Earlier today I took my turn in the chair going for the VMware Certified Professional Exam on the latest version of vSphere, vSphere 5. I am very happy (and relieved) to say that I successfully passed the exam and am satisfied with the score I achieved. After listening on last weeks ProfessionalVMware.com Brownbag featuring Gregg Robertson (blog/twitter) and hearing how they have revamped the exam to be more difficult it got me a little concerned.
Well I can say they definitely ratcheted up the degree of difficulty. It appears gone are the days of simply memorizing Min/Max configurations (past experience with VCP 3 and 4) and not having any real in-depth hands on experience. Yes the exam is still made up of multiple choice and pick the best two or three type questions. However the questions are more situational based, you are having X type of issue or how would you configure Y. Another new twist (and something MS exams have done for years) is present you with a screen capture and base the question/scenario around the information provided. With all that being said I felt like the content in the exam lined up with the VCP 5 Blue Print that VMware provides and that the questions didn’t stray away from it.
Now for what you are probably looking for, the resources I used for studying:
First and foremost is the excellent VMware vSphere 5 training course offered by TrainSignal and put together by David M Davis (blog/twitter) and Elias Khnaser (blog/twitter). The course provides over 30 lessons and totals over 17 hours of material covering all aspects of what you need to know (not just for the exam) on how to setup and configure a vSphere 5 environment. I believe this is a must have.
Secondly Scott Lowes (blog/twitter) newest book Mastering VMware vSphere 5. I wore out my copy of his previous book, Mastering VMware vSphere 4, and will probably do the same with this one. Get it, read it, know it, love it.
Third, and sorry for the self promotion, but my VCP 5 Blue Print study notes. Josh Coen (blog/twitter) and I have been working through each section of the blue print and posting them on our respective blogs. This is covering all the bases on what material the exam is going to test you on. Just click the VCP-5 tab at the top of my blog page to get to the goodness.
And finally, lab time. I am fortunate enough to have a lab at home that I have built with white box ESX hosts, a cisco switch, and two Iomega IX4-200d NAS/iSCSI devices. With that and evaluation versions of vCenter and ESX I was able to get in and play with the new features introduced with vSphere 5 (Storage DRS, Storage Profiles, Web Client, vCSA) as well Distributed Virtual Switches, Storage vMotion, Fault Tolerance, etc. If you can’t dedicate hardware for your lab pickup a copy of VMware Workstation and run virtual ESX hosts and use one of the free open source NAS/iSCSI solutions out there (FreeNAS or Openfiler) to setup a sandbox environment (If you get the TrainSignal video they even cover setting up Openfiler!). It might not be speedy, but it will at least allow you to get your hands dirty.
Hopefully these tips will come in handy for you as they did me and good luck.