Tag Archives: VI4 Certification

My VMware VCAP4-DCD BETA Exam Experience

Yesterday, I took the VCAP4-DCD beta exam (VDCD410), like many others have done this week. There is a thread started already in the communities forum. Just like previous beta exams with VMware, I had to take the exam at a Pearson-owned facility. There are a few within an hour of me, so I didn’t need to fly anywhere.  It’s funny, Jason Boche mentions that he couldn’t take coffee into the testing center. The person at the facility where I took the exam said no food, drink, candy, etc. The center where I usually take exams is more laid back and are OK with coffee as long as there is a lid. In fact, they offer to sell you bottled water to take in with you. VMware only requires a finger print scan and a photo with the two forms of ID. I noticed some people were getting their hand vein patterns recorded. Crazy.

Passing the VCAP4-DCD exam is one of the requirements for anyone, including a VCDX3, to achieve the VCDX4 certification. So passing this exam is very important to me.

VCDX 4 Paths

The Exam

The beta exam was 131 questions/tasks with four hours to complete. (There was a guy before me that was taking a test that lasts 630 minutes!) I would think that some of these may get cast off as improper, too easy or too hard. If all of the questions prove to be OK, then VMware has a nice, fair pool of design questions. I would also think that the “GA” exam will only be a portion of these questions.

There are three types of questions or tasks: The standard multiple guess questions, a few “match the object to a category” drag and drop tasks and a few diagramming tasks.

Exam Content – What You Need to Know!

I am under countless NDAs on this, so there will be no “scoops” here. I can say that the exam is true to the Blueprint. Rather than giving a direct link to the PDF, which could change, I will tell you to go to www.vmware.com/go/vcap. Click on the “Datacenter Design” tab. There is a link to the current blueprint there. It was just changed to fix an issue with broken hyperlinks. There are also links to a FAQ, the VCAP Communities landing page and a link to a demo of the diagramming tool.

Make sure you read and understand all of the documents and web pages that are linked in the blueprint. VMware leaves no stone unturned. I would not advise trying to memorize all of the content listed in the blueprint, your head would explode. Just comprehend what you read. Much of this is conceptual and revolves around the methodology and best practices GUIDANCE that VMware chooses to publish.

Make sure you take a look at the VCAP4-DCD Exam UI Demo. This is the exam version of a Visio tool. One of my complaints about the VI3 Design Exam was the quality of the diagramming tool. It is greatly improved in this exam. In the VCAP4-DCD beta exam, there were more than one diagramming task. I don’t think VMware is looking for the Mona Lisa. This is more of a “show your work” kind of thing. The diagramming tasks are not that complex and will only cover a few design criteria in each task.

Since this is a DESIGN exam, there are plenty of scenarios that involve capacity planning. Since you will not have any tools available to do your work, you will need to understand the math involved in capacity planning.  There is a simple calculator available via a link at the top of the screen. You will also need to understand the math involved with calculating HA, DRS, reservations, shares and limits.

Finally, with the beta, there was a time constraint. I think I had about 10 or 15 minutes left when I was done. Make sure you manage your time. There was no “back” button and there was no way to mark questions or tasks for review in the beta exam. This may or may not hold true for the “GA” exam. Remember: If there is no “back” button or way to mark a question, make sure you are OK with your answer before clicking the “next” button. I clicked it a few times as I was thinking “Maybe I should read that again….”

My Soapbox Moment

I don’t want to “toot my own horn” or sound arrogant here, but I purposely did not “study” for this exam. I did read the blueprint and skim some of the documents. The hyperlinks were broken in the 1.2 version and I didn’t try to find them too hard. I didn’t study for the VCAP4-DCA exam either (I passed by the skin of my teeth!). In my (humble) opinion, the exams require that you have EXPERIENCE in the subject of the exam. I don’t think VMware intends to have “paper VCAPs” although I am sure there will eventually be some out there.

If you want to pass the VCAP4-DCA exam, you should have experience managing a vSphere environment. If you want to pass the VCAP4-DCD exam, you should have experience in designing at least one vSphere environment. You need to go through the thought processes involved in the ASSESS – DESIGN – IMPLEMENT – MANAGE cycle. I am sure that the design workshop will assist you in gaining the knowledge and some experience in designing a vSphere environment, but it won’t give you everything you need for passing this exam. Certainly, if you want to progress to the final step and submit and defend a design, you will need EXPERIENCE. This is why there is such a high fail rate for the design defense.


