VCP5-DCV Delta Passed

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

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?

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

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.

VCDX Submission – By The Numbers

Prerequisite

I’m sure all of you know that the prerequisites for VCDX are VCP and both VCAPs.  I started the process of trying to achieve the VCDX certification back in October 2013, when I passed the VCAP-DCD and then two months later in December 2013 I achieved VCAP-DCA status.

I didn’t keep a log for the effort I put into the VCAP-DCA, but I believe it was approximately one month of study time, to get to a point where I felt I had a chance of passing.

Family Life

Why have I mentioned ‘family life’ in this blog post? Seems kinda irrelevant?  Well I would say it’s probably the most important part of the VCDX Submission process.

This point is crucial, do not underestimate how hard it is not spending time with your family (I have two children 2 and 6), you will be giving up your weekends, ability to attend family functions, time with your friends and doing the things you enjoy outside of work.

In December 2013 and January 2014, it was holiday season and I wanted to spend time with my family and to see if my better half would commit to the VCDX process, as I knew it would be grueling on the both of us.  My amazing wife said yes and it was time to find a design.

I was conversing with Paul Meehan @PaulPMeehan on twitter about the virtues of VCDX and he mentioned that the word VCDX had taken pride of place next to ‘Voldemort’ in things that should not be mentioned in the Meehan household.

Design

Finding a design which meets the design qualities for VCDX Submission is hard work, not every customer you work with has a design that meets the required standard for Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability, Security.

I was pretty new to my current role, four months in and even though I had designed a number of upgrades and solutions, I didn’t believe any of them ‘cut the mustard’ in terms of design qualities.  I was working with a number of clients and knew I had something in the pipeline, but you are never sure if you will be the Lead Architect on the design or whether the clients circumstances would change.

So in the end, I decided to use a design I had done for a customer back in 2012!

The bad news was that it was going to take me sometime to get back up to speed on the design, but the good news was it ticked every one of the design qualities.

VCDX Submission

The VCDX Submission is broken down into the following key areas:

  • Architecture Design
  • Installation Guide
  • Validation Test
  • Implementation Plan
  • Operational Procedures
  • Application Form

So how long has it taken me to get to a point of being able to submit for VCDX?

Overall Total

267 Hours

68 days

Average 4 Hours per day

equivalent to 5 weeks annual leave and every bank holiday throughout the year!

VCDX Submission

Architecture Design

177 Hours

41 Days

4 Hours 20 Minute Average

239 Pages

112 Tables

34 Diagrams

To complete the first draft took from 1st February 2014 to 9th March 2014 and consisted of 34 days and 149 hours of effort.   The remaining time of 28 hours was reviewing and tweeking.

equivalent to a working month at 40 hours per week over four and a half weeks

Installation Guide & Operational Procedures

I decided to combine the installation guide and operational procedures as it made sense.

76 Hours

21 Days

3 Hours 40 Minute Average

141 Pages

14 Tables

57 Diagrams

To complete the first draft took from 10th March 2014  to 31st March 2014 and consisted of 17 days and 70 hours of effort.   The remaining time of 6 hours was reviewing and tweeking.

equivalent to two weeks annual vacation for someone who works 38 hours per week

Test Plan

6 Hours

2 Days

3 Hours Average

124 Tests

Implementation Plan

5 Hours

2 Days

2 Hours 30 Minutes Average

182 Project Line Items

Application

3 Hours

2 Days

1 Hours 30 Minutes Average

Peer Review

Not added to the list is a review of my VCDX Architecture Design by colleague and all round good ‘egg’ Steve Wenban @stevewenban79

414 Minutes

178 Comments

7 instances of vCentre corrected

1 big thumbs up