Two weeks ago, I was finally able to pass the VCAP5-DCD exam. So the road to become VCDX can now be continued. It’s a great feeling knowing I don’t have to pass anymore exams on the Datacenter Design track!
Let me just say that this exam is not for the faith of heart. In fact, I passed the exam only on the third time I took it. So now, after clearing the big elephant in the room, I can share with you some of the mental and technical process I had to go through. Before providing you with my study notes, here are my top 5 thoughts on this one.
- Many said this before but I have to say it as well – field experience is a must in my opinion. Doing vSphere designs and working with the technology for several years helped me a lot.
- If you are facing the same dilemma as many others, which exam to take, rather taking the DCA or the DCD, I strongly recommend taking the DCA first and by no means, I hope you take them both. I do think the DCA is a good exam for start a momentum going. The DCD is far more theoretical and loaded with study materials to deal with. If you are pursuing after the VCDX certification, the DCD will prepare you for this long process.
- If you are not the “reader” type of person, well, tough luck. Although there are many video materials you can use (which I will elaborate later on), most of your preps will involve reading, a lots of reading!
- Although the DCD does not require a lab per say, I suggest you own one. Many of the objectives in the blueprint will lead you to practice.
- Eat and drink before the exam. 4hr in an intense exam environment will take its toll on your stomach and can easily have a bad influence on your decision making process.
A word about time management and the exam blueprint – It’s crucial you manage your time properly. Try to stay within the 25 questions in 55 minutes time frame, giving the fact that there are 5-6 (I had 6) Visio style questions which will suck up your time.
If you haven’t finish a Visio style question within 12-13 minutes you should consider dropping it.
Don’t try to mess around and skip the exam blueprint. Although it’s very long to go over, it is probably the most important written resource to start your preparations with.
If you want to nail this, use everything you can; books, whitepapers, online and offline courses, VMworld online sessions, vBrownbags, articles, Twitter, blogs, KBs, lab environment and YouTube.
The obvious thing to start with will probably be the exam blueprint which I have already mentioned.
First, let me point you to my “top 5” exam study materials you should start with. Those 5 alone are definitely not enough but it should get you going:
- TrainSignal Designing VMware Infrastructure Training – This course by VCDX Scott Lowe is great way to get things started. While watching it, I took lots of notes.
- VMware vSphere Design, 2nd Edition – I’ll keep it simple. You should really buy this awesome book, lots of design related stuff, a must read.
- vExpert Gregg Robertson from THESAFFAGEEK put a brilliant study guide for the DCD and for the DCA.
- VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive – VCDX’s Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman don’t need my introduction. Just read this book, it’s good for you.
- VCAP5-DCD Study Guide – vExpert Nick Marshel from the ProfessionalVMware team put a list of all DCD exam vBrownbags.
I’m sure you can find more sessions you like but those are my “top 20” VMworld sessions for the DCD prep:
- Virtualizing SAP : Design and Performance Management Guideline
- Network Administrators Guide to Deploy Software FCoE and iSCSI Adapters Using VMware Distributed Switches on 10Gb Ethernet
- Performance New Features and Best Practices for vSphere
- Avoiding the 19 Biggest HA & DRS Configuration Mistakes – 2012 Edition
- vSphere Performance Best Practices
- Virtualizing Highly Available SQL Servers
- Virtualizing MS Exchange 2010 at General Mills – Architecture Details and Lessons Learned
- vSphere 5 Storage Best Practices
- Virtualizing SharePoint Best Practices
- Understanding Storage In Virtual Environments
- Virtualizing Exchange Best Practices
- Virtualizing SQL 2012 : Doing It Right
- Tracking Down Storage Performance Issues: A Customer’s Perspective
- VMware vSphere Cluster Resource Pools Best Practices
- Insight Into vMotion: Architectures, Performance, Best Practices, and Futures
- VMware vSphere 5 Design Discussions
- vCenter: A Technical Deep Dive
- Supercharged SAN: Fine-tune Your VAAI Enabled vSphere SAN with This Collection of Configuration and Performance Best Practices
- Architecting and Operating a VMware vSphere Metro Storage Cluster
- Troubleshooting and Monitoring Virtual Networks
Supportive YouTube videos:
vBrownBags – Cody Bounc and the crew of ProfessionalVMware are well known for their brownbags. Beside the DCD brownbags, make sure you watch this supportive sessions:
If you can, take the The VMware vSphere: Design Workshop [V5.x]
As my road to become the first Israeli VCDX continues, I wish you good luck with the exam!