Passing the VMware VCP510 exam

Still had this coupon lying around for a free VCP510 exam. I got it because I did the VCP4-DT exam, and last week I saw that it was valid through… The end of THIS month. So what to do? I just took the shot. I hardly had any time to study, but then… That is nothing new to me… Just how I passed my VCP4 and VCP4-DT certifications as well πŸ™‚

Some preparation I did for the exam

Once I set the date for this exam, I had the feeling it might be a good idea to do some studying on the subject. So I pulled up google and browsed around for VCP510 exam stories. Not different from any other VMware exam, I decided the one thing I had to do was play around with vSphere 5, especially the new and cool stuff.

I have a 24/7 running vSphere 5 environment. I did the upgrade some time ago, and was positive I would be able to answer questions on that front. From the exam experiences I read, the “absolute maximum ratings” document would not be too useful for the exam. And I’m happy it is no longer. I always thought that to be the dumbest way to build an exam; maximums change all the time, and you can score without having too much knowledge on the subject (or even none at all).

I also used the vCenter appliance when I started out with vSphere 5, so I decided not to do any studying at all on that subject. The VMware VSA (for those not familiar with it – the VSA builds shared storage by aggregating local storages from 2-3 DAS attached sets of disks) was too complex to set up in the limited time I had, so I decided that a quick readup on the VMware documentation on that subject should be enough.

Finally the vDR, VMwares implementation for performing VM-level backups. I have done quite some work on competing products (like PHD Virtual, Veeam and Vizioncore/Quest), so I decided to do a quick readup on that as well.

I did not have too much time to study anything theoretical. I had the luck of having quite some knowledge on the storage-side of things: I have quite some knowledge on the new vSphere HA (you NEED that for building decent stretched clusters where EMC’s vPLEX helps) and also when it comes to DRS, DRS-groups, storage DRS, VAAI and storage clusters I already knew quite a bit. So from there, it was off to the exam!

The exam experience

As I (and anyone taking the exam) ok’s an NDA I cannot go too deep on this subject. But what I do know is that the part I did in my preparation covered quite a bit.

If I had more time to study things, I would have most certainly done things like:

  • Install “ESXi on ESXi” nodes and install vCenter once more. Check out the features that are installed and can be installed.
  • Play with the VSA. There are quite some questions on the subject, and having at least ran it once would have helped a lot;
  • Look around in esxtop. I know a little esxtop, although I have always been a fan of the graphical performance magic that vCenter provides. The exam writers are definitely esxtop fans;
  • Quite some questions on VUM. Looking around in a VUM environment is a good thing, especially when you look at upgrade scenarios of hosts and updating virtual appliances;
  • Play around with dVswitches, and look at the port binding options and things like that.

When you add some serious time to just generic playtime going through the menus, checking out which info sits where in the different views will be the cherry on the cake.

Dumb questions

It is often said “There are no dumb questions”. Well, VMware managed once again to include some. I have had several questions that have multiple correct answers. I have had questions which are impossible to begin with. I had questions with no valid answer. I had questions where you look at the answers and you think they will mean that one answer, but given certain criteria might be the other answer.

It is hard to sometimes guess what the writer of the question was getting at. Or would it be a set of test questions that were inserted just to filter out anyone cheating the exam? My advice: When you run into a question like that, give it your best shot and do the “move along people, nothing to see here” routine. Will you score 100%? No. Will you not get frustrated? Possibly. Will you pass? If you answered “no” to the previous question, you are upping the odds on passing πŸ™‚

Bottom line: I passed my VCP510 exam, so add another icon to the header πŸ™‚

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