VCIX6 designation clarifications

There is a lot of confusion out there regarding the upgrade paths, the VCIX6, and underlying VCP6 requirements to achieve certification. The Certification folks are working on clarifying language on our website and accurate instructions for our customer-facing employees behind the alias.

I am writing this point from the standpoint of the Datacenter Virtualization exam, since that is the track that I am following for my VCDX attempt. If you’re in a different track, the same policy applies for your specific track.

      • If you are brand new to the DCV track, you have to pass the VCP6-DCV exam.  You can’t use a VCP6-DTM to start up the DCV track


      • If you are a VCAP5-DCA, you can pass the VCAP6-DCV Design exam to achieve VCIX6-DCV designation


      • If you are a VCAP5-DCD, you can pass the VCAP6-DCV Administration exam to achieve the VCIX6-DCV designation


      • If you are both a VCAP5-DCA and VCAP5-DCD, you can take either the VCAP6-DCV Design *OR* VCAP6-DCV Administration exam to achieve your VCIX6-DCV designation


      • Your VCP in the Datacenter Virtualization track must be valid (unexpired). VCAP5 holders with a valid VCP do NOT have to take the VCP6-DCV exam to sit a VCAP6 exam.


      • Passing the VCAP6-DCV Design or Administration exam extends the expiration date of your VCP for 2 additional years


      • Achieving the VCIX6-DCV designation will not give you the underlying VCP6-DCV certification.


      • The VCIX6-DCV is the only prerequisite for VCDX. You DO NOT need a VCP6-DCV certification


VCAP6-DCV Design exam 3V0-622 – Rescore

Update December 6, 2016

The rescore process is complete, all results have been posted to Cert Manager.

Update December 5, 2016

The batch processing at Pearson continues to fail. The certification team is manually updating all score results. This will take a considerable amount of time, but they are making good progress. The hope is to have all rescore results posted by the end of the day Pacific time on December 6th.

Original Post November 30, 2016

Exam takers who failed the 3V0-622 received a notice from Pearson that the exam was under review and might be rescored. The date in this email was that a rescore was expected by November 20th.  We are obviously well beyond that date and people are still anxiously awaiting results of the rescore. I am among those waiting for news.

I have volunteered some of my time with the certification team as a SME to help develop exam content (not for 3V0-622). It’s given me insight into just how extraordinarily time consuming it is to create a legally defensible certification exam. No portion of the process is simple. It’s quite similar to putting code into production – even the slightest change means you have to run your entire battery of testing before promoting code.  Any hiccup means re-running your tests from the beginning.

I have spoken internally with the Certification team at VMware regarding the staus of 3V0-622. They are doing everything they can to get the rescores out. However, you cannot magically make the processes work faster – the whole process from end-to-end takes 3-4 days. QA processes take the amount of time they take and cannot be rushed or skipped. Pearson has encountered a number of technical difficulties with the exam drivers and have had to run the process multiple times. Progress was further impeded by various resources being unavailable due to the Thanksgiving holiday last week.

At this point we are hoping for exam results to be available online on Friday December 2nd.


My VCAP5-DTD exam experience

I took the VCAP5-DTD beta exam on January 3rd, 2013. Like many people, I received the welcome news today that I passed the exam.

I’m laughing a little to myself as I write this post because my certification folder contains a log of my studying. I downloaded the beta blueprint on December 17, 2012, but I already had Microsoft exams scheduled for December 28th.  I did no studying for this VCAP until the day before the exam, January 2rd, where you can clearly see my feverish morning download activity. I will say though that I have several years of View deployments under my belt, so my knowledge on the engineering side was up-to-date and at the front of my mind.

VCAP5-DTD Folder

I downloaded every PDF referenced in the exam blueprint, and I already had most of the product documentation already downloaded. I am primarily a delivery engineer, but to be successful on the exam you need to put on your designer’s hat. I tried to keep that in mind as I pored through the PDFs – it does make a difference because different information will stand out if you actively look for design elements.

My exam was just after lunch and it was well over an hour away, so I left early and brought my Kindle. I continued going through the PDFs until exam time. The sheer volume of information you have to read through makes VMware design exams quite difficult. I suggest reading the answers before you read the question – this helps you identify clues in the question. There are detailed descriptions requiring 6 or more paragraphs of reading just to answer a single multiple choice question.

