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VCP 5 Exam–A few thoughts

I took and passed the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) 5 exam last week and wanted to share a few thoughts.  There are already many posts that cover the VCP 5 exam and what are good study resources, so I will try to just add a little value around how I felt this test compared to previous versions.

For me the “hardest” VCP exam I’ve taken was the VCP2 (VCP-101) back in 2005.  That exam was based on ESX 2.1 and VirtualCenter 1.0 at the time, and I was definitely nervous to it.  I had been using ESX on and off since early 2002 or so, but made the mistake of waiting 3 or 4 months after taking the required course and taking the exam.  By far I studied the most for that exam than any other VCP exam I’ve taken since, and was very happy with my score.

The VCP2 exam naturally focused on higher level concepts since virtualization was so new to most people.  I remember needing to memorize the definitions of “Encapsulation” and “Isolation” as they related to virtualization.  This trend continued with the VCP3 and to some extent the VCP4, as new features were introduced with each version so the test had questions relating to understanding what things like vMotion and HA were, along with a lot of configuration minimum and maximum questions.

Here is where I felt the VCP5 did a really good job of separating itself from the previous exams.  Instead of memorizing definitions or configuration minimums and maximums, it tested your knowledge of how these features actually work.  Understanding what vSphere HA is and what it does is important, but understanding how HA actually works in specific scenarios is more important.  The same is true for DRS, networking, etc.

So for those that are studying for the exam, if you don’t have any real hands on experience with the product you may find the exam more difficult.  I’d recommend getting a lab setup and playing with the features.  If you’ve used ESX/ESXi for years or at least have been using vSphere for the last couple of years you stand a better shot of passing just based on your experience.  You should still study the new features of vSphere 5 and any changes to the way things work, but having hands on experience is key to passing.

For what it’s worth – I was more apprehensive about this exam than any since the VCP2, probably mostly related to how many new features were added to vSphere in this vSphere 5.  So if you’re worried or intimidated by this exam, don’t worry.  You’re in good company.

I won’t try to provide a list of resources I used to study since others have done that already.  By far the best I have found is by my former EMC Consulting colleague Gregg Robertson.  Check out his list of VCP5 resources.

I left the exam somewhat unhappy with my score (thought I should have done better) but overall pleased with the experience.  Best of luck to everyone trying to get exam completed before the end of February!

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