Category Archives: Certifications

2VB-601 Exam Study Guide for VSAN Specialist

As promised, here’s my 2VB-601 Exam Study Guide to achieve the VSAN Specialist 2017 badge.  Hope this helps!

Section 1- Storage Fundamentals

Objective 1.1 – Identify storage device characteristics

Objective 1.2 – Identify storage performance factors

Section 2 – VSAN Fundamentals

Objective 2.1 – Provide a high-level description of vSAN

Objective 2.2 – Describe vSAN requirements

Objective 2.3 – Understand how vSAN stores and protects data

Objective 2.4 – Describe vSAN space efficiency features

Section 3 – vSAN Configuration

Objective 3.1 – Identify physical network requirements

Objective 3.2 – Configure vSAN networking

Objective 3.3 – Configure a vSAN cluster

Objective 3.4 – Create and manage disk groups

Objective 3.5 – Validate a vSAN configuration

Section 4 – vSAN Policies and Virtual Machines

Objective 4.1 – Explain how storage policies work

Objective 4.2 – Create and manage storage policies

Objective 4.3 – Explain how storage policies are applied to virtual machines

Objective 4.4 – Check storage policy compliance

Objective 4.5 – Describe vsanSparse snapshots

Section 5 – Managing and Operating vSAN

Objective 5.1 – Configure vSAN encryption

Objective 5.2 – Understand various failure events and how vSAN responds

Objective 5.3 – Describe maintenance mode options

Objective 5.4 – Manage hardware replacement

Objective 5.5 – Describe iSCSI Target service

Section 6 – Stretched Clusters and Two-Node Clusters

Objective 6.1 – Describe a stretched cluster architecture

Objective 6.2 – Create a stretched cluster

Objective 6.3 – Understand data placement in a stretched cluster

Objective 6.4 – Describe the two-node cluster architecture

Section 7 – Monitoring and Troubleshooting vSAN

Objective 7.1 – Understand hardware failure scenarios

Objective 7.2 – Interpret vSAN Health in the vSphere Web Client

Objective 7.3 – Access performance information in the UI and using CLI

Objective 7.4 – Access capacity management information

Section 8 – Interoperability with vSphere Features

Objective 8.1 – Identify vSphere features that work with vSAN

Objective 8.2 – Understand vSAN compatibility with SRM

Objective 8.3 – Describe 3rd-party solution integration with vSAN

Objective 8.4 – Understand vSAN compatibility with Horizon

Section 9 – Designing a vSAN Deployment

Objective 9.1 – Understand vSAN design considerations

Objective 9.2 – Understand vSAN cache tier sizing

Objective 9.3 – Design a vSAN cluster

Objective 9.4 – Identify vSAN design and sizing tools

I hope my 2VB-601 Exam Study Guide helps anyone else out there prepare for the exam successfully!

2VB-601 – Objective 1.1 – Identify storage device characteristics

Here are my notes for 2VB-601.  These notes I took to help me prepare for the exam as I went through the Deploy and Manage VSAN course, and through the recommended documentation.  Often, if I already knew the info, I didn’t necessarily put it in my notes.

Hope these help!

  • Lifespans of SSD drives
  • SLC
  • 100,000 writes
  • MLC
  • 3000-10000 writes
  • TLC
  • 1000 writes
  • eMLC
  • 20,000-30,000 writes
  • NVMe
  • Specification developed specifically for SSDs, more parallelism, better performance
  • 3D Cross Point
  • PCIe NVMe cards
  • Improved even more on performance
  • HDDs
  • Slower but higher capacity than SSDs
  • 15K, 10K, 7.2K RPM drives, higher = better latency

Return to 2VB-601 Exam Guide.

VMware VSAN Specialist 2VB-601 Exam Review

On Friday, I sat the VMware VSAN Specialist 2VB-601 Exam.  I’ll be deploying more VSAN soon, so I used this recently released 2VB-601 exam as a guide to thoroughly learn the product.  Passing 2VB-601 along with a VCP6 version of a VMware certification grants you the VMware VSAN Specialist 2017 badge.  This isn’t a full certification, but it acknowledges candidates with VSAN knowledge and skills.

