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AndreTheGiant's Blog

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See the entire story on: vInfrastructure Blog


Today I’ve taken the VCAP5-DCD beta exam (I’ve already written about the invitation at this beta). This time I was lucky enough to find a testing center near home and avoid the issues of the VCAP4-DCD beta exam (see the entire story).

For general considerations, like the cost of this kind of exams, the (long) wait period, the selection criteria, … se my though about VMware beta exams.

About the exam itself it is really challenging: time seems really a  lot (225 minutes + 30 minutes of extra-time for  non english native) and  question seems not so much (131 in this beta)… but questions are really  vary and sometime also longer, and not simple multi-choice answer but  also “visio” or associations between different elements (both this kind  of questions, IMHO, are a good way to make exams where you have to use  your brain and you cannot cheat or guess the answer). It’s really easy  finish the time without have complete the questions review. To use a  “design” terminology time is a big constrain and a bad time management  could be risk.

Who have take the VCAP4-DCD will find this exam quite “similar” with a  comparable difficult level. Of course this also will depend on how will  be structured the “public” version of this exam: how many questions and  “visio” in how much time.

As every beta, there were some little issues: in a couple of cases  the text was truncated (for the testing center: please use bigger  monitor and please not CRT monitor), a question was with duplicated  answers, some sentences could be simplified (make them shorter or  simpler). But this time (compared with the VCAP4-DCD beta) there was a  working next/previous navigation and also the question review.

What I’ve not liked in this exam where: some mnemonic question (for  example about advanced parameters), in some question was not clear the  context (for example if vSphere 4.1 or 5.0… could be not the same), in  some question there wasn’t a better answer (or the best in the specific  context), some questions where more admin related rather than design  relater. But the overall exam was quite good.


What could be change (IMHO) is the question order: why not put  question about the same scenario close each other and maybe use few  scenarios with more questions? This could really help in time  management. And also the “vision” drawing tool could be improved, for  example by having the last object fast available or by having a toolbox:  this could speed up, for example the draw ing of several connectors.


Other VMware VCAP5-DCD beta exam experiences:

After two year I'm again on the VCP beta exam... (on July, 14 2009 I've take the VCP4 beta exam, that was the first beta exam from VMware).

The VCP5 certification


The beta exam

As written in the official blueprint (v1.2) the beta exam (code VCP511) consist of 180 questions (with a short pre-exam survey of 8 questions).


Beta exam period will finish on July, 24 (I never though that some VUE testing center were open also on other day than Mon-Fri) and can be schedules in any VUE center (depending on available seats).

Sees that each people can see both VCP510 and VCP511 exams in their profile, but the official will be available only on late Aug and the beta is only on invite... so I think that without the invite voucher (that is individual) is not possible book the exam.


Exam length

The time limit for the exam is 225 minutes, with an additional 15  minutes to complete the survey questions and agreements. Candidates who  take the exam in a country where English is not a primary language will  have an additional 30 minutes added to the exam time (the time extension  is automatic, no additional action is required as I can confirm).


Honestly the duration is quite good... I've got much time to review all the questions (with still 40 min left).

On the VCP411 the exam was 255 + 30 min... too much... But also there were more questions (as I remember).

Of course you must use the time in the right way... do not stay too much on a question... use the review (yes in this exam there is and it's work) to skip and see later.


This time I was also lucky that the air cooling was working (2 year ago it wasn't and the room windows were on the sun side ) so there was no problem to stay so much time without drink and make pause (I think that you can make a pause, but you will only loose other time...).


Exam contents

The blueprint cover all the arguments... and what is not included in the blueprint is not present in the exam questions... except a general overview of VMware products and solutions (as usual in previous VCP exam)  and on cloud concepts.

Hope that the blueprint it correct in the next version. And I suppose that the official reference (for this part) could be the VMware web site and/or the vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-50-basics-guide(-rc).pdf


How many questions are on licensing? I cannot say too much... just look in the blueprint to have an idea. Fortunately VCP is a technical exam and most of commercial questions goes in VSP accreditation.


The official Mock exam is still easy compared to the real exam, but this time I think that can give a minimum idea of the level of some questions.

The questions are not so easy... most are multi-choice and usually only one answer can be discarded easy... the other answers in most cases are really similar, and in some case I haven't found the best answer (not present) but only one that could be correct.


Compared to previous VCP exam there are several scenario questions that require also administration and/or design capacity... Some could be similar to VCAP-DCD or old Admin exam questions.

Yes... the overall difficult level seems that is raised... but could be a good news... less mnemonic questions (but of course they are still present).


