VMware VCAP5-DCA Experience

This morning I received a much anticipated email from VMware Certification. It had been almost three weeks since re-sitting my DCA exam and I was extremely nervous about the result.

My first attempt at the exam was terrible and it really threw me. At the time the lab environment was very slow and I panicked, wasting valuable time just thinking about the time! After that I was totally put off the experience and put my study on hold. In fairness I had just had another baby so I cut myself a little slack 🙂

Anyway, three months went by and I geared up once more to attack the beast. I sat the exam at the same testing centre in sunny Tauranga, New Zealand (seems to be the ONLY place you can actually book the exam in NZ anyways). This time the lab environment seemed much faster at responding and I found myself getting through questions far quicker. To be fair I had also put more study into the areas that I had clearly lacked from the first attempt and this made a lot of difference.

The exam was still extremely tough and it was clearly a very different set of questions and lab setup from the first time. I managed to run out of time with about five questions left completely unanswered. I still felt very nervous about how I did but hoped that I had done enough to pass, in this case more than 300/500. My first attempt came in at about 250/500 but I had only answered about 60% of the questions, so I was hopeful that this time was much better.

So, this morning I was up at about 6am with my two boys, half asleep sitting on the couch. I’m on my phone using the web browser to view webmail (don’t ask!) and the attached pdf result wouldn’t download!!!! Then when I finally managed to get it to download it wouldn’t open the pdf, argh!!!!!! I finally got the thing open and scrolled down to the score…389/500, woohoo!

I was so stoked, I really didn’t want to have to sit it a third time! Now that I have both DCD and DCA I can now apply for VCDX. This will be my next major goal and realistically will take me some time. Between a busy job and family life there ain’t a lot of time left for preparing a design, but lets hope that through work I can prepare one suitable.

Finally, to give my two cents worth of advice to others out there considering taking the exam;

1. Work through the blueprint end to end, and I really do mean end to end. The exam covers stuff from all over the blueprint (go figure :-P)

2. Check out Jason Langer and Josh Coen’s study guides here: http://www.valcolabs.com/vcap5-dca/ and here: http://www.virtuallanger.com/vcap-dca-5/, both of these guys fricken rule! Many thanks to them for their massive efforts in creating such a great resource.

3. Use Autolab for creating your home lab environment, it will save you a heap of time: http://www.labguides.com/. A BIG thanks to Alastair Cooke for his work and others that have helped him. It is a fantastic tool for deploying vSphere at home.

4. Make sure that you don’t skip over areas that you think you already know. I did this both times and realised afterwards that I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did!

5. During the exam, manage your time very carefully. Don’t stall on any one particular question too long and if you get stuck, move on and come back later.

6. Oh, and lastly, if you do fail, don’t beat yourself up. It’s a real tough exam with a lot of content to work through in a short space of time. I was way too hard on myself the first time and this put me off getting back in the drivers seat for a long time. Sometimes it is good to fail and gives us perspective.

We’ll that’s about it from me, I’m over the moon about passing and I can sit back for a little while now…just not too long eh! VCDX…

Study hard and good luck!

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vSphere Home Lab: Part 3 – Procurves and static routing

So I’ve just spent the last three hours trying to work out why my Procurve switch wasn’t routing my various VLAN’s I have configured for my home lab.

I had to move my three hosts and switch into the garage because the heat in the office was becoming unbearable! Unfortunately because of this I broke my connection to my iSCSI VLAN I had configured for my labs ip storage. Because I’m running my SAN management software on my main pc I had a second nic directly plugged into that VLAN, nice and simple right?

However, when I moved the gear I no longer had two cables running to my main pc, I now only had one. I though to myself, “surely I can set up some static routing!?!?”.

Anyway, as it turns out my little Thomson ADSL router supports static routing, cool! I configured this like so:

:rtadd 192.168.3.0/24 192.168.2.50 (where 192.168.3.0/24 is my iSCSI subnet and 192.168.2.50 is the management ip of the Procurve). Step one done!

Next I jumped onto my Procurve 2910al and enabled ip routing, giving me this config:

hostname “SWITCH1”
module 1 type j9147a
no stack
ip default-gateway 192.168.2.1
ip route 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 192.168.2.1
ip routing
snmp-server community “public” unrestricted
spanning-tree legacy-path-cost
spanning-tree force-version stp-compatible
vlan 1
name “DEFAULT_VLAN”
no untagged 25-36
untagged 1-24,37-48
ip address 192.168.2.50 255.255.255.0
exit
vlan 10
name “vMotion”
tagged 13-18
no ip address
exit
vlan 20
name “FT”
tagged 13-18
no ip address
exit
vlan 30
name “iSCSI”
untagged 25-36
ip address 192.168.3.1 255.255.255.0
exit
management-vlan 1

Now, doing a tracert from my main pc on VLAN1 it would get as far as the Procurve, but the switch would respond with destination net unreachable.

I continued to try different commands and read several blog posts on configuring static routes and everything I had done looked fine!

I finally came across a comment someone had posted on a forum suggesting that when you specify a management VLAN on the switch it breaks routing! ARGHHHHHHH!

So, I ran “no management-vlan 1” and saved the config. Now the switch is properly routing all VLANs, yay!!!!!

Now I can fire up my HP P4000 CMC and connect to my VSA’s from my main pc on VLAN1, woohoo.