vcp5


A) Useful docs

I’ve put some documents that I have found useful for background information in a public dropbox at:


This is a zip of some papers and presentations definitely worth reading (not particularly for the exam but just for background).  Especially useful in my view are a) Ken Cline’s description of shares, reservations and limits (the best outline of this topic that I’ve seen and actually this one is good prep for the exam), b) the “Waldspurger” paper on memory sharing, c) Kit Colbert’s descriptions of memory usage, d) the What’s New in V5 technical whitepaper (the VCP510 exam is sure to have lots of questions on new features in V5).  Also, I’ve added some of my additional notes (v2additional.doc) on multipathing (this document also mentions (briefly) independent disks, network load balancing, and some installation info). You need to know what all the storage acronyms (PSP, SATP, PSA etc) stand for.

Remember again that some of these documents are not specifically V5.0 but they should all still be relevant.

B) Useful blogs

Among all the VMware / virtualization information on the web, some blogs I’ve found useful are:

1) Chad Sakac, at:

http://virtualgeek.typepad.com

with some particularly good iSCSI stuff at:

http://virtualgeek.typepad.com/virtual_geek/2009/09/
a-multivendor-post-on-using-iscsi-with-vmware-vsphere.html

(beware line break above)

2) Duncan Epping, at:

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/

3) Eric Sloof, at:

http://www.ntpro.nl/blog/

4) Eric Siebert, at:

http://vsphere-land.com/
http://vmware-land.com

Eric has a huge number of links from his site to other info. I don’t think Eric sleeps at all — it’s just VMware 24 hours a day.

5) The VMware powershell blog at:

http://blogs.vmware.com/vipowershell/

A great source of info on using PowerShell / PowerCli with vSphere.

6) Alan Renouf, at:

http://www.virtu-al.net/

Another great source of PowerShell scripts.

7) Eric Gray, at:

http://www.vcritical.com/

8) Forbes Guthrie, at:

http://www.vreference.com

9) VMware’s VMTN round up of blogs, at:

http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/

10) Scott Drummonds, at

http://vpivot.com/

Scott posts some good articles and discussions around vSphere performance.

11) Scott Lowe, at

http://blog.scottlowe.org/

A good blog.

12) William Lam and Tuan Duong, at:

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/

This site is particularly good for perl scripts to run in the vMA. Also, some great tips on the cli at the following page (and its related links):

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2011/07/new-vsphere-5-cli-utilitiestricks.html

13) Vaughn Stewart of NetApp, at:

http://blogs.netapp.com/virtualstorageguy

Again, a good storage blog.

14) Luc Dekens, at

http://www.lucd.info/

More great powershell info, sample scripts etc.

15) The VMware site itself has some good blogs, including a vSphere blog. The following are a couple of examples of good entries on storage:

http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2011/07/new-vsphere-50-storage-features-part-1-vmfs-5.html

http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2011/09/vsphere-storage-appliance-can-i-run-vcenter-on-a-vsa-cluster-member.html

Duncan Epping has a compiled a nice list on this blog of 140 new features in V5 (although, if you look closely, 93 and 119 are the same), at

http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2011/08/vsphere-50-features.html


C) The VCP510 exam

Some info about the vSphere VCP510 exam follows (note that last year VMware introduced an advanced certification (VCAP), but VCP will still be the starting point for any certification level).

Whatever you do, before the VCP510 exam you should read the exam blueprint. Version 1.4 of the blueprint is the latest, and I’ve included it my “useful docs” zip — it does get updated so check nearer the time you take the exam that you’ve got the latest version.  Follow the “Exam Blueprint” link at the main VCP certification page:

http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=12457&ui=www

Can I repeat — while studying for the exam you *must* read the exam blueprint — it defines what you are supposed to know — the exam “objectives”.  If there’s anything in the blueprint that wasn’t covered on the course it’s worth looking for the appropriate info.  I know people who have gone through the VMware mock exam, and run through the practice exams of bloggers like Simon Long, and then struggled in the VCP exam itself.  I’m sure it’s because they didn’t read the exam blueprint.

Amongst the info in the VCP510 blueprint is:

o “The VCP510 exam consists of 85 questions…”
o “The passing score for this exam is 300, using a scaled scoring method. The scale is from 100-500. Scaled scores are calculated using a mathematical formula that considers a variety of factors, including the number and type of exam questions included in a specific version of the exam. Because this combination may vary in different versions of the same examination, scaled scores provide a fair score for each individual based on the version of the exam taken.”

