There are so many good technical certifications out there today that it can be a daunting task to know which certifications path to take. If you are looking for a virtualization based certification path, the decision is a much easier one to make. VMware has laid out their virtualization certification path nicely on their website, which makes it easy to understand which course you need to take (let me emphasize NEED, VMware requires you take an Install, Configure and Manage or ICM course before you can certify) and what will help you to prepare. Unfortunately, what VMware doesn't do is give you an extensive list of resources that will help you prepare. They basically lay out the courses you need to take, ones that will help but are optional, and then point you to the exam blueprint. Well, lucky for you, I'm going to go deeper into what will help you pass the VCP5 exam you are studying for, because there are TONS of resource out there that will indeed get you over the 300 mark.
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Where Do I Start?
Ok, if you're going to tackle passing your VCP5 exam, you have to make the pilgrimage to the mother land, VMware.com. This is the first place you want to start. Here you will find a list of all the certifications VMware offers the corresponding certification track. This post is focused specifically on passing the VCP5 exam so here is a nice graphic on what the VCP5 certification track consists of:
Again, this site is very helpful in showing you what VMware requires you to do in order to become certified, but doesn't really satisfy the how to get there aspect though. Also, as an FYI, the ICM course you take will not help you pass the exam by itself. You'll find that your instructor, in a very indirect way, will tell you that you need to do more than just the class in order to pass. The instructors aren't allowed to reference many outside resources for some reason, but you might get some hints thrown your way. Also included on this web page is a cool little blip from VMware about the benefits of becoming a VCP5 that should get you psyched about studying and passing your exam:
VMware Certified Professional benefits include: recognition in the industry, distinction for partners, credential that consulting clients can trust, use of “VMware Certified Professional” logo on business cards and websites, complementary license of VMware Workstation 8, invitation to beta exam programs, discounts to VMware events, and access to the VCP Store.
VCP5 Study Tips
After you've gone to VMware's site and found the certification path, its time to get started! I'm going to be honest right off the bat and tell you that I'm terrible when it comes to studying, no joke. When I passed the VCP4 exam it was a sigh of relief because it meant I didn't have to spend countless hours studying, because that is just what you have to do. Study, study and study some more. In order to be prepared for this exam you need to make sure you are ready to study for it. You have to commit to studying 100% before you are going to be successful at all. What I did that helped was to block out all of my outside distractions, ie. phone, Internet, TV, sports, sadly my wife and kids had to be blocked out. This is what has to be done to get some quality studying done. Even when I was at work, I took my lunch break to study configuration maximums, flash cards and Chipotle are a good combo! At night I got home, spent quality time with the wife and kids and then went to work for at least 2 hours sometimes 4. Here are some great resources if you need to build up your study habits and endurance, check them out:
One of the more vital things you should do in order to be totally prepared is to build a small home lab or a big one if you can. I downloaded VMware Workstation 8 and built my home lab completely nested inside Workstation 8. You can obtain a 60 day evaluation license from VMware which should give you ample time to play with the new features, break it, fix it, and really gain some good hands on experience. You can get a 60 day eval license on just about every VMware product out there, so get Workstation 8, vSphere 5 and then build your lab. If you have the money and space, you can build yourself a really nice lab by picking up a couple of servers and a storage solution and really get into the meat of the newest features as well as practice vMotion and Storage vMotion scenarios. If you want more info on how to build a home lab, or some good examples, see my Building a Home Lab 101 post.
Must-Have VCP5 Resources
There are so many must-have resources out there on preparing for the VCP5, it's hard to list them all. So if I missed your blog or site and you think it's a viable VCP5 resource, please let me know so I can update my list; feel free to leave a comment with your info. What I'm going to do is give you a list, from top to bottom of VCP5 resources and what order you should approach them:
Official VCP5 Exam Resources
VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 5 Exam Blueprint - Know this blueprint and all of it's objectives like the back of your hand. This is where you want to print it out and go through each of the objectives in your home lab, or at least study them forwards and backwards. This is a great start and a reference point to look back on.
VCP5 Mock Exam from VMware - This is something that is a must do. Let this be the first and last mock exam you take before you actually sit for the exam. There are so many practice exams out there, and some of them are no good and can actually cost you on the actual exam. The official mock exam on VMware's site will give you the best representation of actual exam questions. While these are actual questions you'll see on the exam, this will help you get the feel of the exam itelf. You can find it at VMware's certification site, there's a link title "VCP5 Mock Exam" see the graphic below:
VCP5 Resources From The Blogosphere
Damian Karlson's Post on Blueprint Comparison - My good friend Damian Karlson wrote a nice blog post about comparing the VCP4 Blueprint against the VCP5 Blueprint. Read it, get to know the differences between the two and what's new with vSphere 5.
The Man With The Pink Shirt - If you've been around the VMware blogosphere, you know who I'm talking about already. If not, we're talking about Simon Long and his incredibly resourceful blog, "The SLOG". Simon has put a lot of time and effort into building some really nice practice exams. Simon's exams were very helpful in preparing me for the exam and I know they will help you too.
Mr. VCI himself - Yes, I'm talking about Scott Vessey. This guy is the lead virtualization instructor at Global Knowledge UK. His entire blog is a thing of beauty, you'll find a ton of resources there, but here is the most helpful link you'll find on his blog about the VCP5 exam.
Forbes. - Not many people are worthy of going by just one name, Forbes Guthrie is right up there with Madonna, Prince and Michael. He's a superstar of vSphere documentation. If you haven't been to Forbe's site yet, take a break from this post and go there NOW! Forbes keeps up to date reference notes for the various releases of vSphere, the latest vSphere 5 edition is what you want to know back and forth.
Ghost Writer - I stumbled across this VCP5 prep blog one day, I'm still not sure who wrote it. Here's a blip from the About page of the blog:
Guy with 11 years experience, has worked extensively on VI3.0, vSphere4.x and now planning for VCP5.0
Who knows? It's not me, that's for sure. Anyways, this blog is a really good resource as it seems to cover a new topic related to VCP5 every so often. Read this blog and read through the archives for good coverage of vSphere 5 and you'll find yourself prepared for the exam. Whoever you are, stand up and take credit, it's a great blog.
VMware vSphere 5 Video Training by David Davis and Elias Khnaser -- If you're looking for something more in-depth, then TrainSignal's VMware vSphere 5 video training created by David David and Elias Khnaser is what you'll want to invest in. The videos are perfect for current VCP4s who are looking to get certified before the February 2012 deadline and for those who like visual aids when studying.
Be Confident, Ace The Exam
When exam day comes you are already certified, you just have to prove it on paper. If you've prepared and taken the time to really put forth your best effort studying, then you are already certified. Be confident, sit for the exam and show them that you are already a VCP5 and you want your certificate and Workstation license. I would say "good luck" but that would be false hope, don't rely on luck, prepare and be confident, pass because you know your stuff.