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EMC Certification(s) Achieved–En Masse!

Ah, EMCworld 2014, how exciting you were.  The food, the vendors, the excitement, the learning.  Wait, the learning?  That was the point, after all…

Going into EMCworld, I found out that you could write “your first attempt at an EMC exam” at the PearsonVue Testing Center on site – for free.  I like free.  I like exams.  I like certifications.  This seemed like a good idea.  I’m not sure if the expectation was that for “the first exam you write” or “the first of each exam”, but it let me put in multiple exams, enter the code, and get back a “$0 owing, please continue” – so I did!

Going in, I went through the EMC Proven Professional practice exams (https://education.emc.com/cust/certification/exams.aspx).  As many EMC Associate level exams are industry related vs. product specific, I figured I had a good chance.  I knew what NAS was anyways Smile  If I got more than 80% on the practice exam, I assumed that my industry related experience was going to be enough, and did some dabbling with studying on the topic if I could find something.  If I got 60-80%, I figured it was worth a try – the price was right.  There were a few, however, where I gave it a shot and realized very very quickly that “Yeah, you don’t know this, do not pass go, nice try.”. 

But pay attention when you’re booking!  One of the exams on my list, I believe it was E20-026 (Enterprise Storage Networking Specialist Exam for Data Center Architects (E20-026) was one that I KNEW 3 questions in, that it was not for me.  I did HORRIBLE on the practice exam.  While I can do FC SAN’s, they’re not my strongest suit – I have the most experience in 10GbE ISCSI/NFS.  So imagine my surprise when I go to sit down for one of the exams at the testing center, and get to question 1, then 2, and pull a deer in the headlights.  Whups.  So if you don’t want soul crushing, even for a free exam, don’t book it if you don’t know it.  Who knew…

My advice for those who might be choosing this process for the next EMCworld, if a similar promotion exists:

  • Book your exams for Monday.  Not everyone is on site yet, so the exam center is not busy.  I was able to come in very early and get bumped up.  I was then able to immediately write the next exam without waiting.  This a) prevented me from having to wait for the 90-105 minutes to expire for the next exam and b) keep much of my conference time available for other things.  (Sidebar: Vendor/Event evening activities start Monday night.  Thus, Tuesday/Wednesday morning could be lousy times for exams… just something to consider…)
  • If you need to, and their time permits, you CAN move your exam up.  I was able to move 2 exams from Tuesday to Monday to continue writing, without issue.  Obviously, this will depend on how busy the testing center is.
  • Put your event badge or some other ID on your “event bag”.  When you lean it up against the wall in the testing center with 80 other people… they all look the same Smile 
  • Put your stuff in your bag OUTSIDE the doors.  You can’t open Velcro pouches quietly enough for a testing center.  Also, turn off your phones.  I was shocked how many people did not.  And how many people have asinine ring-tones…

In the end, I passed 4 of 8 exams.  2 of which I had no business even sitting.  One was the entry level VCE exam because… well, on Friday they tweeted the first exam was free.  Sometimes, free isn’t enough!  The other was E20-026 as mentioned before.  The other two were close, but not close enough.  I’m fine with that – I really did in a way want to see what years of general Enterprise/Data Center space knowledge could do for a person and how well one vendor’s experience lets you know another.  Also for many of these, I did what studying I could in the month prior, but didn’t really have a good curriculum. 

Everyone from friends and family to co-workers to testing center were impressed – just by the attempts I think (maybe they’ve never seen anyone that stupid…).  But something to caution on.  If you do 6 exams in one day, even if you’re done them quick and you know the content cold (not true for me in all cases)– it’s STRESSFUL.  I was doing fine and in good spirits while going in and out.  When I was finally done for the day and walked out of the Proven Professional room – I felt like a bear sat on me.  So if you are going to do exams at EMCworld, remember that there is not just the TIME involved, but also the EFFORT.  (In retrospect, I wonder if that’s how I ended up getting sick?)

And the results:


  • Cloud Architect, Virtualized Infrastructure Specialist Version 1.0 (What, no fancy acronym?)
  • Storage Administration, VNX Solutions Specialist Version 8.0 (EMCSA)
  • Backup Recover Associate (EMCBA)
  • Cloud Infrastructure and Services Associate (EMCCIS)
  • Information Storage Associate Version 2 (EMCISA) – previously held.
    All I had to do was miss the keynote and lunch.  Good thing the keynote is recorded and 500 people tweeted the details. 
    Oh.  Lunch.  EAT BEFORE YOUR EXAM.  Always.  Give your stomach something to chew on other than itself, and give your brain a fighting chance.
    Good luck to all my certification geeks, and hopefully I’ll see you next year!

If anyone from PearsonVUE is listening – see if the testing center could be open on Sunday and/or later than 5PM.  If someone would rather get certified than drink free beer (like me), it would be nice to have the option.  I know that’s asking a lot, but if you don’t ask, you never get…

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