9 Replies Latest reply on Dec 31, 2015 6:42 AM by wmroz

    VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.

    pcakes Lurker

      I just sat through every last minute of the VDCD550 and had the exam actually run out of time on me.  I finished the VCP with 30 min to spare after reviewing questions.

      I'm happy to take blame when I've clearly not studied enough.  I'll pay the exam fee and try again.  It's not even the fee that makes me so upset.  It's that I didn't feel like I even had a chance.  I've been administering a 5.5U1 environment since 5.5 shipped.  I've designed and installed countless more.  I sat through the 3 day vSphere Design Workshop which was suggested prior to the VCAP-DCD exam and had the instructor tell me he thought I was ready.  I studied for two weeks up the exam.  So why the hell did this test just steam roll me?  I think it was a few things.

      1. Questions with some or more correct answers.  When you ask a question and I can apply multiple possible answers to a given category, you leave that open for interpretation.  Are you scoring me negatively or positively if I pick one too many things?  Who is to say that I'm not right?  What's to say something isn't a risk and a assumption.  Maybe it's both, maybe not.  Maybe I'm getting docked for it, maybe I'm not.


      2.  Am I really supposed to draw 30 plus dependency connectors?  I know how to take an exam, which is to say, only answer exactly what is being asked.  Yes, you asked that I essentially draw that many connectors which makes the workspace basically unusable.  Maybe you didn't really want that many. Maybe what you asked for was too vague.


      3. Topics not covered in any course ware.  Ok VMware, you like Storage I/O control.  I get it.  Maybe there should have been a section on detailed configuration for it in the 3 day workshop I took.  Same goes for storage tiers with storage DRS.


      I guess I'm just venting, but good lord am I angry.  I guess now I know what to go back and study.  FML

        • 1. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
          firestartah Master
          vExpertCommunity Warriors

          Sorry to hear about the failure. For the VCAP exams it isn't unusual for time to run out on you and when i did mine you couldn't review the questions nor go back so time management was even more challenging.


          The DCD is about design but also about design methodology and knowing correct design practices for different situations. I failed my first time due to having picked up bad habits rather than doing things the correct way. The design workshop is certainly very good but it does depend on who else is doing the course with you and I personally dont agree that the course should happen remotely as it does recently. For the design workshop I would highly recommend going through all the course notes as there is more than three days worth of information in there and also do every single piece of the lab guide as well as make sure you see how the completed designs for both should be done via the answers pdf off mylearn.


          1. This happens in loads of exams that there are loads of seemingly correct answers but only specific correct answers, the exam isn't meant to be simple and in real designs there are loads of ways to do something but only one(in the case of the exam) efficient way of doing it. For example why create a standard switch on every single host of you have ent+ licences and can use dist switches...both work but one is more effective and has less operational overhead. If you pick too many you don't get some points as far as i'm aware nor do you get some if you choose two out of three correct (this is meant to separate the VCP people form the advanced people)


          2. I dont remember having to draw too many things in the visio style questions so possibly try something i did and hopefully you have written down where you think you wnet wrong and then try draw it out in visio in the most efficient way. Why have multiple switches if one will suffice? Why break up networking into 1gb nics if 10gb with NIOC is possible? i cant remember any of the visio questions so these two examples are just off my head but this is what VMware are trying to get out of you and if you plan on aiming for the VCDX then this is something you need to start absorbing now. They will make it fairly vague as if they told you exactly what they wanted then everyone could do it. I personally work as a consultant doing designs for customers and trust me I wish customers were as clear as what the DCD questions are/were as you need to look at what they are asking and utilising the knowledge you have create the most efficient solution.


          3. I did the DCD 5.0 so my exam may have been slightly different from you but one recommendation is know every single thing on the blueprint, how it works, how to configure it, what it works and doesnt work for and it's limitations. Every single technology mentioned in the blueprint is open for discussion and to use your example SIOC is mentioned a fair amount. Again the course doesnt cover everything hence why i recommend people use multiple sources to prepare but also if they only covered the portions covered in the exam then it would be simple for people. VMware are even mentioning changing the VCAP exams in the future to go the way of the VCIX that was created for the NSX certification track to try get more industry recognition so they wont make things simpler and may well make things harder.


          Perfectly good to vent, just use that energy for the next try and write down what you think you did wrong and learn that for next time. I blogged about what i did for my second DCD attempt if you are interested http://thesaffageek.co.uk/2013/04/24/vcap5-dcd-retake/


          Good luck for attempt number two



          • 2. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
            pcakes Lurker

            firestartah, Thank you for your thoughtful reply.


            I'm still stewing on my experience and the issue I keep coming back to is the fairness of the exam based on training available, as well as the verbiage.  While I appreciate your advice (which I will certainly heed), and I'll certainly examine the 550 blueprint from top to bottom, my frustration is the entire experience I've had.  I've officially spent $2200.00 and feel completely cheated.  $1800 on the 100% useless 3 day course and $400 on the exam I failed. 


            I think the exam you took vs. the exam I took could not have been more different.  From what I've read, the 5.0 and 5.1 exams were 110 questions, mostly multiple choice with some interactive portions.  Mine was 46 questions with 5 interactive with one 30 minute interactive.  The remaining 41 questions fell into the yes/no/maybe category of grey area I was describing on my previous points 1 and 2.  Neither the book, nor the $1800.00 VMware endorsed course got me anywhere near ready to take this exam.  If I felt like I failed on my own, I wouldn't be so upset.  It's the fact that study guides/books/classes meant to prep me for this failed so miserably.  Maybe the course-ware I was looking at was meant for the 510 exam?  That would at least make some sense.  The exam I took was apparently released as of 08/26ish (or around that date).  Perhaps none of my prep was getting me ready for that.


            I'm really feeling sour on this.  Like straight up ripped off sour.  Like VMware owes me a free retry in 14 days sour.  If all I had to do to understand what they wanted for the exam was to take the $400 exam and fail it, then take it 14 days later, I'd have done that instead of taking an $1800 class plus the test.  It's not a question of comprehension.  I understood the topics I was taught.  My issue is that I didn't have a 100% grasp on the topics that weren't in the 3 day course, or the book I purchased to study with.  I feel like I'm the beta tester for this exam, which is some serious BS. 

            • 3. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
              crawfordm Expert

              I also recently took the 3 day workshop and did not find it useful in preparing for the exam.  Here is my experience write up - http://blog.marccrawford.com/2014/08/15/vmware-vsphere-design-workshop-v5/


              Here are the resources I used to study for the exam - http://blog.marccrawford.com/vcap-dcd-study-resources/


              Good luck when you take it again.



              • 4. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
                JPM300 Expert

                Hey pcakes,


                I had a very simular expereince,  I read over all the material I could get my hands on and still felt steam rolled even though I've been doing this stuff since Vmware 2.0/2.5


                Here is my quick write up on it:

                DCD5.1 or DCD 5.5?


                Here is the coles notes of my experience:

                1.). I found the test very open ended on many of the questions.  For instance when adding a nic into a design on a design question, it doesn't state weather its a single nic or dual nic or quad nic, so your left to guessing.  Also when connecting items in the design questions do they assume the switches are stacked or do you need to connect the switches?  This was never laided out in the instructions


                2.). Building off my first point I found some of the design questions could of used more instructions as to where you want to leave items on the page when your stacking stencils.  This wasn't always bad on all questions but some where lacking


                3.). There was some questions in the multiple choice section that doesn't test you on your design knowledge but on how much you can cram.  Ie stuff you would just look up or find in 1 min on a quick google search.  I strongly belive these sort of questions should reserved for different types of exams or just make poor exam questions over all as let's be honest, people just look this stuff up and don't permently memeorize this stuff.


                4.). I would of liked to see the exam structured in chunks so you could better time manage it but i suspect it was built this way on purpose, so just my opinion I guess


                5.). I think VMware should do a new flash demo of how the design tool works so you have a much better idea of how to


                I feel a lot of people don't particularly fail this exam because they don't know the material, I feel its a lack of understanding how everythings works in this exam.  For me figuring out how I assume they wanted me to lay out the design questions gobbled up so much time, I ended up missing 10 questions, 1 drag-n-drop, 1 design question.  I think had I been able to finish those I would of squeaked by.


                None the less I'm working on some photoshops / visio of how the exam is layed out with some practice quetions which I hope to post here soon(Nothing the current tutorial doesn't show, just a better explansion with a section where people could help each other plan out desings).  Once I have it finished I will submit it to the people at VMware to make sure its not breaking any NDA's and posted it, if it goes over well I will try and built an interactive piece for it to better prep people for the exam.  I feel this is this exams greatest downfall.  I don't feel I should have to burn an exam just to "know" how to do it.  I feel the blue print was concice don't get me wrong, I just felt the instructions where lacking greatly.  You never know if something is connected write in many times, or where to place things.  This wasn't always the case but on some of the design questions I just said "I hope this is all in the right place"  and moved on. 


                After writing the VCAP-DCA 5.1 which I felt was extreamly well put together I felt this test really lacking.  I think if VMware wrote a new interactive tutorial on the drag-n-drop and design questions this would go a long way in helping people write this.  When I was at Vmware World prior to writing the exam I was sitting in the exam area and there was LOTS of people who have failed this exam 2-3 times and was writing again.  One guy I talked with said the first time he timed out on the exam, the next time he finished with an hour left.  That huge of a time difference simply shows how much time you burn the first time around figuring everything out.


                None the less it is what it is, and I will be re-writing shortly as well.  I feel now that I know more so what i'm walking into and I should get it next time *hopefully *   If you want to bounce some questions off me shoot me a PM and we can bounce some study material off each other and see what we can come up with.


                Cheers and good luck!!

                • 5. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
                  harinderkohli410 Novice

                  pcakes don't worry about failure. Most of the people i know have taken 2 or more than 2 times to pass the DCD Exam. I passed on 3rd time.One of my friend passed on 4th attempt.


                  Regarding your observation on vsphere design workshop i will not agree with you.

                  My thinking on vSphere design workshop is that it gets you started on Virtual Networking Design.You need to combine this course with other material, blogs and Real life design experience.

                  I myself used vsphere workshop course and combined it with various other materials, books, white papers and blogs.

                  I would also put my design doubts on various blogs and i will get reply from them.

                  I took me nearly 10 Months to pass the exam after taking the course.


                  If anybody is thinking that they will take vsphere design workshop and then prepare for 2-4 weeks and pass  then that's not right strategy unless you have actual design experience.


                  Also remember that you will not become expert just by passing the exam. In fact after passing the exam i am continuing to learn more on the vsphere design.

                  • 6. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
                    Mike_Wilson Novice

                    I agree that the Workshop does not prepare you to take the test. However while it infers it would help, I don't recall any particular place where VMWare says they match up. The Design Workshop is mostly to start getting you to think in new ways and also to make you design the details you might overlook because you're not used to designing. That being said, I understand and commiserate with the exam not being very forthcoming on what they are looking for and how they want things laid out. That is the main reason why it takes 2-3 times to figure things out. I myself, passed on the third time with a 421. So it finally does click.

                    Some things they are looking to get more of a designer's perspective than go completely in depth. And remember it is always good to keep a design as simple as you can make it while satisfying design requirements. The most important things on the exam obviously are going to be your designs so make sure you nail them, and good luck on your next attempt.



                    • 7. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
                      bedobash Enthusiast

                      I just passed on my 2nd attempt (288 first attempt, 340 pass grade second attempt). I missed half of the 30 min scenario, and 1 15 min, and a bunch of questions on the first attempt. The randomly strewing the scenarios in the middle of the exam is annoying. I'd prefer they frontloaded all of those questions.

                      And its more about time management. What I went and did was answer all the scenario questions completely FIRST (marking all other questions for later action).

                      I then spent my last 1:30 answering what I could and guessed the rest and did have 7 minutes left at the end without any more work to do.

                      Don't waste time waffling over a question. either you know it or you dont.

                      For scenarios: answer exactly what they're asking, don't speculate at all.

                      Be familiar with EVERYTHING on the blueprint, especially the methodology questions and concepts.


                      ps: good luck

                      • 8. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
                        deeeee Lurker

                        Dont loose heart DCD550 is really difficult exam......I passed mine after failing twice (5.1 versions) and found this version to be more organized.....another resource I find really useful is virtualtiers.net created by Jason.....good notes towards the end which will clarify different terms which are so interlinked....good luck with your next time and knock it out of the park.....

                        • 9. Re: VCAP5-DCD - VDCD550 - Failed in spectacular fashion and UPSET.
                          wmroz Lurker

                          My comments to the Exam:

                          1. I had a problem, because I answered to the SAN architecture drawing question. I drew all connections between HBAs, FC switches, SP ports. During review I discovered connections between FC switches and SP ports disappeared while connections between HBAs and FC switches were on place. So, I redrew all 4. Drawing tool version was 9.1.

                          2. I answered to all drag and drop questions, all draw questions. But according to the exam rapport some of the answers to the questions were missing. Little bit confusing statement. I think it could happen I miss some objects in drawings and better feedback could be "missing objects in drawings".


                          In my opinion VMware should produce a lot, 100 or more, of design drawings useful for the exam preparation. Off-course all drawings should have education aspects.