Cheap(er) Microsoft Azure Exams

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azure-skillPart of working in IT means keeping your skills relevant and up to date, which usually leads into taking exams on a regular basis.  Depending on your situation, exams maybe self or employer funded, so when a vendor has a certification offer, it’s worth taking note.

The usual cost of a Microsoft Azure exam with Pearson Vue is £135.60 inc. VAT (in the United Kingdom see Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions.

Later last year Microsoft launched ‘Advance your Azure skills‘ in a bid to get more individuals certified on their public cloud platform.  Using this URL will give access to the same exams but for £96.20 inc. VAT with a number of additional benefits which are:

  • Practice test for 30 days
  • One free retake
  • Access to Microsoft online Azure course catalogue

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to start cracking on with your Microsoft Azure exams!

VCP5-DCV Delta Passed

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VCP-DCVAfter receiving a friendly reminder from VMware that my VCP5-DCV was due to expire in December, my first thoughts was to take the VCP6-DCV exam, but with less than two months to go and a busy schedule for the rest of the year, I decided to take the easy option and opt for the VCP550 delta exam.

Seeing that the closing date for the exam was 30th September and the fact that I had a spare hour, I sat the exam on 26th September.  A quick flick over the exam blue print and there was mention of VSAN and vCOPs.

I dusted off my Essential VSAN and VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials books and downloaded the Whats New in VMware vSphere 5.5 Platform pdf.  I was ready time to click proceed.

The exam itself was a lot tougher than I expected, but I guess that’s because it is focused towards administration and my daily job is around design.  After around forty five minutes I received a ‘congratulations’ you have passed.

VCP 550 Delta Pass

The purpose of this exam was simple, to give me some breathing space before I attempt the VCP6-DCV.

As with all things, the day after I pass the exam, VMware announce that the VCP550 delta exam is to be extended until 31st December 2015.  If I had known this then  might have taken some time out to prepare, but I guess a pass is a pass.

Reschedule Cloud or Desktop VCAP Exam Issue

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Yesterday I received an email stating that the VDTD510 – VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Desktop Design needed to be rescheduled as my exam was booked in for 14th March 2015.

No problem or so I thought, I contacted my local Pearson Vue test centre to reschedule the exam and they mentioned they couldn’t do it and to contact Pearson Vue customer services.   So I contacted Pearson Vue customer services and they mentioned the same problem, and suggested I contact VMware.

I have to say that VMware Education services have been the most helpful.  Even though they cannot schedule exams they did agree to conference in Pearson Vue to try and resolve the issue

Issue

The issue is that Pearson Vue have the last registration date as 2nd March 2015 which means they are unable to reschedule any of the VCAP exams that are ending.  This is an internal communication issue between VMware and Pearson Vue which is being escalated at VMware’s end.  This problem will effect anyone who is attempting to reschedule the following exams:

  • VCID510 – VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Cloud Infrastructure Design
  • VCIA510 – VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Cloud Infrastructure Administration
  • VDTA510 – VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Desktop Administration
  • VDTD510 – VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Desktop Design

I have a case open with VMware Education and will update this post once more information is known.

**Update**

The update I have received is my exam has been cancelled and I will receive a refund,  with no explanation.  This contravenes the details laid out by VMware Certification as part of the VCAP expiry notification.

It would be good to know why VMware decided to pull the VCAP certification before VCIX are released and why the exam could not be rescheduled?

My thoughts are that VMware and Pearson Vue clearly have internal communication issues which really needs to be resolved.  Clearly they have no concern for any individuals who have spent their personal time studying towards an exam.

Certification Hamster Wheel?

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Disclaimer: This is a copy of the post that I made for TechTarget recently.

The first part of this blog post relates to some general thoughts about certification in general.  If you only want to know about VMware certification changes, I suggest you jump down to that section!

VCAP

Certification Thoughts

I have often thought that being in the IT industry is like being on hamster wheel, with continual momentum from vendors to obtain market share drives innovation in new products and offerings which in turn leads to us IT professionals needing to update our skills.

In most professions you have to learn new skills overtime, if we take the example of a car mechanic.  The cars they were servicing ten years ago had four wheels, an engine, a steering wheel and doors.  The cars today follow suit, however they are more complex with electronic braking systems, traction control and automatic windscreen wipers.

The same can be said for IT, you have an application that requires CPU, Memory and Disk.  How these are delivered to the application have changed with abstraction from the physical layer, hyperthreading and storage either local or remote.

However the biggest difference is certification, I don’t know of any industry which focuses on the collection and updating of certificates as we do.  I mean we are pretty obsessed by it (but with good reason).

Job Security

No longer is there such a thing as a job for life, companies get bought, sold, go bust, relocate…. the list goes on.  Most of us require an income to pay for our houses, cars and living expenses.  So how do we differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market?  This is when certifications and experience come into play.

Now I’m not and never have been a recruiter, but human nature dictates that we normally go for the least line of resistance.  Often a company will state a certain level of certification is required for a position, as a recruiter what are you going to do when performing searches on LinkedIn or reviewing CV’s?  Yep you are in the ‘review’ pile if you have the certification and in the ‘bin’ pile if you don’t.

Investment

Passing a certificate isn’t just about achieving a certain pass mark, it shows others that you are serious about your career.  To gain the qualification you will have either spent your own time and money (or if you are lucky enough the companies whom you work for) on the following:

  • Course
  • Books related to the subject
  • Exam fees
  • Home lab
  • Time of work to take exam
  • Personal time studying

For me, I will continue on the certification hamster wheel for the foreseeable future.

VMware Certification Changes

With the release of NSX and vSphere 6, VMware have made some changes to the certification track with the most noticeable being the replacement of VMware Certified Advanced Professional certification with VMware Certified Implementation Expert.

Information is a slightly vague at the moment, but this is what we know:

  • VCAP will be retired at some point
  • VCIX certification requires you pass both a design and administration exams
    • If you hold a single VCAP their will be an upgrade path to pass the remaining VCIX exam e.g. VCAP5-DCA pass the VCIX Design exam to gain VCIX-DCV
    • If you hold both VCAP’s in a certification track, an upgrade to VCIX will be available
  • Each VCIX exam will be the same length as VCAP exam
  • Each VCIX exam will be the same price as a VCAP exam

My view is that the exam length is slightly to long, having to focus for 3 hours plus is always a struggle.  On the flip side I can see a reduction in the number of people aiming for VCIX as you don’t obtain the qualification until you pass both exams.

A colleague of mine Toby Brown stated that this reminded him of the old Microsoft MSCA/MSCE track, which I have to agree with.

VCDX Defense Schedule 2015

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A quick post to mention that the VCDX  defense schedule has been released for 2015.

Defenses will be held simultaneously at Palo Alto (USA), Frimley (UK) and Singapore (Asia)

For more details of how to register for the defense or to see if more dates become available, I suggest you book mark this VMware Community page and follow Karl Childs @karlchilds on Twitter.