Tag Archives: vSphere 5

VCAP5-DCA – What’s new?

Certification is a never ending treadmill of learning...

Along with others I received an email from VMware last week stating that the VCAP5-DCA exam was due to enter it’s beta testing in the next few weeks, along with the beta blueprint. As with any beta the contents are subject to change and the exam is NOT publically available yet – it’s currently scheduled for release this summer.

The contents of the beta are covered by an NDA so you won’t be hearing any other details from me but Randy Becraft, the senior Program Manager running the beta, has specifically allowed me to post these blueprint details to give candidates more time to prepare.

Before I cover what’s new it’s worth pointing out how much hasn’t changed;

  • The bulk of the content (around 60%) is very similar to the VCAP4-DCA blueprint.
  • You still need to be VCP5 certified as a prerequisite. The one exception is if you already hold the VCAP4-DCA certification you’re eligible to sit the VCAP5-DCA exam without first passing the VCP5 exam, provided you upgrade within three months of the exam’s release.
  • The exam is still a live lab with a time limit of 225 mins (210 for the exam and 15 mins for a survey). There will be roughly 26 tasks to complete (which is less than the 36 for v4) but this can vary for each candidate.
  • The exam is booked through Pearson-VUE professional centres.
  • There will be a ten day wait for results (approximately)
  • Will the exam environment include a task switcher or a higher resolution? We can but hope! 🙂

…and what’s no longer included (some significant chunks of learning);

  • Orchestrator
  • vCenter Heartbeat
  • vShield Zones
  • vCenter Server Linked Mode

There are two recommended courses for this exam;

This is a change from the v4 DCA exam which listed four courses as ‘recommended’, including both the vSphere Manage for Performance and vSphere Troubleshooting neither of which are available yet for v5. The exam still includes troubleshooting and performance issues on the blueprint but maybe VMware felt that so many course recommendations for a single exam was too much.

It’s interesting to see that this new exam focuses on the core product – the biggest omissions are in the wider ecosystem and I wonder if they’ll reappear in some other, more specialised, certification (VCAP-Security etc). There may also have been practical considerations as the release cycle for these products isn’t aligned with the vSphere releases. This was apparent even with the VCAP-DCA4 release where the exam blueprint covered vShield Zones v1 even though v4 was released just before the exam went public (the Manage for Security course, which was recommended for VCAP-DCA, covered vShield Zones v4 so of limited use!).

VMware have also published extra guidance about the infrastructure you will be expected to work with during the exam, which will consist of two ESXi hosts and a vCenter server. This is similar to the v4 exam but you weren’t given this information in advance.

I’m running a poll on the value of the VCAP exams (to the right of this post) – I’d appreciate your feedback.

As with the VCAP4-DCA I’ll be publishing study notes as I work towards the exam. Watch this space!

Continue reading VCAP5-DCA – What’s new?

VCAP5 exams – on your marks….

In last night’s VMware Community podcast John Hall, VMware’s lead technical certification developer gave some tidbits of information about the upcoming VCAP5 exams;

  • There will be an expedited path for those with VCAP4 certifications BUT they will be similar to the VCP upgrade in that it’ll be a time limited offer. He didn’t specify exactly what form this would take but with the VCP upgrade you have roughly six months to take the new exam with no course prerequisites.  I’m guessing you’ll have a similar period where the VCP5 prerequisite doesn’t apply.
  • While not committing to dates he did state that exams might be available at the upcoming partner exchange which starts on Feb 13th 2012. Even if those dates slip expect them soon!

With the upcoming Feb 29th deadline for the VCP5 exam you’d better get your study skates on. If you don’t take the VCP5 before the 29th and you’re not in a position to take the the new VCAP5 exams in the ‘discount’ period (however long that turns out to be) you might find yourself needing to sit a What’s New course and passing the VCP5 exam before you’re even eligible for the VCAP5 exams. Not a pleasant thought!

PowerCLI v5 – gotcha if you use guest OS cmdlets

UPDATE FEB 2012 – After some further testing I’ve concluded that this is a bigger pain than I previously thought. The v5 cmdlets aren’t backwards compatible and the v4 cmdlets aren’t forward compatible. This means that while you’re running a mixed environment with VMs on v4/v5 VMtools a single script can’t run against them all. Think audit scripts, AV update scripts etc. You’ll have to run the script twice, from two different workstations, one running PowerCLI v4 (against the v4 VMs) and one running PowerCLI v5 (against the v5 VMs). And I thought this was meant to be an improvement??

