I recently sat and passed the VCP6-NV exam, and I figured since I spent a lot of time reading about other people’s exam experience, I would share mine as well. An important note is that there are two versions of this exam (as of this writing). The older exam is based on NSX 6 and was retired on April 30, 2017. This is noteworthy because a lot of the study material out there is based on the older exam. The general consensus online seems to be that it won’t hurt to review it, but if newer material is available, you might as well use that.
One of the first things I did was watch the most recent NSX series from the vBrownBag crew. Tim Davis had three sessions where he covered off different aspects of NSX. Although it wasn’t designed to be a test prep series, it lays a great foundation if you are just getting into NSX. There are also some older videos that cover the previous version of the exam, which can be found here: https://vbrownbag.com/tag/vcp-nv/.
I’ll be honest, I watched all of Tim’s but only a few of the older ones. If anything, I prefer the vBB material as you can usually watch video of the presenters completing the tasks associated with an objective. In this case, the material was from 2014, so I was concerned with it being slightly out of date.
Given that I now work for VMware, I have some fantastic access to training. I took the opportunity to sign up for the online NSX Install, Configure and Manage class . There was some good stuff in there, but I have a hard time with some online training. My mind starts to wander, the phone rings, my kids need something, etc. I was able to get through a good chunk of it, and I did find it quite useful. It was especially useful for setting up NSX in my homelab (more on that below). It is designed to be a 5 day course, so be prepared to set aside time. The nice thing is that you can jump around to objectives that you want to dive into more, or repeat them as needed.
VMware also offers an online test-prep course for the VCP-NV exam. I found this one quite useful as well. Similar to the vBB stuff, the course is laid out to go objective by objective. If you have a copy of the blueprint, you can make notes as you go along. There were lots of useful tidbits in here as well. Similar to the other online course, being able to jump around or replay objectives (which I did a lot) is very handy.
Nobody likes reading documentation, but there were two documents that I found really handy. The first one (aside from the official exam blueprint) is the NSX 6.2 Design Guide. I printed off a copy, read it, highlighted, and marked it up. It is a great guide that will give you a very solid understanding of NSX and how to design solutions with it.
The second document was the vSphere Networking Guide. The important thing to remember about the VCP-NV exam is that it is a network virtualization exam. Yes, NSX is the flagship networking solution from VMware, but don’t forget that NSX-V depends heavily on ESXi and vSphere. Things like understanding port groups, vmkernels, how distributed port switches work and are managed, etc. … these are all important to understand if you want to solidify your grasp on the objectives.
Lastly, I was fortunate enough to be able to deploy NSX 6.2. in my homelab. Be sure to check out the interoperability matrix. I foolishly wasn’t thinking and was wondering why I could deploy OVAs in my environment, but then I couldn’t prepare my hosts. The problem, once I realized it, was that my NUCs were running on 6.5 and NSX 6.2 only supports ESXi / vSphere 6.0. Stuff like that can easily be missed or assumed if you don’t have hands on experience.
The good news is that you can get the bits to install NSX now, even if you don’t work for VMware. This wasn’t always the case – those bits used to be really hard to get a hold of. Now you can gain access through a VMUG Advantage membership. I can’t recommend this enough for the homelab enthusiast. I’ve subscribed to it in the past, and there is tremendous value for it. If you end up taking any official VMware courses, the discount provided by VMUG Advantage will more than likely cover the initial $200 cost. Note that it isn’t uncommon to find discounts at VMUG UserCon events, so be sure to check it out.
The other option for non-VMware employees is to become a vExpert. Being part of that program has a lot of advantages, including year-long evaluation licenses for a very large portion of VMware’s product library.