2VB-601 Exam Format

The 2VB-601 exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions, and you have 105 minutes to complete the exam.  It is very comparable to VMware VCP exams as far as format goes.  If you’ve taken VCP exams before, you certainly know the drill here.  The top score for the exam is 500, and passing is 300, just like VCP exams.

2VB-601 Exam Resources

There aren’t a ton of affordable learning resources out there for this exam as far as books and what not go unfortunately.  However, if you follow the exam guide and read the documents provided in VMware’s study guide, along with hands on experience, you can certainly pass 2VB-601.  I also highly recommend the VMware hands on labs pertaining to VSAN.  You could also build your own lab using EvalExperience included with VMUG Advantage.

VSAN 6.6 Deploy and Manage training isn’t necessary, but I did attend it to fulfill a partner requirement.  If you’re a partner and need to do the same, this will definitely help.

2VB-601 Exam Experience

The 2VB-601 exam is very straight forward.  VMware VCP exams are notorious for sometimes asking rote memorization type questions, such as the exact word for word options for configuration choices.  I did not find that to be the case generally speaking with this exam.  Most questions are fair and are generally more conceptual in nature.  You do need to know what needs to be done or what happens in various scenarios.  I also generally didn’t find myself wondering to which exam objective questions were related, like I often do on VCP exams for more questions than I’d like.  Virtually every question I felt was fair game on.

With that said, the exam I found wasn’t nearly as difficult as every other VCP exam I’ve taken, which are numerous at this point.  If you look over the exam guide and feel you know them, have hands on experience with VSAN, I would recommend reading over the substantial documents in the guide prior to sitting the exam.  Otherwise, you should be in good shape.

I passed it on my first attempt with a 456, which is the highest I’ve ever gotten on any VMware exam.  I finished the exam with 45 minutes to spare, so time won’t be an issue.  I found the questions mostly fell in the category of “you know it or you don’t”.

I’ll be posting resources to help study for the exam for those of you who wish to take the exam.

Hope this helps!

VCP5 recertification featured image

VCP5 recertification backdoor

Recently, I satisfied my VCP5 recertification requirement of every two years by achieving VCP6-NV.  If you are not aware, achieving VCP in a different track is one of several ways to qualify to start the clock over again on your existing VCP certifications.  However, I was really cutting it close and failed my first attempt on my VCP6-DV.  With a mandatory one week waiting period to take the exam, I basically had two more shots to pass it, so I began looking at any other avenues to keep my existing VCP certifications.  I did stumble into one, so here’s a potential VCP5 recertification backdoor that could help get you out of a jam of losing your VCP certifications.

VCP5 Recertification – What’s this all about?

If you haven’t heard, VMware recently made it a requirement to recertify every two years.  If you take no action, you lose any and all VCP certifications.  As an example, I am a VCP3/4/5 in the Data Center Virtualization track.  All of those certifications would have expired had I took action this month.

You can satisfy the requirement to recertify in a variety of ways:

  • Pass again the VCP exam for the current exam you’re currently certified in within the same version.  For example, if you’re VCP5-DV, you could pass the VCP 5.5 exam again.
  • Pass the VCP exam within the same track in a newer version.  IE, if you’re a VCP5-DV, you could pass the delta or full exam for VCP6-DV.
  • Achieve a VCP certification in a different track.  This was the route I took.  By achieving VCP6-NV, I recertified my VCP3/4/5-DCV.
  • Achieve a VCAP or VCDX certification in the same or different track.  This was going to be my original path, as I was targetting VCAP6-DCV Deploy, but I got sidetracked unfortunately with other certifications and various things (Nutanix NPP, EMC Unity, VMware VCA6-Hybrid Cloud, and VCP6-NV).

Note that any of the above paths cost significant money.  A VCP exam costs $225, and a VCAP exam is over $400 without any discounts.  You also need to take the time to take a proctored exam at a testing center, too.

