In June 2013, I passed the VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Data Center Design. To date, this has clearly been the toughest certification I’ve achieved. Why? My background since working with VMware technology in 2009, has been the implementation, administration and infrastructure support, rather than designing solutions from the ground up. Whilst I’ve picked up many of the implementation, design and performance best practices along the road (my VCAP-DCA studies helped greatly), I’ve had to learn the VMware methodology, the VMware way of design, right from the ground up for this exam. That is a challenge I set myself and I really enjoyed learning the in’s and outs of all the different design aspects.
There are many blog posts covering the exam itself – what to expect, question types, time management and so on, so I won’t repeat any of that here. A quick Google search will throw up plenty of results. I’ll provide a list of tips and key resources I felt made the difference in passing for me. Other folks could suggest differently, but these worked for me.
- The exam is more focused on the business side of things, rather than knowing the deep technical in’s and outs of all vSphere 5 features.
- Requirements, Risks, Constraints and Assumptions. Know these terms inside out, how to identify them and when to apply.
- Disaster Recovery\Business Continuity – Follow the blueprint for resources and the free e-learning course. Know the different terms like MTD, WRT, RPO and RTO.
- Try to think of possible areas the exam may test you for the ‘visio style’ questions. Then practice drawing out different designs, using a whiteboard or I simply used plenty of paper. Always design to VMware Best Practices, this is key for the exam.
- If you’ve got a good couple of years design experience under your belt, and are familiar with key design terms, plus methodology and process, that’s a great head start! That real world experience would really help in my opinion, although you can certainly pass without that design experience.
My personal specific list is below:
- TrainSignal (now Pluralsight) – VMware Design course
- Official vSphere Design workshop
- vBrownBag VCAP-DCD 5
- vSphere 5 Design book and vSphere Design 2nd edition
- VMware Datacenter Design cookbook
- Use my ‘Study Pack‘, a collection of different electronic resources in one place, for quick reference.
- Grab a copy of the Official Study book written by Paul McSharry You can read my review here, as to why I found it very useful in making the difference to pass the exam.
- Google ‘VCAP-DCD Study Guide’ – There’s several out there, including this gem over at virtuallyhyper.com