In an effort to help others persuing their VCP5, I thought it would be useful to share the steps I am taking to prepare. A special thanks to all of the people who assembed the various resources I have used so far.
Step 1: Make up your mind – do you really want your VCP? I have gone back and forth on this since my first VMware implementation, and for a while it seemed like I could get by without it but more and more I want to focus on VMware so check…I want my VCP5.
2. Sanity check – how much do I really know, or not know about VMware. I looked at practice tests from Simon Long and VMware. You can find Simon’s at http://www.simonlong.co.uk/blog/vcp5-practice-exams/ and the VMware practice exam in VMware’s learning portal myLearn.
3. Knowledge gap reality check – Look at these 2 exam crams, in combination with the practice test results, start to recognize areas you need to focus / practice on. The first can be found here http://cosonok.blogspot.com/2011/10/vcp510-vcp-on-vsphere-5-exam-cram-notes.html and Mike Preston’s http://blog.mwpreston.net/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/03/OMG-Study-Guide.pdf
4. Get your lab ready – I didn’t want to just blindly read books, and didn’t want to start making unnecessary changes to my production environment. Though I am normally disappointed with http://www.geeks.com, I am giving them yet another chance. I just ordered 2 Dell Precision’s with dual Xeon dual-core processors and 4GB of RAM. I will need to add a multi-port NIC and maybe another hard drive or two but this should be sufficient to run VM’s for AD, vSphere and a few test servers. My plan to mimic a SAN is to setup FreeNAS and share the local disks like they are actually a SAN/NAS (not sure whether I will do iSCSI or NFS yet). The Virtual Storage Appliance from VMware is meant to do this (best I can tell since I haven’t used it) but don’t want it to integrate to well into vSphere so going FreeNAS (or OpenFiler or some other baremetal NAS/SAN OS).
Update: As an alternative to building a physical lab, check out the autolab over at http://www.labguides.com/autolab/
5. Start reading – I picked up Mastering VMware vSphere 5 by Scott Lowe, I read Mastering VMware vSphere 4 a few years ago and it was fantastic so I fully expect this one to be the same. I also picked up the vSphere 5 Study Guide by Brian Atkinson.
6. Official training – one of the things I love, and hate about VMware certifications is you have to take one of their courses, and they are not cheap. On one hand (based on the practice tests) I could probably pass while brushing up on a few areas I don’t have to live in everyday, on the other hand – hopefully this cert will not become meaningless in the future like the A+ or MCSE certifications have become. Why is this only number 6 on my list? Well if you flamed out in steps 1-5 you just saved yourself a good chunk of change.
Well, back to step 5.