Last week I finally passed the VCAP-CMA Deploy 2020 certification. The exam is a lab-based exam like the other VCAP Deploy exams and normally I really enjoy lab-based exams and prefer them over traditional multiple choice exams. I have done the VCAP Deploy in the DCV track and that was probably the best exam I have ever sat.
Sadly the experience sitting the VCAP CMA Deploy exam was one of the worst I’ve had when doing exams, more on that shortly.
I passed the exam on the second attempt with a score of 307 out of 500 where 300 is required to pass.
In all modesity I’m pretty sure I would have passed the first attempt if the exam environment would have been working properly.
The exam consists of around 22 different tasks/scenarios which are quite similar to the VMware Hands-On labs.
Some tasks are quite small, others more complex. You have 205 minutes available and for this exam I think most people would have to make use of most of this.
The exam tests many aspects of vRA and vRO administration, and the tasks and scenarios are, in my opinion, quite good. A couple of the questions could have been a bit more clear as they could be misunderstood or read in different ways resulting in slightly different outcome.
Note that the exam is targeted for the 7.3 version of vRealize Automation.
The (broken) exam environment
As I mentioned, the exam environment, is quite similar to the Hands-on labs, which over the years have become quite good. You get a console to a Windows server where you have access to different vRA environments. Some tasks needs you to access other consoles as well.
In my first attempt on the exam these consoles freezed “all the time” so I had to reset the console. This was luckily not a reboot of the server, but still it took time and was a disturbing factor, especially when reaching the end of the available time. The overall feeling was that the environment was sluggish, a bit strange as the HOLs have become so much better the last years. I have talked to and heard from other people reporting issues with this specific exam.
I also had a few missing components inside the environments that affected multiple tasks, some of them a bit strange, so I suspect the script creating the environment have had some issues. Without spoiling anything, a missing network profile, and the lack of ability to create new ones, is quite limiting when solving tasks regarding blueprints, reservations etc. I have pointed this out to VMware, and hopefully they will fix this although I’m not certain of it. As mentioned the exam is designed for the 7.3 version of vRA hence, quite old.
During the first attempt I ran out of time causing me to rush through a couple of tasks and missing the last two questions as I spent a lot of time troubleshooting the missing components and resetting consoles.
In my second attempt the consoles weren’t freezing as much, and when I encountered the exact same issues as the first I didn’t waste time trying to fix them so I had a bit more time. Without knowing how they score the exam and the score scaling of the tasks I believe I would have been pretty close to passing the first time if I had time to do the last questions properly.
Refer to the exam preparation guide from VMware for the objectives and suggested resources. My exam tested all of the listed objectives.
The prep guide specifies multiple objectives around blueprints and this is something you should pay attention to. Also note that they specify a couple of NSX objectives. If you haven’t worked with NSX integrations in vRA you should prepare for that.
As this is a practical exam I think most of the time I spent in my own lab, but I also used the HOLs a lot. Even though the current labs are based on 7.6 the concepts are the same and valuable in your preparations. Of course real-world hands-on experience with vRA might be enough, but I would advise you make use of the HOLs, if not just to be aquainted with the lab environment.
The resources I’ve used are listed here, even though one of them are for v6 it still has valid points.
- https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/ (be sure to use the documentation corresponding to the tested version, in my case 7.3)
I would also advise you to use the PDF version of the VMware documentation as these are available in the exam. They are however exported as multiple PDFs so you might have a lot of PDFs to search through if you’re not sure what PDF to use.
I have also had some interesting discussions with other folks preparing for and doing this exam, this has been very valuable and I’m grateful for that.
All in all, I am, of course, very pleased that I passed this exam which gave me the VCAP-CMA Deploy certification and subsequentually qualified me for the VMware Certified Implementation Expert designation. This has been a long time goal for me.
Sadly the exam experience was not good, but I want to express that the VMware certification team was really supportive and acknowledged the issues I had. I got to take the second attempt free of charge.
Hopefully this post has been valuable, thanks for reading! If you have any comments or questions, please reach out