VCAP DCV Design 2020 (3V0-624) Exam Review
Finally I can say that I'm very proud of having earned the VMware Implementation Expert Data Center Virtualization achievement. This has been a long time goal for me, but something I never really have gotten around to focus on after I did the VCAP DCV Deploy exam almost two years ago.
I hadn't really planned for doing the Design exam at this time, but with the ability to do exams from home it has become easier to just quickly decide to hop on an exam, and that's what I did for this.
With not much preparation I decided to sign up for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 - Data Center Virtualization Design Exam (3V0-624) a few days before and to my surprise I got a score of 294 and just barely missed the passing score of 300. With that I signed up at the earliest possible date after the 7 days of retake waiting time and I was happy to receive a score of 374 on my second attempt.
The remote proctoring was again a nice experience, even with some technical issues during the second attempt. More on that later.
Preparations and resources
As preparations for the first attempt I didn't give myself a lot of time, so after checking the Exam Preparation guide I decided to fresh up on the different stages of design, and the AMPRS (Availability, Managebility, Performance, Recovery and Security) characteristics.
This was one of the things I learned from my first attempt at the VCAP CMA Design exam as an area I didn't have a lot of knowledge in. The ability to identify and categorize things in a design phase is a key ability in the Design exams and if you're not used to this you need to read up on the terminology and get used to "thinking like an architect".
For this I think the vBrownbag VCAP6-DCV Design series can be a good resource. Although it's for 6.0 and not 6.5 as the current exam is based on I think it's still a valid resource for getting into "Design discussions and terminology", even though I didn't have time to watch through all of the videos.
A short list of blog posts I've used:
There's also a lot of other resources mentioned in the Exam preparation guide so be sure to check those out.
For the second attempt I read up on the difference between Functional and Non-Functional requirements as this was something I really felt I didn't score well on in the first time attempt. Also I skimmed the vSphere Availability, Security and Resource Management guides.
Before the second attempt I also used these two blog posts from Rebecca Fitzhugh, one of the presenters in the vBrownbag VCAP series:
These two really helped with my understanding of the Design characteristics and different types of requirements I had trouble with in my first attempt.
Other than this a few years of hands-on vSphere experience is an important resource. There is a lot of questions on how you as an architect would design a specific solution, many of them with somewhat obvious answers, or at least it can help you to discard some of the alternatives, if you've been poking around with vSphere for a while.
Things like vSphere HA, vMotion, DRS, EVC etc is stuff that is a part of these questions, but also other products like vSAN, VMCA, vSphere Replication, vSphere Fault Tolerance, SRM and vCenter HA.
If you feel you're missing something in these you should read up on it. You won't need to be an expert in them, but know what they can do for you and just as important, what they can't do and the constraints they have (e.g. maximum number of vCPUs supported for Fault Tolerance).
If you also relate everything to AMPRS (Availability, Managebility, Performance, Recovery and Security) you should be in good shape.
Another thing to brush up on is the upgrade process from vSphere 5.5 and 6.0 to 6.5, both in general, but vCenter/PSCs in specific.
The exam experience
The exam is a multiple choice kind of exam, and there's also quite a few drag-and-drop questions where you match/categorize statements. As with most of the VMware tests it's 60 questions and for me the time available, 135 minutes, was more than enough. I had plenty of time to review the questions I wanted.
The passing score is 300 and the maximum is 500, as with most VMware exams.
And be aware that it's based on vSphere 6.5 so be sure to use the correct documentation and resources.
Again I think the remote experience is good, although I had some issues on the second attempt where my computer froze just as the exam was about to start. I however got in contact with the Remote proctor and he instructed me to restart my computer and start the OnVue application when everything was back up.
I had to enter the Access Code for the OnVue application which I luckily had available. After entering this I had to go through the check-in process again, but luckily the pictures I had to take of the room and my ID was stored so I just clicked through. Once I was connected to the OnVue exam environment I was again contacted by the proctor and he launched my exam without any issues.
Please be aware of that you need to be prepared for around 15 minutes of check-in time where you'll need to take photos of yourself, your ID and the physical environment. These pictures are taken with your mobile phone and uploaded directly to Pearson Vue. The upload time varies a bit, but you will spend a few minutes on this. After everything is uploaded and you're ready to start there might be some waiting time before your exam starts. I guess this is for a proctor to be ready to supervise you.
For my second attempt this took a bit more time than the first, I think I waited around 15 minutes before anything happened. So in all, the 30 minutes they tell you to login before the allotted exam time is important
Again, I'm very happy with the exam and of course that I passed it. It is a tough, but fair, exam and it differs a lot from the Deploy exams as it should.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out.
Thanks for reading!