There are many entry level certifications that are great at giving you a head start into the IT industry. Certs such as CompTIA’s Network+ and Security+, VMware’s VCA series and VCP series are just a few good examples. After a few years in the industry and several entry level certs under you belt, it is time to take the leap to the next level, advanced technical certifications. Certifications such as Cisco’s CCNA, Microsoft’s MCSE and many others provide individuals with an opportunity to prove their advanced knowledge of the technologies. One certification in particular, the VMware Certified Advanced Professional, puts your abilities to the test in a hands on exam setting.
Most entry level exams are multiple choice with maybe some drag and drop questions. Those exams generally give you 90 to 120 minutes to complete the exam with an immediate results screen at the end of the exam with the good or sometimes bad news. Exams such as the VCAP are a much different beast altogether. The VCAP exam will present you with a live lab setting in which you are given a broken environment that needs fixing or a configuration setting you need to complete. Results are not given immediately; they can take up to two weeks to get to you. Hopefully this post will give you a better idea of what you will face on the exam and how to best prepare for it.
VCAP CERTIFICATION BACKGROUND
The VCAP exam comes in two versions, the Deploy exam and the Design exam. There are categories in which to take each exam depending on what you want to focus on in the VMware stack, those categories are:
- Datacenter Virtualization
- Network Virtualization
- Cloud Management and Automation
- Desktop and Mobility
Each VCAP certification track presents both a deploy and design certification. If you successfully pass both exams, you will automatically earn the VMware Certified Implementation Expert badge.
VCAP TRAINING AVAILABLE
Training for the VCAP exams is not necessarily clear cut. There are several training options you can pursue to help you prepare for your VCAP exam(s). First and foremost, you should take the VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage course (ICM for short). This course is a foundational course that will give you some hands on experience with installing vSphere and configuring all of the components that go with it. The ICM class is a requirement, as it will allow you to sit for the VCP exam, which is a pre-requisite to taking the VCAP exam.
Another option for VCAP training is the VMware vSphere: Advanced Troubleshooting Workshop, which will walk you through the ins and outs of troubleshooting a vSphere infrastructure. The hands on labs for this course are great as they present you with a broken or under-performing vSphere environment which you must troubleshoot and subsequently fix. Lastly, the VMware vSphere Optimize and Scale course will teach you how to best configure your vSphere environment for scaling out and tweaks that will boost the performance of the environment.
VCAP EXAM DETAILS
The VCAP exams are all 100% hands on. There are no multiple choice questions and therefore no guessing. The reason these certifications hold so much weight in the market is due to the need for real hands on experience in order to pass. There are no “paper VCAPs.” The exam consists of 17 scenario based questions which apply to a specific live lab scenario. You will have 205 minutes to complete the exam, which is proctored. A score of 300 is required to pass the exam. The exam voucher costs $450 for each attempt.
WHAT NEXT after the exam?
There really is no natural next step with this certification. If you enjoy taking the VMware exams, take another VCAP certification exam such as the Network Virtualization exam or Desktop Mobility exam. If you feel that you are a serious VMware design expert you can prepare for the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) exam next. There is no real course to prepare you for the VCDX exam; it consists of a building a VMware design based on the guidance in the design handbook, submit and pass the application and design review and then successfully defend the exam against three VCDX panelists.
IS VCAP FOR ME?
Absolutely! If you love VMware, like I do, and you want to further your VMware certification portfolio, then go for it. It is a pricey exam and requires a big investment in time and money, but the return is well worth it. The best case scenario required to prepare for this exam and pass it is to create your own lab at home, or pay for lab time from an online company. Study the exam blueprint and take one of the training courses listed above. When you feel prepared enough for the exam, pony up your $450 exam fee and dive in. Good luck.