A couple of weeks back, I had the great pleasure of getting an email from VMware asking me to sign up for another dose of pain in the form of the VDCD410 Beta Exam.
For those of you not sure what that is – the full title is (deep breath) – ‘VMware Certified Advanced Professional - Datacenter Design Exam’. The short title is VDCD410 based on the published blueprint version 1.2.
Anyway, so I get this notification while in the middle of delivering a demanding client engagement, so very little time to do this thing.
The exam is voluntary, and I thought, let’s just have a little look. So after 2 days of studying hard, I entered the examination room with trembling knees, sweaty palms, and heart palpitations. There is quite some time needed to sign in for the exam. You undergo an 'empty your pockets, sign over your life, digital photo, prove who you say you are' life enhancing experience before being seated at the examination terminal!
Well, what an eye opener that was! 4 hours of testing, over 120 questions of just about every sort you can imagine (no I am not allowed to say what is in the exam).
We’ll have a look to see what the result is (fingers crossed) in the coming weeks. However, I was also scheduled to attend the ‘VMware vSphere: Design Workshop’ course the following week. Yes, I know that the course and exam order is wrong, but….
The course was an interesting course in that it was a discussion/workgroup/scenario building led course with some very dry but informative material. There is no, I repeat, no hands-on work in this course which I think is a great pity. The value of this course is that you get to meet people from many different VMware environments. I principally work in the enterprise segment (30,000+ users with hundreds/thousands of servers and desktops and myriad applications). In the workshop there were administrators from the SMB segment. They have a very different, but pragmatic, view on how to design virtual infrastructure environments using VMware.
Some of the points that were very hotly debated were:
- Business requirements gathering vs. ‘just build it’ SMB approach
- Blades or traditional 2/4U servers
- Cooling vs. what cooling?
As I said, a refreshingly good discussion on the merits of each approach. That’s what this course is all about. There were many administrators on that course and few actual designers which would account for the disconnect in design approaches and the need to be highly practically focused in the SMB environment. Both have their place.
Regarding the exam vs. the course. Well, I actually think that they are pretty close in their aim, but under no circumstances assume this course prepares you for this exam.
Still, I for one am really happy that there is finally a more design focused course. We have many many VMware administrators around the world, and let’s face it, if that is all that you are doing, then you are always going to be quicker at doing those things. Specialization of labour and all that!
From an EMC Consulting point of view, the world is not as easy as configuring a product. The aspirations of the business are the areas that lead us towards generating design models. The potential challenges of tomorrow concern us as well as the issues of the past. Amidst all this is the ever more complex world of mergers and acquisitions by VMware (and others) and how to steer a customer towards a product/technology set that is commensurate with their ambitions. Not easy.
For the exam, there is the usual good advice, read, read, read some more, and make sure that you have the hands-on practical knowledge.
This exam has a different focus area than the VCAP-DCA (Gregg Robertson wrote an excellent blog on this) in that not every command line is needed to be known but how to do things is very relevant.
From my own personal point of view it was interesting to see how design is suggested from VMware and contrasting that to the wider nature of designing enterprise strategy regarding virtual infrastructure, virtual datacenters and the Cloud of course.
In any case, to all those others that did the beta VDCD exam, good luck!