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VMware Validated Designs for SDDC 2017 Exam (5VB-101)

Two weeks ago I passed the VMware Validated Designs for Software-Defined Data Center 2017 Exam (5VB-101). In this blog post, I am going to describe my experience and give you some first-hand tips for passing this VMware Validated Design exam.

VMware VVD (VMware Validated Design) 2017 - Badge
VMware VVD 2017 – Badge

In my case, I got 120 minutes because I’ am not a native English speaker. I had to score at least 300 points of the maximum 500 points. I luckily passed the exam with a score of 465.

You can compare this exam to a VMware VCP exam. It looks and feels for 80% the same. The biggest difference is that the exam is about all the products inside the VMware Validated Design. So it is kind of a mix between  Datacenter Virtualization (DCV), Network Virtualization (NV) and Cloud Management Automation (CMA).

After passing the exam you are not done yet! You need to perform a VMware Validated Design deployment and get it signed off by the customer. Then you need to perform an interview with the VMware Education team. The details can be found on the VMware Education page.

VMware VVD – Exam Tips

So what do you need to know?… The exam itself is purely focused on the VMware Validated Design version 4.0! Get this through your head… only 4.0! This means you are dealing with the following software versions:

  • VMware ESXi – 6.5 a
  • vCenter Server Appliance – 6.5 a
  • vSphere Update Manager – 6.5 a
  • vSAN – 6.5
  • VMware vSphere Replication – 6.5
  • VMware Site Recovery Manager – 6.5
  • NSX for vSphere 6.3
  • vRealize Automation – 7.2
  • vRealize Orchestrator – 7.2
  • vRealize Orchestrator Plug-in for NSX 1.0.4
  • vRealize Business for Cloud – 7.2
  • vRealize Operations Manager – 6.4
    • vRealize Operations Management Pack for NSX for vSphere – 3.5
    • vRealize Operations Management Pack for vRealize Log Insight – 1.0.1
    • vRealize Operations Management Pack for vRealize Automation – 2.1
    • vRealize Operations Management Pack for Storage Devices – 6.0.5
  • vRealize Log Insight – 4.0
    • vRealize Log Insight Content Pack for NSX for vSphere – 3.5 vRealize
    • Log Insight Content Pack for vSAN – 2.0
    • vRealize Log Insight Content Pack for vRealize Automation 7 – 1.5
    • vRealize Log Insight Content Pack for vRealize Orchestrator – 7.0.1+ 2.0
    • vRealize Log Insight Content Pack for vRealize Operations Manager – 6.x 1.7
    • vRealize Log Insight Content Pack for Microsoft SQL Server – 3.1
  • vSphere Data Protection – 6.1.3

A couple of items were a surprise to me because I realized you can just ask anything about any product in the VVD. A couple of interesting subjects were:

  • Hardware requirements
  • Recovery of the entire platform
  • VMware licensing

VMware Validated Design – Study Material

An interesting video related to the VMware Validated Design (VVD) exam is this “What’s New” video. This video is created by VMware to get a introduction to the VVD 4.0 version. There is just a lot of information that you need to know for the exam. It covers all the components and all the changes they did for version 4.0.

What’s New in VMware Validated Design for Software-Defined Data Center 4.0


Sources:

Here is a list of valued web pages and articles that I used for studying for the VVD exam. Most articles are directly from the VMware website, there is not a lot of information about this exam on blogs or other media:

Final word

In the blog post, I cover the VMware VVD Exam that is a nice to have for your badge and certification collection. I don’t think it is as valued as a VCP or VCAP exam in the market but still, it’s another certification.

At the moment I still need to pass the signing off by a customer and the interview with the VMware Education Team. I will probably update this article in a later stage when I completed these steps and share my experience.

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VMware VCAP6.5-DCV Design Exam Experience

VMware VCIX6.5-DCV Badge At VMware EMPOWER 2018 in Vienna, I passed the VMware Certified Advanced professional 6.5 Data center Virtualization Design exam or in sort VCAP6.5-DCV. This exam was already for a very long on my certification list, to be more precise for about four years. Because of the large number of new products VMware released the last couple of years, my priorities shifted many times because Data center Virtualization was not really too interesting to study anymore… (sorry Data center Virtualization for calling you not interesting). My experience with VMware vSphere started more than ten years ago and over the years I have been responsible for designing multiple infrastructures for customers.

