VCP7-DTM Exam Experience and Study Tools

VCP7-DTMEarlier this year I decided that I wanted to renew my VCP cert via a different track (as opposed to getting a VCAP). The reason being is that I was just looking to broaden my knowledge. I don’t do a lot of super technical work on the daily basis, so something like the VCAP might be “overkill” (for lack of a better term). It was a toss-up between the VCP-NV and VCP-DTM. In the end, DTM won out.

Going into this, I had some Horizon experience. I have setup a couple of Horizon View deployments – one was a 5.x and the most recent one is running 7.x. So I was familiar with a lot of concepts. What I wasn’t expecting was how much stuff other than Horizon View is actually on the exam.

THE BLUEPRINT

One of the things that I actually like about VMware certification exams is the blueprint. They are by no means a fool-proof way to study for the exam. But, they certainly are a fantastic tool to use to make sure you hit the key points. As mentioned above, I have been somewhat familiar with Horizon View for a while now. But this exam covers a whole bunch of other technologies. Things like VMware Mirage, VMware User Environment Manager, and VMware Identity Manager are all covered in this exam. Then you also have to consider things like Workspace ONE – there is a lot to think about!

My first step was understanding what each component was or wasn’t. Understanding the differences between what each piece is supposed to accomplish is fairly key (at least to me). Once I had my head wrapped around the intended uses, pieces really started to click.

TRAINING MATERIALS – VIDEOS

I leveraged Greg Shields’ VCP7-DTM Pluralsight courses quite heavily. I watched all of the modules once through while marking up the blueprint. The beauty of these videos is that you can easily rewind a few seconds or pause when you need to. After the initial viewing, I spent some time going over my notes and figuring out what I thought were my weak areas. One of the great thing about Pluralsight courses is that you can use the transcript to find the exact part you are looking for.

TRAINING MATERIALS – HANDS ON LABS

VMware-HOLFurther to the videos, I also did a few Hands-On Labs, specifically the labs on Rob Beekman’s list. I also did a handful of other ones, which I, unfortunately, did not make a note of. I tend to have a hard time doing hands-on labs as I tend to just follow the instructions and not necessarily think about what I am doing. Often I need to remind myself that I am trying to learn, and not that I am just trying to make it through a guide.

One aspect that I did find very useful was the ability to use some of these labs for pre-built environments to poke around in. Remember, you don’t need to follow the lab guides. If you have an area that you are weak in (e.g. VMware Identity Manager), you can find the appropriate lab, fire it up, and just poke around in there.

TRAINING MATERIALS – READING

I referenced Sean Massey’s excellent Horizon 7 material. Although it isn’t written out to be a VCP7 study guide, it was immensely useful in seeing how to deploy Horizon 7. In fact, I used this guide as the basis for my current Horizon 7 deployment at work. By following the steps, I was able to go from a newbie to an administrator in relatively short order.

I also referenced a lot of material from Mastering VMware Horizon 7 – Second Edition, written by Peter von Oven and Barry Coombs (a Veeam Vanguard for 2015 & 2016 🙂 ). The book covers Horizon 7, and although there is a lot more than just Horizon on the exam, having another source for detail was very welcome.

TRAINING MATERIALS – HOME LAB

Lastly, my home lab is probably one of the most useful tools I had. As great as the resources above are, I tend to learn by doing. I followed along with the Pluralsight videos a fair bit with regards to building the labs. For stuff like setting up SSL certificates, or building templates, I used Sean Massey’s material to help me get through. Lastly, I went through the deployment of components at least a couple of times. In fact, I think I am going to blow away the home lab and rebuild from scratch now as there are lots of “artifacts” kicking around. Overall, being able to get things up and running (or not) in the home lab was very valuable. Things like dealing with SSL issues, or ensuring DNS was working, was very useful albeit tedious and frustrating at times.

EXAM EXPERIENCE

So, I don’t think I stated this yet, but I sat this exam twice. I am an expert procrastinator. Being true to that, I waited until three weeks prior to my VCP expiring to sit the exam (VMworld 2017 US). I made sure to cram in the days leading up to the exam, as well as on the plane ride down. Because I didn’t want to spend the whole time thinking about the exam, I booked it for the Sunday … and I failed with something like a 286. By my reckoning, I had probably two questions wrong. Oh well …

With time being a big deal, and the retake policy requiring a 7 day wait, I ended up booking the soonest available time which worked with my schedule. That was this past Friday … and my VCP is set to expire this Monday. Not much room for error! “Luckily” I had already sat the exam once and knew my weak areas – as mentioned above, Horizon is but one portion of the exam. I’m happy to report that I passed with a 340 – not as high as I would like. But honestly, given the improvement in a short amount of time combined with my rather limited day-to-day experience, I’m happy with the pass. After all, it’s not like VMware hand’s out anything other than a Pass or Fail.

Overall, I really wish I could sit down and review the exam with an instructor. I know that is not possible. It would just be nice to know what I got wrong, and why. I found that there were definitely a few questions that could be open to interpretation. Similarly, I found there were a few questions that seemed to throw in extra information for no apparent reason. I’m not a fan of tests that try to “trick” folks – but I suppose that is where the VCAPs come in. Those exams tend to focus more on proving what you know, and not letting you match your knowledge to the closest answer.

NEXT STEPS

So, where do I go from here? Hopefully, I won’t let my VCP get so close to expiration again. More than anything, the stress involved with having to take another $4500 class was detrimental. I have a pretty big backlog of personal projects to take care of as well. As for certifications, I still have the VMCE-A to polish off, and AWS has been getting my attention. That being said, I would be lying if the thought of going for a VCAP wasn’t floating around either.

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