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I’ve not found any available seats to take the VCAP5-DCA exam during the beta period, and actually I don’t need to take it for my VCDX5 upgrade. But I think that this is one of the best VMware exam and I really like it, so on Jan 10, 2013 I’ve found the opportunity and the time window to take the exam.

After 3.5 weeks (that is just the average time) I’ve got the result and I’ve passed the exam:


First comment: it’s probably the best example of an exam that perfectly fit in it’s scope. To prove the administrator capacities is the right and correct way. Nothing to cheat, manual available (although, in the real life, I prefer using a search engine instead search in manual), tasks to do (some that also include troubleshooting activities).

And does not matter what you use to solve the tasks (you can use GUI, CLI, RCLI, PowerShell, …), only the result seems to be valuated (and not how you reach the result). Maybe some tasks are too simple (or just look too simple), but others are not and most activities and arguments are covered.


VCAP-DCAThe actual version is the version 1.1 (9 July 2012) and is still valid. There are a lot of good documents with VCAP5-DCA study guides and notes.

Note that all references are still to vSphere 5.0 official docs. In fact the lab was based on vSphere 5.0! This is a common approach (used also on other VMware exams) to keep the certification exam a generic 5.x version. So do not expect any of the new 5.1 features. But be sure to check the blueprint before take the exam.

Before the exam

First you have to study, using not only your working experience, but mostly with some custom labs to be sure to test also some uncommon (in some scenarios) features, like for example AutoDeploy. The blueprint and the study guides can also help a lot.

The you have to request the authorization, because is a VCAP exam. Request is very fast (usually no more than a day) and it’s done online using this form. After that you can schedule your exam in a selected VUE testing center (for VCAP exams, called VMware Advanced, it’s a really a small subset).

The exam fee can vary from different Countries, but it’s usually around 400$ (and during VMware events, like VMworld or PEX, there could some interesting discount). Exam VUE code is Exam VDCA510.

During the exam

The exam is based on 26 live labs with several practices tasks (more than one for lab). To be honest the lab is just one. You have different scenarios/tasks each with more sub-tasks. Some tasks may be required for future tasks, but most are completely independent.

You have 210 minutes plus 30 minutes if you take the exam in a Country where English is not the primary languages (extra time is automatically added). Time seems a lot compared to the tasks and probably you can finish 30-60 minutes early. But are true tasks on a true environment, so you can also have some delay in operations and you have to plan how handle this cases. For example, instead of wait the deploy from a template just do other task and go back later on it.

The lab environment consists in a remote session on a Windows machine where you can connect to the lab systems: 2 ESXi hosts, a vCenter Server, a vMA and usually a Windows System with PowerCLI (could be the vCenter). All hosts have SSH enabled (and the the first Windows machine you have also Putty).

Note that you have only one monitor, so you have to switch periodically from the task list to the lab environment.

Note that you can take down part of your lab if you configure the networking in a wrong way (but management interfaces are on dedicated vSwitches) or you unconfigure the hosts. Usually no hosts reboot is required in the exam tasks.

For more information see also the official VCAP5-DCA page.

Other exam experiences

Other links


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.