The VMware way of describing the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization Design certification:

“The VCAP6.5-DCV Design certification validates advanced knowledge of simplifying data center operations through virtualization with vSphere 6.5 and its related components, and is able to recommend and design VMware solutions to meet specific goals and requirements. This industry-recognized certification improves your credibility among your peers and proves that you have a deep understanding of data center virtualization design principles and methodologies.”

 

So where is the exam about: The exam is about the VMware Design Methodology used for designing a VMware vSphere infrastructure the right way. To pass the exam you need to know everything about the following items and make sure you can apply them in real-life examples/use cases:
– AMPRS (Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability and Security).
– RCAR (Requirement, Constraint, Assumption and Risk)
– Non-functional and functional requirements
– RPO (Recovery Point Objective)
– RTO (Recovery Time Objective)
– Conceptual, Logical and Physical Designs
– vSphere 6.5 features, what did the release of vSphere 6.5 provide to each feature and what are the requirements and constraints for implementation.
– vSAN 6.5 features, design and architecture
– Site Recovery Manager features, design and architecture
– vSphere Replication features, design and architecture

Preparation

For me, the preparation of the exam started with a couple of sessions about the vSphere Design Methodology. Jeffrey Kusters was so kind to host a couple of sessions in his spare time about the subject for all the ITQ colleges. Jeffrey Kusters is one of our VMware VCDXs that works at our firm and has a lot of years of experience designing vSphere Infrastructure as an IT architect.

Study Materials

I have used many different material/sources to prepare myself for the exam but watch out. There is so much information available that you can study until 2020 and then you are still not able to read all the information. Focus on the items listed above and you will have a good chance of passing. Important note, sometimes information on a blog or book is a couple of years old and you might expect it to be not relevant. This is not the case the VMware Design Mythology has not changed over the years.

Material list:
Blog – Jeffrey Kusters – Breaking down the conceptual design, RCARs and AMPRS …. VCDX style
Blog – Jeffrey Kusters – Passed VCAP6.5-DCV Design … Yes! Finally VCDX6
Course – VMware – VMware vSphere: Design Workshop [V6.5]
Documentation – VMware – vSphere 6.5 Availability Guide
Documentation – VMware – vSphere 6.5 Installation Setup Guide
Documentation – VMware – vSphere 6.5 Platform Services Controller Administration Guide
Documentation – VMware – vSphere 6.5 Security Guide
Documentation – VMware – vSphere 6.5 Upgrade Guide
– Ebook – VMware vSphere Design Second Edition by Scott Lowe, Forbes Guthrie and Kendrick Coleman
– Ebook – VMware vSphere 6.X Datacenter Design Cookbook SE by Hersey Cartwright
– Ebook – vSphere Design Pocketbook 2.0 Blog Edition
– Exam Guide – VMware – Link
Video – Pluralsight – What’s New in vSphere 6.5
Video – Youtube – vBrownbag – VCAP-DCV Design
White Paper – VMware – Storage Protocol Comparison

Conclusion

I passed the exam on the first attempt with a good score. The questions are decent around 12 drag en drop and 48 multiple choices. The questions are decent and require you to have deep knowledge of the products. So basically you know the answer or you just don’t. For me passing the VCAP6.5-DCV Design made me a VCIX6.5-DCV, so I was extra pleased with the result.

Special thanks to Jeffrey Kusters! You have been an absolute help!

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The VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist Exam

VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist - Badge
VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist – Badge

This afternoon I took the VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist and I passed with a score of 456 points. The exam is about… guess what Virtual SAN (vSAN)! To be more precise the latest version of vSAN version 6.6. The exam is a mix of deployment & design questions. In my opinion it is a smaller version of the separated Deploy & Design exams as in the major exam tracks (DCV, NV, CMA, DTM). The questions were really good and realistic, some examples: like about space efficiency, cluster sizing and some customer use cases. The exam contains 60 questions and you have 105 minutes to complete the exam.