The GA version of the exam has 115 questions and 6 diagramming scenarios. Keep track of the number of diagramming questions you get so you can budget your time appropriately. You should not spend any more than 15 minutes on a diagram. Keep in mind that 15 * 6 = 90 minutes, leaving you only 105 minutes to answer 109 questions. The pace you have to sustain is mentally exhausting. The beta was even more difficult with 131  questions, plus the expectation to provide comment feedback on the questions.

I found the diagramming questions to be even more involved than the DCD questions.. I’d say the tool was a bit better behaved than the DCD exam, but not by much. It’s easy to get sucked in to a design scenario and waste far too much time. Remember that you’re not designing the perfect system, it just has to be good enough to meet the stated requirements.

My VCAP5-DCD exam experience

I passed the VCAP5-DCD exam on July 25th!

I found the exam to be extraordinarily challenging. Design has never been a primary focus of my job, and much of what I learned for the exam was completely new to me. If your primary job is vSphere administration, you are in for a bit of a rough ride. Terms like requirement, constraint, risk, and assumption obviously had English meaning for me, but they meant nothing in the context of a vSphere design.

The exam requires a *TON* of reading. Scenarios are extremely lengthy, far longer than any VCP or VCAP-DCA scenario. You have to be able to quickly extract the important details. If you are a slow reader, you are at a crippling disadvantage for this exam.

For exam preparation, I relied heavily on Cody Bunch’s vBrownBag series. The Asia-Pacific version of the vBrownBag sessions was run by Alastair Cooke and covers the entire VCAP5-DCD exam blueprint. It consists of 15 1-hour sessions and they are all recorded for you to download. You can either watch them streaming, or @nickmarshall9 has converted them to MP4 format, you can download here. I downloaded all of the vBrownBag sessions and saved them out to my Dropbox. I kept two of them marked as favorites on my Droid at all times so I could listen to them while commuting.

Another resource that has a ton of awesome exam-relevant content was the DRBC Design – Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Fundamentals course. Unfortunately it’s not free, but you are in luck if you work for a VMware Partner. The course is free at the Partner University.

For the exam itself, I followed my typical method of answering questions as quickly as I could. If I had any doubt at all, I flagged the question for review and moved on. One tip for this exam is to read the multiple choice answers first – it helps focus your reading so you can spot the answer. I didn’t even attempt any of the diagramming questions on my first pass, I marked them for review and moved on.

Many people have complained about how kludgy the Visio-style diagramming tool is, and my experience was no different. I lost diagrams multiple times and I had very strange behavior with objects moving themselves around on the canvas. There is a video demo of how to work with the diagramming tool on the VCAP5-DCD site, I strongly recommend you watch the short video to familiarize yourself with the tool.

My VCAP5-DCA beta experience

Update 8/13/2012: I passed!

I took the VCAP5-DCA beta exam on 5/17/2012. At the request of the beta team, I have refrained from posting about the beta exam until the end of the beta period.

First, the basics. The blueprint listed the exam as 26 questions in 3.5 hours. There was something wrong with one of the questions – when I reached it, all it said was “This question will not be graded, please skip it.” There were only 25 questions on the exam. You get 2 ESXi hosts, vCenter, vMA, and a CLI machine with PowerCLI and vCLI. You get access to PuTTY and you have all of the PDF documentation available as well. You aren’t going to have time to dig around in the documents though – it’s good for reference if you can’t remember the correct sequence to do something, but it’s not like you can go into this thinking it’s an open book test.

There is a single password common across all of your components – Windows administrator, root, vi-admin are all the same password. Usernames and passwords are listed at the bottom of every question, so you don’t have to worry about writing it all down.

For those of you who took the VCAP4-DCA, you’ll notice that the version 5 exam has significantly fewer questions on it. It certainly didn’t feel any shorter to me. Although they reduced the number of questions, I think they added more depth to each question. I would say that the level of difficulty remained consistent – if you’ve taken version 4, version 5 will feel about the same. One big advantage over 4 is that you don’t have to mess around with ESX classic.