———- original article ————–

There are quite a few enhancements in PowerCLI v5 (there’s a good summary at Julian Wood’s site) but if you make use of the guest OS cmdlets proceed with caution!

We have an automated provisioning script which we use to build new virtual servers. This does everything from provisioning storage on our backend Netapps to creating the VM and customising configuration inside the guest OS. The guest OS configuration makes use of the ‘VMGuest’ family  of cmdlets;

  • Invoke-VMScript
  • Copy-VMGuestFile
  • Get-VMGuest, Restart-VMGuest etc

Unfortunately since upgrading to vSphere5 and PowerCLI v5 we’ve discovered that the guest OS cmdlets are NOT backwards compatible! This means if you upgrade to PowerCLI v5 but your hosts aren’t running ESXiv5 and more importantly the VMTools aren’t the most up to date version any calls using the v5 cmdlets (such as Invoke-VMGuest) will no longer work. Presumably this is due to the integration of the VIX API into the base vSphere API – I’m guessing the new cmdlets (via the VMTools interface) now require the built-in API as a prerequisite.

As PowerCLI is a client side install the workaround is to have a separate install (on another PC for example) which still runs PowerCLI v4, but we have our vCenter server setup as a central scripting station (it’s simpler than every member of the team keeping up with releases, plugins etc) so this is definitely not ideal.

This is covered in VMware KB2010065.The PowerCLI v5 release notes are also worth a read.

Further Reading

Will Invoke-VMGuest work? (LucD)

VCAP exams on vSphere 5 – worth waiting for?

At the London VMUG yesterday there was a presentation about VMware certification by Scott Vessey, a well known VMware trainer (@vmtraining or http://vmwaretraining.blogspot.com/). After his presentation one question raised was whether it’s worth taking the vSphere 4 track or maybe delaying a while and jumping straight to the upcoming vSphere 5 track. Scott said this was a common question so I thought I’d add my thoughts on why I wouldn’t wait;

  • vSphere 5 (as it’s commonly known but not it’s final name) is slated for release around July/August this year (according to this article from the recent VMware Partner Exchange).  Even assuming they hit this deadline that means waiting another six months. Once the next version is released it’ll take a while for the exams to be updated, especially in the case of the VCAP-DCA track which requires live labs. vSphere 4 was released in May 2009 but the VCP exams took another 3 months to be released after that. Allowing a bit longer for the VCAP tracks, let’s say 4 months. That makes it a ten month wait from today.
  • Are you prepared to take the exams without help or study guides from the blogosphere, Twitter, and the experience of those who’ve gone before? If you know your stuff and are happy to be among the first then you’ve probably already taken the VCAP exams so waiting isn’t an option! If you find other’s experiences and suggestions helpful then you’re talking an extra three to six months for that to filter down.
  • If you’re not on the vSphere 5 beta you can’t start learning the new features until July/August at the earliest, compared to vSphere 4 which is available today, is widely adopted and documented.
  • Traction/demand from employers. This argument depends on why you ‘re after certification – if it’s to progress your career then bear in mind that while recruiters will add any new certification to their wanted (or mandatory) list almost immediately it takes longer for the value of a given certification to be respected (or not) in the marketplace. Back in the day the Microsoft MCSE had a good reputation to start with which quickly became tarnished. The RHCE took a few years to establish itself as a tough certification worth asking for and the VCAP-DCA may be the same. If you’re doing it for the technical challenge then this is obviously irrelevant.
  • How different will the VCAP-DCA on vSphere 5 really be? I know of many IT pros who skipped the MCSE 2003 track because if you already had the MCSE2000 that was fine – having the 2003 wasn’t really going to open up new jobs to you. You could wait for the VCAP-DCA on vSphere 5 to find that the two are treated interchangeably in the market and you simply waited longer to qualify.

For all these reasons I’m not going to wait. Whether I actually find time to take the exams before they release v5 is another question but my intention is clear!

There are plenty of people planning on taking the VCAP exams – what do you all think?