Over the years I have done a lot of vSAN deployments, starting in the vSAN 5.5 days. So personally it was not the most difficult exam to pass but a good one to add to my résumé.

Exam description

The official exam description from VMware: “The VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist badge holder is a technical professional who understands the vSAN 6.6 architecture and its complete feature set, knows how to conduct a vSAN design and deployment exercise, can implement a live vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure environment based on certified hardware/software components and best practices, and can administer/operate a vSAN cluster properly.”

The Specialist Exams

At VMworld 2017 three new specialist exams were announced by VMware Education:

  • VMware vRealize Operations 2017 Specialist
  • VMware vSAN 2017 Specialist Exam
  • VMware Validated Designs for Software-Defined Data Center 2017

Currently the remaining two are on my “To Do” list because they all cover my area of expertise. The vSAN Specialist exam is the only one of the three that is done at a test center, the other two are online exams.

Study Material:

There is a lot of free vSAN 6.6 content available, especially the VMworld 2017 sessions are full of useful information. Take a look Duncan Epping his YouTube Channel (the URL listed below).

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VMware Certified Implementation Expert – Network Virtualization (VCIX-NV)

I’m very happy to announce that I passed the VCAP6-NV Deploy exam and unlocked the VCIX-NV accreditation!

About the VMware VCIX-NV:VMware VCIX-NV

The VCIX-NV exam consists of approximately 23 live lab activities and the passing score for this exam is 300 (scale is from 100 to 500). The total time for this exam is 210 minutes, but candidates who take the VCIX-NV Exam and have a home address in a country where English is not a primary language will have an additional 30 minutes added to the exam time.

VMware - Network Virtualization Roadmap
VMware – Network Virtualization (NV) Roadmap

 

Study material:

For my study I used the following list of website’s, HOL Labs and Blogs. This helped me to pass the exam:

VMware Hands-on Labs:

VMware Sources:

Blogs:

My best advice is: Build a Home Lab and deploy VMware NSX-V. After the deployment you start using all the features that NSX-V has to offer (yeah, I know that is a lot). Get familiar and deploy and design like you would in a production environment. This will help you to get the best understanding possible for the exam.

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The VMware VCP7-CMA Exam

VMware VCP7-CMA Badge
VMware VCP7-CMA Badge

Today I passed the VMware Certified Professional 7 Cloud Management and Automation Exam in short VCP7-CMA. The required score was 300 points and I scored 418 points! The exam is about automation of your cloud management platform with VMware Products: vRealize Automation (vRA), VMware vRealize Business (vRB) and vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) but there are also many questions about integrations with other VMware products like VMware NSX-V, VMware vCloud Air and of course VMware vSphere.

To be honest this was not my first attempt at the VCP7-CMA exam. In VMworld 2017 Barcelona, I already did the exam but I failed with just under 300 points, that was quite frustrating.

 

VCP7-CMA Exam:

The VMware VCP7-CMA exam consists out of 85 multiple-choice questions and you need to score at least 300 points. The maximum score is 500 points and you have 110 minutes to complete the exam. In the VMware VCP7-CMA exam guide are all the exam subjects listed so make sure you understand all of them. The main focus is on the vRealize Automation product. Make sure you study the right version because the exam is based on vRealize Automation 7.X and at this time the newest version is vRealize Automation 7.3. A big surprise to me was the questions about vCloud Air… because at the time I took the exam vCloud Air was not a part anymore of VMware (it was sold of to OVH) and all the documentation related to vCloud Air was removed… mmm nice.

VCP7-CMA Study Tips:

For passing the exam, I have used the following websites:

Make sure you understand all the subjects in the Exam Guide. For almost all subjects there is a VMware Hands-on lab environment for available.

If you ask me, this is the most difficult VCP exam that I have completed until now.

