Just after I have received the result of my VCP-IaaS beta exam I got invited to another cloud certification: VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Cloud Infrastructure Design. This is the first of three Cloud related VCAP certifications. The other two are VCAP – Cloud Infrastructure Administration and VCAP – Cloud Governance, but these are not released yet. By the way there should be coming expert level VCDX Cloud soon as well.
If you are confused what is the difference between VCP-Cloud and VCP-IaaS, then note that the latter is just a name of a delta exam to achieve VCP-Cloud certification if you are a regular VCP (now renamed to VCP-DV where DV stands for Datacenter Virtualization). If you are not VCP you will be able to take (still unreleased) VCP-Cloud exam to achieve VCP-Cloud certification in one go .
As I build clouds for living it is no brainer for me to participate in Cloud beta exams. First some general thoughts about betas. If you hate waiting for exam result and want your certification quickly, doing the beta is definitely not for you. Doing beta means to not only go through much larger set of questions than on the final exams, but obviously those questions are not 100% polished, with spelling or factual errors and sometimes even do not work right (the Flash based ones). Also you do not get to know the result right away, but have to wait for the end of the beta period when all the beta results are evaluated, some questions rejected and all the beta tests are rescored. Then the Pearson Vue is sending the score by snail mail which takes up to 4 weeks to deliver to Europe. So when the result is finally delivered the GA exam is already available and the score is delivered to the participants immediately after the test is finished. Saying all that I still like to do betas because I feel I am contributing something to the development of the certification which I want to be well recognized and credible.
Now back to VCAP-CID: it is a design exam, therefore the form is very similar to VCAP-Datacenter Design (read here and here). The format of the questions is the same – a mix of multiple choice, flash based (assigning or classifying items) and drawing Visio like diagrams. The beta consisted of 149 questions where 6 were ‘Visios’. Where some multiple choice question can be answered in 30 seconds, Flash in a minute 0r two, the Visio takes anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes to answer, so the whole exam becomes a rush against time. However I believe the GA exam will not have that many questions.
The topic of the question is obviously vCloud Director, but there are other more general design type questions as well. Although it is not specified in the blueprint, all the vCloud Director questions are based on the 1.x release. This is important as the 5.1 release is different in many aspects (resource pool reservations/limits, component sizing, vShield Edge design, storage profiles) and the answers to some of those questions would be different. The blueprint covers the range of the topics very well. I think vCloud Architecture Toolkit (version 2.x) is must read for the preparation. I would also recommend to read all the VMware released whitepapers that relate to vCloud Director, vShield or Chargeback.
As expected I encountered some glitches, mainly in the ‘Visio’ topics. It is was frustrating especially when my strategy is to do the ‘Visio’ bits at the end. But you can imagine that after answering 143 questions in 3 hours or so you are pretty exhausted and intolerant. Sometimes I could not connect the right elements, sometimes deleting one element flushed the whole design and similar.
In general I like the exam and think it is relevant to vCloud architects. VMware certification team should decide how to tackle the VCD 1.5 vs 5.1 differences and hopefully fix those ‘Visios’.