On the 15th December 2016, I sat the VMware VCAP6-NV exam. I successfully passed giving me a VCAP trifecta in Network Virtualisation, Desktop and Mobility, and Data Centre Virtualisation.
This VCAP was outside my comfort zone as it’s a full-on networking exam working on live kit. This isn’t a multi-choice exam that can be brain-dumped off the Internet. These exams separate the men from the boys. There is just no way to cheat on these.
Networking has never been my strong point and I had to push myself to digest and learn new content and be able to execute it without thinking about it. BGP, OSPF, L2 & L3 VPNs – all of this stuff I have always just passed along to the networking teams.
The exam is based on VMware’s NSX 6.2 network virtualisation product.
As with any advanced VMware exam the clock is against you. You will never finish a VCAP exam. The 3.5 hours for the exam flies past and when you have finished it feels like you have only been in the testing centre for 30 mins.
The key for any VCAP exam is to get your hands on the VMware exam blueprint. This is your bible for the exam. Make sure you know every item in the blueprint like the back of your hand.
This was the first time that I blogged a certification blueprint, some 22 blogs covering the entire blueprint. That in itself was a massive learning curve having to digest loads of material, repetitively deploy and break in the lab and then summarise and blog the content.
So how was the exam? Wow, walked out wanting to be sick, how I find this stuff fun is beyond me.
The new VCAP exams are based on the VMware Hands-On-Labs format, nicer than they use to be, but still with what I would call restrictions or candidate limiters.
For a start you are restricted to a single monitor running 1024 x 768. Even following the exam guide for optimisation you are still struggling for screen real estate. You are fighting between consoles, the browser and exam guide that tells you what you need to be achieving. I just find this crazy that in 2016 we have this limitation, I just find that really unfair on the candidate. Most of us work with dual monitors now with high-resolution, getting forced into 1027×768 is like going back to the 90s.
Also, there is no keyboard copy/paste i.e. CTRL C/CTRL V. You need to use the Windows On-Screen keyboard. Yes it works, but it just slows you down. And who the hell really uses that thing anyway?
There is also no backspace key available! Painful. You need to use the arrow keys and the delete button.
I did experience latency again but nowhere as bad as previous years. There were a few points where mouse clicks and keyboard input was delayed but overall was responsive. I feel that VMware should grant more time to these exams.
You need to make sure you know NSX 6.2 like the back of your hand. You need to know every option, where it is and what it does. You need to be able to determine what VMware are asking you to achieve with some pretty obscure blurb they give you. For example, they won’t ask you to go configure a Bridge between a VXLAN and a VLAN. That would just be too easy.
Make sure you know everything in the blueprint, if not you will simply fail.
Thanks to all the supporters I have had on LinkedIn, Twitter, the VMware Slack Channel and various VMware staff around the world. You all helped make this path easier to travel.
Thanks to my employer, Computer Concepts Limited (CCL). They sent me to VMworld 2016 which sparked my crazy addiction to NSX. They gave me an awesome lab environment to use for study and backed me all the way.
What’s up for 2017? For me I am thinking it will be the year of AWS.
Mic drop. Boom!