You may except that legacy ESX is no more present, but it's not true... upgrade questions of course include both ESXi and ESX upgrade path (as written in the blueprint).


Note that some questions are really generic question (some also for a VCP3), other are specific only on new features and other have answers that are completely different from the vSphere 4.x case.


Questions distribuitions seems good and not un-balanced only on some new features (I remember that on VCP4 beta really a lot of questions where on DVS and vApp).


Exam references

The blueprint is a good starting point... but actually it does not include link to other documents (of course official product documents are not available yet).

Some good info can be found the the What's new topics. For a complete list of them see:

Also in Partner Central there are some doc and presentations, but probably the official product documents could be enough as a reference.

Some book can help (like "VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive" or, when will be released, "Mastering VMware vSphere 5"), but do not forget also a good lab to make practice especially for troubleshooting, deployment (this new version has a lot of options!), upgrade and management.


Exam result?

As usual for a beta exam, I have to wait to know the final result. I hope that this time beta results are published before official exam goes live (this issues IMHO is a bad aspect of VMware beta exams).

Probably also this time will be not possible (I can understand that there are only few weeks to the end of Aug)... But I hope that at least are faster than VCP4 beta results (if I remember correct, more that 3 months).

AndreTheGiant Guru

vExpert... again :)

Posted by AndreTheGiant Jul 2, 2011

After a lot of time waiting for the response, on Fri Jul, 1 morning I receive this email from John Troyer:


We're pleased to designate you as a vExpert 2011 as recognition of your contributions to the VMware, virtualization, and cloud computing communities. You’ve done work above and beyond, and we’re delighted to communicate more closely, to share resources, and to offer other opportunities for greater interaction throughout the year as we continue to grow knowledge and success in the community of IT professionals. Welcome to the vExpert 2011 Program!


An amazing way to start a day


And the better news was that also other 3 people from VMUG IT were also designed to this award.


This is the second year (the first year I've never tried to apply to the vExpert nomination) and I'm really happy to be nominated again, considering that this year the level is really high and hard (seems that also VMware employees can now participate at this program, so probably less seat for "humans").

I don't know how much weight has the community activity in this kind of recognition, but for an example of negative reply seems that criteria are very high and articulates:


So I have to thanks the VMware selection committee and a special thanks to John Troyer for all the hard work on vExpert program and for the VMware Community.


Other VMUG IT vExperts:


Some vExperts directories (but there will be also an official page): One of the first list of vExpert 2011 Maish Saidel-Keesing twitter list

Eric Sloof's LinkedIn vExpert group (by approval only)

About VCP-DT

The VMware Certified Professional 4 - Desktop Certification is the second step of the Desktop Technologies Certifications paths.


To become a VCP4-DT:

Basically the two requirements are: VCP4 and VCA4-DT certifications... no course is mandatory, but only recommended.


Sound strange, but I've not found the offical price of this exam. In the web site there is only this sentece "Register for the VCP4-DT exam before September 1, 2011 and take advantage of the $50 discount."

So I have to assume that the price that I get from VUE site is already the dicounted price. If it's true... then the exam costs more than the VCP4 exam!


My experience with the exam

After the VCA4-DT beta exam ( I've got also the invite for the VCP4-DT beta.

But unfortunately in the planned week I've got not possibility to schedule the exam due to working activities and lack of testing center.


So I've wait for the official exam and I've scheduled it for Jun, 7th 2011.


First "problem" is that this exam require an authorization from VMware, do declare your VCP4 and VCA4-DT numbers:

This mean a "delay", first because you pass one exam, but you get the # only several weeks later, second because you require the authorization and you have to wait.

Note that you may be authorized on VUE site before you get the confirmation email from VMware (in my case I've got the email one week later the real authorization, that was quite faster).


Second "problem" is that this exam is limited to only some VUE testing center (like the VCAP exams)... In my Country this is a big limit because there is only one enabled testing center (thanks that it exist, because some months there was no testing center).


Exam length is documented well in the blueprint: 70 exam questions in 90 minutes... IMHO the duration is fine... I've got 30min of extra time (because English is not my native language) but I've finished in 90min.

Note about the extra time: it is granted automatically during your exam schedule by the VUE site. So check in your confirmation email to see if you get it.


Exam is different from VCA-DT, especially in arguments coverage. Most questions are multi-choice, a couple drag-and-fit (like some of VCAP-DCD) and in most case they are not mnemonic, but require a little of reasoning.

But some nmemonic questions still exist... A few also on the command syntax (IMHO I hate this kind of questions, but I understand that could be necessary to make numbers)


But first surprise was that it was based on View 4.6(with a couple of question specific on View 4.6)... not on 4.5 like VCA-DT (to be honest it was a generic 4.5/4.6 exam).

