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VCAP6 Design Beta Exams are now available!

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment

VMware has recently announced via the Education and Certification Blog, that the Beta Exams for the v6 VCAP’s are out or coming soon.   Specific details can be found at https://blogs.vmware.com/education/2016/02/new-vcap6-beta-exams-now-available.html

Right now, you can sign up for the VCAP6-DCV Design or the VCAP6-CMA Design.  I’ll probably be going only for the former. VCAP6-DTM Design for Desktop and Mobility won’t be out until later in Feb.

You’re going to need to be either a VCP6 or a VCP5+VCAP5 to qualify to be approved.

Exam cost is $100 USD, and I’d doubt any discounts would be applicable (eg: VMUG Advantage, etc) – but I’ll try once I’m approved.  First appoinments will be Feb 15 2016, and there’s no indication how long they’ll run.  Access is First Come, First Served, so if you’re interested – sign up now!

Categories: Beta, Certification, vSphere

VCP Recertification Deadline Extended!

March 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Some breaking news just announced regarding VMware certifications, and I’m excited to share this time!

http://blogs.vmware.com/education/2015/03/vcp-recertification-deadline-extended.html

It looks like EVERYONE will be getting a short extension to the grace period up until May 8, 2015 from March 10, 2015.  So an extra 2 months.  This is certainly good news.  A little disappointing still that some of the VCAP exams got abruptly pulled, but all the same, 2 months extra study time is a great thing. 

Also if you have ALREADY recertified – you get a reward.  You can do the VCP6 migration exam for 65% off the normal retail price of $225 USD or $79.  You’ll need to take this exam by August 31 2015.

I still haven’t seen any official courseware or anything on the VCP6/vSphere 6 track.  So if you’re aware of something, please let me know.  I’d like to start studying for the VCP6 Migration Exam ASAP, so anything is better than nothing. 

If you haven’t booked your recertification yet – DO IT! 

Categories: Certification, VMware, vSphere

VMware VCAP v5.1 exams retired–with practically no notice.

March 4, 2015 Leave a comment

Well isn’t that just dandy.  As a vExpert, I suppose I’m generally supposed to LIKE the information I share about VMware with the community.  But today’s post won’t be like that. 

VMware Education just announced the retirement of a number of VCAP exams.  The announcement can be found at http://blogs.vmware.com/education/2015/03/exam-retirement-announcement.html.  Not altogether a huge surprise – exams get retired for new versions all the time. 

The issue this time, is two fold:

1) They announced on March 2nd that the exams are retiring on March 14th.  12 days away.

2) The new exams, for the v6.0 track are not available yet!  “and by retiring them it allows us and our candidates to focus resources on the upcoming exams and certifications that were announced earlier this month.” is noted from the post.

Now, I’ll put on my Devil’s Advocate hat for a moment, and try to come up with the responses that VMware Education must have been thinking in their heads:

  • These are the v5.1 exams, and v5.5 has been out for a while.  They were going to get retired sooner or later

Actually, that’s it, that’s all I’ve got.

My commentary on it from an end user point of view:

  • Maybe people are still WORKING with v5.1? 
  • VCAP exams are difficult, and take a lot longer to study for. 
  • Finding an available exam sitting for some people is TOUGH.  There may not be a testing center in their location, or if there is, they may only do exams two days a week or something.  You can’t “just reschedule in two weeks” often – usually more like 2 months out in my experience. 
  • Normally, if you previously booked, the cut off would be for net-new bookings.  In this case, the wording is clear: “If you have an exam date already scheduled prior to March 14 for one of these exams, you will be able to complete it as scheduled. If your appointment falls after March 14 you may reschedule it prior to the 14th, if a spot is available.”  That’s right, if you fall after that deadline, too bad, here’s your money back. 

Come on.  Exams take time to study for.  I’m a huge proponent of the certification game, and of scheduling an exam as a goal to make you study, and sometimes those are booked far out.  To maybe have spent months studying, only to get the chair kicked out from under you is crazy.

I get there’s a new version coming, and new exams.  But they’re not here yet, are they?  The product was “announced” a month ago, still no downloadable bits.  No blueprint for the exams. 

Here’s hoping VMware Education can rethink this.  I have a hard enough time recommending people get certifications and invest their time without having to try explain this type of move.

