One week ago, I passed the VCP Application Modernization Exam. This time I am happy to share with you that I PASSED the VMware Cloud Foundation Specialist 2022 exam. I must admit: Because of my limited hands-on experience with VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) and NSX-T in general, it was one of the more difficult exams for me. What is the VCF specialist exam about?
The VMware Cloud Foundation 2022 specialist badge validates a candidate’s understanding of how to design and size infrastructure for the management components and for workload domains in preparing for VMware Cloud Foundation deployment and planning and designing the physical network. This badge also validates a candidate’s knowledge of how to plan for, and execute, the VCF bring up process and demonstrates knowledge of how to use and configure VMware Cloud Foundation.
Why have I chosen this exam? And I just said only a few days ago that the VCP-NV would be the next one, right?
Yes, that’s correct! I remembered that I spent time in my home lab with the VMware Cloud Foundation Lab Constructor (VLC) in December 2020. VLC is an automated tool that deploys a completely nested VCF environment onto a single physical host or vSphere Cluster:
Note: Including the preparation work it took me about four hours in total to bring up this nested VCF environment.
That’s one of the most important reasons why I just took this exam: I forgot that I had a little hands-on experience with Cloud Foundation already and I just wanted to confirm this with a nice shiny badge. 🙂
About the VMware Cloud Foundation Specialist Exam
Like I quoted above, the VMware Cloud Foundation Specialist exam is about hands-on experience with installing, configuring and managing VMware Cloud Foundation. You need to have intermediate networking, monitoring, troubleshooting and security concept knowledge to pass the exam. It covers business continuity topics of VCF in general but also asks about different components and scenarios in regard to the vRealize Suite for example.
The VCF Specialist exam consists of 72 questions and must be completed within 130 minutes.
You need to hold a VCP-DCV 2020, 2021 or 2022, and so it was helpful that I renewed my VCP-DCV in December 2020 right after I played around with VCF and the VLC. 🙂
Preparing for the Exam
The first step was to get my hands on VMware Cloud Foundation. I haven’t re-deployed VMware Cloud Foundation in my home lab, but I made use of other resources.
The exam has a lot of questions about NSX-T and I recommend everyone to get the NSX-T basics right. 🙂
I recommend the following steps to prepare yourself:
I went through the “VMware Cloud Foundation: Planning, Management, Operations [V4.3] – On Demand” training last week. If you have no (home) lab access, then have a look at the VMware hands-on labs (HOLs), which are very helpful and impressive.
The Cloud Foundation Tech Zone is also a very helpful website to get a lot of information about Cloud Foundation. Here are some specific modules that I can recommend:
Some of you have seen it probably already on Twitter or LinkedIn (on January 20, 2022) – my goal for 2022 is to pass the following exams even I haven’t got hands-on experience with most the related products:
Why? Because I would like to achieve my 4th and 5th VCP and my 2nd VCAP certification. Last year I was very busy with my family, work and blogging. In 2022 I would like to achieve new certifications which are outside of my comfort zone and practical knowledge domain.
So, how did I pass the VCP-AM only three days later?
First, I rescheduled my exam date from March 3rd to February 3rd. This would have left me two weeks of preparation and I really thought I wouldn’t pass it at the first attempt. But I said to myself it is okay to fail the exam and trying to memorize the questions I struggled the most with.
Then I said: “I don’t need to wait for two weeks to figure that out! Let’s reschedule the exam once more and give it a try on Sunday (January 23rd).” This was the same approach I took back in 2018 when I was going for the VCAP-DTM Design exam (but there I missed a few points and failed).
Well…This time it worked out! 😀
About the VCP-AM Exam
The certification validates your expertise with the VMware Tanzu Standard edition including vSphere with Tanzu, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) and Tanzu Mission Control (TMC). If you look at the exam guide then you can see that this exam also checks your fundamental cloud native skills including containerization, application modernization and Kubernetes.
The VCP Application Modernization exam consists of 55 questions and must be completed within 130 minutes.
I hold three different VCP certifications (VCP-DCV, VCP-DTM, VCP-DW) so my steps look like this:
(Recommended) Gain experience with VMware Tanzu
(Recommended) Attend ONE of the training courses
(Required) Pass the Professional VMware Application Modernization exam
Preparing for the Exam
The first step is about gaining experience with VMware Tanzu. Let me quickly list what I’ve done over the past two years:
Was one of the first public speakers in Switzerland to present Project Pacific (today known as vSphere with Tanzu or TKGS) and also blogged about it.
I think it was Q1 2020 when Project Pacific was available as an early private and then released as an official beta program. Was lucky enough to the get access to the installer files to enable “Workload Management” in my home lab. 🙂
The year 2020 was about understanding Tanzu, its components, the different flavours (TKG aka TKGm, TKGS, TKGi) and editions
In 2021 I ran two vSphere with Tanzu Standard PoCs with the help of some VMware Tanzu specialists. This was the time where I learned the most since the customers were very demanding and requested a lot of technical information. I also did a lot of blogging.