The blueprint is not too much clear about this (it talks about a generic View 4.x) and I've study on 4.5 docs


About the difficult it is higher than the VCA-DT exam... I've passed, but to be honest I was not sure to pass: in the first pass I've marked about 60 questions to be review...


About the arguments, some (in my test) were very "popular" (and not the one that I was expected...)

Do not assume that there is a equal distribution of arguments!

In my case, also some arguments were totally not present at all (of course I cannot say which arguments...)... Maybe this could depend on how the questions set has generated?!


I think also that a question was wrong due due an error in a word (I've put a comment in the question)... Other need to be read more than one time to understand what is required.



As always for VMware exams, the first resource is the official blueprint:

And of course the related documents on the VMware site:

Actually I haven't seen (or found) any blueprint with study notes.


There is also a small Mock exam ( but it's too easy compared to the real exam.


Other experiences

All are about the beta exam... actually I haven't found nothing about the official exam... In case post the link as a comment

About VCA-DT

The VCA-DT certification is the first step of a new path specific for Desktop Virtualization based on VMware products.

The official site is:

On the official page there is the blueprint, but actually there is no link to the mock exam:



The exam will go live probably on April 22, and the beta period is finished.


My experience with the beta exam

I was lucky enough to get the invitation but also to find a day to take the exam (the beta period is usually very small with available dates).

Good news is that all VUE testing center can be used, so no much problem to find also a available place "near" me (this was not true with the VCP-DT beta, were I haven't found any available center under 350km of distance).


The exam was very similar to traditional VCP exam... only multiple choices with a similar difficult level.

A good memory on menu names and position could be required.

So I suggest to do not only study the official documents ( but also test the products.

As the VCP3 and VCP4 exam, there are also question on specific functions... so use the blueprint to check your knowledge level and coverage.


A nice (but unofficial) study guide is also avaible now:


Some days ago I received the email with the exam results and I was really happy to see that I have passed the exam (to be honest I know to have make some mistakes on some questions due to few time for the preparation).


Other experiences

View 4.6 has been released

Same days ago VMware has released the new version of View. It include several bugfix, it fully supported the new vSphere 4.1 U1 and has some enanchments.

The most valuable new feature is that now the security server can accommodate PCoIP connections... So no more VPN (or public IP addresses for virtual desktops) is required to use PCoIP over Internet.

Other features like a Client Hypervisor or new tools specific for profiles and GPO management are still missing.


VMware View 4.6 Release Notes:


The upgrade take

I've tested the upgrade without read the upgrade guide (it's not a recomenended practice, but was a way to test how easy or difficult was the upgrade).


The vSphere 4.1 was already upgrade last week (with still old VMware Tools on virtual desktop to avoid problem with View Agent 4.5), so only the View part was interested.


The upgrade is very simple and fast and it most case does not require any reboot. To be honest the enviroment was simple with only one Connection Server and one Secure Server and some pools.


For VMware Composer, only warning to keep the existing certificate (by default it prompt to create a new one)... no need to reboot the vCenter Server, so it's very clean and simple.

For the Connection Brokers (both Connection Server and Secure Server) the upgrade is more simple and still no reboot is required. For the Secure Server the new parameter for PCoIP is asked (a public IP address).


For the View Client a reboot is prompted, but seems that the new client works also without it. The client (as also in the 4.5 version) can be simple download from a Connection Broker.


For the virtual desktop, in order to use PCoIP with the Secure Server the new View Agent is required. For other operation (for example RDP with a Secure Server) also the old 4.5 agent works fine.

Upgrading the agend require a reboot, but could be the right time to also upgrade the VMware Tools or apply latest Windows Updates.


To upgrade the desktop pool, a simple recompose operation can be applied using the new snapshot from the "master desktops".


Note from my enviroment:

  • all Windows servers virtual with Windows Server 2008 R2
  • desktop pools are some with Windows XP Pro and others with Windows 7 Ent, in both cases with 32 bit architecture
  • I've tested only with a Windows XP (32 bit) and Windows 7 (64 bit) clients
  • desktops are in my local language, servers are all in english language

Windows 7 SP1 Support

Officially there is only an experimental support for Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 RC operating systems.

But I've also tried to create a pool with Windows 7 SP1 and seems that there aren't big issues.

Internet PCoIP

As written the big news is the support of PCoIP though a Secure Server... this finally can open the usage of this protocol in a simple way also of WAN connection where the RDP solution was not efficient.


I've tested with the new client and it works like a charm, it's easy, it's works and also performance are quite good.