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VMworld 2017 Barcelona (my personal review)

This week I travelled with my colleagues to VMworld 2017 in Barcelona Spain. This was my first VMworld but luckily my colleagues helped me out with putting a schedule together. The days were absolutely great and well-organized thanks to my employer ITQ (special thanks to Francisco Perez van der Oord and Paul Geerlings).

This blog post is about my first VMworld with my personal highlights.

 

VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive

VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive Signed

At the Rubrik stand, a thousand copies were given away of the best book in stores now (personal opinion) “VMware vSphere 6.5 Host Resources Deep Dive“. At a specific time, you had to wait in line to get a free copy of the book signed by Frank Denneman and Niels Hagoort. I was one of the lucky people who got a free copy with their signatures :).

VMworld 2017 Sessions

Delivering-Hybrid-Cloud-Architectures-for-Your-Customer-with-VMware-Cloud-on-AWS-Adam-Osterholt

At VMworld, I attended a lot of sessions but my personal top three were the following:

  • Delivering Hybrid Cloud Architectures for Your Customer with VMware Cloud on AWS – Adam Osterholt
  • Replicating VMware VVols: A technical deep dive into VVol array-based replication in vSphere 6.5 – Claudio Calisto, Nick Dyer
  • vCenter Performance Deep Dive – Ravi Soundararajan

I also attended a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) session with Tom Corn the Vice President of Security Products at VMware about AppDefense.

Server and Storage Hardware (Dell EMC / HPE)

HPE ProLiant DL360 Gen10On Tuesday I visited multiple hardware vendors about their new products.

  • At the HPE stand they showed the new HPE ProLiant gen 10 servers and their current storage portfolio 3PAR, Nimble. A beta version of the HPE ProLiant DL360 G10 was displayed and there was an iLO5 demo.
  • The Dell EMC stand was one of the largest on VMworld. They displayed all their main products and were displaying demos.

Final word

I could blog all day about the announcements and sessions but luckily all information is available for everyone. You can find the sessions on the vendor websites or on YouTube. The company I work for has created a dedicated page to display all the VMworld news items.

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NSX LiveFire Training in Sofia

This week (12-06/15-06), I attended a VMware training (thanks to my employer ITQ). The training is only available for VMware partners and is called “NSX LiveFire”. It was held at the VMware office in Sofia City, Bulgaria. The training is a technical training given by VMware employees. This time by the following three instructors Bal Birdy, Luca Camarda and Nikodim Nikodimov.

Read more

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VMware VCAP6-DCV Deployment Certification

On 1 February 2017, I passed the VMware VCAP6-DCV Deployment exam (3V0-623). This was my first VMware VCAP exam that I ever did. I prepped for about two months in my Home Lab environment and a couple of times I used the VMware Hands-on Labs. The main goal wat to exercise all the objectives listed in the exam blueprint.

So what exactly is the VCAP6-DCV Deployment exam? VMware describes it as following:

This exam tests your skills and abilities in implementation of a vSphere 6.x solution, including deployment, administration, optimization and troubleshooting.

Lab environment:

In my home lab environment I deployed the following components to complete all the exam blueprint objectives:

  • 2x – VMware vCenter 6.0 (Windows and VCSA)
  • 1x – Windows Machine with Update Manager (VUM)
  • 6x – VMware ESXi 6.0 (for vSAN and traditional storage testing)
  • 2x – Site Recovery Manager (SRM)
  • 2x – vSphere Replication
  • 1x – VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP)
  • 1x – Dell Unity VSA for iSCSI, NFS and Virtual Volumes.

The hardware I used can be found on the following page Home Lab. The environment was using nested ESXi hosts to accommodate the required amount of ESXi hosts.

Personal experience:

The exam is a Lab based exam, so this is completely different than a VMware VCP exam. The exam itself is not the most difficult one out their… at least for someone who is working on a day-to-day base with VMware vSphere. The most difficult part is the time management. You have got twenty-seven objectives to complete and you have 205 minutes to complete them, of course, you just need to score 300 points. That can be a bit tricky because if you get stuck you need to go to the following objective.

There are two unofficial study guides available on the internet. These are based on the VMware Blueprint and they helped me a lot. Both guides are detailed and full of information.

Links:

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