VCP4 Exam Preparation…

I hate exams. Or rather, I hate the type of exam that is typified by pretty much all the IT certifications I’ve bothered to attain over the years. In fact I hate them so much, the only thing stopping me from swearing right now is that I don’t want to get John in trouble (again). And yet I feel so compelled to sit them. Ah, the mysteries of life.

It’s been a good while since I’ve read the VMware documentation cover to cover… in fact the last time I did so was for the VCP3 exam a few years back. This time around there are a few things that jump out at me (maybe I’ve just forgotten what the old docs were like, maybe not), which has led me to making a few assumptions about what is worth studying for the exam. Most notably, the use of the command line.

In the ESX Configuration Guide for example, there are numerous statements surrounding the use of esxcfg-* commands. Words to the effect of “VMware does not support esxcfg-* usage in scripts”, “use of esxcfg-* commands is reserved for Tech Support use only”, “VMware doesn’t recommend using esxcfg-* if host is under mgmt with vcenter” and an actual quote from Appendix B of the guide: “Always work through the vsphere client when configuring ESX, unless otherwise instructed in vSphere documentation or by VMware Technical Support”

Appendix A of that document is an esxcfg-* reference section, however the only commands it doesn’t tell you how to use the VI client for, or are not explicitly stated as “Tech Support use only” are:

esxcfg-auth
esxcfg-firewall
esxcfg-info
esxcfg-upgrade
esxcfg-scsidevs

Further, any examples using esxcfg-* in the guide use the full arguments rather than abbreviations, for example esxcfg-firewall –openPort rather than esxcfg-firewall -o.

Compare this with the extensive vSphere CLI reference, and you can see where VMware are headed. The problem is though, what about PowerCLI? Would be a bit unreasonable to drill VCP 4 candidates on the vSphere CLI and not ask a thing about PowerCLI which is easily as prevalent in the toolkit of most VI admins, if not more prevalent.

So what am I expecting from the exam? No more questions involving the selection of an answer that has abbreviated command line arguments. In fact, no questions on esxcfg-* commands, with the exception of those few listed above. No questions on vicfg-* commands unless I also get some on PowerCLI commands. And given VMware’s stated architectural direction on things, I don’t think there should be any questions related to the relic that is fat ESX, especially not rubbish around default partition sizes and the like. It’s useless to rote learn that kind of info, and why the hell would I want to hire someone who can regurgitate that info. I’m more likely to ask _why_ 2GB is the recommended size for /var/log, and what they could expect to find in /var/log – not what the VMware recommended size for it is (and stupidly, that recommendation is specifically 2000MB, not 2GB!).

What I am expecting, is questions around prerequisites, communications, upgrade paths, config maximums, performance metrics and monitoring, and hopefully a lot of them will be scenario type questions rather than point blank questions that ask you to pick a number. Something like “You attempt to vmotion a machine, but notice that the task goes straight into a queued state. Scrolling down the task pane, you notice several other vmotion events are in progress. What is the likely cause of the delay in your migration?” rather than “What is the default maximum number of concurrent Vmotions?”. Probably a bad example, but you get my drift.

Will my expectations be met? I’ll be sitting the exam in the next month, and the only way you’re going to know when I have done it, is when I post that I have passed. In that post, I’ll give some insight into what study resources I used, and how much study effort I put in. Note that I didn’t say how many times I would sit it in the next month… with the free second chance offer, I’m probably being a bit more relaxed about the first attempt than what I should. But meh!

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