Last Wednesday I sat the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Datacenter Design for a second time and this time I won. I improved my score by a little over 50 points. I had wanted to rebook as soon as possible after my first attempt, which by the rules would have 14 days. Unfortunately test center scheduling got in the way as well as a trip to Las Vegas for EMC World 2014. This bought me an extra 4 days. However, I can’t honestly say that much reading was done in Vegas.
This time around I focused on two things, the VMware best practice guides and community study notes. I downloaded a complete package of both from Virtually Virtuoso. I found the study notes extremely helpful to fill some gaps. There is one document that is a scanned copy of notes from an attendee of the Design Workshop class. These, although a little hard to read, were a great resource.
I also leveraged my personal network. Several folks in the community who had passed the DCD reached out and offered to help. I had several conversations and emails with all of them and this took me to the next level. They key to passing this test is rooted in understanding the “why”. This was the main difference for me. After all the conversations and questions I felt like I understood why my answers were right and this completely changed the test. I was confident, worked quickly and finished with over 30 minutes left on the clock. When I clicked finish I was sure I had passed.
I have though a lot about how to turn this experience into actual advice. I think the answer is to talk with your peers.
Have conversations, white board sessions, and debates over the design topics where you feel you are weak. Have several conversations with several folks. Do this individually. Not everyone’s answers will be the same, however the majority will have similar answers, use this as a guide. Always ask your peers why. Even if they are technically wrong, it will give you an insight into the thought process.
After enough conversations with folks, you will feel that you have a handle on the topics. The best advice I can give you is that when you take the test and pass, DON”T STOP. EVER. Keep having these discussions. They make you better.
Best of luck on your studies and godspeed.
Acknowledgements and Thanks
I owe the following people a great deal. They have been my mentors, cheer leaders, and friends through out my personal journey with the VCAP-DCD and as I continue with my VCDX preparation. I don’t know if I could have come this far without them. They are (in no particular order):
Thank you all. You make me better at what we do. Next time I see you, beers on me.