For awhile, a goal of mine was to get certified for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Datacenter Virtualisation Design (VCAP-DCV 6.5) exam.
Having talked to a senior who was experienced in not just taking these exams but also having written these papers, he encouraged me to organise a study group for like-minded individuals who also wanted to take the certification.
Hence, with his guidance, the VCAP Study Group initiative was born. All in all, it took about 3 weeks to plan the programme’s agenda, schedule, logistics and member recruitment.
The study group was formed so that we could study and prepare for the VCAP-DCV Design exam together. We believed that forming a study group could be an effective way for learning because we had a larger platform to share and gain various insights from. Also, having a study group meant a bigger support network- if faced with difficult topics or discussion, we had more people to clarify and help each other understand the concepts better.
The study group had a total of 12 members, where each and everyone of us are from different backgrounds. It was a pretty diverse group- we had juniors and seniors, we had people who manages incredibly big IT environments, people who were consultants and dealt with VMware implementations and even people who were part of the service support team.
The session repeats itself every Wednesday, over a period of 10 weeks. As we still had our day job, we could only meet after work hours, from 7pm onwards.
Every week, there will be a nominated facilitator to help facilitate the study session. This person must take ownership of a particular topic e.g. Design Concepts, Storage, Networking… etc. The facilitator has to prepare some form of materials, be it slides, hand-outs or just plain ol’ verbal discussion.
Every member of the study group had to participate in the discussion because we wanted the study sessions to be interactive. We did not think there was a point in just having one person to talk for the entire session while everyone else remains passive. It had to be mutually beneficial.
On top of that, the expectation of every member was to be liable for our own learnings. In other words, we had to take down our own notes and cannot rely on the facilitator to share his/her materials. With that being said, of course if there was anyone who wanted to share relevant/useful materials, they could still do so. We created a collaborative drive where all members had access to.
WAS IT EFFECTIVE?
It depends. But largely, yes.
The effectiveness of the session was largely dependent on the facilitator. If one did not prepare sufficient materials for the discussion or if members of the study group were not participative, naturally everyone else would not be benefiting much from that session.
However, if the facilitator came fully prepared for his session and members were proactively engaging in discussions, the session would naturally be fruitful.
For me personally, I definitely learnt quite a fair bit, especially since many of the study group members are actual experienced IT personnel who could share a lot about their experiences in using vSphere.
SO WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE STUDY GROUP ENDED?
A few months later I decided to attempt the exam. Luckily, I passed on my first try.
The exam in my opinion was not terribly difficult- in fact, it was doable and definitely easier than the VCAP Deploy exam.
I won’t be sharing the questions I had during my exam, but what I can say is that the design exam is really testing your concepts about VMware’s design methodologies. You’ll need to know how different is a conceptual design from a logical or physical one. You’ll really need to get comfortable with these concepts:
WHAT TO PREPARE?
For people who are keen in attempting this exam, do take note that you will require a valid VCP6.5-DCV certification.
Certification Path | Source
I signed up for the VMware vSphere Design Workshop as I had no prior knowledge and experience in designing vSphere environments.
While it is recommended to take the official courses (such as the VMware vSphere: Design Workshop [V6.5]) for this certification, I do not necessarily think you HAVE to, especially if you have a lot of experiences in dealing with VMware solutions (i.e. if you are someone who deals with VMware solutions on a day-to-day basis).
However, with that being said, the course is extremely helpful if you want to get a deeper understanding of vSphere at its core. Also, if you wanted to learn how to design a virtualisation environment that circles around VMware’s best practices, I highly recommend you to evaluate and take the course if you can.
To prepare for this exam, you can also leverage on all the different online resources available, such as:
- Exam Prep Guide
- This is extremely important for your preparation- you’ll need to know the scope of the exam before you attempt it
- There are some sample questions inside the guide. Use this sample to gauge your understanding of the design concepts
- Blogs/Study Guides
Google is an amazing platform with an abundance of resources- if there are any concepts that you are unsure of, you should definitely do some research.
The exam was not particularly difficult, although it did require some effort and dedication in reading and understanding design concepts. The study group was effective in my opinion because it motivated me to consistently read up every week (so that I could participate in discussions) and be mentally prepared to take on the exam. If it wasn’t for that, I think this goal of mine would remain unachieved for the longest time.
No thank you, procrastination.