Sunday, September 30, 2012

VCP5: Resources and Refrences for Study

The VCP5 exam is a well written and structured test. It was a surprisingly difficult exam, and I was caught off guard. Based on mock exams and practice exams I was taking, as one portion of my preparation, I should have blown the test right out of the water. I feel like nothing I had done had properly helped me prepare for the exam so because of that fact I felt a little mad when I had failed the test on try 1. So in an effort to provide a better reference and study companion for people interested in taking the VCP5 exam, I plan to write a large group of blog posts containing key topics and areas of focus that will aid in helping people understand what they are studying and why they should know the information presented to pass the exam.
I took the VMware 5.0 Fast Track course in Chicago about 6 months ago (if you dont know, attending a VMware certified course is a requirement for becoming certified). I must warn everyone, taking the classes will not provide you with 90% of the knowledge you need to pass the exam as my teacher so commonly mentioned. I consider the classes to give a person about 20% of what they need to know to pass the exam. If the exam asked questions like "How do I power on a VM", then sure, the class would give you sufficient knowledge to pass. But I will tell you, you wont find little baby questions like that on the exam :)
What you WILL find in the VCP exam is that topics are covered in a way that someone might say to them selves, "Well that was a twist on what I thought the question might be". For instance, someone might study how to set the Maximum Transmission Unit to allow for Jumbo Frames. They might know from start to finish how to set the MTU, on what object you can set the it, and that 9000 is the number to configure for Jumbo Frames. But when they sit down for the test it may ask what is the default MTU, and that person may have spent so much time focused on the Jumbo Frame MTU size that they totally spaced on the default size. This to me would be a perfect example of how VMware successfully "twists" the questions of the exam to determine if the examinee has a deeper understanding of the material.
The main purpose of this post is to provide a list of references that I found helpful in my study for taking the exam. Sooooo, BOOM!, here's a bulletted list containing those references:

  • My favorite reference for studying became the vSphere Documentation Center found here A couple reasons why it was my favorite are that it is extensive and covers nearly ever topic, it is easy to understand, and most important is that it gives you steps to follow when troubleshooting common issues that a feature may have. The exam covers a lot of troubleshooting.
  • The VMware Knowledge base. Found here,, the VMware KB is such an awesome library. My method of study was to find a topic and then physically go through the steps in a lab I have availability to at work. When I would run into an error or couldn't quite get something, the KB was invaluable.
  • VMware vSphere Clustering Technical Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman was an awesome source for learning the internals of Clustering in vSphere.
  • The VCP5 Exam Blue Print Found here: I used this to know what I NEEDED to know, and then I would go about doing it in the lab and documenting what I did using screen shots.
  • The Official VCP5 Certification Guide is a newly released book from VMware. If I had to summarize this book, I would say it is a more helpful version of the classes. I like how the author writes and enjoy his simplicity. The book comes with testing software which is nice, but very misleading because of how easy it is. The ebook version comes with even more testing software that is unfortunately misleadingly easy too.

I recommend having access to some degree of a vSphere lab, although I will not directly recommend using a production environment, if you only had access to that type of environment, create your self a read-only account so you can safely poke around and you wont have to be worried about accidentally hitting something you didnt want to! You do not necessarily need to be able to vMotion and enable FT, as long as you have done them before, but knowing where to find these features and know where to configure them coupled with the references above should be sufficient to be successful on the exam. Look for future posts where the title starts with VCP5, these will contain gold for studying. Good Luck!

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