Oh and to add insult to injury – remember that VMware Recertification Policy introduced last year?  (https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=46667&ui=www_cert).  If you had a VCP prior to March 10 2013, you need to recertify before… March 10 2015.  Hopefully this VCAP wasn’t you waiting for the last minute to recertify, or this is going to be a double whammy. 

Sorry VMware Education, someone dropped the ball on this one.  What SHOULD have happened is:

  • 90 Days notice should have been given.  That’d be a LOT more reasonable.
  • IF you had an EXISTING booking, you should have been allowed to complete it. 
  • The v5.1 based track shouldn’t be retired until after the v6.0 track has officially landed.

If you’re affected by this, or just generally unhappy about the situation, I highly recommend you follow the advice on the VMware Education blog post: “If you have specific questions or concerns please contact the Certification Support team.”

Good luck to all of you who are going to be able to write in the next 11 days.

Categories: Certification, VMware, vSphere

Microsoft Certifications–Once again in Edmonton

February 22, 2015 1 comment

Recently I ran into a bit of an issue.  With Microsoft making the change from Prometric to PearsonVUE as a testing facility, Edmonton ended up with no testing facility.  This of course is a problem when I’m running Lunch and Learns on certification programs with co-workers and employees of contracts and user groups.  It’s pretty hard to motivate people when they have to drive 3 hours to get a certification exam – that they may or may not feel confident in taking. 

I had reached out to PearsonVUE to find out what the situation is.  There’s a Pearson Professional Center in town, AND it’s open Saturday’s.  It’s my preferred testing center for those reasons, and that I can write VMware, Cisco, Citrix, etc, exams there.  Heck, used to be I had to go to Calgary (a 3 hour drive) for NetApp exams – and even THOSE I can now do here.  You can then imagine my frustration when I found out that Microsoft exams couldn’t be written there.  I still don’t have a reason that makes me satisfied with the excuse, but I’ll get over it.

I was booking an exam for another recertification and saw CTC Train listed as a PearsonVUE option.  So this made me think… what if it is for Microsoft as well? 

Turns out it is!

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So… no Saturday bookings.  In fact, only Tue/Wed/Thu bookings and even those are lousy.  But it’s not a 3 hour drive.  It’s also right close to the best (only?) tacos in Edmonton!  So I can make that work out. 

For those of you in Edmonton, looking to book Microsoft exams – I just took away your bitching, moaning, and excuses. 

Really sorry Smile

Categories: Certification, Microsoft

IT Resume Tips–May my rant help you someday.

May 12, 2014 4 comments

No, I’m not currently looking, thanks for asking. (Wait, how cool is the option?)  But if you follow my posts, you know I’ve been collecting some certs.  This means it’s time to update my resume.  I know that I don’t have the best resume in the world, so please don’t be deluded into that impression.  But when I’m asked to either review potential new hires, or resumes of my peers, I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I figured I’d share some of those tips here.  Between mine and those you’ll find elsewhere, I’m just hoping it helps someone out in the future.  Equally, if you’re reading this and have feedback or comments to me, please, share.  I won’t be offended, if it helps me make it better!

So without further delay:

1) Update frequently

You’re never going to be sure when you’re going to need it.  Someone might ask you out of the blue if you’re looking.  You may not be.  There may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Don’t let it pass you by because you didn’t have your resume ready.  That’s not saying have “one foot out the door”, by any stretch.  But life is scary, “wear a helmet”, just in case.

There’s a good chance if you work in one place for a while, you’ll forget some of the cool or noteworthy things you’ve done.  Updating your resume quarterly will let you remember to get those cool things in there.  Think of it like your performance reviews at work – did you do what you said you were going to do?  Are you doing what you want to be doing?  Are you happy with the work you’re doing?  Is there something you’d be more interested in doing?  Performing a career tune up, when nothing is wrong, is nothing but good maintenance.

2) SpellCheck!

Maybe I’m a spelling and grammar Nazi, I don’t know.  But if you can’t spell correctly, or misuse words like “they’re/their/there”, you’re out.  Even worse, is if you don’t use the Vendor/Product name correctly.  I’m not just talking about CaMeLcAsE (which, as a VMware vExpert on vSphere… I get it, it’s dumb.), but the actual names.  The number of resumes I’ve seen listing experience with “Micro-Soft”, “Symantic”, “Veritos”, drive me bonkers.  You’ve apparently worked with the product for 7 years, watched the splash screen load up every day, but somehow can’t remember how to spell the product name?

