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The author, Brian Atkinson, is a well-know guy in the virtualization field: he is VMware vExpert 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as also a moderator and guru in VMware community (vmroyale is his nick). This book reflects is experience and also the community contribution (the technical editor was Troy Clavell, another well-know guy in the community), as also the direct experience in the VCP5 exam (Brian passed it in the beta period).
This book can be used as a study guide for the VCP5 exam preparation (and the first page is just the VCP5 blueprint with the page reference in the book) or a complete reference for most of the aspects and features of vSphere 5.
Note that the VCP5 blueprint hasn’t change from in the different versions, so the content of this book remain valid (and probably this will be true also with when vSphere 5.1 will be released, considering that the VCP5 remain a generic 5.x exam).
The book is really “huge” (753 pages), but of course cannot replace the entire vSphere documentations. Also it cannot replace the skill and the experience in virtualization: although several aspects are well explained (included what cloud computing is) you must know the basis of virtualization and the basis of vSphere products. There is no single study guide that can do it all: you are wrong if you think to study for this exam without some kind of practices (also lab practices could be fine).
As written, you can use this book in two ways: as a study guide during the preparation at the exam (and there are several questions to check your knowledge), or as a final reference (more deep than the simple blueprint) to verify your knowledge some days before the exam. About the questions in the book remember they are for knowledge checking and are not an example of VCP5 exam questions. But if you register the book (on http://www.sybex.com/go/vcp5), you can have an assessment test (but I’ve not tried it yet) and other useful material.
It includes also several screenshots that could help to identify features, menu, values, options (but I still suggest to make also a practical experience).
And if you have already passed the VCP5 exam? This book could still be useful? It could be a good resource for vSphere administrators that need a reference: the book include also some real-world scenarios that could help and simple could be good examples. Schema and diagram are really clean and easy to read and well used to example some concepts.
Of course the level is not too deep (is calibrated for VCP5 objectives), so the book could not be used, for example, as a preparation book for VCAP5-DCA (but was not the purpose of the book).
For more informations see also: