RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

Jul 17 2009   3:46AM GMT

My VCP4 Beta Exam

MikeLaverick MikeLaverick Profile: MikeLaverick

I did the VCP4 Beta exam, some 270 odd questions in about four hours… Perhaps I should put my cards on the table, as instructor and educationalist I’m pretty much skeptical about certification in IT generally, and have been ever since I took my first Novell exam sometime in the early 90s. From the outset they limited by the multiple choice format, often poor phrasology, aderance to the pointless facts which leads to memorization by candidates and loaded with the vendors own agenda about their products.

See I told you I was skeptical. But after 15 years in the IT game and having veritable alphabet soup after my name – I would be. I’m sure your in the same boat. Heck, I had A-Z of certifications which have gradually expired at the same rate as my interest in the particular vendors product. I find it hard to think of many other industries or professional through which qualifications expire so rapidly. I guess that’s just the nature of the high-octane changes that rip thru IT on a yearly basis.

So the questions in the VCP4 beta exam came as no suprise. There was a fair few poorly phrased questions. Questions that seemed to be fixed about the configuration maximums PDF. Questions about VMware products that do not relate to the core vSphere4 product. No surprises there because that pretty much tipifies the VCP2 and VCP3 exams I did.

Clearly, I can’t go into specifics and I will restrict myself to information you could easily glean from the blueprint documents that surround VMware exams. Besides which one man’s experience of the exam is likely to be tainted by remembering questions that put a shiver down your spine. I’ve been using the product hard-core nearly everyday since Oct, 2008. I’ve written some 700+ pages on the product – and I found the exam tough going – mainly because of the high volume of questions. I had real headache, and had to take two breaks. I found the exam CLI lite, with high volume of performance questions – both about the VM, Resource Pools and DRS. In fact after a couple of hours out of the testing booth – your memory plays tricks on you – and I’ve begun to think the exam was purely about performance.

I felt I had a high number of iSCSI question, certainly more than I remember from the Vi3 exam – when iSCSI support was a new-whiz bang feature. I guess that reflects that fact iSCSI has experience a surge in use in the VMware Community, especially those who are new to the product.

I had quite a lot of question on Convertor and guided consolidation – the later giving me a lot of grief because my knowledge on Guide Consolidation is quite weak. Personally, I think Guide Consolidation is piss-poor and bit of joke – at best its attractive to marketing types who want to tell SMBs that road to P2V is paved with clicking >>Next. Another area of weakness for me was roles – I had quite a bit of questions on roles – most of which I felt OK but generally everything I do in VMware is as administrator – so very rarely on daily basis have to deal with or think about delegation. For me its an acedemic exercise which I only think about when I have teach others how to set them. So I know the first principles – but ask me what a specific role can and cannot do – I’d be reaching for a PDF file…

Distributed Switch figured in the exam too – there was quite a bit on migrating to/from SvSwitches and DvSwitches – so I was real pleased that I’d spent sometime a couple of months back documenting for my vSphere4 book the process. The only trouble was – that was a couple of months ago – so it wasn’t as fresh in my mind as it had been then. I was please the DvSwitch made a showing in the exam, but given its a Enterprise+ feature not every candidate who takes the VCP4 is going to get their hands dirty in the real world on them… the same goes with host profiles. I really wished DvSwitches & Host Profiles were in the Standard and higher products – then more VMware customers would feel the benefit of them. After all if you have more than a handful of ESX hosts they are they way forward.

So have passed. Dunno. I won’t get the results for a couple of weeks. I certainly hope I have, but I hate exams – and quite like that fact with VMware I only have to do them once every 3/4 years. The idea of having to do multiple exams fills with dread. I shoud say I took a total punt on the exam – didn’t do any studying or boning up at all. It cost £35 for me to do – and I’m figuring if I have failed the experience will help me with the real deal. I’m probably sounding really negative, mainly because I didn’t get the immediate result – so the exam current feels a little like the sword of Damocles. But I would say this exam is no easier or harder than my VCP2/VCP3. It just has different priorities and different features…

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