VCAP6-DTM Deploy: When the going gets tough
This post has been sitting in the drafts with the title for sometime and I thought I should eventually finish it up (who doesn’t get annoyed by drafts :-P). So earlier this year I took the decision to tackle all VCAP tracks one at a time, my first VCAP was back in 2013 and I can still remember it as if I was sitting for it yesterday.
When I was going through the blueprint and I did a count of products that needs to be covered:
- vSphere 6 w/ VSAN
- Horizon 6.2
- Identity Management 2.4.1
- App Volumes 2.9
- ThinApp 5.1.1
- Mirage 5.4
- vROPS for Horizon version 6.1.0
And there were 39 questions to be answered, for anyone who has done VCAP you would know that this is going to be a bone crushing exam! 39 tasks/subtasks to fulfill! 39 questions to read and analyze! More over the additional 30 minutes for non-English-native language has been removed (I totally understand this decision but still 30 minutes less is definitely going to make thing a little bit uncomfortable).
So now for the exam preparation part, as usual the only credible source on what the questions of the exam will be would be the blueprint (ALWAYS TRUST THE BLUEPRINT) as you won’t get any questions outside of that scope, the blueprint is the boundary of whatever will be thrown at you in the exam.
The areas where I was lacking were Identity Manager, App Volumes and Mirage but it was a challenge, it was not that I didn’t know the products but it was that I didn’t know the products end-to-end.
I built new nested lab based on the required version and started configuration tasks based on the blueprint, prior to going through the blueprint I setup everything the way I knew it and then when to the blueprint and crossed all the items that were matching my configuration and for those that weren’t I redid them so that they would match.
The configuration is not that much hard but I needed to practice on redoing them within the exam time frame, correct and quickly as well. So what I did was I put all the items in an excel sheet and randomly chose 39 tasks on my attempt to do the configuration, it was quite hard at first because the items were fictitious and I had to come up with half of the task while doing it but it was a good practice so that at the end of it my mind was automatically triggering the configuration locations without any stress.
You’ve got to be kidding me:
Before 5 days of the exam, on a Saturday morning. I woke up, prepared breakfast and sat to do another practice round and suddenly I couldn’t access any of my VMs nor my homelab production VMs as well, at first I thought there is something wrong with my network but it took me like 30 seconds to realize that my NFS datastores were not mounted *sniff*, I moved my eyes towards the Synology only to find it dead *double sniff*. Here I panicked a bit and it felt like I forgot all the practice that I did and I needed to do it just one more time, I attempted everything to revive the Synology but it was DEAD!
Now talking about luck, near my home there is a company whom are a Synology distributors and they handle break and fix as well. I called them and they were about to close and the manager said that all the technicians were out, I explained to him the situation and he was responsive enough to tell me to bring the unit so that to see if we can fix it ourselves.
I drove towards their offices and we did a Frankenstein attempt to bring it up, yet I didn’t get the glory of saying ITS ALIVE! ALIVE!. Again I was amazed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the manager as when he saw my yellowish frown terrified face he decided to lend me an empty unit until they have brought the spare parts to fix my unit (you can imagine my happy face and wide smile here! And as the great Gandalf the white said: HOPE IS KINDLED).
At this point, I went back to my home lab recovered the disk groups and brought my nested lab online once more, and I went through a couple of preparation rounds as well.
So here we are at the exam center, waiting for my turn to enter the testing room. Oh! I should mention that this is my first VCAP deployment exam in Lebanon, recently two centers in Lebanon were allowed to serve advanced exams as previously I had to schedule them abroad. I chose the exam center that I was sure they had a better internet connectivity as the exam will already require to utilize the full time and I didn’t want to fall into the pit of lag and lack of connectivity to add to the stress, in addition I was clear to the test administrator that it is imperative to have a good connection so we tried to chose a time where they didn’t have have a lot of test takers.
The exam started and I was literally overwhelmed with the questions and the level of detail, the exam experience was very close to HOL and luckily I didn’t face any connectivity issues, all what I can say is that I didn’t move and eye nor lifted a finger. I simply couldn’t, I knew all the answers but the time just kept running out, running out and RUNNING out! I finished around 35 questions out of 39 as some of the questions required too much time and I thought I would leave them so that to get back to them (who was I kidding). Eventually my time was done I got thrown out :-D.
I got out of the testing cabin and went to the bathroom to wash away the fear effect, I was terrified that I might not pass because I did want to pass and I didn’t want to go through the same exam experience once more, it was stressful and yes it was the toughest VCAP I attempted as you need to know your stuff like the back of your palm no questions asked.
After around 1 hour I received an email telling me that I had passe the exam successfully! OH YEAH :-D
I would urge anyone who likes a good challenge to pursue that exam, the amount of information and hands on experience you get is pretty massive.
Good luck to anyone who is attempting this exam and I hope my experience can make it a bit easier for you to get through it,
Thank you for taking the time to go through this blog,