I chose January since I knew that I would have had little time to prepare. During the holidays I did some research and gathered the necessary study materials (more on those later), leaving the actual study and practice for the first days of the year since they are generally quite “calm” from a business perspective. I chose January 14th for the date because I didn’t want to let too much time pass before taking the exam… I wanted to have all concepts still fresh.
— Danilo Chiavari (@DaniloChiavari) 14 Gennaio 2016
In this exam, you are presented with 65 questions that you have to answer in 80 minutes. You are given 30 minutes more in non-English speaking countries, for a total of 110 minutes. As usual, there is a mixture of single-choice questions and questions where there are mutiple correct answers. You can freely go back and forth between questions, changing your answer(s) and/or flagging any number of questions for review. The maximum score is 500 and you need at least 300 in order to pass.
In my opinion, time is not a problem for this exam – I took a slow and thoughtful review of almost 50% of my answers and I finished in roughly 83 minutes (so still 27 minutes to go in my case).
I found the exam pretty good overall, quite balanced and adhering to the blueprint. The topics are relevant for a “Delta” exam and, at least in my case, questions were evenly distributed across topics.
There is a good number of questions about topics and new features specific to vSphere 6 (or changes to already existing functionality), but I was expecting more of them… Some questions could have been easily featured in VCP5 (or even older!) exams. Reading a couple of posts by people who have taken this exam in its “beta” form, it seems this was even more the case last year, so I guess a few adjustments have been done.
Again, some questions were essentially memory exercises, which I’m not a big fan of… but I understand a few questions of that kind are also necessary. In some cases, the question was tricky only because the possible answers were worded almost identically and more than one seemed plausible. Or in a couple of questions, there was a 200-character-long esxcli command with several (quite obscure) parameters and you had to describe the exact effect or one of those parameters. I honestly see little point in that, since in my experience, you’re not likely to use those commands on a daily basis when designing or managing a vSphere environment. In real life, you’d just read the documentation and/or google the necessary info.
Resources and Preparation
Luckily – and thanks to a great community of virtualization professionals – resources are generally very abundant when it comes to VMware exams. And even more luckily, most of them are free! For this exam, I would recommend the following free resources:
- Florian Grehl’s (“Virten”) excellent VCP6-DCV Delta Study Guide
- Hersey Cartwright VCP-DCV Study Guide (not 100% complete, but still great)
- The “Unofficial Official” VCP6-DCV Study Guide by Josh Coen and Jason Langer
But let’s not forget that in order to pass this exam, you have to familiarize yourself with the software and play with it quite extensively. Having a lab is highly recommended (read: a must), but finding the time and/or resources to build a decent one might be a significant challenge.
For this reason, a special, honorable mention goes to VMware’s Hands-On Labs (HOL) – you can spin up a pre-defined entire lab for specific scenarios in minutes, the guides are complete in every step but you are free to play with the lab the way you want.
The whole thing is free, registration is quick and easy. Once inside, you can find a vast library of labs related to specific features or scenarios. The ones I found most helpful for this exam are:
- HOL-SDC-1610 – Virtualization 101: vSphere with Operations Management 6
- HOL-SDC-1608 – Virtual SAN 6 from A to Z
- HOL-SDC-1627 – VVol, Virtual SAN & Storage Policy-Based Management
Although this exam is not only about new features of vSphere 6, be sure not to miss topics such as VSAN, new vSphere architecture and its components, Authentication and SSO, Upgrading and related troubleshooting, new DRS/HA features… and of course the good old configuration maximums.