If you follow me on twitter, @GavOnCloud by the way 🙂 you may have spotted that I recently passed the VCAP 7 Cloud Management and Automation Design exam.
For those unfamiliar with the VCAP (VMware Certified Advanced Professional) program, this is the next level you can attain after earning a VCP. There are options to follow a Design track or take a more hands on approach with the Deployment track. Achieving both certifications earns yet more kudos in the form of VCIX (VMware Certified Implementation Expert)
I decided to write this post not only to celebrate my achievement, but also to share my experiences and plan of attack for approaching the exam.
The Path to Certification
First and foremost this exam is tough, its designed to test your knowledge beyond the VCP exam. The right kind of preparation is key to your success.
Questions within the VCAP 7 CMA Design exam are designed to test your ability as an architect, simply understanding the product features, functionalities and capabilities will not get you through the exam. Not only is a solid understanding of the product required but you need to be able to take a customers requirements and apply that knowledge so that you can design the product to meet their requirements. You should understand key design principles for Conceptual, Logical and Physical design and able to identify requirements, assumptions, risks and constraints of a design.
Plan of Attack
So how did I prepare for this?
- As with all VMware exams the first place I started was to read and understand the exam blueprint or exam preparation guide as it is now known. This ensures that you know what to expect in the exam and helps identify the key areas you need to study. It is a great way of making sure that there are no major surprises when taking the exam. VMware includes some sample questions to give you a flavour of the exam.
- VMware Cloud Automation: Design and Deploy [V7.1] course. This course will teach you the design principles along with more technical detail of vRealize Automation Design. The course is designed to prepare you for this exam and is a great resource for your preparation.
- Study the vRealize Automation Reference Architecture Guide, note I said study here and simply not to just read it. You need to have a solid understanding of this document. It’s essential reading for anyone implementing vRealize Automation in the real world too.
- Read and understand the VMware Validated Design documents, there is a lot of valuable content within these resources. I focused my attention on the Cloud Management sections, but it is useful to have an understanding of the surrounding content.
- Experience – finally I can’t stress this enough, no amount of reading can replace experience. I have many years working with the product since version 6.0. My job has me working directly with VMware customers whose use of vRealize Automation is critical to their business. I’ve overseen their upgrades and design decisions whilst understanding their requirements and constraints. As a VMware employee I am very fortunate to have exposure to the Product Management and Engineering teams. I’m also responsible for creating past and present vRA Hands-on-Lab content. All this experience helped me in the exam.
I can’t talk detail about the exam as that would give the game away, plus I signed an NDA. The exam was tough, it requires you to read lengthy questions which outline a fictional customers requirements. You will need to understand the requirements and apply your knowledge of vRA to correctly identify the right answer. More than one answer may appear to be right but only one will meet the customers needs.
Also be wary of the version of vRealize Automation, vRA 7.x has introduced and updated a number of features over its lifetime. At the time of writing, the exam covers vRA 7.2 so if you are familiar with vRA product versions beyond this, make sure you are aware of what features are not included. Exams do get updated so check the exam information page to be sure before taking your exam.
Preparation Resource Links
Below is a list of useful resources I used within my study
- Information about the Exam
- Exam Blueprint
- VMware Cloud Automation: Design and Deploy [V7.1] course
- Reference Architecture
- VMware Validated Design Landing Page
- vRealize Automation Documentation Pages
- VMware Hands On Labs
For those of you interested in this certification I hope you found this post and the resources identified in it useful. Finally for those planning to take the exam, Good Luck !!