Passing the VCP…

Greeting True Believers!

I’ve been telling myself for weeks that I’d write a blog after passing the VCP510 exam so here it is…

After a few months of studying, I passed VCP510 in January. It was a good thing to as I passed it 2 days before I began teaching my vSphere 5 ICM courses through the VMware IT Academy. A requirement to teach the VMware courses is passing the associated certification (in this case VCP510) for the course you wish to teach. Similar to a VMware Certified Instructor, passing score is 350 not 300 for the general public. I covered the spread so that’s all that matters.

So how hard is this test? Coming from the Microsoft certification world and never having taken a Cisco exam, I thought VCP410 was the hardest exam I’d ever taken. VCP510 topped that. This is no slouch of an exam where you can grab a book a week before and pass. The breadth and depth of knowledge is incredible. Viewing the blueprint for the exam shows you that it covers just about everything AND the kitchen sink.

Without breaking my NDA, here are my thoughts on the exam. Then, I’ll discuss how I prepared for the exam.

1. You need to review everything in the blueprint…no exceptions. You don’t necessarily have to read every white paper (though it might help), but there are a number that will be quite helpful.

2. You need to have hands-on experience with vSphere, vCenter Server, and the rest of the components and features. VMware upped their game on this exam and you really have to be able to visualize working within vSphere to be successful.

3. I found that there was a good amount of carry-over knowledge from vSphere 4.x and VCP410.

4. Make sure you are familiar with all of the new/updated features and product add-ins. vCenter Server Appliance, vSphere Storage Appliance, and vCenter Update Manager are products you need to install and run in a lab scenario.

5. You need a working functional lab environment that will allow you to perform all of the labs from the vSphere 5 ICM course. This includes vMotion, HA, and Update Manager. Working with FT is helpful as well.

As for studying, here is the plan that I used for my journey:

1. Download all vSphere 5 documentation in PDF format for review on ebook reader or print off in hardcopy.  Also, they have a great online documentation library here

2. Download current BluePrint from I will list them below, but a few VCPs have posted detailed BluePrint blogs that I found very helpful as well.

3. I created my own detailed blueprint based on the actual blueprint.  Below I have links to detailed blueprints created by others.

4. Read Mastering vSphere 5 by Scott Lowe cover to cover. This is IMHO the definitive guide for vSphere 5 and the best book on the market for learning Mastering vSphere. It fills in the gaps left by the official VMware courseware.

5. I re-read the official VMware Courseware for vSphere 5 ICM. Since the courseware is more focused than the Lowe book, I was able to rip through it in 4 days. I completed (again) all of the labs from the ICM course as well.

6. I copied the BluePrint sections into a Word document and began fleshing out the sections, focusing on areas I was unfamiliar or not solid in.

7. Nightly (for about 2 weeks) I took the Mock Exams at They do not give you any of the exam questions, but it gives you an idea on the type of questions on the exam. Plus, it gets you in the test-taking mode. (See Below)

Probably on of the most important study tools is a functional lab. Luckily for me, I have a vSphere infrastructure at the college I was able to “re-purpose” over the holiday break so I was able to deploy many of the technologies from the blueprint including:

1. ESXi

2. vCenter Server (Both Windows-based and Appliance)

a. Also, I was able to deploy an SQL-based vCenter Installation along with the embedded version.

3. VUM

4. VDR

5. VMA

6. VSA

7. vCli

8. PowerCLI

Along with the school’s setup, I also had a VMware Workstation 8 environment that mocked up the vSphere 5 ICM lab environment. So I was able to complete all the labs on my laptop so I wasn’t stuck in the office during break.  If you are looking for a solid lab system, Jeff built a great one for under $1000.  Check it out here.

If you are looking to build an environment using VMware Workstation, I would recommend go through Sammie Bogaert’s blog posting called Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab. It’s a great set of 12 blog postings taking you through the entire build process along with setting up HA, FT, vCenter Server and more.

Below is a laundry list of webpages I found helpful:

1. Duncan Epping’s Blog:

2. Forbes Guthrie’s Blog:

1. Simon Long’s SLOG:

2. Official Mock Exams:

3. Robert Stothard’s Blog:

4. Paul McSharry’s Blog:

Detailed Blue Print Blogs


Good Luck…Mike

It’s a Busy Week

Greetings True Believers,

Wow…it has been a busy week.  Microsoft has announced that certifications are changing.  I have stuff to say about that but check out for a couple of great blog posts on the topic.  Jeff did a great job of distilling the information from Microsoft.

As for me, I’m busy working on the first of a set of 5-6 blogposts that will be published through Born to Learn.  The blog posts will revolve around completing and hopefully passing the exams necessary to become certified as an MCSE: Private Cloud at Microsoft TechEd in Orlando.  So I have approximately 60 days to shore up my Windows Virtualization on Server 2008 R2 knowledge, and pick up System Center 2012.  Should be a fun and interesting ride.  I’ll post the links when they go live as well as keeping a running check-in on my blog as well as Twitter.

Before I forget, BIG THANKS to Veronica at Microsoft Learning for the great opportunity!

Enjoy the weekend!


@Nerdliness is Just one of The Krewe

Good Evening True Believers,

Well, yours truly has a handful of blog topics that are either half-completed or still in his head, but I just had to post this.

Those of you in The Krewe know what special and talented people comprise the group.  It astounds me every day how blessed I am to be connected with people who do extraordinary things on a daily basis.  The “super hero” who stood out for me today is no other than @Nerdliness AKA Justin Stanley.  I’ve known Justin through the group for a few years, and we’ve had great conversation, but nothing much past technology and general conference going.  Anyway, I just learned a few weeks back (obviously I need to pay more attention on twitter) that Justin started an non-profit called The Uprise Books Project.  The concept is simple:  provide  banned books to underprivileged youth in hopes to inspire a life-long love for reading.  Through hard work and the help of many friends including people from The Krewe, Justin was able to get funding through a kickstarter. 
Since I was on a twitter hiatus during the fall, I missed the kickstarter, but will be donating as I believe in both this project and I believe in my friends from The Krewe.  If you are interested in donating, check out the website for more information at

And that’s why I wanted to write this post, not to let you know I was donating, but to let you know how awesome our group is and the power that comes with networks of friends.  This is part of the vision I have for The Krewe:  Paying it Forward!  Justin is paying it forward and so are many of you that I don’t know about (but would love to).  Stay tuned…

To my pal Justin…Thank You!  It is an honor and privilege to call you both a friend and a member of The Krewe.  I cannot wait to share conversation and a cold beverage in about 64 days, but whose counting:)

Till next time…

P.S.  I “borrowed” your twitter profile picture…Hope you don’t mind:)