IMHO this is the right approach, instead of require VPN client and connections. Also the client can be unmanaged so have VPN connections on it may be a potential security hole (although several solutions can be used to mitigate this problem, but they require more complexity).


Note that a new port (4172) is required to use PCoIP with a Secure Server and also a public IP (strange but it require an IP, not a DNS FQDN). IMHO a pure tunneled solution with only the port 443 was a better solution... But at least it only require two ports (443 and 4172) and the public IP can also be owned by firewall that natted the secure server.

More info

VMware View 4.6 PCoIP Software Gateway (PSG) from Andrelei Bovici


Security server vs VPN thread (it's shot but interesting)

When use RDP?

Also if now PCoIP can be used with a Secure Server, there are some cases where the RDP protocol must be used (so could be used to keed each pool with the dual protocol option):

  • old client version: for example from thin client or from special software (I've tested with the Dell Latidune On option, but of course actually can not use PCoIP with the Secure Server)
  • client without PCoIP support: like smartphone, Mac Client or most Linux Client
  • tablet: actually most are without PCoIP support (but seems that the iPad View Client will have this support)
  • Aero Theme requirements: with RDP and Windows 7 client is possible use Aero, with PCoIP no

To read about the VCDX3 certification see previous posts:


This post is specific for VCDX4 certification, considering the full path (not the VCDX3 upgrade path).


Some days ago VMware change the default page of VCDX certification pointing to VCDX4 instead of VCDX3.

And also has publish some useful docs:

The first has just the same content of the web page (with a wrong info in "Recommended Courses"). So seems better read directly from the web page...

The second explain the Defense steps. Sone changes from previous defense.

The third is the new application form. Several changes from previous versions.


What's new?

A well now difference is that VMware no longer requires qualifying exams to be taken in a specific sequence. However, required exams must be passed before the submitting the VCDX4 Application.

Admin and Design exam can be scheduled online (not sure for DCA exam, because the exam booking seems to go still by phone) and give individual certifications (VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD).

Those exams are quite different from previous versions (DCA is 100% lab based, DCD has more design aspects and more than one "Visio diagram").


Most of VMware steps seems to be removed, so now the Application is open to all who qualify. There is no longer a requirement to receive an invitation to apply. Seems good... but also strange. In VCDX3 there where some specific dates to application submission... Now?


But the big difference is on the Defense: unlike previous years, currently, there are no plans to have VCDX Defenses coinciding with the VMworld events in 2011 at this time. This could be more flexibility, or maybe date and places are choose according with design submission? But could also mean less opportunity.

Note that invitations to apply are no longer required. So the only way to know a possible data is bookmark the official page ( and check back for more VCDX Defense date/location postings. Or stay tuned on twitter or on the community.


And what about the Application Form? It seems less structured than the previous versions. A lot of pieces are missing, and I suppose that they now must be fit in the Design Documents. Good from several point of view... But dangerous if you forget something.

Actually there aren't any templates for the Design Documents, but I think that the part that has been removed from the Application, must be put those documents. For some hints are in my previous post ( and Duncan Epping article (

Other docs?

Seems that two more documents will be released:

  • VCDX4 Blueprint - coming soon
  • VCDX4 Defense Prep Tips - coming soon

I suppose that the second one will be similar of the previous "VCDX3_Defense_Prep-2010_06_17.pdf".

I'm curios on what will be in the first one... I hope that is will be a template or at least a track for the design documents.

How long does it take?

When also the date for defense will be available, probably the right time could be 6-9 months, as written also in:

I've took several beta exams (some also from VMware) so I want to spend some words about them.


Beta vs Regular exams

Beta exams usually are for a small period before the run of the regular exams. Usually in the beta exams you have more time, more questions and a way to give feedback.

Also the sign-up procedure could be different and is not possible to re-take a beta exam.

The results of the beta exam are available not after the exam (as it is usual for most regular exam), but some time after the beta period.

Usually a pass in the beta exam could mean the same of a pass in the regular exam... This is not always true (I remember for example the Microsoft 70-113 exam), but in those cases a similar value is used (for example some free vouchers...).


A value for the vendor

The beta exam (some vendor could use a different name) is a way, for the vendor, to make dry-run of the exam to fine-tune the questions, the number of them, how they are simply or difficult, the coverage and distributions, ...

I think that a good exam require also a good beta period (of course this is not enough to have good exam), for this reason beta exams could be a good value for vendors.

For example, to reduce the possibility of cheating (by talking between people or copy by printed notes) you can hope in a good testing center or you can calibrate exam duration to make this not paying... This is a simplistic example, but just to say how a fine tuning could be important.