I think with this experience I already had the first step completed without realizing first how much experience I already had as a VMware employee!
If you have a home lab and can work (almost) on a daily basis with the Tanzu Standard products including Tanzu Mission Control, then I believe you have very good chances to pass the VCP application modernization exam as well. The exam guide is saying this:
The minimally qualified candidate (MQC) is recommended to have at least 6 to 12 months of experience. The MQC can understand and describe standard features and capabilities of VMware Tanzu Standard Edition components including VMware vSphere with Tanzu, VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, and VMware Tanzu Mission Control. The MQC can explain the VMware Tanzu vision and has hands-on experience with containerization, Kubernetes, and Application Modernization concepts. The MQC can perform common operational and administrative tasks in an environment where Tanzu Standard Edition Components are present, including basic troubleshooting and repairing of TKG clusters. The MQC can identify the primary components and features of Tanzu Mission Control but not limited to cluster lifecycle management, Role Based Access Controls, security policies, cluster inspections and data protection. In addition, the MQC can understand and describe the steps for installation and setup of Tanzu Standard Edition Components.
The MQC works in environments where VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, vSphere with Tanzu and Tanzu Mission Control are used in production. The MQC can perform troubleshooting and repairing of TKG and TKC clusters. The MQC can identify the primary components and features of Tanzu Mission Control but not limited to cluster lifecycle management, Role Based Access Controls, security policies, cluster inspections and data protection. The MQC can perform day-2 operations related to TKG and TKC clusters. A successful candidate has a good grasp of the topics included in the exam blueprint.
Step 2 – Attend ONE of the Training Courses
While it’s not mandatory, it is still recommended to attend at least one of the official training courses:
I recommend booking a training (if you need one), that includes TMC. People will have difficulties to get access to a Tanzu Mission Control cloud service. vSphere with Tanzu and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid are products that you easily can get access to and evaluate. Don’t forget to browse through the application modernization hands-on labs (HOLs)!
Most people think they are just like everyone else – I was also one of them. Let me share my story about becoming a vExpert and tell you, that this perception of “like everyone else” is wrong. I had to learn that as well.
In 2012, I started to work for a small VMware Cloud Provider Partner (VCPP) in Switzerland, was the 7th employee and the second one in the cloud engineering team. My role included the administration and operation of a data center environment which consisted of:
vCloud Director 5.x
Cisco Switches and Routers
Dell EMC Storage and Backup
Back then I designed and deployed Windows environments mostly on terminal servers so customers could connect to their IaaS-hosted offerings via RDP. After a while we improved this service offering with Citrix on top, because we suddenly had new larger customers with different requirements and the company I worked for had to be innovative and think about new offerings and services.
Besides that, I also configured several Cisco routers and switches at the customer sites. Not only for the inhouse connections, but also for the VPN connection to the data center, where their hosted infrastructure was hosted.
I never realized until a few months ago, that I already built some cool hybrid clouds in 2012!
As you can imagine, since we were only 2 people maintaining a lot of customer environments and our own infrastructure at the same time, we had a lot of knowledge and responsibility! But it was fun, and also the employer where I gained the most knowledge and experience.
I would say that this employer and the experience I gained during my 3,5 years there were such an important part of my career, that I could work for Citrix a few years later, then join VMware and become a vExpert as well.
I remember that I said, while still working for the VCPP partner, that I want to work for VMware one day, but it’s most probably just going to be a dream.
Fun Fact: You have to imagine that I held several Cisco certifications (CCNA and CCNP), but was so afraid to fail the VCP5-DCV exam back then.
And today I’m going for my triple VCP badge and hope to get my first VCIX at the end of January 2021! 😀
Since I worked at this small VCPP partner, I always wanted to blog about the stuff I’m doing or had to build for customers. About the special use cases or configurations I had fulfilled.
Decision to become a VMware vExpert
I joined VMware in May 2018 as a pre-sales solution architect focusing on EUC (end-user computing) topics, because I came from Citrix. The responsibility of this role included to help growing the business of VMware Horizon and Workspace ONE.
But, when the management from Switzerland hired me, I had no VMware EUC knowledge – only Citrix, Cisco and a strong VMware data center background.
So, I was very ambitious, hungry for new knowledge and decided that I could try to earn the VCDX-DTM certification somewhen in the next few years. This idea led me to decision to start blogging three months after I got hired.
I thought “let’s give it a try and if nobody is reading my stuff, I just delete everything one year later”.
Anyway, why should anyone read (or even find) my stuff? There are already so many great bloggers with awesome content out there.
