When I joined VMware about a year ago, I vowed to myself that I would start working on my VCIX in the Cloud Management & Automation (VCIX6-CMA) track. Of course one doesn’t just wake up on a fine day and decide to get their advanced certifications. It’s been a long standing goal of mine to sit the VCAPs and achieve the VCIX badge. What stopped me earlier? The previous versions of the exams required me to have knowledge of vCD. I wanted to wait till the exam was completely on vRA and other products in the vRealize Suite.
For those who are not aware, VCIX6-CMA is not a certification. It is a badge, achieved by completing two advanced level exams (VCAPs) in Design and Deploy which then entitles you to get the digital badge of VCIX. The Design exam tests one’s skills on design and architecture, while the Deployment exam tests one’s ability to roll up their sleeves and do hands-on deployment.
It is important how you strategize and tackle the exams. If you are an Architect it is easier to crack the design exam. If you are an admin, it is easier to crack the Deployment exam. As I work on design and architecture as part of my day job, I took the Design exam first, followed by the Deployment one. It was easier that way for me, as I intended to get done with the easier one and tackle the latter later.
My first exam was the VCAP6-CMA Design exam. On this, I attempted the beta, the exam fee for which is about a hundred dollars, almost 1/3rd the actual exam fee. I later realized this was a bad decision when it took 5 months for the results to be announced. All the waiting on tenterhooks did not do me much good as I failed the beta by a close margin. The exam experience can be found here.
What it did help me with is that, I now clearly knew the areas that I needed to strengthen my skills on, and I did just that. I worked on the areas that needed improvement and then took up the exam for the second time in a month or so and cleared it.
Time Management – This is very crucial. If you don’t mange your time, you are going to get into trouble. Understand that you can never finish all the questions, and divide the time by the number of questions. Don’t spend more than the required time on a question unless you know you are going to finish it. Always Remember, you are racing against time.
Prioritize – There are all types of questions on the exam. The easy ones, the tough ones and the in betweens. I would suggest spending the first 5-10 mins on figuring out what you will tackle first.
Pay attention to the details – When it comes to the questions, there is a lot of content one has to read before arriving at a scenario, make sure you write the important points down. This will help you come up with the design on the erasable pad provided at the pearson center. This way you don’t have to waste time re-reading the whole thing every time you have a query.
Most important of the lot, use the exam blueprint as your primary reference, as it has all the required links and documents covered under each objective. If you can attend the Cloud Automation : Design and Deploy Fast Track [v6.0] course, it will add a lot of value to your preparation.
Next was the VCAP6-CMA Deployment exam. This would have been a walk in the park, back while I was a professional services engineer at my previous employer. This needed more prep than design as I don’t get to do as many hands-on deployments of late.
As far as the experience is concerned, it was a good one. It is a lab based exam, where you will be presented with scenarios and you need to deploy and configure components based on those scenarios. My tips? The same as Design.
Time Management – There will be sub tasks under the main task and you need a lot of time to finish them all. Time management is the most crucial aspect if you want to pass with a good score. Don’t spend more than the required time on each question.
Dependency – Be aware that some questions are dependent on completion of other questions unlike in the Design exam. Make sure you do them in sequence.
Overall, it was an awesome experience. It was worth the hundreds of hours I spent prepping for the exam and I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again. It gives me a sense of achievement that I finished both the exams within a span of 6 months. If you work hard enough, nothing is impossible. I can now finally start my prep for my VCDX submission.
Abhilash Basavarajaiah is a Cloud Solutions Architect and an Ambassador for the Office of the CTO @ VMware.
He is a dynamic IT professional and an ambitious, highly-motivated individual with experience in pre-sales, business development, and
strategic alliances. He experienced in designing and architecting
hybrid cloud infrastructure with a focus on Software-Defined Datacenter.
He is passionate about technology and all things virtual and VMware has recognized him as a VMware vExpert and a vExpert Pro under the Evangelist path for his contribution to the virtualization and cloud computing communities through knowledge sharing and content creation.
Abhilash holds numerous technical certifications from VMware, EMC, Cisco, CNCF, Microsoft, and Rackspace