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My VCAP-CID Experience

I’d been umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether to tackle the VCAP-CID for a little while. A number of people have asked why I would pursue this based on the planned lifecycle of vCD, so I’ll tackle that first up.

  1. vCD is used by Service Providers, and as a Partner SE with VMware this makes the knowledge I’ve gained throughout the process invaluable.

  2. I’m spending quite a lot of time with vCAC at the moment, and being able to articulate how vCD constructs and concepts translate to vCAC is absolute gold.

  3. Study is good for the brain! Learning for the sake of bettering yourself is important, and I like having a yardstick in the form of an exam to measure against.

Having made my decision to go for it, I began studying with Nathan Wheat (@wheatcloud) and Josh Odgers (@josh_odgers). All three of us were carrying some kind of impediment for the exam – for me it was lack of practical design exposure for vCD, for Nath it was never having sat a VCAP exam so not quite knowing what he was in for, and as for Josh… if you ask him he was crippled having to study with us numpties!

Resource wise we studied the Blueprint and it’s referenced documents heavily, and spent a good chunk of time inside the vCloud Architecture Toolkit (vCAT). What became increasingly apparent as we studied was that the technology itself wasn’t so hard to grasp, but identifying use cases where you should take one approach vs another required some serious time. Concepts like network isolation vs Isolated Networks (don’t even ask) and shared services for a Private Cloud vs Public Cloud kept us whiteboarding for hours, and having different viewpoints on how to tackle some example requirements meant that we were able to solve problems in multiple ways, then identify the most elegant solution. For any design exam the study material can be quite dry so I’d strongly recommend having a study group, or even just a couple of sessions where you can whiteboard with peers to get your ideas challenged.

The exam itself was mostly as expected. There was some ambiguity within questions (although that may just have meant that I wasn’t strong enough in that area) which was getting me a little stressed, but then I remembered that all I had at risk for this exam was my ego. A few deep breaths and I was centred, and pushing through the questions at a reasonable rate. There is no going back in this exam – you literally have no “Previous” button, nor can you mark an item for review later. What this means is that you have to back yourself – decide on your answer, glance for obvious flaws and then commit.

With 15 minutes to go I was on question 114/115. It was a design scenario, and I was attempting to place one last connector when the exam stopped responding. The clock continued to count down and *nothing* was working. A dialog box popped to tell me that we had encountered a “serious error” and that we should call Pearson immediately. I got a little light headed thinking that the last three hours of work might be gone and just closed my eyes and tried to calm down. The proctor couldn’t get the exam back on my machine, and I could feel my heart thumping in my chest – it’s amazing that the adrenaline can kick in over something as simple as an exam. A few minutes later the exam was running on another machine and although I had to redo the design question, I had a good remembrance of what I had done, and so knocked it over quickly. One final multiple choice and it was done.

The heart thumped away while I waited for the result to come up on the screen. Pass.

I guess now I have to start on VCAP-CIA….