Countdown to the VCP4

With the recent announcement of the VCP5, the time to take the VCP4 is running out. On top of that, VMware is currently running a promotion that allows for a free retake if you schedule and take the exam in the month of July (promo codes “VCPTAKE1” and “VCPTAKE2”). This renewed sense of urgency has motivated me to get my certification now. I took the required course back in December, but without having a home lab until a few months ago, I barely had any exposure to VMware products. By taking the VCP4, I will be eligible to take the VCP5 without having to take a training course as long as I complete the exam by February of 2012.


The exam:

The VCP4 exam consists of 85 questions that cover the changes version 3 to version 4 as well as a basic understanding of ESX/i 4, vSphere 4, and the related plugins and features. The exam is scored on a scale from 100 – 500 and a 300 is considered a passing score. With that being said, it is my understanding that this exam is no walk in the park. This will test your understanding of exact minimums and maximums, what hardware can be used and how it works, and how the software is installed, configured, and used.


Preparing for the exam:

The only thing that VMware requires to take the exam is to take the certified training course. This will provide the minimum amount of exposure that VMware feels is necessary to come with the certification. I took this class with my coworkers Mathew Brender and Tommy Trogden back in December of 2010. Now it is time to study for the exam. Besides the standard resources made available on the VMware website, I picked up 2 books. I am using the “VCP VMware Certified Professional vSphere 4 Study Guide” by Robert Schmidt as well as the “VCP4 Exam Cram: VMware Certified Professional” by Elias Khnaser. Both of these resources come with very detailed overviews of all the topics covered for the exam as well as a plethora of test style questions designed to give you a taste of what to expect. However I’ve found the questions on one book to be much easier than the other so I’m hoping the true questions fall somewhere in the middle.

I can combine this with my home lab to test things I’ve been reading and to redo the labs from the training course. My home lab is more or less based on the Baby Dragon from Phil Jaenke. However I only have one physical host at this time. Luckily, ESX/i can be run virtualized, so I can create a few virtual hosts to test the more advanced vSphere features.


Final thoughts before the exam:

At this point I am 10 days away from walking into the testing center. I have completed most of my reading from the two books, I am reviewing test questions, and I am trying to reconfigure the lab to redo some of my old excercises. I am always looking for new practice test questions and there seem to be plenty of them on the web (like the website of Simon Long). If you have any good links, please feel free to leave them in the comments and look for me on twitter after the exam to see how I did.


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