My first articles were about the preparation for my first VCAP (desktop and mobility track) design exam. I wrote about it, because I had to gain a lot of Horizon knowledge and realized, that not many people wrote about this topic so far. And most of the content to that day was outdated.
Until January 2019 I had passed the VCP-DTM, VCAP7-DTM Design and VCP-DW exam. In the meanwhile, I also tried to get familiar with Twitter and tried to be active there. And started to follow the known and famous people from the VMware community including some vExperts.
I had around 200 unique visitors hitting my blog per month and saw that other people were interested in my simple VCAP7-DTM study guide. At the same moment I got notified on Twitter, that the vExpert applications are open again.
At the end of January 2019, 5 months after I started blogging, I submitted my vExpert application with the expectation, that I won’t get accepted. Why have I thought this? Because I was just someone, who started blogging recently, wrote a few okayish articles and nobody knew me. But in March 2019 I had the following email in my inbox:
Benefits of being a VMware vExpert
YES! I couldn’t believe it, but this gave me motivation to write more and better articles. And I felt the pressure now, that I had to deliver new content to keep this status for upcoming years, if I want to re-apply every year. 🙂
I told myself, that I need to write about stuff, which nobody did yet – unique content. How did my visitor counter look like before and after I became a vExpert? They were just going up (from March on) even I didn’t write that much after joining the program:
Benefit 1: Becoming a VMware vExpert helps to you get visibility and more people finding your blog!
Why did my numbers go up starting in August 2019?
I had a customer looking at VMware Horizon, who was evaluating different thin clients. While troubleshooting something in their POC (proof of concept) environment, they asked me, if they would have other options like Dell, Fujitsu or Igel thin clients. Is there a better and even cheaper option?
It was one simple question, which resulted in an idea for a blog article and then resulted in more visitors coming to my blog.
Until today this article is by far the most successful article with the most hits per month! Suddenly I had pingbacks from other vExperts, people were talking about this article on Twitter and VMware forums as well!
Benefit 2: People recognize your vExpert status (and credibility) and start to mention you on social media
I now had the confidence, that I could write articles, which people are reading. I had proof now.
An unexpected change leads to success
In December 2019 my focus as a solution architect expanded. I got promoted to a “senior” solution architect and moved into a generalist role. This meant, that I started to focus on all VMware topics/products now and got the responsibility for some of the largest and most strategic enterprise accounts VMware has in Switzerland.
This also meant, that I had to learn a lot of new stuff, if I wanted to survive in front my customers and to hold my own presentations and meetings, which also should lead to business growth in the end. Some of the new topics and technologies were:
VMware Cloud Foundation
Cloud Management Platform and the vRealize Suite
Software-Defined Networking with NSX and SD-WAN (Velocloud)
Kubernetes and app modernization with VMware Tanzu
Multi-Cloud Architectures and Cloud Migrations
Security with Carbon Black
The first three months were very challenging. I wanted to learn everything very fast to become a trusted advisor and to prove, that I am worthy and the promotion and role change were no mistake.
In my opinion, the best way to demonstrate or prove something is to write or to talk about it. So, in 2020 I started to write about new technologies, included my own words and new angles when publishing or pitching something:
The role change and my new focus made it possible, that I could write about topics, which were relevant for more people. Not only the technical people anymore, but also decision makers and in general less technical people.
Why do I mention these articles? Because I consider them as a huge personal success. Three of the four above articles were shared on the official VMware social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I got a decent amount of likes and re-posts (between 70 and 300 times)! These are two examples from LinkedIn:
Benefit 3: Your articles or posts get shared on social media by VMware. Suddenly a new level of reaching people, which also brings a lot of visibility for you!
You can imagine how I felt after this happened. I was a surprised and impressed, that there is interest for my content. I received a lot of great feedback on Twitter, LinkedIn and via e-mail.
Did I mention that I even was invited to the VMware Community Podcast? You can do that too! 🙂
It’s not about bragging, but I realized something very important, which is another benefit as well:
Benefit 4: You can have an impact on people lives and decisions.
May it be a VMware partner, who now has a better understanding how to explain some topics to their prospects or customers in a different way. There are customers, who understand the huge VMware portfolio and the strategy behind it a lot better. And there are colleagues within VMware, that are contacting me from different places on this planet and thanking me for my contributions.
Benefit 5: People are thankful for your content and the information you share with others.
Apply for the vExpert Program
I worked in a small company, which became the most important milestone in my career before I joined VMware and became a vExpert.
Never believed, that I could be successful and that other people would listen to me or read about what I have to say. My story should be proof enough, that anyone can contribute and make a mark. And what was between me and where I stand today as a vExpert?
Benefit 6: Higher confidence and believe more in myself.
The decision to start a blog to share information.
If you already share or want to share your knowledge and views which are related to VMware, then please apply for the vExpert program. If you are a current vExpert, please don’t forget to reapply.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity, be sure to apply before January 9th, 2021. The vExpert awards will be announced on February 19th, be a part of the announcement!
