Cheap(er) Microsoft Azure Exams

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!

Changes To VMware Certified Professional 5 Desktop (VCP5-DT)

VMware have made a change the VCP5-DT, it now has a pre-requisite, which is to attend a qualifying course before you gain the certification/qualification.

It’s not as straight forward as you might think, as there are two paths open, one if you hold the VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization  (VCP5-DCV) or VCP-Cloud and one if your don’t.

If You DON’T Hold VCP5-DCV

If you don’t hold the VCP5-DCV then you need to attend one of the qualifying courses.

  • VMware View: Install, Configure, Manage v5.0
  • VMware View: Install, Configure, Manage v5.1
  • VMware View: Desktop Fast Track v5.0
  • VMware View: Desktop Fast Track v5.1
  • VMware Horizon View: Install, Configure, Manage v5.2

You are able to sit the exam and pass it without going on a qualifying course, you just won’t have the certification appear on your transcript.

If You DO Hold VCP5-DCV or VCP-Cloud

If you do hold he VCP5-DCV or VCP-Cloud then you can need to sit and pass the VMware View VCP510-DT Exam


It appears that VMware Education are trying to align the VCP qualifications so that attending a qualifying course is a pre-requisite.

What’s A Qualifying Course?

VMware have a list of training partners who adhere to the required standards.  Essentially these partners have the official rubber stamp to teach you the student the course material.

To find out who who in your Country/State/City is authorised, use the VMware Training Center search facility.

My VCP5 Exam Experience

Before I start this entry, I would like to point out that this isn’t for anyone who wants to know the answers to the exam questions as I won’t be disclosing any information about the content except for pointing you towards the VCP 510 exam blueprint.

What sort of experience do I have with vSphere 5? Well in the first half of this year, I have been fortunate enough to have performed a few installs:

  • 3 x Enterprise License installs
  • 2 x Essentials Plus installs
  • 3 x HP 3PAR F400 installations
  • 2 x HP P2000 iSCSI installations
  • 3 x Fabric installations using Brocade HBA’s and HP Fabric switches
  • 26 x ESXi5 host installs

I had also designed another seven VMware vSphere 5 environments ranging from Essentials Plus to Enterprise.

With this in mind, I felt I could handle the VCP510 with my real world experience and I foolishly just booked the exam.  First time round I failed with 285, which was quite frustrating as 300 is the pass mark.

Why did I fail, well, lack of preparation and I misread some of the questions (I know this as some appeared second time round).

I felt the exam was alot harder than the VCP410 as it tests such a broad technical skill base, from networking to storage to ESXi5.  So you need to know your ‘onions’ in every area.
So after my failure, I decided to do things the right way.  I purchased Scott Lowes – Mastering vSphere 5 and Duncan Epping’s – vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive on Amazon Kindle.  I can’t recommend these books highly enough if you are looking to pass the VCP510 exam.  Each night I went over the chapters and built a nested ESXi5 environment to go over areas that are not my strong point e.g. Distributed Switches and Data Recovery to try increase my technical understanding as our customers normally use Veeam and Enterprise for licenses.

Second time round, I passed with 461, which I was really pleased with.

I always approach exams the same way, I get to the examination centre round 30 minutes early, so you can go over the sign in process and hand over your valuables.  I then make three signs on the plastic sheet you are given

Tick – these are for questions I know I have definitely know the answers too.

Question Mark – these are questions I’m 80% plus sure on

Cross – these are questions I’m making an educated guess or generally haven’t got a clue on!

I try to aim for 30 seconds per question to give myself enough time to review questions at the end.  If I find I have spent over a minute on a question, I will mark it for review and then come back to it.  At the end of the exam, I only review questions I have marked for review not all of them.

Then when I’m finally ready to click the submit button, I always cover my eyes and then peek through my hands at the results.  I’m really not sure why I do this, but as they say habits die hard!