3) Acuracy

This one is a little tougher, but it’s related to spellcheck.  Did you say you did an Exchange 2008 migration?  Are you using Symantec eVault?  (Quick hint – Symantec’s product is Enterprise Vault – SEAGATE’s product is called eVault.  Think it doesn’t matter?  Try talking to a VAR/Support/Tech person who gets it wrong during design/troubleshooting, and then find out that he built you something for the wrong product, or is suggesting you change settings based on the other product’s known bugs that don’t apply.)

This isn’t a rant about simpler things like “Windows 2012” vs “Windows Server 2012”, where the ambiguity can be accepted.  This is more about making sure you don’t say “Yes, I know Symantec NetBackup” when your resume lists “Symantec Backup Exec”.  I promise you, they’re different beasts.  Your knowledge and skill may very well allow you to pick up the other product quickly.  But if I’m evaluating you based on 5+ years of working with the product I have in place – I expect you know it, not be willing to learn it.  Also, if it’s called out in the interview, and you make the mistake of saying you work with X when Y is listed – I’m going to assume you know neither.

Also, it can help to include unabbreviated details.  Remember the resume may be reviewed by someone junior and/or in HR before it comes to the IT manager/team lead/team.  I’ve seen resumes that were not forwarded to us to review because “You said we were looking for CCNA” and the person listed “Cisco Certified Network Associate”.  You may want to list both – put one in brackets perhaps.  Also, in one instance, the fellow did NOT list CCNA – but had two CCIE’s.  Yeah, why would we even consider that guy… Winking smile

4) Presentation

There isn’t a word processing program around, that doesn’t have a “Show Markups” option.  USE IT!  Simple changes to a file can produce unexpected results.  Make sure you watch for them.  Let me show you some examples:
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Looks good right?  Nice and standard, spacing is all right?
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Copy and paste one line, because you want to modify it for a similar line item.  Note that the NEXT line now has an extra preceding space.
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Cut and paste from another source – see how the font is slightly larger?  Also how there is a different line spacing before/after the entry for ”Cloud Infrastructure….”  (Tip: Use “Paste Text Only” then use the Format Painter to make it match after)
image
See the difference there?  It’s using a “,” vs “-“.  Remember to be consistent.  Also remember that Word will “auto format” – to – and such on you.  So go through it carefully after to see what it has done to your edits.  Copy and paste them if you need to, to make them consistent.

You might be thinking “these things don’t really matter” and “you’re being pretty picky”.  They do matter.  The human eye picks up on these things, subconsciously.  Just like how you might notice a picture is hung crooked, you see these things.  Sometimes, you can’t even put your finger on it, but you know it “feels off” somehow.  More to the point, the viewer can often turn on “Show Markups” on their side – and see all your horrible edits.

So while you may be “just an IT guy” (or gal), you should know how to bloody well use Word (or your word processor of choice).  If you’re using manual spacing instead of tabs and tab stops, stop now, and learn how to do it right.  If you’re using manual spacing to try to get multi-part areas to line up, and not using tables:
image
Figure out how tables work.  If you can’t or won’t learn Word, what hope is there that your documentation will be consistent – or good?  Do I even want to know what your spreadsheets and Visio diagrams look like?  If you won’t learn Word… how can I count on you to learn “Enterprise Product vX.Y.Z” and implement it consistently?

Resumes are all about presenting yourself in the best way possible.  These are your brochures, your full page ads, your RFP.  Ensure it looks the best.

5) Consistency

This item wraps up a few of the above and repeats them a bit.  I realize it’s redundant, bear with me.  But I need to know that if you’re following a standard, that you’ll do so.  Your resume is your OWN standard.  There is no executive team, no change management body, no company stewardship.  There’s a voting party of one.  If you can’t get along and agree with YOURSELF, what hope is there that you can do it in a team?