Benefit 7: It is fun to share, and it gives you a great feeling.
How are my website stats looking today after two years and the help of social media?
Contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn, if you need help with your vExpert application!
PS: I had the idea two write this article three weeks ago and removed it on my to-do list on Monday, because I thought nobody would be interested. I woke up a little bit earlier today than expected and said to myself:
If my story results in at least one more person, who wants to start blogging or even become a vExpert, it was already worth it. And I truly believe in that after what I experienced the last two years! 🙂
Again, it was only the decision between me and writing this story.
I’m happy to share that I also passed this exam today and I thought it might be helpful, even a new VCP-DW 2019 exam will be released on 28th February 2019, to share my exam experience since it’s still a pretty new certification and not that much information can be found in the vCommunity.
How did I prepare myself? To be honest, I almost had no hands-on experience and therefore I had to get the most out of the available VMware Workspace ONE documentation. I already had basic knowledge for my daily work as a solution architect, but it was obvious that this is not enough to pass. The most of my basic knowledge I gained from the VMware Workspace ONE: Deploy and Manage [V9.x] course which was really helpful in this case.
If you check the exam prep guide you can see that you have to study tons of PDFs and parts of the online documentation.
Didn’t check all the links and documents in the exam prep guide but I can recommend to read these additional docs:
In my opinion you’ll get a very good understanding of Workspace ONE (UEM and IDM) if you read all the documents above. In additional to the papers I recommend to get some hands-on experience with the Workspace ONE UEM and IDM console.
As VMware employee I have access to VMware TestDrive where I have a dedicated Workspace ONE UEM sandbox environment. I enrolled an Android, iOS and two Windows 10 devices and configured a few profiles (payloads). I also deployed the Identity Manager Connector in my homelab to sync my Active Directory accounts with my Identity Manager instance which enables also the synchronization of my future Horizon resources like applications and desktops.
I think that I spent around two weeks for preparation including the classroom training at the AirWatch Training Facility Milton Keynes, UK.
The exam (version 2018) itself consists of 65 multiple choice and drag & drop questions and I had 135 minutes time to answer all questions. If you are prepared and know your stuff then I doubt that you will need more than one hour, but this could change with the new VCP-DW 2019. 🙂
I’m just happy that I have a second VCP exam in my pocket and now I have to think about the next certification. My scope as solution architect will change a little. In the future I’m also covering SDDC (software defined data center) topics like vSphere, vSAN, NSX, VMware Cloud Foundation, Cloud Assembly and VMC on AWS. That’s why I’m thinking to earn the VCP-DCV 2019 or the TOGAF certification.
Today, I had a few different questions during the exam but reading more PDFs about the above mentioned topics helped me to pass, as it seems. In addition to that, I attended a Digital Workspace Livefire Architecture & Design training which is available for VMware employees and partners. The focus of this training was not only about designing a Horizon architecture, but also about VMware’s EUC design methodology.
If you have the option to attend classroom trainings, then I would recommend the following:
I had two things I struggled with during the exam. Sometimes the questions were not clear enough and I made assumptions what it could mean and that the exam is based on Horizon 7.2 and other old product versions of the Horizon suite:
VMware Identity Manager 2.8
App Volumes 2.12
User Environment Manager 9.1
Unified Access Gateway 2.9
vRealize Operations 6.4
But maybe it’s only me since I have almost no hands-on experience with Horizon, none with Workspace ONE and in addition to that I’m only 7 months with VMware now. 🙂
It is time for an update, but VMware announced already that they are publishing a new design exam version called VCAP7-DTM 2019 next year.
What about VCIX7-DTM?
In part 2 of my VCAP7-DTM Design exam blog series I mentioned this:
Since no VCAP7-DTM Deploy exam is available and it’s not clear yet when this exam will be published, you only need the VCAP7-DTM Design certification to earn the VCIX7-DTM status. I have got this information from VMware certification.
This information is not correct, sorry. VMware certification pulled their statement back and provided the information that you need to pass the VCAP6-DTM Deploy exam, as long as no VCAP7-DTM Deploy is available, to earn the VCIX7-DTM badge.
I don’t know yet if I want to pursue the VCIX7-DTM certification and will think about it when the deploy exam for Horizon 7 is available.
Hm… I am going to spend more time again with my family and will use some of my 3 weeks vacation time to assemble and install my new home lab.
Then I also have a few ideas for topics to write about, like:
Multi-Domain and Trust with Horizon 7.x
Linux VDI Basics with Horizon 7.x
SD-WAN for Horizon 7.x
NSX Load Balancing for Horizon 7.x
These are only a few of my list, but let’s see if I really find the time to write a few article.
In regards to certification I think I continue with these exams: