VMware vSAN 6.7 Specialist 2019 Exam Preparation and Experience

I recently passed the VMware vSAN 6.7 Specialist 2019 Exam (5V0-21.19) with a scare of 440. Despite the exam’s name, I earned the VMware Specialist – vSAN 2021 badge. Fortunately, VMware is now keeping up with the names of the badges and certifications by matching it with the calendar year, even if the test wasn’t yet updated. This is a nice change because I previously took the vSAN specialist exam in 2019 and earned the 2017 badge, which immediately looked out of date.

The exam was very straight forward. A lot of it is what engineers do on a weekly or monthly basis for many of the exam objectives. I had more than enough time to finish the exam. I don’t think there was any surprises so I recommend to know the exam objectives inside and out. Some exam objectives are not deep so don’t think too much into them. For example, objective 7.5, describe the effect of maintenance mode options; only need to know the three maintenance mode options and what they do. Though, there are some questions that were not worded the best, but that shouldn’t make it or break it for anyone.

The exam is based on vSphere 6.7 and vSAN 6.7 U1. Keep that in mind as there was a lot of changes in newer versions, especially in 6.7 U3. You are probably running a newer version at work and VMware’s HOL are no longer running the exam version of vSAN from what I saw. Though, VMware still has the lab manual for their retired vSAN 6.7 HOL. I found a lot of good information and screenshots in there.

There are only two requirements for achieving the vSAN 2021 badge; pass the 5V0-21.19 exam and have one of the pre-requisite certifications. The badge page says it needs to be a current VCP. However, there are many other certifications that also count, such as VCAP and VCDX certifications. Check out your certification manager on VMware Learn and you can see more details on what’s covered. Also, I wrote about this in a previous article about the vSAN 2017 Specialist badge.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Certification Exam Experience

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I recently took the exam at home for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Certification (SAA-C02). I passed with a score of 775. The exam was harder than I anticipated and I had a very tough time with the exam’s check in process.

I used a few resources to prepare for the exam: A Cloud Guru’s course on Udemy, practice tests on WhizLabs, and AWS FAQs. The A Cloud Guru course was a good overview of most of the exam objectives, but not thorough enough. The practice tests were very easy that came with the course. WhizLabs’s tests were nearly as hard as the actual exam and good to learn from. I recommend to read the following AWS FAQs: EC2, EBS, S3, Aurora, RDS, DynamoDB, VPC, Auto Scaling, and ELB.

The system check used by Pearson VUE is almost worthless. It does not do comprehensive enough checks on your computer and network. It appears to only check your Internet speed, webcam, and microphone. I did it a few days before the exam, the day of the exam, and every time it said I was good to go. However, I had an issue that prevented me from completing the check-in process and I barely got it working in time.

I got through the cell phone steps where I had to take photos of my ID, my room, and myself. Then Pearson VUE’s OnVUE gave me the following error message.

You have lost your internet connection. OnVUE is disabled until your connection is restored

My computer was obviously still connected to the Internet. I did the process again and got stuck at the same spot again. I got a hold of Pearson VUE’s support after waiting 18 minutes. They were not helpful at all. I did some troubleshooting and googling. I found a lot of people with the same problem and no resolution. Then I finally figured out what was the problem for me. I use Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition. Very rarely, Sophos’s IPS and/or virus scanner can cause odd issues with websites not working. I disabled both of those services and then I was able to move to the next step of my check-in process with one minute to spare. Pearson VUE’s system check should be much more thorough and catch issues like this so that the exam taker can work out potential issues beforehand.

Studying for VCAP6-DCV Deploy Certification

I have been studying for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 2018 – Data Center Virtualization Deployment exam (3V0-21.18) for the past couple of months. It is based on vSphere 6.5. I just found out the vSphere 6.7 version of the exam is now out (3V0-22.19). The 6.5 version retires on February 28th so I need to take the exam soon. I rather keep pushing forward than change the exam I will take since I am far along with studying. One good thing is passing either test counts towards VCAP-DCV Deploy 2020. There was never a VCAP-DCV 2019 so passing the exam last year would have still been called 2018. Makes the certification look old if passed last year when it should have not. Though, no need to worry now.

Of course, the best place to start studying is looking at VMware’s exam blueprint to get an overview of the exam. The 6.5 and 6.7 versions both have identical objectives on their blueprints. Perhaps nothing major has changed between the exams.

I recommend watching a presentation by Joshua Andrews. He discussed all of VMware’s certifications and focuses on the VCAPs. The video is from December 2018 so it’s still kind of recent. He use to work on making certification exams at VMware so I think he is a great source to learn from. He also has an excellent blog and an article on VCAP exam links.

Ricardo Conzatti has an awesome exam simulator. He gives you a legit environment to RDP to and lab questions to solve in fleshed out scenarios. Then he will give you the answers after your exam simulator session. First, you need to schedule and pay $10. He received a lot of no shows in the past so understandable he wants to try to hold people accountable. Make sure to check your email’s spam folder. I thought I didn’t receive an email for how to connect the day of my scheduled session, but turned out the email was in my spam folder and I lost a little time to eventually find it.

VMware HOL is also a great place to try out your skills. Since the exam environment is based on the HOL, you can get a good feel with how the interface will look and do some tweaks to get the screen to look good. The challenge and vSAN related labs would be good to do. See how it is to have HOL open on one screen and to go back and forth with the manual.

I will be sure to post when I have the results of my exam. I will share my experience and anything else I come across that may be helpful.

VMware Cloud on AWS – Software Defined Data Center 2019 Badge

I recently passed the VMware Cloud on AWS Management Exam 2019 (5V0-31.19) with a score of 478. The exam is scored the same as every other VMware exam. There are actually no prerequisites to take the exam and the exam is taken online. I assume VMware has these two differences to appeal to a larger crowd that are not on the traditional VMware certification tracks. The exam is only 30 questions, but only 45 minutes to complete the exam. Definitely have to think quick and harder than I expected. The exam followed very close to the exam guide. I previously took the VMware Cloud on AWS: Deploy and Manage class, which I feel helped me prepare for the exam. However, the class only has lab simulations that are basically click through animations. I did have access to a real VMware Cloud on AWS account so that also greatly helped me to get ready for the exam.

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