Multiple Choice (select 1, 2 or 3 of many)
  2. Visio-like tool to create architecture drawings
  3. GUI style tool where you drag options and drop them on answers

I was able to finish the exam with about 15 minutes to spare, and luckily for me I answer every single question as I was surprised to see no options for going back to review after you finished. I did think I would have a final opportunity to provide input at the end of the exam, but unfortunately I was not presented with that option but I did leave some good feedback on questions that were incorrect or if I felt were unnecessary. A few of the questions did require vendor specific knowledge, I answered these to the best of my ability but left comments that I do not think having vendor specific questions is a good idea for this style of exam. Oh BTW, the Visio style tool is a LOT better than the one in the VCDX3 Design Exam….but it does take a little time getting use to it!

I did not have any fun confrontations with the Pearson staff like Jason did, but I did get into a good discussion about security with a Pearson employee about their new “Palm Vein Scanning Device” that they’re pushing over traditional finger prints. Pretty cool stuff as it ensures identity protection but keeps their information database unappealing to law enforcement (for e-discovery types of things – ie: you leave finger prints at crime scenes, not vein layouts).

Anyways, I feel like I did fairly well – it was a good experience and the information in the blueprint was extremely helpful in my preparation.  I’m excited to see what my results are, if I pass I obtain the DCD certification as well as an upgrade to VCDX4.

Created on November 11, 2010 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification, Training.

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VMware VCAP4-DCA Beta Exam Experience

Sorry this took so long to get out, my new position at EMC has proven to be extremely demanding…which I LOVE! I love going out and evangelizing about what great things we’re doing in the virtualization space. Anyways, back to the review…

Two weeks ago (June 9th) I took the VCAP4-DCA Beta Exam at the Pearson Vue office in Anaheim, CA. The overall process was the same as taking any other VMware exam, you sign-in and verify your identity then they log you into a workstation where the exam awaits.

What’s immediately different about the DCA exam is that it is 100% lab based, no multiple choice questions on this one. Once the Vue administrator signs you into the exam you accept a few disclosures then a RDP-style connection is made with a system probably located at VMware HQ. You switch between the questions and the desktop session using a button located on the screen, you do use the same session for the entire test.

Without breaking NDA it is difficult to explain what’s covered in the exam, but I can say that you will need as much hands-on experience as you can possibly get. It covers many different areas including Installation, Firewall management, NMP management and even some of the add-ons like vShield Zones.

For the beta you get 4 hours to basically get through as much as you can,  I was able to get through about 40 of the questions. I personally haven’t heard how long the exam will be when it goes GA nor how many questions it will have but the one great thing about this exam and the entire VCAP certification is that it will definitely separate the book cramers and good exam takers from the true experienced administrators.

Created on June 25, 2010 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification.

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VCAP4 and VCDX4 Certifications

Have you been wanting to start down the VCDX3 track and were a little hesitant because you knew the VCDX4 would be shortly approaching? Well here is some information that could help you with your planning. VMware has recently made public some changes to their certifications program.

As many of you already knew there is the VCP certification which requires taking a VMware Approved class as well as passing the VCP exam (currently VCP410). Then early last year they added the VCDX3 program which requires a VCP but also adds in two exams (Enterprise Administration and Design) as well as a submitting a VCDX Application (design document) and then sitting through a defense.

For vSphere4 they’ve added a new certification track, VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP4) with two available specialties, Data Center Administration (DCA) and Data Center Design (DCD). If you haven’t already guessed it they are basically the upgradesto the Enterprise Administration and Design Exam necessary for the VCDX3. The problem was that many people wanted to take that next step in their virtualization education and certification, but unless you’re a pre-sales engineer for a partner or a systems architect the need of obtaining a VCDX is low (unless you’re a vDiva like me).

So what does that mean if you’ve already taken the VCDX3 Enterprise Administration and Design Exam? Not to worry, there is an upgrade path for those of you that have already started your journey (or already have a VCDX3). Simply take the VCAP4-DCD exam when it is made available (around August) and you’ll be qualified to obtain the VCDX4 (or will be upgraded if you’ve already obtained a VCDX3). The chart on the right highlights your certification options and the path you would take depending on where you’re at. The * denotes the exam will be available at a discounted price.

The VCAP4-DCA exam will be available around mid-July and the VCAP4-DCD exam around the August time-frame. VCDX4 defenses will still happen at VMware global events (VMworld, PEX, etc). But now you have almost endless options and certification choices when it comes to VMware.

Created on May 30, 2010 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification, Training.

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My VMware VCDX Defense Experience

While most of my readers were already home with their families, or packing up and checking out of their hotel rooms on the way to the airport, I was getting ready for probably the most important 2 hours of my technical career.

So here we are, Friday at 7:15am – a few minutes to grab some food and collect my nerves before I enter room Foothill D at the SF Marriott. To my luck, I enter the lobby of the Mission Steak restaurant and guess who’s there….the entire VMware Certification team, including panel members for my VCDX.  There goes collecting my nerves.

Right at 8:00am I walk over to Foothill D and they’re not quite ready, so I get to talk with another VCDX candidate in the hallway for a few minutes (they ran two panels at the same time)…helping him calm his nerves helped me relax a little. Within a few minutes they were ready.

I enter the room, there are (3) VCDX panelists along with two other individuals, one is an auditor ensuring the process flows smoothly and that the panelists are fair. The other is a member of the VMware Certification department ensuring all legal needs are met and that my questions were answered.

