So you want to become a VMware Certified Professional…

Last Friday I obtained my fourth VCP certification, VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization. While my motivations for obtaining this certification was renewal of my other three certifications that I have, it also made me think that I should really start thinking about getting a VCAP, the VMware Certified Advanced Professional. There are two variants, design and implementation. However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How do you become a certified Professional?

The prerequisites for this are as follows (for new or expired certification holders):

1. Take a VMware sanctioned training.

2. Complete the vSphere 6 (or 6.5) Foundations Exam

3. Complete the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization Exam

Sounds easy, right? Right? Wrong. I spent over 60 hours studying for this exam, possibly more if you counted al the work hours architecting and designing a greenfield deployment of vSphere and vCenter 6.0 U3. Having 8+ years of experience helps but there are parts of vSphere 6, like vSAN, which I didn’t know a lot about. The jump from vSphere 5.5 to 6.0 is actually much more significant that I remembered thinking it would be. Yes, the vCenter jump is quite extraordinary but I remember thinking, “There isn’t that much new in vSphere 6.0, right? Right?” Wrong.

There are many ways that you can study for this exam. While my path is unique to me, there are several different ways that you acquire this knowledge. Find what works for you. If reading tombs of text isn’t your thing, use vBrownbag sessions, the VMware HOL and sites like Pluralsight to supplement the required classroom work. That said, read every last piece of documentation that you can. It’s a non-negotiable requirement. The amount of little tidbits that you’ll come across that will inevitably end up on the exam.

Here is the list of materials I used to study for my exam:

You may be asking yourself, “No labs?” Labs are a very important art of studying for this exam. If you have the resources to set up a lab, do it. It’s great experience that you can’t get from reading or listening to lectures. I had the opportunity at work to architect and deploy our new vSphere 6 environment from the ground up. We are a big enough VMware deployment where we use Auto Deploy and PowerCLI non-stop.

Another thing to note is that, if you are a complete newbie at this, the vSphere 6 Foundations course that Pluralsight access would get you can assist in building  a nested lab. While I’m not going to say it’s something everyone can put together easily due to resource constraints, it does look to outline the process. For anyone wanting to see the power that VMware Workstation has to offer, this would be it.

In the event that you can’t build a lab, go to the VMware Hands On Labs. Their hands on labs are actually quite fantastic. When I was studying for the VCP6-DT test, I used the HOL portal quite a bit. The HOL portal has labs for days. It’s just a matter of finding the ones that you want to focus on.

Edit: You’ll need keys for you lab. I suggest getting the VMUG Advantage, which will get you lab keys. Here is what the EvalExperience gets you. It’s very much worth the cost of admission (and see if your employer will pay for this!)

Now, you may be asking yourself another question: “You have to renew these?” Indeed you do. When I got my first certification, I was told that certifications expire “when the next major version comes out.” Then, about six months later, VMware instituted a 24 month expiration for all their certifications. While I look at it as a reason to continue looking at VMware’s stack and attempting to get better at it, others complain it is a money grab. I get it. Hopefully if you’re looking to get this certification, your employer will be picking up the tab.

Another thing I ought to mention, is that after you get your first VCP certification, you drop two requirements of taking the next exam. With a renewal, you don’t need to take a course or take the foundations exam again. However, if you let your certifications expire you need to retake the Foundations exam and take a course to obtain the certification. I always put a calendar event for 6 months before the certification expiration date so I know I need to start thinking about this.

I ended up getting a 425. You need a 500. I know the questions I didn’t get because they were areas that I didn’t study or review as thoroughly as I would have liked. I was really hoping for a 450 but I can’t complain. I came, I saw, I passed this exam. I hope this guide gives you a starting point to becoming a VMware Certified Professional!

Edit 2: You need a 300, not a 500 to pass. 500 is the max score you can get on the test. Thanks /r/vmware for pointing this out. I am fail. :p

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