Monday was my first day at VMworld. I didn’t attend any sessions, but I did defend a design for my VCDX and I took the VCP4 Certification test. After that, I tried to attend the View Advanced Config and Troubleshooting Lab, but the line was huge, even for registered users. The one nice thing about being a registered VMworld attendee is that all of the materials eventually make it to the VMworld site and I can download the LAB and do it on my own time. So someone on the wait list probably took my spot.

Ok, on to the VCDX Design Defense. First off, its pricey, so make sure you are serious. The defense is the final step in the process for VCDX. I reported to the VMware San Fransisco office at the appointed time Monday morning. My facilitator came out to greet me and explain the process. Then I met the Uber Geeks (I mean that in a good way) from VMware. These guys were the first to recieve the VCDX certification and they really know their stuff. They regularly host the more advanced sessions at VMworld and Partner Exchange. The first part is to spend 15 minutes giving an executive presentation about your design, then you spend about an hour “defending” that design. Once that is done, there is a hypothetical design scenario and a hypothetical troubleshooting scenario. They guys were great and it was a really good experience. Hopefully, I will hear the results in a few weeks.

The VCP4 Test was similar to the VCP3. Questions were added for new features and the new maximum configurations were in there. I glanced at the blueprint last week and it seems to be a pretty good indication of what you will need to know to pass. The systems were slow as hell on Monday. Usually with multiple guess tests, I rifle through the questions and answer them using my gut. I will mark a few as I go along if I am unsure weather my gut is giving me an answer or if it is just gas. It took about a minute for each question to load after I hit the next button. So it took over an hour for me to get through it instead of the usual 15-30 minutes. Very frustrating, but hey, no I are one!

Discounted Exams Available at VMworld

VMware just set up some discounted certification exams at VMworld. It just gives you another reason to go!

Hi all,

VMware will be providing onsite exam services at this year’s VMworld. The exams available are the VCP on VI3, VCP on vSphere 4 and the VCDX Enteprise Administration and Design Exams. Both VCP exams can be taken for only $85, but you MUST pre-register to get this great deal! You can pre-register by visting the Pearson VUE website at http://pearsonvue.com/vmware/vmworld/ . If you do not have the opportunity to pre-register for the exam, you can take it onsite (assuming seats are still available) for only $105, which is still a significant savings.

For more information on the VCDX exams, see my post at: http://communities.vmware.com/thread/222194

So good luck to you all on your path to becoming a VCP and I look forward to seeing you at the VMworld event!


Jon C. Hall
Technical Certification Developer
VMware, Inc.

What are you waiting for? I already registered!

VI4 Certification News

From the VMware Certification Site:

Certification News:

  • VMware Certified Professional on vSphere™ 4
    With the launch of vSphere™ 4, a new certification will be available. The VMware Certified Professional (VCP) on vSphere™4 beta exam will be available 30 days post GA. Candidates eligible for the beta exam will be contacted directly by VMware.

    There are four possible paths to acheive VCP on vSphere™ 4

    1. If you are NEW to VMware
      • Attend the VMware vSphere™ 4: Install, Configure, Manage course (first courses available in late June 2009) OR attend the VMware vSphere 4: Fast Track (available in Q3)
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 exam
    2. If you are currently a VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 exam. This option will only be available until December 31, 2009. Beginning in 2010, VCPs on VI3 must attend the VMware vSphere 4: What’s New class in order to upgrade.
    3. If you are currently a VCP on ESX 2.x
      • Take and pass the VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3 exam
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 Exam. This option will only be available until December 31, 2009. Beginning in 2010, VCPs on VI3 must attend the VMware vSphere™ 4: What’s New class in order to upgrade.
    4. If you are not a VCP on VI3, but have attended one of the prerequisite classes (Install & Configure; Deploy Secure & Analyze; or Fast Track).
      • Take and pass the VCP on VMware Infrastructure 3 exam OR attend the VMware vSphere™ 4: What’s New course.
      • Take and pass the VCP on vSphere™ 4 Exam.

    …more info