VCAP6 Design Exam

I recently sat and passed the VCAP6 Design exam (the GA version). This is a summary of my experience and the resources I used to prepare.

Experience

I have previously done the VCAP5-DCD exam and I found this one similar when it comes to the type of questions asked and difficulty level (although the questions were obviously different). 19 questions has to be completed in 2 hour and 45 minutes, which is quite a good amount of time. I didn't feel stressed, I could spend time re-reading questions and completed the exam with about 10 min to spare.

The Visio style tool for the design questions was responsive and I didn't have problems with the tool crashing, even though I moved back and forth and lot and did re-check all my answers in the end. Note that it takes a few seconds for the tool to re-create your answer for a design question when viewing it again. A pop-up message inform you of this, so it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Some design questions involves placing boxes on top of other boxes (such as representing hosts in clusters). I noticed that although the boxes sometimes stick together, sometimes they don't. I tested this by moving the base box and see if the top box moves with it. I always tried to make them stick but often this wasn't possible. I'm not sure if this is a problem or not, and whether I lost any points because of it.

I strongly advice to pay attention to to the details in the questions, and read the whole question at least a couple of times. On a couple of occasions, I realized I missed a few hints of both design requirements and how the design should be presented by re-reading the whole scenario after completing the design.

Preparation

A big part of doing this exam was to develop my vSphere design knowledge during the preparation. I generally find exams a good way to force myself to learn things I otherwise wouldn't.

Broadly, I divide up the preparation in the following categories: design methodology, general vSphere, vSphere 6, and exam tactics. I think you need to master all those areas to stand a good chance of passing the exam.

Design Methodology
The VCAP6 Design exam has a strong focus on VMware's design methodology. It is therefore really important to have a good understanding of concepts such as conceptual, logical and physical design, functional vs non-functional requirements, all different types of design factors etc. I find the following the best resources for this:

  • Scott Lowe's Pluralsight
    course, although quite old now, is still one of the best resouces for VMware design methodology
  • Chapter 1 of VMware vSphere Design (Forbes Guthrie et al.)
  • The beginning of Jason Grierson's DCD 5.5 Studypack, for a summary.

General vSphere Knowlege
A large part of the exam is focused on general vSphere features such as, resource allocation, virtual networking, storage and all other vSphere features (not necessarily vSphere 6 specific). This is a very wide topic and it will be difficult to acquire this knowledge apart form spending years working with the platform. The following are some good resources for refreshing the knowledge and understand what the exam might be focusing on:

  • The VCAP-DCD Google plus group, I would recommend to read all the posts in this group.
  • Jason Grierson's recorded webex session
  • Jason Grierson's DCD 5.5 Studypack again
  • Networking for VMware administrators (Christopher Wahl et al.), for general vSphere Networking.
  • VMware vSphere Design 2nd Edition (Forbes Guthrie et al.)

vSphere 6 Knowledge
As this is an exam on vSphere 6, you can expect questions on any new features. I used most of the standard VMware administration and installation documentation to research this, but also:

  • Essential Virtual SAN (VSAN) 2nd Edition (Cormac Hogan et al.)
  • Mastering VMware vSphere 6 (Nick Marshal et al.), for easily accessible information on new vSphere 6 features.

VCAP6 Design Exam Knowlege
It is also important to have a good understanding of the exam itself, how the design tool works and how points are scored. It is difficult to get a lot of information but the following are very useful:

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