Today I finally passed my VCP-NV exam, and truth be told, it was only on my second attempt at the exam that I actually passed.
When I booked my first attempt at the exam, I had a complete 4 week study plan worked out, however even the best laid plans always come unstuck, and mine came unstuck as I was sent interstate for work several times in the weeks leading up to my first attempt. Due to travelling for work I had completely forgotten that I had booked the exam, and it wasn’t until the night before the exam that I realised that it was booked for 8am the next morning. This meant that there was less than 10 hours until I had to start the exam. I had a choice… get some sleep or try and cram. I compromised and read the NSX design guide and called it a night.
So the exam is 120 questions in 120 minutes which is starting to become the norm for these types of VMware exams. All questions were multiple choice, with some of them requiring you to choose 2 or more correct answers.
Having been on a VMware NSX Bootcamp and also having a couple of NSX labs setup helped a lot with the “How do you do X?” type questions, and my background as a network/security engineer & solution architect definitely helped with the network design, QoS and VPN questions. But where I came unstuck on my first attempt is vCNS. As my first exposure to VMware virtualised networking has been with NSX, I had never had any exposure to vCNS or Data Security, so I didn’t know its capabilities, the upgrade process or understand some of the terminology used.
So by the end of the exam, I wasn’t sure whether I had done enough to score over the required 300 to pass the exam. And after short wait the screen told me I had failed. This wasn’t a complete shock as I had done next to no dedicated study for the exam, but it did give me an insight on the areas I needed to brush up on. If anything good came out of failing, its that the printout you receive after you complete the exam lists the topics that you need to brush up on.
Over the next few weeks, I went through the documents outlined in the blueprint, but with more of a focus on the topics which I mentioned above which caught me out in attempt #1. I also used my labs etc to brush up on some of the other topics which were a bit touch and go too.
So for my second attempt, I had an idea of what to expect, and once I had started the exam, I felt a lot more comfortable with the questions being asked. One thing that I never noticed during my first attempt was the amount of questions which require you to have detailed knowledge of VXLAN packets, MTU questions and also packet walk scenarios. I felt that my experience as a networking engineer made these questions second nature once you understand how the NSX controllers work, as you can differentiate the difference between a packet walk in a normal L2/L3 environment vs a packet walk in a NSX environment.
At the end of the exam, I was finally greeted with the lovely message that I had passed with flying colours.
So to round up, almost all areas of the blueprint area covered in some way or another, and don’t make the same mistake that I did on my first attempt and forget that I’ve booked the exam which leaves me no time to study.