Yesterday on Monday, April 7th 2014 I had the honor to participate in the VCAP/VCDX Bootcamp organized by John Arrasjid (VCDX-001) and Mostafa Khalil (VCDX-002). The bootcamp took place in Milano, Italy, at VMware HQ.
We were about 30+ people, at least half of them from VMUGIT (The Italian VMUG), a few of them I know personally and are good friends.
About the Bootcamp itself
I loved the format. It was dense, getting to cover VCAP-DCA, DCD and VCDX in 8 hours required some sacrifices but our organizers did a great job not only keeping on schedule, but also getting to answer to a lot of questions. A mistake I did was to bring my laptop, it wasn’t necessary and a pen/piece of paper was very sufficient.
This is a great initiative that hopefully will be repeated, John and Mostafa are very aware that there is a real and tangible return on investment for VMware to organize such sessions and involve many skilled IT professionals to attain these advanced certifications.
I liked the interactivity of the sessions, it helps you get the correct mindset for preparing any of the three exams. There was also a very lively discussion about the recertification policy, about upgrade tracks and recertifications. There was a question about what happens if I am a VCAP holder and my underlying VCP expires. Taking the latest VCAP exam will automatically recertify your VCP. If your VCAP is more recent than your VCP, then the VCAP expiration date supersedes the VCP expiration date.
We then covered the VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD certifications, including the blueprints, the kind of questions you may answer and some other useful info such as resources for studying. I don’t have the ambition to repeat all what was said in the session, they are so interesting that if you have a real interest in VMware certifications then you *must* attend one of these while they are available.
The VCDX session was extremely interesting. For many of us, it was important to get the facts, as this prestigious certificated has always been enshrouded in a kind of mystical aura.
I will just share a few tips and/or interesting information I gathered for each specific exam format.
- There is no negative scoring at VCAP exams
- Partial scoring is possible, except on “select x out of y items” questions (You cannot advance to the next question if you haven’t selected the proper amount of questions)
- Try to do as much as possible (time flies by)
- Take a good rest the night before, avoid coffee/water before the exam (if you must go to the bathroom the clock ticks by)
- A bug has been fixed in the VCAP-DCD exam and it should now be possible to get back to unanswered questions
- The VCAP-DCA lab questions use same environment, if an option is not showing you may have forgotten to configure something in the previous lab
- If you have a medical condition requiring a pause during the certification it is possible to arrange extra time, consult Pearson+VMware (plan ahead, it takes a lot time for approval)
- Immediately report any issue (latency, bug…) to the Pearson testing center and CC: [email protected]
- If your design is accepted it means that it is good enough and thus you should have a chance to pass the exam
- Think of VCDX panelists as peers reviewing your design
- Panelists are there to help you explain your design
- It is good to anticipate questions, you may for example want to justify your choice without having the panelist to ask the questions
- Although there is one facilitator and one or more observers in the room, focus solely on the panelists, the facilitator and observers do not score you
- While you may get positive points, you can also get negative points during the defense
- Know your design – if you’re working on other projects take the necessary time to review your design thoroughly before the VCDX defense
- More people can work on 1 design – but you need to show knowledge of the whole design, not just your part!
- If the panelists ask you what-if questions (for example about using another technology), don’t stick desperately to your design, provide the required feedback – they want to know if you’re able to adapt during the design process
- Help each others with other VCDX candidates (VMUG, mock defenses, peer review)
- VCDX troubleshooting session: usually more than just 1 problem. Think aloud and analytically – focus on troubleshooting the issues
- Think aloud – the panelists need to know that you are processing and solving the problem
- Ask open ended questions. Getting a Yes or No will just waste your time.
- The whiteboard isn’t there just for decorating the room: use it!
- Make notes on the whiteboard of info you’re gathering from the panelists
- The panelists may help you calculate a value if you provide them with the formula
It was probably one of the best Mondays I’ve had, the content wasn’t just only great, I also had the opportunity to meet several great people from our VMware community for the first time. The image I had made myself of these great individuals just proved to be 100% correct, which, if you ask, is definitely a positive outcome. I look forward now to study with them (we’ve set up a VCAP5-DCD study group on Google+) in the hope to be ready to pass at VMworld Europe this year.
Many thanks to John, Mostafa and the #VMUGIT for making this possible!