I found nothing unreasonable about any of the tasks I was asked to perform. The trick is the time limit. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would be able to configure 100% of what was asked, but I would need more than 3.5 hours to do it. You have to be FAST. 3.5 hours divided by 26 questions means just over 8 minutes per question. At first glance, this seems like a huge amount of time for a single question, but it’s not. The environment is unfamiliar… you don’t know the IP ranges, you don’t know the passwords, you don’t know the machine names. So you burn time going back and forth looking them up. Tick tick tick. There are multiple tasks for every question. Tick tick tick. You’re in a restricted remote desktop – as you open more and more windows, it gets more and more challenging to switch back and forth.Tick tick tick. You start an operation that will take some time to complete. Do you wait, or do you go ahead and come back later to check on it? Either way, tick tick tick.

This is a live lab exercise. Any change you make persists for the duration of the exam. This means you have the potential to introduce a misconfiguration on a question and have that mistake also cost you points on other questions. The exam builds on itself. I’m not going to use any vSphere examples because I don’t want to accidentally reveal exam content. I’ll use a Windows example instead. Question #1 might be “Create a new IIS website named MySite with the default settings”. Then question #10 might be “Create a custom error 404 page for MySite that says ‘Move along, nothing to see here'”. And question #15 “Enable MySite to use existing SSL certificate ‘MyCert’ on TCP8443. Force all browsers to use SSL when visiting MySite”.

There is no flag for review interface like the VCP exams. When you reach question 26, going back to question #1 means clicking “back” 25 times. I recommend writing the numbers 1 through 26 on your dry erase board as soon as you sit down. My strategy was to go through each question as quickly as possible. I assumed from my v4 experience that the v5 exam would build on itself; I wanted to spend the most time on groups of questions that would maximize my points. I spent almost no time puzzling through anything – I either started configuration immediately or I skipped it. Any question that I was 100% confident on, I crossed off the dry erase board. Any question I wasn’t sure on, I circled. I also wrote a small note so I knew what category the question was in. Reusing my Windows example – I got to the end of my first pass through the exam and saw that I had 4 IIS questions, 2 NTFS questions, and the rest were single topics. My best shot at the most points was to dig into IIS, so I focused on the IIS questions next. I had slightly less than 2 hours to go after my first pass.

The exam team carefully built the environment to ensure that none of your exam tasks take your environment down. Infrastructure components that you shouldn’t touch are very clearly marked. Don’t touch them unless you want an early exit on your exam.

I am confident that I correctly answered 17 out of 25 – if each question had equal weight, that means I passed with a score of 340. But of course they are not equally weighted, so there’s no good way to estimate my actual score. The beta exams have to go through the lengthy process that I detailed in this post – they could toss out some of the questions I missed and improve my score. Or they could toss out some of the questions I answered correctly and reduce my score. I don’t expect to get beta results until the beginning of August.

VCAP5-DCA beta facts

This information has been pulled out of e-mails directly from the certification team as well as the VCAP5-DCA blueprint.

  • The exam is approximately 26 live lab exercises.
  • The exam is scored out of the standard 500 points, 300 is passing.
  • Partial credit is awarded.
  • Time limit of 210 minutes.
  • The beta went live on May 8th and will last until June 8th.
  • “After each exam is given, the exam is automatically scored and then the kit is ‘re-set’ for the next exam.” This is interesting in that the VCAP4-DCA was allegedly manually scored. I don’t know if this was rumor or truth, but I heard it from multiple instructors. The beta is definitely scored by script. Multiple e-mails from the beta team incdicated a significant delay in the release of the beta due to problems with the scoring script.
  • As extra incentive to encourage people to take on the beast, the beta is offered free of charge.
  • There are 2 recommended courses for preparation for the VCAP5-DCA. The VMware vSphere: Fast Track course is currently available. The vSphere: Optimize & Scale [v5] class will not be ready until Summer 2012.
  • Not surprisingly, the exam blueprint is just as comprehensive as the VCAP4. Fortunately, this time you only have ESXi to worry about.

I’m not going to have enough time to prepare, but I’m going to take a crack at it anyway.