Good exams can also mean that the related certification is more faithful.


A value for the user

The beta exam could be a value for the user that take the exam:

  • it's a chance to test himself and the knowledge level
  • could be a way to see the exam questions before the regular exam (this can make simple to pass the regular exam, in case of a fail of the beta)
  • could be a way to reach a certification before the regular exam beginning
  • the exam fee could be smaller (in some cases is free)
  • it's possible to improve the exam
  • in some case, could be simple pass the beta exam... (but this depends)


What's wrong with beta exam?

Usually the advantages are enough to say that beta exams could be really good chances both for vendor and users. But there can be some points that can improve some beta exams:

  • Fee: I agree with some vendor (like VMware) where there is a fee also for beta exam. This could be a way to keep the available seats only for people that really interested. But if there is a fee, the discount rate must be always the same (IMHO I think that a 75% discount could be good )... not change with the exam.
  • Exam booking: an invitation-only sing-up with individual voucher could be right way to manage the available seats. I've see some exams (I remember the Windows 7) that have filled the available seats after some hours from the beta booking opening.
  • Exam duration: more that 4 hours could be hard, but I'm the first to say more questions and more time is better. The problem is with some testing centers where you cannot do nothing during an exam (this could be correct... but in a sunny and hot day without cooling... at least drink something could be nice).
  • Exam modality: the environment must match the regular exam... If something is different this must be notified before the start of the exam. For example I'm usually use the "review" feature to skip questions where I'm loosing too much time or where I'm on doubt... the lack of this function is a mess for me and I have to approach to the exam in a different way.
  • Exam location: could be correct to use on "trusted" testing centers... But this means that some people have to travel also across countries... I think that VUE and Prometric must instead guarantee a correct quality level of their testing centers... maybe not all... But at least one for each Country...
  • Beta period: 2-3 weeks are enough. One single week is too shot.
  • Beta invitation: this must be greater that the beta period, especially when the period is shot... People may have different schedules and exams must be planned both for the exam date, but also for the study period.
  • Waiting for the results: it could right wait for some months... no problem on it. But I think that beta results must be send before the beginning of the regular exam. This is a big fault of VMware beta exams: for example for the VCP4 results I had to wait several months, with the risk of loose the "window" to upgrade to VCP4 without attended to any courses.


The conclusion is the beta exam are usually good opportunities, there is a cost (and the fee could be only a minimum part, because time is a cost), there can be some issues, but usually is good value.

About the different vendors I think that all can improve the beta exam experience, so I prefer to not judge or compare them.

VMFS block size

The filesystem designed by VMware can use different block size during the datastore initialization. Each size defines some limits.

For more information see: VMFS block size


One interesting aspect of VMFS3, is the sub-block allocation as described in KB 1003565: sub blocks are used for directories and small files with size smaller than 1 MB. When the VMFS uses all the sub block (4096 sub blocks of 64 KB each), file blocks will be used. For files of 1 MB or higher, file blocks are used.


But the number of 64K sub-blocks is limited, reached this limit also small files or directory entries will use "full" blocks.



Finding the sub-block limit

Seems that this limit is not documented (or not too clear documented), so how many sub-blocks are available?

One way could be try to debug VMFS metadata or from the first 20MB of each datastore partition (see for example: or or by using the linux VMFS "driver" (

Seems that "usual" vmware commands (like vmkfstools) do not give this info (but I've not tried too much).


So I've tried a simple approach to find this limit: just make a lot of small file and see when they do not use sub-block size.

In my case I've used ESX (just to have the COS and full Linux commands) and for each volume I've used those commands:

cd /vmfs/volumes/DATASTORE_NAME
echo "Find the number of sub-blocks currently used"
du -ah | grep "^64K" | wc -l
echo "Find the number of directory in the datastore"
ls -l | wc -l
echo "Start building small files"
mkdir delme ; cd delme
for FILE in $(seq 1 3999); do dd if=/dev/zero bs=1k count=1 of=$FILE 2> /dev/null; du -sh $FILE; 

After than, remember to remove the "delme" folder.


The results are interesting:


datastore1 - 100 existing sub-blocks - 15 dirs

64K     3845

1.0M    3846


datastore2 - 212 existing sub-blocks - 27 dirs

64K     3721

2.0M    3722



So seems that for each datastore the magic number (by adding also the number of directory) is 3960.

Block size seems that does not change this number (datastore1 is 1MB and the other is 2MB).

But probably the number is just a coincidence (due to the usage of only 2 datastores), because I've repeat the same test on some local datastores, and the number isn't the same (but it's always really near this value).