Personally, I believe this equates to a pass mark of around 70%.

o “This course [vSphereV5 Install, Configure and Manage] covers a majority of the objectives [v1.3 of the blueprint included the following at this point — “(approximately 80%)” — but this qualification has been removed in v1.4, but I believe it is still true] covered on the VCP510 exam and is recommended for individuals who want to gain a better understanding of the objectives represented in the VCP510 exam. Please note that additional exposure to vSphere 5 is recommended before attempting the exam.”

Note that — this is crucial — the above states that the VSICM5 course covers (only) around 80% of the exam objectives (as defined in the blueprint) of the VCP510 exam. Check the blueprint for the rest.

A couple of quick examples of objectives that are in the exam blueprint but not covered on the VSICM course follow.   First, the exam blueprint has an “objective” covering upgrades — say V4.1 to V5 — so I reckon a read of VMware’s Upgrade Guide (see below) would be worthwhile.  Second, there is also a blueprint objective covering Distributed Virtual Switches (almost ignored in the VSICM course material) so you should investigate these as well.

Remember also that I said that the VSICM5 course broadly covers “Enterprise” features of vSphere, whereas the exam covers “Enterprise Plus” features.  The VMware vSphere 5 Licensing, Pricing and Packaging whitepaper that I’ve included in the zip bundle shows a table listing the differences.

So, what extra study do you need to do? Well, it depends on your existing knowledge and experience, of course, and also on how generally you study for exams, but what follows is some ideas that I suggest.


D) Some suggestions for extra study before taking the VCP510 exam

0) This is the zeroth suggestion (ie, above all others) — get some more hands-on experience.  Create a test lab.  If you only have one server you could set up a “nested” environment — ie, install esxi into virtual machines running either on esxi or VMware Workstation.  Search the net for “nested esxi” or “esxi on workstation” for sites that show the detail on how to set up such an environment.

1) Read about the experiences of people who have passed the exam.

Check out the following three blog entries.  These people obviously can’t tell you what’s in the exam – – they’re under NDA – but they have some useful advice.

a) I know of Eric Sloof — he’s very experienced and what he says is worth listening to:

http://www.ntpro.nl/blog/archives/1865-Eric-Sloofs-VCP5-exam-experience.html

b) I don’t know Brian Tobia but he has some interesting thoughts:

http://vprimer.com/2011/09/26/vcp-5-exam-thoughts-and-experience/

c) Similarly, I’m not familiar with Vidad Cosonok but his blog entry looks useful:

http://cosonok.blogspot.com/2011/10/vcp510-vcp-on-vsphere-5-exam-cram-notes.html

Interesting that one of the comments to Vidad’s blog said the exam notes were very useful in helping pass the VCP exam, while another comment said that the notes covered just one question in the exam! I’m sceptical about the latter statement, but it does highlight that just because you read some condensed notes it doesn’t mean you’ll pass the exam.

2) Definitely make sure you go through the VMware mock exam at the certification link at:

http://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=12457&ui=www

3) Look through the following VCP510 practice question / exam experience info sites (many of these reference each other, so you can end up going round in circles following links):

a) Simon Long, at:

http://www.simonlong.co.uk/blog/vcp5-practice-exams/

Simon’s put together some good practice questions for the vSphere VCP exam.

b) Scott Vessey, now of VMware, at:

http://vmwaretraining.blogspot.com/2011/10/studying-for-vcp5-exam.html

Scott’s blog is a really useful mine of information.

c) Greg Stuart, at:
 
http://www.petri.co.il/vcp5-exam.htm

d) Damian Karlson, at:

http://damiankarlson.com/category/vcp-5/

e) Forbes Guthrie, at:

Forbes has done a great job of condensing the entire VMware documentation set (1000s of pages of material) to a small set of notes (50 pages), see:

http://www.vreference.com/wp-content/uploads/vsphere5-notes1.0.1.pdf

Also, Forbes has created a fantastic, concise 2-sided reference card for vSphere 5 (mentioned above):

http://www.vreference.com/vsphere-5-card/

and also a copy of then above spread over a more readable 11 pages of A4.

f) Preetam Zare, at:

http://vcp5.wordpress.com/

g) Gregg Robertson, at:

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vcp5/

h) Andrea Maurom, at:

http://vinfrastructure.it/certifications-on-virtualization/vcp/vcp5/

http://vinfrastructure.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/VCP5-study-notes-EN.pdf

i) Jason Langer, at:

http://virtuallanger.com/vcp5/

j) Also helpful, I feel, is William Lam, who has compiled a great summary of each of 50 of the new features in V5 (remember the exam is likely to include many questions on the new V5 features), at:

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2011/08/duncans-50-out-of-140-vsphere-5.html

Be aware of my note above — doing well on practice exams is not a guarantee of passing the real thing.  But doing practice tests does give you an idea of the type of questions you will come across, and also gets you thinking about the various topics covered by the questions.