VCP5 Recertification – Potential Backdoor!

However, I did find a potential backdoor to take care of your VCP5-DCV recertification.   Note this officially works for people who are VCP5-DCV and achieved that certification through exam VCP510 only.

The VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization Delta Exam apparently is still available.  VMware announced numerous times they would be ending its availability but never did.

vcp5 recertification delta exam

I thought this exam was no longer available, as it was announced to be discontinued and extended a few times, but finally was to be discontinued on 3/31/16. But there it is! I’ve clicked to register for it all the way up to the point you pay for it with Pearson Vue, and nothing is stopping me, so it appears to be a valid way if you’re a VCP5 through the VCP510 exam (so that presumably excludes the VCP550 exam) to extend your VCP status another two years.

If you’re not familiar with this exam, it’s taken at home, open book/note, with no waiting period if you fail, AND it’s cheaper than a VCP exam on top of all that.

Word of warning though – VMware has begun to expire certification exams for vSphere 5. For example, VMware is discontinuing VCAP5-DCV exams come November. I would assume VMware will retire all vSphere 5 exams soon. So, if you want some insurance and reset your two year clock, you might strongly consider doing this exam sooner rather than later while you still can if you took VCP510.

Also, FYI, there is a VCP6-DCV delta exam as well. However, Pearson Vue proctors this $225 exam just like a VCP6-DCV exam is.  I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between them. It would net you VCP6-DCV, though compared to the VCP5 delta exam.

Which way are you planning to recertify?

2v0-641 exam review

VCP6-NV 2V0-641 Exam Review and Resources

Sorry the updates haven’t been forth coming.  That’s mainly because my two year requirement for recertification was coming up for my VCP-DCV certification, and I was preparing to meet it by achieving VCP6-NV.  Saturday, I passed, so I wanted to share my experiences and provide a 2V0-641 exam review.

2V0-641 Exam Review – Thoughts on Exam

This exam is no slouch in difficulty.  I’ve ready plenty of reviews that seem to suggest the VCP-NV exam isn’t difficult, but maybe that was the predecessor to 2V0-641.  I made my first attempt a week before, and failed it despite putting a lot of time studying, and soaking in as much as possible using the Hands on Labs from VMware.

My first score was 276, and you must score 300 to pass.  I think part of the reason why was contained in my score report, which lists objectives recommended for review if you fail.  I noticed a string of questions that didn’t pertain to what the exam blueprint described for various network fabrics.  The blueprint had stated to know the challenges of various network designs, and how NSX solved them, but these questions were more about how to configure NSX when you have various network fabric design types.  Sure enough, one objective listed that I needed to review was “Describe considerations for running VMware NSX on physical network fabrics”.  As of the time I’m drafting this blog post, that is nowhere on the exam blueprint.  Needless to say, I was extremely frustrated, with another 2 weeks to go before I lost my VCP status.

After dusting myself off, I went back to studying and gathered information for this new objective, and scored 357 on my second attempt with one more week to go before my VCP-DCV expired.  A little too close for comfort, but I got it done.

2V0-641 Exam Review – How to Prepare

I attended an online version of the 6.2 Install and Configure Course back in August.  Be very aware that this course alone is absolutely not sufficient to pass this exam.  I can’t stress that enough.  You’ll know just by looking at the exam blueprint, as entire major exam objectives are completely not covered at all.  The course covers others, but only scratched the surface.  You absolutely have to know your stuff for this exam!

I highly recommend the VMware Press Official Cert Guide for VCP-6-NV by Elver Sena Sosa.  I had the pleasure of meeting him at VMworld 2016 this year in Las Vegas.  It’s one of the best written IT books I’ve ever read, and comes with simulation exams. However, it too is also not sufficient for preparing for this exam, either.  But it helped me understand how NSX works that I didn’t even realize I was short on despite attending the course.  I found the packet walkthroughs for both the logical switch and logical routers extremely helpful!  However, the book also doesn’t cover some sections for this exam in the blueprint.  The simulation questions also do not reflect the difficulty or the style of questions I found on both attempts on the exam well.  I scored consistently almost perfectly on these simulation exams on the first attempt prior to taking the actual exam, and yet failed anyway.  Still, this is in my opinion the most helpful resource for this exam.  In fact, I’m quite certain I’ll reference this book in future NSX deployments.

