EMC Cloud Architect Certification – Training and Exam Experience

In February this year EMC introduced new certification track for Cloud Architects.

Cloud Architects deliver virtualization and cloud designs based on business strategies encompassing all key technical domains such as compute,storage, networking, applications, etc. EMC Proven Professional Cloud Architect (EMCCA) training and certification is designed to build required skill sets for experienced architects and consultants. The track has two levels. Virtualized Infrastructure (Specialist Level) and IT-as-a-Service (Expert Level).
Source: https://education.emc.com/content/_common/docs/certification/EMCDCA_and_EMCCA.pdf

Having pretty deep knowledge of virtualization (VMware Design certification VCAP-DCD) and IT service management (ITIL v3) I wanted to expand and formalize my education toward the cloud. As a holder of the basic EMC Information Storage Associate certification (EMC ISA) I was eligible to take the first step to the Specialist Level by taking the Virtualized Infrastructure Specialist Exam for Cloud Architects (E20-018).

The curriculum describes the journey to the cloud (Virtualize -> Operationalize -> IT-as-a-Service) and concentrates on the second step of the journey; the design of cloud ready Virtual Data Center (VDC). Here is the list of course modules:

  1. Virtualized Data Center and Cloud Overview
  2. Virtual Data Center Architecture – Compute
  3. Virtual Data Center Architecture – Networking
  4. Virtual Data Center Architecture – Storage
  5. VDC Architecture – Applications and Information
  6. VDC Architecture – Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
  7. Designing for Virtualized and Cloud Environments
  8. Governance, Risk and Compliance
  9. Managing Virtualized Environments
  10. Cloud Services
  11. Course Summary

EMC offers a practice test on the education.emc.com website. It is very similar to the actual exam test and by taking it you can see very well where you stand with the knowledge related to the exam. Without any prior study I scored 73% which would mean a pass on the actual exam, however I saw some gaps in my knowledge in the non technical areas which lead me to decision to study more. There are no reading materials available other then taking the recommended course. Fortunately there is Video Instructor Led Training (VILT) option available. It contains the video of an actual class (over 22 hours) plus PDFs with the study guides. I think reading the PDFs would be enough to pass the test, but I found that watching the actual class was very informative – mainly the lab exercise parts which I really enjoyed where the instructor and students were weighting all the design options.

After the technological modules (2-6) come in my opinion the most interesting and enlightening topics 7 and 8: the Design and GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance). The design methodology was very well described and explained on real life examples. The GRC concepts were quite new for me but still easy to understand. The module 9 – Management corresponds to ITIL and module 10 introduces the third phase of the Journey to the cloud.

My only problem with the VILT was that it contains some kind of copy protection and I was not able to play it on my corporate Windows 7 laptop and had to run it in clean Windows XP Workstation virtual machine.

It took me about three weeks of night studying, mostly enjoyable, concluded with Pearson VUE examination.

As I already wrote the actual test itself is not particularly hard and is very similar to the practice test. Sixty multiple choice questions must be answered in two hour time limit (as non English native speaker I got 30 minute extension), but I was done in less than an hour. With the passing score of 83% I am now an EMC certified Cloud Architect.

There are reports of shortage of cloud architects. This certification helps to demonstrate the expertise of being one.

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