The VCAP5-DCD is one of VMware’s advanced certifications that validates both general datacenter and specific vSphere related design skills.
The 225 minute exam comprises of 100 questions, mainly multiple-choice, drag and drop and a handful of in-depth design scenario questions.
The design scenario questions make use of an custom design drawing tool, where objects can be linked together to show the logical or physical design of a platform, or specific configuration.
To take this exam, you must register and already be a VCP-DCV. Although there is an official course for this exam (The Design workshop) it is not required to become certified.
As per all VMware exams, the main starting point for preparing for this exam is the official VMware blueprint
The blueprint outlines the main areas of interest in the exam, with recommended reading material. You may notice that these documents are pretty much standard VMware documentation for configuration, administration and best practices. As a VCP, it is also likely that you studied this material before.
This is where the VCAP5-DCD certification differs from other VMware exams. The exam is challenging and has been well constructed to validate if you think like a designer, rather than knowing the options and how to do something referenced in the recommended reading material.
For people who are experienced designers it should be easier to take the documentation and concepts , then incorporate into their design methodology. However, if you are a VCP and VCAP-DCA technical engineer looking to develop or validate design skills without years of leading design projects it may seem daunting.
The VCAP5-DCD blueprint appears to take the latter situation into consideration by specifying that a design process and methodology is part of the exam. Understanding the terminology used in design scenarios from both technical and business perspectives. then developing a process to review technical documentation and construct / deconstruct designs is in my opinion the key to sucess for this exam.
The approach I used for this exam was to initially review all the design process and terminology again to ensure I had the correct through process. From there I worked through each of the technical components specified in the blueprint, then ensured for each technical objective
- Review the known best practices (Both the Official VMware documentation, and other documentation – communities, books, blogs, etc)
- Read case studies on how people in the community or vendors have implemented the technology effectively and what issues they had.
- Review the VMware knowledge base for issues around the technology and how to avoid them.
- Relate the technology to previous projects I have worked on.
For items 2 & 4 I practiced creating logical / conceptual / physical diagrams and deconstructing the highlighted designs looking for trade offs, items against the known best practices and creating component relationship diagrams.
One of the challenges with this exam and design in real life is that there are normally multiple ways of satisfying project requirements, is the best practice suitable, what if you cant complete configuration to best practices, what is the impact?
The VCAP5-DCD covers alot of ground and requires many hours of reading around the subject.
I have compiled a list of reading materials, exam reviews and created a few practice exams that may help you along the way. These lists are not exhaustive, but will give a good starting point for study. If you come across a useful link and think I should add it please let me know.
Recommended VCAP5-DCD Reading
- The Recommended reading list from Official Blueprint in PDF format.
- VMware vCloud Implementation HLD – ** Fantastic example of a HLD document incorporating processes & thoughts of the VCAP5-DCD **
- iSCSI Design Considerations & Deployment Guide
- VMFS – Technical Overview & Best Practices
- Installing vCenter Best Practices
- VMware vSphere vMotion Architecture, Performance and Best Practices in VMware vSphere 5
- Performance Best Practices For VMware vSphere 5.0
- DV Switch Best Practices
- VMware HA Deployment Best Practices
- Best Practices for performance tuning of latency sensitive workloads in vSphere VMs
- Best Practices for running VMware vSphere on NAS
- Oracle Databases on VMware – Best Practices (on older versions but concepts useful)
- SQL Databases on VMware – Best practices (on older versions but concepts useful)
- Enterprise Java Applications Best Practices Guide (on older versions but concepts useful)
- Vendor Based Best practices for – Nimble Storage (Good for drawing your own designs)
- Vendor Based Best practices – HP Storage example (Good for drawing your own designs)
- Vender Based best practices – NetApp (Good for drawing your own designs)
Useful Study Material
- The VCAP5-DCD Video Bootcamp by Top VCDX Authors John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Linus Bourque & JonHall
- Top VMware Videos from David Davis
- Great List Of Best Practices from a fellow VCI – Samir Roshan
- Gregg Robertson Useful Resources
- VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive by Duncan Epping & Frank Denneman
- VMware vSphere Design by Forbes Guthrie & Scott Lowe
- VMware Press – Official VCAP5-DCD Certification Guide
Exam Experience Reviews