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VCAP-Design or VCAP-Deploy? Which Exam to Take First?

Deciding which VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) exam to take first can be tough.  Both of these exams lead to a VMware VCAP certification.  If you are looking to obtain the VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX) Certification, you will need to pass two exams for the Data Center Virtualization (VCAP-DCV/VCIX-DCV), Cloud Automation (VCAP-CMA/VCIX-CMA), and Desktop and Mobility (VCAP-DTM/VCIX-DTM) tracks. If you are heading down the Network Virtualization (VCAP-NV/VCIX-NV), you are in luck! There is a single exam to pass for this track only so your decision just got a lot easier.

Now, let’s see if we can make the decision easier when it comes to advanced VMware certification.

Before Starting The VMware VCAP Certification Path

First, before you even start studying for your VMware VCAP certification, you must have already obtained the VMware VCP certification, which you can read more about here.

The next thing is to ask yourself the following question:

Why are you taking the test?  What VMware VCAP certification are you seeking?

You will likely come up with one of two answers:

  • One VCAP – To prove knowledge/experience in a specific area
  • Two VCAPs – To ultimately take both tests and earn the VCIX certification, perhaps on the path to VCDX

What is the VMware VCAP Certification Again?

As we mentioned briefly, the VCAP certification stands for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional Certification.  Why would you want this certification you ask?  To prove expertise and advanced knowledge of VMware products.  The VMware VCAP certification is very different than the VCP certification.  For one, it is not your standard multiple choice exam.  The VCAP certification test formats are as follows:

  • VMware VCAP Deploy – you are connected to a desktop to gain remote access to a lab where you must perform specific configuration, deployment, and implementation tasks.  After you are completed the lab is scored and you receive your results.  This is a hands on test, and has no traditional test questions like you are used to encountering.
  • VMware VCAP Design – The testing engine presents you with a series of different types of questions such as drag and drop.  It is very visual, and is not the multiple choice questions you are used to.  These questions are often very tricky and really require you to understand the vSphere design process.

The VMware VCAP certification is right in the middle of the VMware certification path, preceded by VCP and followed by VCDX.  Be sure to check out this complete guide to VMware certification, which covers the complete certification path for each and every VMware certification track.

One VMware VCAP Certification For Now

If you plan on taking a single VCAP right now, my advice would be to take the Design test. Why? My reason is simple – it is very hard to validate design experience when you are starting out on that path. It is also hard to get experience when you are not in a design role.

Studying for this exam can help you start to get into the design mindset, which will help you develop design experience in your everyday life.

What if you want to prove you have hands on vSphere experience? My advice would still be to take the Design test! As I mentioned, in the absence of handing over a sanitized design you have done to prove the experience, or be able to have a design conversation (if you do not know what you are talking about, believe me, a prospective employer or colleague with design experience will figure it out), design experience is hard to prove.

By starting with the VCAP-Design test, you have proven you understand design concepts, and will be able to have a design conversation.

Now, getting back to how you can prove your hands on vSphere experience without a VCAP-Deploy Certification. I have a few ideas to get you started:

  • How to Blogs
  • Troubleshooting Blogs
  • Demo Videos
  • Troubleshooting Videos

The idea behind these ideas is simple: proving your experience in configuration and deployment, as well as a more advanced topic such as troubleshooting. Creating content like blogs and videos is also a great way to teach yourself something new. Both of these types of media are an interesting avenue to explore, and can work together.

For example, you can write a how to blog, then create a how to video and post it on YouTube. You can link back to your blog in your YouTube video, and link to your YouTube video from your blog. As a bonus, creating this content will help others learn!

Both VMware VCAP Certifications Planned

If you plan on taking both VCAP exams on your way to VCIX or even VCDX, my advice is simple. Take whichever exam you think will be easier for you. If you have been doing lots of hands on VMware vSphere administration, the VCAP-Deploy will be easier. On the other hand, if you are spending more time on design work, the VCAP-Design test will be easier.

I give this advice for one main reason: starting with the easier exam will build your confidence and help you prepare for the exam that requires more studying in the long run. Remember, VCAP exams are no easy feat, since these tests are over 2 hours long.

Confidence is key to success, and remember, it is just a exam you can take again if you do not pass the first time.

Becoming a VMware VCIX

If you pass both VCAP exams for your desired certification path, you will earn the VMware VCIX designation.  VCIX stands for VMware Certified Implementation Expert.  After all, you are showing advanced expertise in both the deployment and design of VMware products!  This is an achievement and a designation to be proud of.

Remember, VCIX-NV is Different

When it comes to the Network Virtualization VMware certification path, things are a bit different.  After all, there is only one VCAP when it comes to Network Virtualization, which is the VCAP Deploy.  This means you receive the VCIX-NV designation after only one test.

The Last Bits of VMware VCAP Certification Advice

Ready to get started? Head over to VMware Education’s Certification Page!

Remember, each VMware VCAP exam references a specific version of a vSphere product, which may differ from the version you have experience with. Pay close attention to this, as different concepts may apply based on the version of the software you are being tested on. Also, do not forget to start with reading the official Exam Guide for the test you are about to study for. This document tells you exactly what areas you will be tested on during the exam, and should be used to drive your preparation. Good luck in obtaining your VMware VCAP certification!