As detailed in the application, you first have 15 minutes to give a brief executive overview of your design, it is my suggestion to include a brief biography of yourself and why you’re a good candidate for the VCDX Certification.  After you’ve completed the summary (btw-using the entire 15 minutes is not necessary, and is not shunned upon if you don’t), you will then get into the 55 minutes of actual defense.  In this section the (3) panelist will ask you random questions about the design, why you did what you did and why certain decisions were made.

After the completion of part 2, you will get roughly a 10-15 minute break.  Enough time to hit the bathroom, grab some water and recompose yourself for the last two steps.

Step 3 is a Role Playing Scenario, in this section you’re presented with a list of specific requirements (hardware type, applications, SLA, etc) and you need to design the environment for the panelists. I strongly suggest using the provided whiteboard as much as possible.  In this scenario the panelists are customers, so they will not know much so you need to ask the right questions to get the answers you need to finalize the design.  For this section you only have 30 minutes. You do not need to complete the actual design, the panel just wants to see the process you use to determine the design and how your thought process works.

In the final step you will be presented with a problem, the panelists are administrators from different departments (Storage, Networking and Computing).  You will be given a design diagram, along with the symptoms of the problem.  You have 15 minutes to resolve the issue.  With that said, you do not need to resolve the problem, the panel just wants to see how your mind thinks and what questions you ask to get as close to the resolution as possible.

So, how was my experience?  I was a little nervous, but I did the best I could do given the short amount of time provided to prepare. I had a little bit of heartburn last night, but I’ve calmed down now and only time will tell. But like I said, I’m confident.  I’ve been doing this for many years and I should be OK.  If not, there is always next time!  With that said, if all goes well I should be VCDX #20 (based on information provided by VMware Certification).

They did about a dozen defenses the days around VMworld, from what I hear there was about a 50/50 pass/fail rate….that is a fairly high amount of failures!   All I can say,  prepare and do not be nervous – pretend you are presenting in front of some customers!

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.  However, I cannot divulge into exact details on the defense, I’d be more than happy to help you prepare.

Created on September 5, 2009 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification.

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VCP4 Beta Exam Information for VMworld Attendees

You may have heard me on Friday via Twitter that I’ve passed the VCP4 Beta (along with a list of others). Today I received an e-mail making it official, along with a selection of great goodies!

The list of goodies included a VCP4 Hat, VMware Certified Professional button and some really sweet (sarcastic) light up glasses…which will probably come in handy on Wednesday night!

Well, thought I’d share that with you guys. VMworld so far has been a blast.  Time to sign off and head to the Welcome Reception, where a select few will receive a very special polo shirt, button and VMnut sticker!

Dear Rick,

Congratulations!  You have successfully passed the VMware Certified Professional beta exam on vSphere4 (VCP4).  A formal score report will be sent to you via Pearson VUE the week after VMworld.  You are receiving this notice because you have been identified as an attendee of VMworld 2009 in San Francisco.  You should have received a notice on how to pick up a “Hello Certification” button at the time of registration.  These are only for VCP4s if others are asking.  Please stop by the Testing Room in the San Francisco Marriott (Club Room) for an additional gift!

This gift and the button are exclusive to VMworld 2009 attendees who have passed the beta exam or pass the VCP4 exam at the event.

Thank you for your valuable contribution to the VCP4 beta exam and your continued support of VMware.

Kind Regards,

The VMware Technical Certification Team

Created on August 31, 2009 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification, VMworld.

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VCDX Defense Scheduled!

For those of you that know, I recently heard that I passed the VCDX Design Exam, within the e-mail it details steps required to schedule your defense and how to submit the application for defense.  Well, I figured I should schedule it to ensure I can lock a spot the week of VMworld.

I was a little concerned that they wouldn’t schedule the defense until the application was approved. To my surprise, they locked in Sept 4th for my defense and it will be pending an approved application. So, I have until August 14th to submit my application and have it approved to ensure I still have my date.  If for whatever reason my application isn’t in, or it is denied – I lose my spot.

So, wish me luck again!  I’m going to start on my application probably this weekend.  It will probably take me a few hours, if not a couple days as there is a LOT of data required.

Created on August 1, 2009 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification.

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VCDX Design Exam Beta Results

After three LONG months (and the word LONG is an understatement), I finally received the results to my VCDX Design Exam Beta!

Dear Rick,

Congratulations.  You have successfully passed the VMware Design 3 beta exam.  A formal score report will be sent to you via Pearson VUE in August.  This was the third of five components that you will need to complete in order to achieve the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX3) Certification. Your participation in the beta exam and continued patience has been greatly appreciated.

Next Steps:

The next component to becoming a VCDX3 is to complete a Design Application.   Attached with this email is the template and format that you will need to complete and submit.

There was a lot more in the e-mail, basically there is a Design Application that needs to be submitted which consists of a comprehensive VI Architecture Design along with a $300 registration fee. Applications need to be submitted by August 14th to be guaranteed a defense pre/post VMworld.

Once your application is approved and your defense is scheduled there will be a $900 fee for the actual defense, these activities will be scheduled around industry events such as VMworld, Partner Exchange, and other Geo held meetings. Also, T&E is not covered by VMware.

Well, wish me luck :) I will be submitting my application hopefully by next week and getting scheduled post VMworld (Friday, hopefully).

Created on July 29, 2009 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Certification.

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