Another great day at VMworld 2015 is in the books. For the first time, I have been able to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run the Hands-on-Lab (HoL) area for the VMworld conference. I spent most of the morning in the NOC area with colleagues monitoring the systems providing the HoL capacity. In a very good way, it was pretty boring. All of the months of hard work leading up to the conference has resulted in a pretty smooth user-experience — not withstanding the WiFi issues which are handled entirely by a 3rd party.
The afternoon saw me do something I had tentatively planned for the past several months — sitting for my VCAP5-DCA exam. Although I did not study to the level originally planned, I decided to take the test while at the conference both due to peer pressure and the convenience offered by doing it here. I had a positive overall experience taking the exam. The questions themselves were not as difficult or obscure as I was worried they would be. Having spent a significant amount of time administrating large-scale VMware private clouds over the past few years greatly helped with my confidence level during the exam itself. The one bit that is always hard is having to know and understand VMware technologies you may not have utilized in your career for whatever reasons. In my case, that mostly revolves around vSphere Replication and VUM — seriously who uses VUM anymore?
All that being said, the most difficult part of the exam is time management. The exam is only 180 minutes + 15 minutes for the survey. It is difficult to know if you are spending too much time on a single question when their difficulty and number of required steps vary so much one from the next. I tried to go through the questions in order, without skipping ahead to find the ‘easy’ questions — mostly because so many of them are based off of previous tasks you likely had to perform. I will say one thing, the lab environment experience was not as bad as I had read others having had.
Here are a few things I would have done differently had I known beforehand:
- After starting the exam, immediately log into the vCenter C# and Web Client — login takes several minutes and this will save you time later.
- Start the vMA appliance right away. Although I only had one question where the vMA appliance was required, you don’t want to be waiting for it half-way through the exam when you are starting to feel the time crunch.
- Start SSH on the ESXi hosts if that is your preferred method for using esxcli.
- Monitor how much you drink in the hours before the exam — that or get a catheter. If you have to use the restroom midway through, they will let you, but your time continues to tick away while you are gone.
I am looking forward to Wednesday at the conference. It will be my last day here, but if you see me walking around and want a Virtual Elephant laptop sticker poke me. I’ll be in the Solutions Exchange after the vBloggers session today.