Sunday, June 1, 2014

my vcap strategy for dca and dcd

My biggest goal this year, apart from living happily with my loved ones, is getting the VCAP certifications in datacenter administration (dca) and datacenter design (dcd). I already took the requisite courses, but studying for the certification is a whole different matter. Here is how I plan on attaining them.

(Note - the amazon links below have my partner code, meaning if you buy the books through these links, my account balance won't be a big fat zero, like it has been for many years straight... I realize it looks like a sales post).

First, decide which one to pursue first:

I think I have decided to do DCA first, since it's more technical and requires you to learn more than what was already covered in the VCP5-DCV. This will allow me to be more knowledgeable when I study for the DCD exam: it will allow me to understand why a design criteria is better than another, and in which scenarios a certain approach is better.

Second, focus on re-learning what I studied for the vcp, with the 5.5 version. For my VCP exam, I read scott lowe's mastering vsphere 5.0 from the first to the last page. I put it here as a reference, in case someone wants to do the 5.0 versions of the exams, instead of the 5.5 - but I would buy the 5.5 version if I were new to all this.

There were many topics in the book that were not included in the vcp blueprint, and thus I didn't really try them out on the labs. The vcap-dca is probably the only exam that goes deep into every feature of vsphere, so now is the time to dig deep and do labs on every topic. Also, since the book has a new version out, I will use this book and again read it it from page one to the last page, but this time trying to do labs for everything.

Once I have finished the book I will schedule the exam - probably with a month of wiggle room. I will then focus on the blueprint, the study guides, and other resources, such as vBrownBag podcasts, or whatever google throws at me. I will also finally read the clustering deep dive, which I had bought for a very reasonable price as a Kindle edition. There will be no 5.5 version of this book, since the authors stated there were not many changes between 5.1 and 5.5.

By this time I should have identified many holes in my knowledge, and I should be referring to the vmware documentation and google to clear any confusions. However, I will also ask my employer to buy the certification book, which was recently released:

Lastly, I will double-check the course materials and labs, any mock exams I find, and commend myself to my creator.

Assuming success, then...

For the DCD, I will follow a similar approach. This time, it's another Scott Lowe book, "VMware vSphere Design".

and hopefully my employer sees value in his new VCAP-DCA and allows me to expense the other certification book:

(Please be careful when buying the certification books - sometimes the bonus exam content is only available in the print edition.)

I had assumed the design test would be with a live panel, but apparently it's also computer-based. Hopefully with the DCA VCAP and these books, it will be an easy exam :)

And that should be it. It is an attainable goal - more than half of the year is still available. Wish me luck, internet!

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