VCP-550 Passed

nevonevo Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello All,

For years I had worked with Clustered Hyper-V (obtained certifications in it also). I had some experience with ESX/ESXi, and had installed it a couple of times, but not a huge amount of usage. Then in March this year we got new servers at work, and this time I decided that we move to ESXi. The are are similarities to Hyper-V, but there are also major differences. Even memory management .. (the concept of ballooning), is done differently. I knew that I had a lot of learning to do.

I looked online at certification. I had seen in the past that courses were pricey. I somehow stumbled across this forum, and came across a mention of an online mob called Stanly that were significantly cheaper. I registered, and thought I'd have a long wait. Within a couple of days I got a response saying a slot was available, so I took it.

The course was generally good. Sure, it won't beat a classroom course, but it was a fraction of the price. My expectation was to use it to get the course component covered. I got that done, and also learned a lot. It's nowhere near enough to pass the exam, but most courses aren't I'd imagine.

The next thing to do was to choose a decent book. Before doing this I set up a lab. At work I used our previous servers, and set up an ESXi cluster on an FC SAN (a nested lab in VMWare Workstation works well also). The book I went for (going by recommendations on this forum and elsewhere) was Lowe/Marshall Mastering VMware vSphere 5.5. I read this book from front to back, demonstrated every single thing in the lab, and took summarised notes. This was a hard slog to do this for 800 pages, and around 3-4 months.

I then went through the Blueprint, and studied all areas from that.
Then did practice exams.

Performed the test yesterday, and passed with 496.

This is what I found:
- There were no resources that I used that alone were enough to get that score. Although if you were just looking to pass, the Blueprint would probably be the one to use.
- The Lowe book was excellent to get a broad (but still detailed) understanding of ESXI+vCenter. But it does not cover everything you need to know for the exam. e.g. vC Ops badges. There were a few questions about these in the exam. If you had just gone with the Lowe book its fleeting mention wouldn't have been enough to get these questions answered correctly. Note: when buying text books online, ensure that you are getting a legit version. I'm fairly certain I was sent an illegitimate copy. I wouldn't have purchased it if I knew.
- The Blueprint is an excellent guide for what you need to know, and a must-cover for the exam, but this alone in isolation doesn't help put all the concepts together (which the book did)
- When doing practice questions, once a question is answered and then compared with the correct answer do not simply think "ok cool, so that was the answer". Unless you are 100% sure you know why an answer is correct, then research why that answer was correct and the others were wrong.
- I felt that all the above together helped.

- In the exam I found that with many of the exam questions, I didn't know for 100% sure whether the answer was correct. But, from the above learnings I generally knew which two possible answers weren't correct, and eliminated these. Of the remaining two possible answers I further analysed them carefully, along with the question's requirements, and racked my brains for things I did in the lab, and then chose what I felt was best.

You get less than a minute to answer each of the 120 questions, so make sure you are well prepared, and that you have had enough sleep, not hungry/thirsty. Also take a piss before you enter the exam room, lol.

- know your editions and what is included! There are lots of questions where you need to know what is included in which edition to be able to eliminate/confirm possible answers For. example, a question may say "Mr. Bloggs has vSphere Standard edition. Why did he wake up to find one of his servers powered off?" Let's say one of the possible answers was "Distributed Power Management was configured to power down the server". If you know your editions, then you know that answer could not be correct (note, that is not a real exam question, just thought it up in my head).

I guess it's now a good time to look upgrading to version 6, while this knowledge is still in my head..


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