My VCAP5-DCA certification experience 0

Whew!  It has been a while since I have had time to breathe and update the world on my journey with VMware technologies.  I have gone through a lot of life changes in the past few months and am finally feeling like I am in a good place with my life, career, and technological knowledge.

While attending VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, I decided on a whim to take the VCAP5-DCA exam.  In this post, I would like to outline my overall experience for you (while still abiding by my agreement not to share specifics about the exam).

I made the decision to sit the VCAP5-DCA certification practicum while in-flight on my way to VMworld, as my e-mail finally convinced me to take the exam at the 50% discounted rate for VMworld attendees.  I had not previously prepared for this exam and after signing up I was admittedly nervous about it.

I set up a crash course for myself; scheduling as much study time as possible around my VMworld sessions. Instead of attending many of the vendor parties, I spent much of my time in San Francisco holed up in my hotel room, looking over technical documentation and playing in my portable virtual lab (nested ESXi / vSphere in VMware Fusion is AWESOME!)

After repeating this cycle for two days, the time came for the exam itself.  These are the tips I can share with you:

  • Arrive a few minutes early.  By arriving early I was able to get comfortable in the exam room, organize myself, and perform a quick brain-dump onto the supplied whiteboard paper.
  • Do not get wired on caffeine.  For me, I had a little too much coffee beforehand and had to calm myself down a few times, as my brain was going 200mph, while the steps in the exam required slow, collected thought processes.
  • Respect the exam’s interface, STAY CALM!  The interface for controlling the virtual environment in which you complete your tasks is rather clunky.  Make sure that the proper window has focus before typing, otherwise all of your keystrokes will simply be discarded.  The same applies for mouse clicks.  Getting too excited or trying to “fly” through the different windows will result in nothing but an elevated blood pressure.
  • Know your stuff!  Make sure that you have sufficient hands-on experience with vSphere and all of the technologies that it encompasses ahead of time.  The exam is not the time to be learning how to use a new feature.  I hate to say it folks, but absorbing all of the knowledge from a brain dump or all of the VMware documentation is no substitute for experience gained from working in the trenches.

In the end, I passed my VCAP5-DCA with flying colors, however, that does not mean that I found it easy. It was very challenging and fun at the same time.  I am very thankful for all of the previous engagements I have had that have allowed me to work with VMware technology in order to glean the necessary knowledge required for the exam.

My final pieces of advice: Do NOT take this exam lightly and trust in your own skills and abilities.