VCAP-DCA or Bust!

Who Needs Sleep?

Because I clearly don’t ever want to sleep again, I’ve decided to attack the goal of becoming a VCAP-DCA (VMware Certified Advanced Professional - Data Center Administration).  I’ll be documenting my progress, along with my study notes and whatever tips I come across.


A prerequisite for the VCAP-DCA certification is first becoming a VCP on vSphere 4.  This requires taking an official VMware training course and passing a standard question/answer-based exam administered by Pearson VUE.  Since I do a fair amount of VMware work at $DAYJOB, I’m reasonably far along in my preparation already and just need to fill in the gaps.  The study material I’ll be using includes:


This is a 3-4 hour “practical” exam similar in spirit to the CCIE lab, consisting of 40 “live lab activities” (each with multiple tasks) and a brief pre-exam survey.  The blueprint is extensive and covers just about anything you’d ever be expected to do in a VMware environment in the real world.

In terms of preparation materials, everything from the above VCP list along with documentation, documentation, and more documentation.  Kendrick Coleman has put together an extensive list of links to both VMware and 3rd party materials covering each section of the blueprint.  It’s now my browser home page.

The Home Lab

The most important step to becoming a VCAP-DCA is to have extensive hands-on experience with the blueprint topics.  For that, you need a lab environment.  Fortunately, ESX and ESXi run quite nicely on inexpensive “white box” hardware, and can themselves be virtualized.  This allows a quite large lab environment for not a lot of investment.  My lab is based heavily on the BabyDragon from Phillip Jaenke and the vTARDIS from Simon Gallagher.

Server #1

Update: I ended up getting two of the above servers. Rough cost from NewEgg was about $1,300 each (I already had the VelociRaptors from another project). Could probably have done a little better by shopping around, but with shipping it probably averages out.

Server #2 / Workstation


Some of the above is still with my friends at UPS on its way from Newegg, so I can’t start playing quite yet. At the moment I’m working on setting up the Celerra VSA and Netapp sim, along with building a Windows 2008 R2 domain controller VM.

More to come!