Not sure if minor version of VMFS3 could change this value.




The number of sub-blocks seems reasonable for a VMFS3 datastore.

Usually the number of folders and small files not not too big, because the number of VMs per datastore is limited (and for each VMs the number of related files is also limited).

This mean than using large block size is not a serius problem in disk usage.

...Go back to Part 7...



What else can I say? Probably the VCDX certification is not for all... it require a lot of time, a lot of experience, some "stress", some travels, is not only a technical exam, it requires a lot of skills.

But complete this path give a lot of satisfactions... and seems that also people that has not pass the last step are in favour of this this kind of path.


PS: sorry for my (bad) english, but it's not my native language


Some questions

Official FAQs -


Q: How many VCDX's are there?

A: The VCDX official list is not updated in real time (usually there is a delay of about one month or more), so the answer could be on tweeter or on last posts of


Q: How much time does it take to become a VCDX?

A: There isn't a minum or maximum time. You need experience and you must be already a VCP. Then it can take 1 year (like in my case, for Feb 2009 to Feb 2010) or more or less (I had to wait a lot until the design exam was available).

The last part is the one more time consuming because you have to realize your application and submit some months before the defense.


Q: Is still possible to reach the VCDX3 certification?

A: Yes, but only for few days... The last defense opportunity seems to be the PEX 2011, and the application deadline is the Nov, 22 2010!


Q: It is possible to reach the VCDX4 certification?

A: Not yet! The VCAP-DCD beta period is finished, but the exam is not yet avable. Also for this reason there aren't yet any date for the VCDX4 defense (and PEX 2011 deadline is to close). So first new VCDX4 (from the new path) will probably be avable from Q2 or Q3 of 2011.

But VCDX3 that have passed the DCD beta exam will become the first VCDX4.


Q: What about VCDX5 certification?

A: Probably it will take more time, VCDX4 was announced on May, 2010... about one year late the release of vSphere products. Actually the new vSphere beta period has started (to be honest is near to start at the end of Nov, 2010). Actually is not clear it this will be the new 5.x series (maybe it could remain a 4.5)... So until a new 5.x product is not released (with the VCP5 certification), is quite difficult to talk of think about VCDX5


Q: You must be a "master" of big environments to become a VCDX?

A: Really not... You must be able to design a good and complete solution. This sentence of Duncan's blog is very clear about it: "Show you can design for large scale. It’s OK if your actual project was for a small environment, but show that you can think big too."


Q: You must be an active member of the VMware community to become a VCDX?

A: There isn't a correlation... Some VCDX do not partecipate to the community, but can be really usefull partecipate to learn more (and of course to help other community people).


Q: You must be an active blogger to become a VCDX?

A: There isn't a correlation... Several VCDXs are famous bloggers. But other famous bloggers are not VCDX...

Panel is fair-minded with candidated...


Q: You must be active on twitter to become a VCDX?

A: There isn't a correlation... But in the last period more information are on twitter rather than on community... so start follow some right people



Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Pro and cons

Part 3 - The application

Part 4 - The interview

Part 5 - Other info on defense

Part 6 - Admin exam

Part 7 - Design exam


The end?

...Go back to Part 6...


The Design exam

The Design exam of VCDX3 was probably the weak part of the entire path.

The suggested course does not cover the exam at all (but to be onest was useful for the application part).

The exam itself maybe was not completly oriented on the design aspect, but there were also some questions about administration, installation, and so on...

If found it also not so difficult to pass.


Anyway the exam is no more avaible, and the new one (for VCAP-DCD and VCDX4) seems a lot better:

Just lets see when it goes live to see also other experience about it.



Old Design exam resources


VCAP-DCD resources

Blueprint -

Demo of the Visio part -


Other user's experience in Design exam

Old Design exam


New DCD exam (actually only the beta version)


Read more in Part 8...

...Go back to Part 5....


The Admin exam

This is the part that requires a lot of practical experience... This was the first reason that I've tried this path… to prove myself my technical knowledge.

And I think that this is the right way to do a technical exam… You must demonstrate your technical capacity… not your memory capacity.


On the VCDX3 path this exam was (on October 2010 it was retired) composed by a part of close questions (very deep on some technical arguments) and a part that is a real environment with some tasks to complete.

The second part is very similar to some kind of Cisco exams, or some Novell Linux exams (like CLP) or what was (as I know is not more available) Microsoft practical exam on Active Directory (83-640).

The most interested aspect is that you have a full system (not a limited simulator) so you have all commands and also the help on it!

The advantage is that your have to wait some weeks to know the results… This part can be improved, because Novell CLP and Microsoft 83-640 exams were able (I do not know in which way) to give the results after the exam.


For the VCDX4, this exam is the VCAP-DCA exam and now (it is available from October 2010) is based only on practical tasks (so no more the close questions part)… so is a very technical exam!

Unfortunately I was not able (due to other commitments) to participate at the beta period… and now I want first to do the VCAP-DCD exam (and only I have some spare time or a closest center also the DCA).



VCAP-DCA resources

Blueprint -

Lab Demo -

Exam Center Locations -


Other user's experience in Admin exam

Old Admin exam


New DCA exam


Read more in Part 7...

...Go back to Part 4....


Other user's experience in the the defense/interview


Other user's experience in the application


Other user's experience of people that have not passed (yet)

Probably there are also other links, but I cannot find them. As written the pass rate is quite low (less than 50%), but also unsuccessful stories can help very much.

Maybe an improvement can be put in the feedback of people that have not pass the interview to explain more how and where the candidate can improve. There are some indication of area that must be improved, but maybe too much generic.


Other sources

Blogs are not the primary sources of information of VCDX paths.

There is also the VMware community  (but seems not too much active on VCDX area), twitter (I think that could be must, for example to find other candidates in the same period) and more important a direct iteraction with people that are in same boat or that have already had this experience (and events like VMworld could be a good chance to meet them).

Note that NDR do not permit at VCDX or previous candidate to talk about the questions or the design details, but seems to be permited (as written also in the official Defense Prep) that a VCDX make a review of your design ("Consider that VCDX-certified architects are reviewing your application" is the exact sentence).


Read more in Part 6...

...Go back to Part 3...


The interview

You will know if the application has passed a “formal” check after a week. But you have to wait more (in my case a month) if has passed also a technical review.

If  the application has been approved it means that is good enough? I’m not sure about this, but this certainly means that you can go to last phase: the defense!

The defense is a part of the interview step, that is an on-site meeting with a panel of VCDX certified architects… you will find people with a great and deep knowledge, with more experience, and more skill… a big challenge!

Panel is usually composed by three VCDX from VMware (in my case: Duncan Epping, Pang Chen and Andrew Hald), but also other peole may be in the room with you: one (or more) from VMware Certification staff and maybe there can some observers (also from VMware).


This step is the more expensive one (compared to the others) both for the fee and the travel expensive. Unfortunately there are only few panel windows at specific places in one year… So just plan your defense period with enough time.

A good choice is choose VMware events, like VMworld or Partner Exchange (in my case was the PEX 2010 and was also a way to see Las Vegas).


As written in the prep guide the interview process consists of three parts.

  • The VCDX defense (75 minutes), with a brief introduction of your project (15 min), where you will answer questions from panelists about the design you submitted and you will have an opportunity to provide further insight into your design decisions and rationales.

  • The design scenario (30 minutes), where you will demonstrate that you can begin to work through design issues in a methodical and logical manner.

  • The troubleshooting scenario (15 minutes), where you will demonstrate that you can begin to work through design or operational problems in a methodical and logical manner. With only a limited time!


What about the language? This could be a problem, because now you must talk and understand a conversational English (more different that simple read and write) and you cannot use dictionary or spell checker...

I have no much occasions to speak English (I try to listen it by following some series in native English), this could be another reason to take this step during a VMware event, just to prepare for the language…

But I have to assert that the panel was very king on this aspect, and I was also lucky to find people with a good, slow and clear English. Great thanks to Duncan and Melissa that have hearten and tranquillize myself during the break.



The defense could be very simple, if you have a good and clear design… in this case you have only to support and argue it.

But you have to know it very well… Seems strange, but after a month (or more) you can forget some aspect or decision about your project!

You have enough time to a good presentiation (you can use PowerPoint or similar tools) of your project... use it in the right way... explain also some choices.

Then there are a "lot of" time to the discussion and the defense... be prepared, build some extra slides (if you think that could be useful to explan some choices), keep your Visio and your diagram close at hand...

I think that in this step you can also save a not well designed project… But I’m not sure about this.

I’m only sure that you can damage a good design with a worse defense!


After this phase you will get a little break... If your design was on vSphere and you are on a VCDX3 certification, at this point you have also to remember to "reset" yourself to VI3.5, because next parts is on this version.



The design require a good experience and a good approach: you cannot produce a complete design in only 30 minutes… so use different approach… try to cope with all the problems and requirements… use an high level approach and, when needed, a deeper one.

As written in the prep guide: The focus is on the journey to the solution. Talk and ask as you can and think out-loud. And for VCDX3 remember that is will be VI 3.5 design... know the limitation of this product and forget vSphere!

Consider the panel also as the customer (with a good skill)... you have to explain and argue your choices... but you have also ask a lot to get all the information that you need for the desing. And take a look at the countdown... time is not enough... use it in the right way!

Note that you have to know (at higher level) also storage enterprise, networking, applications... not stricly related to VMware.



The troubleshooting IMHO is the big challenge of the interview, because you have a very limited time to try to find the solution of the problem. I think that the way and the approach that you use could be considered positively also if you do not find the solution. Again talk and ask as you can and think out-loud.

In this case the Panel act as a customer and you must act as a technical support... The scenario (IMHO) is similar by a phone call support so you have to ask information, ask to make test, ask for the result of it, and so on...  And take a look at the countdown... time may be not enough... use it in the right way!

There is a solution or is simple a "[Kobayashi Maru|]" test? I'm quite sure that a solution exist because (in my case) the problem was a real custom problem.


Other comments

A recent post of Duncan Epping give more hints on the defense process:

Some interesting note is available also in the VMware Community, for example in this thread: (go on the last page).

Remember also that pass ratio in this phase is quite low: less than 50%, and in some cases very low (for example on Munich 2010 defense on 2 people pass (on 12 candidates, if I remember right).


Read more in Part 5...

...Go back to Part 2....


The last step of a long journey

I will start from the last step of the VCDX path, because I think that is the most interest and hardest part, but also the more distintive part.


As clearly documented in the application form ( this final step is structured in two distinct phases:

  • the application and project submission

  • the inteview with the project defense

Those phases have also two different and specific fee.


Probably is also the more difficult part, as the pass rate is lower than 50%. How each part of the application and the interview compose the final result (that is only a pass or not pass) is not clear (for me), but I suppose that the application and the defense are the most important part.

Also I do not know if the results of Admin and Design exams are used to build the final results.


The application

When I done my application, there wasn't any information on how make it, only the information in the application form itself.

Now some good infos are available in the preparation guide:

And also the Design Workshop V4 can help a lot, because you can use the material as a track of your design or as a way to do a review.


As written in the prep guide, the application process is similar to submitting a resume for a job.

It is composed by the application form (filled in all its parts) and a project, which could be real or fictitious, but must be realistic and “well designed”.


For VCDX3 is possible submit a vSphere design. I think that could be better submit a vSphere design, at least you can reuse it if you cannot complete the VCDX3 path and you go directly to the VCDX4 one.

About vSphere 4.0 or 4.1 I'm not sure, but I suppose that both could be fine... But just explain why you will choose one or the other...


I think that (IMHO) this is the hardest step of the entire VCDX path, because there isn’t a template on what you have to produce and there are only few information or suggestions about this part.

This is certainly the longer part (in term of required time), because at least 30-40 hours are required, but more are better and more are required for non english native people.


How many pages is not clear and is not specify at all… I found that some projects have a size between 100-250 pages, but I have no idea if it’s the right size. The content is more important! Also it must cover all the point of the applications and maybe more

Mine was about 10 documents and about 150 pages... so not so big.


How many documents or files also is not specify, but I suggest to structure the documents in a clear and simple way, in a form similar as you would submit to a customer.

As written in the prep guide, mandatory VDCX documentation are:

  • Architectural design document with diagrams and blueprints

  • Implementation and next steps documentation

  • Validation/test plans

  • Operational plan/guide

  • Installation and configuration instructions


What about the language? If english is not your first language (as my case) try to keep the sentence simple and shot. And use a good spell and grammar checker

Remember also to check that the names of technologies and products are written in the right way (for example: VMware and not Vmware!).


There is a template for your project? Not officially, but if you have access to Partner Network you can find some template for standard virtualization project. This could be a starting point… not for the content, but for the structure of your documents.


Some other hints? I'm under NDR, so I can't say more... But see VCDX Tips from VCDX 001 John Arrasjid:


This step does not require any travel and can be done also before other steps, you have only the deadline related to your defense sessions. Pay attention that when you receive the application's  “invite” you will have probably not so much time until the deadline… So prepare your application before!

When you have finished the application you have only to send the zip file via email and wait…

There will be a first reply (if there is any formal problem in the application) and usually after 1-2 weeks there will be a first technical rewiev... if passed then you can go to the next and final step!


Read more in Part 4…


Note that if the application is accepted, this does not mean that is good enough to pass the defense... The application must be complete in each part... but I do not know people where the second review (the first is formal, the second is technical) was refused (but this does not mean that was never occured). So be very careful on this part... Be sure to submit a good application to be able to have a good defense on it!