I am pleased to announce that I successfull passed the VMware VCPN610 exam on 26.10.2014 and received a VCP-NV certificate. It was a long hard journey and I would like to share my experience how I prepared for the actual exam.
When VMware announced first their new certification path covering network virtualization, it was no question that I will persue this path. I was so excited. Since there is no offcial free courseware available to prepare for the actual exam I did the hard way, reading through the offical exam blueprint which was about 25 pages long.
Then, expanding on blueprint, I started to research each topic in more detail. It really help that blueprint itself will direct you to right resource. However I wanted to know far more, not just the product it self but also the story behind it. I read various publications from Martin Casado and his friends tracing back to Stanford where the idea begun. It was a long time before VMware bough Nicira in 2012 for 1.2B dollars. Nicira was created by Martin and they had product called Nicira Network Virtualization Platform, which eventually became NSX flavor for multi hypervisor support. Just looking at this investment you can see how big is NSX for VMware at the moment, and trust me software defined networking is just beginning to shape our networks..
Besides official technical resources, what really helped fill the gaps were many sessions from this years VMware World, convering anything from Distributed Swtich deep dive to explaining various NSX components and services in greater detail. You can find these sessions on youtube. I already had some previous knowledge about vSphere but book from Chris Wahl – Networking for VMware Administrators helped me reinforce the core networking topics in vSphere. I highly recommend this book for either network admins seeking more information about VMware and for server admins seeking to know more about networking.
The essenatial resources, and I am very thankfull for that were the VMware Hands on Labs, which are free and allow you to play with the technology it self and look under the hood. Nothing is hidden. Depending on your previous experience I recommend to go throug these follovings labs:
- HOL-SDC-1402 – vSphere Distributed Switch from A to Z
- HOL-SDC-1403 – VMware NSX Introduction
- HOL-SDC-1424 – VNware NSX in the SDDC
- HOL-SDC-1425 – VMware NSX Advanced
If you check the blueprint you can notice that thera are quite a large number of topics. My tip for exam VCPN610 is to know the core foundation of NSX and that includes
- Familiarity with core VMware products – vSphere, ESXi, vCNS, vCAC,
- Difference between Standard Virtual Switch and Distributed Virtual Switch
- What are VMkernel port, portgroup, uplink ports,
- Difference between south-north and east-west traffic patterns
- Difference between underlay and overlay network
- NSX architecture, components and services and their relationships
- Differenct between tradional 3-Tier network architecture and Leaf-Spine
- Data, Control and Management Plane of NSX
- NSX Maxims – how many VXLAN supports, how many NSX Edges can you run…
- Physical network requirements, what is VTEP
There are lot more topic to cover, however during the exam I found these the be the most important. There are very generous pre-requesties for this exam. If you are currently a Cisco CCNA or CCNP certified in Routing and Switching or Data Center Track you can sit the exam till 28.02.2015. After that date you need to sit of an official course to be qualified to take the exam.
If you think that this new technology is something you are interested in and want to expand your knowledge skills in software defined networking this track is the right choice. Stay tuned for more articles covering NSX that may help you toward you goal.