VCAP6-DCV Design beta exam review.

On Saturday the 5th of March, I had the pleasure of sitting the beta of the VCAP6-DCV design exam.

Since more exam centers are now able to host the exam I chose a center near me, which was really convenient as they are also open on a Saturday. After passing all the usual security checks and getting shown to my seat and logging in, the familiar NDA popped into view and I was away.

The beta exam was 4 hours and I finished with time to spare. Was the exam difficult? Sure, but there were no questions that were outside the blueprint.

Most of the experience was a massive improvement over the VCAP5 exam. No lag, fast, and easy to navigate. However every silver lining has a cloud, in the middle of one tricky design question, everything locked up and up popped an error with the Pearson exam engine. I signaled to the exam monitor that I had a problem. She spent the next few minutes on the phone with an incredibly unhelpful Pearson. They claimed that everything but themselves was to blame. Suddenly, as soon as it began the problem mysteriously resolved itself. Weird *cough* Pearson messed up *cough*. One or two of the questions were also incomplete and didn’t provide all the info I needed but I did add notes and suggestions where appropriate so hopefully that will help.

If I’ve managed to do enough to pass I’ll get myself lifted to the VCIX-DCV cert, which would be a bonus.

Exam Tips:

  • The exam itself is filled with all the new vSphere 6 goodness, so if you’ve just passed the VCAP5-DCD and are expecting to walk this exam you’ll most likely waste your money.
  • As is obvious from the many blogs about, the VMware design exams are difficult but not impossible.
  • Having design experience is ideal but not essential. You can work this to your advantage which I’ll explain in a bit.
  • If you think the question or scenario is incomplete, there is the option to add a note to any question.
  • Get a lab together, it you can. There are cloud services out there you can use to run a virtualised lab.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get rattled. If you are struggling, flag the question for review and come back to it later.
  • Put a study plan together based on the official blueprint. There is a large body of information to absorb so make sure you budge your time appropriately.
  • Know your Requirements, Risks, Assumptions, and constraints.
  • Some scenarios have a large amount of information, some relevant to the design, some not, but all must be considered. Take notes while reading the question or scenario and focus on what they’ve asked you. It’s a valuable time saver.
  • If you have time at the end of the exam, use it to review your questions but try not to second guess yourself.

And finally as I mentioned before, if you don’t have real world design experience make it work to your advantage. Wait, what, how’s that? As anybody who’s run through a few designs know, there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat. Well VMware likes you to do your designs in a specific way and they have certain methodologies and ways of looking at the world. For example, the whole upstream, downstream, thing drives me crazy, and different companies either consider the user upstream or downstream. If you learn how to do designs the way VMware wants you to, without outside influence, it’ll be easier to visualise what they are after.

I’ve often heard techies who’ve sat this exam complain that technical designs are subjective, but it shouldn’t really be the case here. It’s a VMware exam and should be done the VMware way. Follow the blueprint, read the study guides and provided you also put in the study time, you’ll do just fine.