Over the past weekend I sat the VMware VCAP-DCD 5 exam and was able to successfully pass the exam, granted by a small margin. I was somewhat nervous stepping into the exam as I had not been able to give what I felt was adequote study time over the last week to prepare and had already pushed my exam date twice before. Another reason is the DCD exam preparation is so much different then the VCP and DCA exams I have studied for in the past. No amount of reading the core vSphere documentation or spending time in your lab would be enough. With the focus on design the best way to prepare would be experience working with clients gathering requirements and designing vSphere infrastructure on a daily basis. Currently that option isn’t available to me and probably a great amount of others who wish to sit the exam.
The Second Best Options
If getting your hands dirty day to day with vSphere design isn’t option for you, like myself, here is the list of “Second Best Options”. This is the list of resources I used and study from to prepare. This is by no means the only resources out there, they are just the ones I used. If you wish to share additional please add them to the comments section below. Now, onto the list:
- VMware vSphere Design – This is an excellent resource for the exam and more then likely if you are looking into doing the DCD5 exam you already own this book. Forbes Guthrie (blog/twitter), Scott Lowe (blog/twitter), and Maish Saidel-Keesing (blog/twitter) have done a great job breaking down the facets of storage, networking, compute, etc of vSphere Design. But more importantly the first chapter covers the terminology used throughout the DC5 blue print; risk, assumptions, functional requirements, etc… The lone drawback is that the book is based on vSphere 4 so keep that in mind when reading about limits and features. However, at VMworld 2012 the authors did mention a revised version covering vSphere 5 was to be released.
- Managing and Optimizing vSphere Deployments – I feel as this book has flown somewhat under the radar compared to the other publications from VMware Press. Hopefully with the DCD exam that will change. Sean Crookston (blog/twitter) and Harley Stagner (blog/twitter) have put together a great book for anyone who is tasked with maintaining a vSphere environment, but the real value of this book for the exam comes from the first few chapters. With topics covering capacity planning, functional requirements, contraints, and stake holder review to name a few, this book aligns well with the DCD objectives.
- VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive – Frank (blog/twitter) and Duncan (blog/twitter), do I really need to say anymore??
- APAC vBrownBag DCD5 Series – Awesome resource here! If you haven’t heard of or been a part of the vBrownBag series you are really missing out. Meeting weekly both in the US and APAC, they run the gamut of VMware related certifications (and other VMware topics as well). For the exam needs I focused on the nine videos related to the DCD exam. Download them via iTunes and watch/listen to this great and FREE resource. Hat’s off to the vBrownBag team!
- Time Management – As I did not sit the DCD 4 exam and wasn’t sure what to expect I took to the web to find others tips and tricks for passing the exam. The best one I found and stuck with me the most was this POST by Jason Boche (blog/twitter). I know from taking the DCA exams that time comes at a premium and the DCD follows the same pattern. As Jason mentions, time management is key and I agree 100%. I followed his lead with some slight modifications, as I was working through the questions anytime a drag-and-drop or design tool question came up I marked it down/flagged it and moved on answering all the multiple choice questions first. I then reviewed my list and completed all of the drag-and-drops next. Finally, I sat through and completed the design tool questions.
- Last but truly not least, VMware documentation. Each section of the blue print references documents that can be leveraged as study aids. Most of them are VMware whitepapers covering best pratices or part of the “core” documentation set for vSphere 5. I have gone through the process of collecting all of the documents listed and put them into a package that can be downloaded HERE.
Hopefully these tips help you with your preparation for the VCAP-DCD exam. If you have additional resources or recommendations please share in the comments section.