VCAP-DCA (updated)

**Updated with some new comments about the Manage and Design for Security and Automation with PowerCLI classes**

Sure, lots have posted on this so far. What I don’t recall reading was the exam from the perspective of an instructor. So here goes 🙂

Unlike the multiple-choice VCP, the VCAP-DCA is 100% lab-based. You can’t learn this stuff from a book. You have to work with the product in order to pass this exam.

From a training perspective, though, there are classes that support this test. From my personal experience, they aren’t teaching what’s on the test, rather the general skills needed to pass the exam. VMware recommends a number of more advanced classes in support of the VCAP-DCA:

Now, I personally teach 2 of those 4 classes – Troubleshooting and Performance. I’ve never been much of a security guy, so I don’t teach that class (yet). My (rusted shut) scripting expertise dates back to my long gone days as a Solaris guy with BASH and KSH, meaning I need a little more time playing with PowerShell to teach the PowerCLI class.

Before we go any further, remember, I work for VMware Education, so my opinions may be just a touch biased, but I have also long had a chip on my shoulder toward those organizations who shun (or are quick to cut budget for) classroom training because “you can just read a book and learn it.” Instructor-led training (either online or in a classroom) have always proven invaluable in my eyes, because you not only get a jump start on the information/product/whatever, but you also get the networking with your fellow customers. Being able to hash our solutions with your peers, working with the ever-present “how does everyone else do it?” That is the value of instructor-led training that is so terribly often overlooked. But enough about that. Let’s talk about how these courses support the VCAP-DCA.

vSphere: Troubleshooting
This class really is the foundation to supporting the exam. That may sound a little odd, especially since I don’t recall seeing any questions like “This is broken, please fix it” in the exam. But there’s much more to the troubleshooting class than just troubleshooting. vSphere: Troubleshooting is a 4-day class that’s more lab than lecture (somewhere on the order of 30-35% lecture, 65-70% lab time). Of the lab time, it’s split about 60% troubleshooting, and 40% procedural.

The procedural labs are the big thing here. They help define how to do things with all kinds of commands and processes that aren’t covered in our other classes. The CLI becomes very important in this class.

The troubleshooting lab time is (at least, how I run it) also exceptionally valuable, as it’s minimally directed (we inject a problem into your environment, give you a “help desk report” with the symptoms, and from there, you get to use your wits and the standard vSphere tools to resolve it). This minimal direction gives you the time to work at your own pace, and learn what it is that you want or need to learn.

Bottom line, take the class if you can. It’s good online if you can’t travel, but it’s better in a classroom if you can get there. Either way, watch for me – this class is great! 😀

vSphere: Manage for Performance
Another solid performer. This is a slightly shorter class, clocking in at 3 days, but it’s really no less valuable. The Performance class focuses on individual host performance, which seems a little counter-intuitive if you look at the generalized vSphere message that the individual host doesn’t really matter. But from a performance perspective, the performance conflicts will come intra-host, rather than inter-host (generally). This class most certainly accounts for that.

The Performance class supports the DCA a little less directly, but is still rather valuable.

The remaining two classes, vSphere: Manage and Design for Security and vSphere: Automation with vSphere PowerCLI, I don’t (yet) teach. As such, I’m unfamiliar with their contents, aside from very high level, and can’t honestly say how much they can impact the exam. But I have to recommend the PowerCLI class after some of the questions I saw on the exam. It rather shocked me that there were PowerShell/PowerCLI-related scenarios on the exam. But that also goes to show the both the popularity and the push from VMware for management through PowerShell.

**Update**
After going back and skimming through some of the material in the Automation and MDS courses (after taking the exam), I can say with confidence that both of them do indeed provide some good supporting material for the VCAP-DCA exam. If you have the opportunity, take advantage of these classes as well as Troubleshooting and Performance!
**End Update**

Today will be 10 business days since I sat the VCAP-DCA, and I should get my passing results today (well, that’s my story until they show up and tell me otherwise). After that, I’ll be diving into the VCAP-DCD, partially for my own edification, but partially because I think it will also become an instructor requirement to deliver the vSphere: Design Workshop course (and I’d really like to continue teaching that class).

Stay tuned for more ramblings, I’m going to try to keep up on it this year!

-jk