4) One useful source of background information is, obviously, VMware itself. You should be familiar with the content of at least some of the VMware documentation pdfs. The vSphere 5.0 versions are at this web page:

http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-pubs.html

Regarding which version of the docs to read, VMware says in it’s VCP certification FAQ: “VMware continually reviews the impact of major and minor releases to ensure that all content on the VCP exam is consistent with the latest release of the software. We may also test on components included in these update releases if the components fall within already stated exam objectives, as they appear on the current version of the Exam Blueprint Guide. New features unrelated to existing exam objectives would not be tested in the current release of the exam. As a result, when preparing for the exam, always use the latest version of the product documentation.”

Note particularly the last sentence.

Ideally you should read or at least be familiar with the contents of the following:

o Configuration Maximums for VMware vSphere 5.0 (memorise this one!)
o vSphere Installation and Setup Guide
o vSphere Upgrade Guide
o vCenter Server and Host Management Guide
o vSphere Virtual Machine Administration Guide
o vSphere Networking Guide
o vSphere Storage Guide
o vSphere Resource Management Guide
o vSphere Availability Guide
o vSphere Monitoring and Performance Guide
o VMware vSphere Examples and Scenarios Guide

That’s a lot of reading.  Maybe too much — remember that you might consider Forbes Guthrie’s condensed 50-page notes on these docs (mentioned above).  The “Config Maximums” pdf is probably still worth digesting – it’s only a few pages of A4, and you’ll see it’s a good source of possible VCP questions, although recent thinking from exam takers is that there are far fewer “config max” type questions in the VCP510 compared to earlier versions of the exam.

5) It’s worth checking out the “what’s new” document about vSphere 5.0 at:

http://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere5/doc/vsphere-esx-vcenter-server-50-new-features.html

As noted previously, the exam will include a fair proportion of “new” V5 features so the above is a good source of possible question topics.  But, don’t forget though that V5 is just V4.x with more features. Lots of new stuff was included in V4.1 — especially Storage IO control (SIOC) and Network IO control (NIOC), and (for DVSs) network load balancing across physical vmnics in a nic team (see the “new in 4.1” docs in the zip bundle).

6) Cody Bunch has put together a great series of lectures (brown bags!) covering the different sections of the VCP510 exam blueprint, at:

http://professionalvmware.com/brownbags/

I’ve not had the time to review all of these but they do look very useful — different (very knowledgeable) people run through each section of the blueprint in hour long videos (also available on iTunes).


E) General sources of information

1) vmworld.com

On a more general note, also worth looking at is vmworld.com for a wealth of information. On this site you can access presentations given at the annual VMworld and VMworld Europe.  I’ve attended three of the last four VMworld Europe events — very worthwhile.  I’ve not been to the VMworld in the US — recently it has been held in Las Vegas but this year the US event is in San Francisso during August 26-30. The last VMworld Europe 2011 took place in October in Copenhagen.  This year it’s in Barcelona during October 9-11.

I would recommend that anyone working with VMware vSphere should attend either the US or the European event.

Even if you don’t attend you can get a (fairly pricey) sub for the website to access the latest presentations — they are posted on the site after each conference.  It does cost (older info — the previous years’ — is free) but there’s a huge amount of practical information on there, for example about virtualizing SQL server or Exchange — with videos and pdfs of the presentations and labs at the VMworld events. It’s probably (actually it really is) worth getting your organisation to buy at least one subscription.

2) Books on vSphere

There are many of these now, and I’ve read hardly any of them but I think I could recommend two:

Mastering VMware vSphere 5
by Scott Lowe
Published by Sybex
ISBN-10: 0470890800
ISBN-13: 978-0470890806

and:

VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive
by Frank Denneman and Duncan Epping

published by CreateSpace
ISBN-10: 1461040329
ISBN-13: 978-1461040323

Regarding VCP510 study guides, forthcoming, but not till June / July, are:

The Official VCP5 Certification Guide
By: Bill Ferguson

Publisher: VMware Press
Pub. Date: July 10, 2012 (Estimated)
Print ISBN-10: 0-7897-4931-9
Print ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-4931-4

and,

VCP: VMware Certified Professional on VSphere 5 Study Guide
By: Brian Atkinson
Pub. Date: June 4, 2012 (Estimated)

I hope this is of help. Email me if you want clarification.

I would seriously suggest that you should aim to do the equivalent of at least a full week (40 hours, say) of study before taking the VCP510 exam.

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