What frightens me most, is that if you don’t do bullet points consistently, what on earth will you do with a switch config?  IP address schemes?  Host naming standards?  Configuration baselines?  I need to know that when we’re working on an overnight all hands on deck major upgrade, that you don’t need your work checked.  (Aside – everyone, especially myself, should feel glad to have their work peer reviewed and not offended.  Having someone NOT find a mistake is a good pat on the back, but having a peer find it NOW instead of an executive TOMORROW, is priceless.  You’re not perfect.  Be part of the team.  At the very least, double check your own work.  You’re paid to be good – so BE GOOD.)

6) Peer Review

Ah, you thought I was done with that, eh?  Not yet.  If I, as a potential employer or teammate, am the first person to see your resume since you hit save – there’s a problem.  You MUST have someone you can turn to.  Friends, family, co-workers, peers in the industry.  Someone out there must be willing to catch these things for you.  Your best bet – find the most anal, jaded, sarcastic, OCD person you can find (I’m available by request Smile) and get them to review it.  You know how the review went well and was helpful?  They tore it to shreds.  Don’t be offended.  You WANT them to find EVERY LITTLE THING.

There’s another nice little benefit that comes from this, when you choose “peer review”.  You and your peers, who you likely don’t talk with often enough, will compare notes.  You’ll talk about the industry, employers, certifications, projects, etc.  You’ll find out what they’ve done and vice versa.  This is a great time to realize things like “You’ve worked with ProductX?  We’re thinking of trying it, how did the project go?”.  Congratulations, you just created “community involvement”.  If you’re still going about your day, thinking you’re the first caveman to invent fire, and there’s no value in talking to others, it’s time to break that habit.

7) General Stuff

This is just here so that I can say I said it.  But all the things you should have learned in school about resume writing, still apply – I haven’t taken any away.  Try to stay away from job task lists that talk about what you did day to day and focus on highlights, projects, or business value.  If you’re saying “Checked Backups Daily” and you’re the backup or system administrator, I kind of expect that to be true.  Did you perform a major upgrade of the software?  Reduce backup windows?  Improve RPO/RTO?  Save any money?

I know the world says “Keep resumes to 1 page”.  For the life of me, I don’t see how.  If you have advice to share, I’d love to hear it.  I can do 3.3 pages at best.

Pick one font.  Use bold, italic, and size changes to affect the visual.  Dear god, don’t you ever use Comic Sans, unless you just want people to laugh at you.

EVERY page should have your name at the very least on it.  Put it in the Header or Footer so it’s consistent and automatic (hey, sounds like automation, doesn’t it?  The way of the future!).

If you DON’T want someone pulling a “Show Markup” then send a PDF.  Be careful with what you can see in a Track Changes or Show Markup.  You may find previous edits or copies that shouldn’t be there.

    That’s all I’ve got.  Hopefully it helps someone out.  I’ve had a few juniors talk to me recently , asking for advice, and figured I’d collect my thoughts here.  If they’re smart, they’re not relying on just my tips, but that of many – and getting some peer review Smile

    Categories: Certification, Resume

    EMC Certification(s) Achieved–En Masse!

    May 10, 2014 Leave a comment

    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:

    image

    • 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…

    VCP5-IaaS Certification Achieved!

    April 30, 2014 2 comments

    Another one done, but JUST by the skin of my teeth.  I wasn’t really ‘ready’ to take this exam, having worked with vCloud VERY little other than v5.1 and v5.5 beta’s.  Other than that, it’s not really part of my lab or work environment, so there’s not a lot of familiarity.  But VMUG Advantage last year came with a VCP exam voucher which was set to expire end of April, so it was free either way – and I had no other applicable VCP’s to write, having VCP5-DCV and VCP5-DT.

    Materials Used:

     

    Thoughts:

     

    I’d study more.  A lot more.  But I ran out of time, couldn’t reschedule the exam and got tied up.  The voucher was free, so unfortunately it made more sense to give it a go and see how I did and call it a learning experience.  While I was able to get past the exam, I don’t know I feel confident yet in my skills.  That probably comes down to more practice, but also practical use cases.  One of the plans is for myself and another local with a Dell C6100 to set up a “3 Local” / “1 Remote” node environment, with vCloud on both sides and see what that helps us understand when we can see it practically assembled.  I feel like I know “the course materials” but not yet as much “real world experience” as I’d like.  it’ll come over time.

    What’s next?  EMC exams at EMCWorld!  See you next week…

    Categories: Certification, VMware