Finally, I really wanted to give a shot out to another blogger, Rich Dowling, who helped me immensely with his notes on various portions on the exam objectives listed in the blueprint.  While it’s not for the current exam, most of the exam objectives are the same. Make sure you check them out if you’re taking this exam!

Also, make sure you read carefully through the recommended documents within the exam blueprint.  This is especially the case for NSX Design Guide!  (see surprise objective!)

2V0-641 Exam Review – Resources

Here are some resources to help with your 2V0-641 exam review.

VMware Certified Professional 6 – Network Virtualization Exam page – Contains the exam blueprint

VMware NSX Network Virtualization Design Guide

vSphere Networking Guide

NSX for vSphere Administration Guide

NSX Command Line Interface Reference Guide

VCP6-NV Official Cert Guide (Exam #2V0-641)  (Kindle Version)

2V0-641 Exam Review – Check back for more

I’ll be posting some section reviews where I think my notes would be helpful for others beyond Rich Dowling’s excellent notes to try to help others as Rich helped me.  I hope you’ll find those useful!


Exam E20-393 Unity EMCIE Review

As I alluded to in my previous post, I recently obtained the EMCIE – Unity Solutions certification from EMC by passing E20-393.  I wanted to give my thoughts on the certification process for anyone else interested.

What do you need to get the certification?

It’s pretty simple.  To get EMCIE for Unity, you simply need the EMCISA base level exam (common to all EMCIE certifications), and then pass the E20-393 exam.  Since I had the EMCISA certification for years on my way to getting EMCIE for VNX and RecoverPoint, I simply had to pass E20-393.

What study resources are available?

EMC has free elearning for partners on their certification site.  If you are not a partner, you can pay for instructor led training as well.  There are no exam prep type books on Unity that I’m aware of. I did the free partner elearning, and I found it sufficient for the instructional needs for the exam.  You should have hands on experience with Unity, too.  The partner elearning alone doesn’t provide that.

Besides the training, what else should be done for exam prep?

Other than the obvious studying of the training material, you should get some hands-on experience with Unity before attempting E20-393.  Be very familiar with the interface, where you go to do everything you need to do, how you do initialization, configuration, etc.  While you could try to memorize everything in the training material, it’s hard to beat getting familiar with Unity by working with it.  Thankfully, UnityVSA is freely available to run on an ESXi server.  Also, EMC offers a freely available simulator to run on Windows.  This is great for anyone who doesn’t have access to an ESXi server.  Simply download and install the simulator, and you’ll have access to Unity’s interface for studying!

How difficult is the E20-393 exam?

The E20-393 exam is multiple choice.  Not terribly difficult, although you shouldn’t underestimate it.

I completed the elearning during downtime between customer appointments and in my spare time.  I did take good notes within OneNote to study afterwards.  I played around for a few hours with the simulator to make sure I knew where everything was.  You must score 60% or higher to pass, and I scored a 78%.

The best way I could explain the exam is about half of the exam asks questions that you conceptually understand the array and how to do things.  Most of the remainder of the exam asks very specific questions that would be difficult to answer all of them unless you’ve been working with the array for a long time and know details about the array just from sheer repetition through every option of the array.  You should be able to answer though enough of those to pass with some practical experience with it coupled with answering most of the conceptual type questions.

Hope this helps!

VCA6-HC exam review

I’ve been doing some work with vCloud Air, which got me really reading up on everything, and taking advantage of learning resources available.  It occurred to me that maybe there’s a cert for this, so I looked into it, and there is – VMware Certified Associate 6 – Hybrid Cloud (VCA6-HC).

I’ve not taken any VMware Certified Associate exams because I was a VCAP by the time this certification level became available from VMware, and I’ve stayed within the Data Center Virtualization track.  But in this case, I had no plans to jump higher in the Cloud Management and Automation track in the foreseeable future, and it would be nice to validate skills and knowledge I’d acquired over the past week of work and my weekend learning, and I scored an 88% on the practice exam, so why not?

VCA exams, if you’re not familiar with them, are paid exams you take on your computer, and are effectively “open book”.  I didn’t prepare for this VCA6-HC exam exhaustively like I normally do, but I did go through the exam topics, ensured I felt comfortable with the topics, and I had already read through most of the documents they suggested specifically to read (the vCloud Air Users Guide and the vCloud Air Networking Guide), but there were a few more that were more marketing type stuff, so I glanced through those.  I also did some stuff on VMware’s Partner Portal for VTSP for Hybrid Cloud, too, which I think covered me on the marketing side.

The VCA6-HC exam is 50 questions, and you have 75 minutes to complete it.  The exam interface is pretty much exactly like a VCP exam.  There are multiple choice, select X out of the following option type questions.  You can mark questions to go back to for review in case you don’t want to waste time on it right then.  I had absolutely no problem finishing the exam within 75 minutes.  I completed the exam first pass within about 30 minutes, reviewed the ones I marked and then reviewed all of my answers one more time within about 45 minutes, and went ahead and ended it.  You need to score at least 300, and I received a 400.

How difficult is VCA6-HC?  It’s not a tough exam, especially with it being open book.  A few tips I’d offer would be:

  • Be very familiar with the networking basic concepts.  You’ll likely fail if you don’t.
  • Know the different services and basic options offered for vCloud Air.
  • Know the basic functionality and architecture of all the management tools related to vCloud Air the video training covers.
  • Do the free video training they have.  Pretty good chance you’ll fail if you don’t.

All and all, it’s a pretty straight forward exam.  I’m not wild about VMware/Pearson charging $120 for this exam.  I just think that’s an awful lot to charge people for a basic exam like this that’s proctored online.  IMO, these exams probably should be free, or dirt cheap.

But, at least there’s a certification out there to vet familiarization with vCloud Air, so it’s back to VCAP6-DCV Deployment, which I REALLY need to get cracking on!

Preparing for the VCAP6-DCV Deployment Exam

I received an email recently reminding me that my VCP5-DCV will expire come October.  I knew this was coming, but I was holding out on upgrading my VCP6-DCV because VMware offers a certification upgrade path too good for me to refuse.

I’m a VCAP5-Data Center Design.  In fact, my VCP5 two year clock to renew or upgrade in fact was reset when I passed that exam in October 2014.  VMware has a new certification on your way to VCDX called VCIX (VMware Certified Implementation eXpert) that indicates that you’ve completed all VCAP exams for a track.  For example, within the Data Center Virtualization track, if you pass both the VCAP Data Center Deployment and the Design exams, you get VCIX-DCV certification.

For VCAP5 holders like myself in Data Center Virtualization, if you passed one of the two exams, you can simply pass the other, and you get VCAP6-DCV Design AND Deployment certifications, which also nets you VCIX, AND it upgrades your VCP to version 6 as well.  That’s right, if I pass VCAP6-DCV Deployment (the replacement for VCAP5-DCA), I net four new certifications. It’s hard to say no to that.

The downside of course is if I go this route and don’t complete it by October of 2016, I’ll lose all my VMware certifications.  YIKES!

On top of all that, this exam is brand new.  The objectives are completely rewritten from the VCAP5-DCA exam it replaces.  There’s no books or anything to follow, and I really don’t want to play the waiting game to see if any become available in time for me to get this done, so I’m going to have to make my own study resources, which honestly I do anyway.  And since I blog now, I’m going to share it with my readers and the community.

Expect to see a lot of VCAP6-DCV Deployment material and blog entries coming!  I’m also setting up pages within my site for all of this info here.  Each exam objective will light up as I complete my notes for each one.