Gearing Up For The VCP5-IaaS Exam

The VCP5-IaaS exam, or in my mind the “vCloud exam“, is one of the latest in a large lineup of certifications that VMware has created over the past few years. The exam states:

The VCPVCD511 VMware Certified Professional 5 – Infrastructure as a Service beta exam tests potential VCP5-IaaS candidates on their skills and abilities installing, configuring and administering a vCloud environment. Successful candidates demonstrate mastery of these skills and abilities.

The gotcha term is “vCloud environment” – this actually encompasses a very wide swath of VMware products that integrate with vCloud Director, including vCloud Connector, vShield Manager / Edge, and vCenter Chargeback. While I’d imagine that everyone who has touched vCloud should be familiar with vShield Manager (as it is a required component to even install vCloud Director), Connector and Chargeback are a bit of a different beast. I don’t see Chargeback that often, and realistically, it still needs some TLC polish from VMware before it will be more mainstream.

I may have slightly altered this image

I recently sat the beta version of the exam, and thought I’d share some of my preparation materials, lab work, and general thoughts on the exam. I have no idea if I passed, and probably won’t know until August. You might also want to read the IaaS experience post by Tomi Hakala over on his blog.

vCloud Lab Studies

In order to best fulfill the blueprint objectives, which covered a wide variety of tasks and knowledge points, I figured it would be best to put together a brand new vCloud environment and hit each sub-objective as best I could. Using a pair of my lab hosts in my DR site, I formed the Wahl Network Cloud Services vCloud environment with two tenants: Catalog and the SpongeBob Widget Factory.

Some of my Network Pools in the System tab

All of the licensing necessary to build the environment is available on VMware’s website as a trial for 60 days. I didn’t end up needing much horsepower for the lab, as the actual VMs themselves were not all that important. I decided to go with tiny Turnkey Linux VMs just to test that IP connectivity was working as expected and to run some fake WordPress sites to further test firewall rules. Each VM consumed no more than 512 MBs of RAM, with the whole lab only consuming about 6 GB of RAM and perhaps 40 GB of disk space.

I’d advise freeing up a ton of network space (subnets and routable IPs) for your lab. You will need to configure a ridiculous amount of networks to test everything out, so that most of the RAM being used was for vShield Edge devices for routed org networks and fenced vApps. 😉

Study Materials

I decided to just use the PDFs available from VMware to supplement the lab work. The links are all included in the blueprint, but it boils down to:

  • vCenter Chargeback Manager Installation & User’s Guide
  • vCloud Connector Installation and Configuration Guide & Using vCloud Connector
  • vCloud Director Administrator’s Guide, Installation and Configuration Guide, and User’s Guide
  • vShield Administration Guide and Quick Guide

I tried to pull most of the knowledge directly from the lab, with the guides being helpful with questions on installation.

There’s also a mock exam you can take if you want to get a feel for the questions.

Exam Format and Experience

The exam was proctored at Pearson VUE (nothing surprising there). I’m not sure what will change after the beta, but as others have stated, it was 115 questions in a time frame of 120 minutes. The questions were all multiple choice in nature, with some requiring multiple answers (choose 2 or more).

Overall, the certification team has done a good job on this exam. I made some comments to fix some things I felt were in error, but hey – that’s the point of a beta. The exam definitely figured that you knew vSphere, which makes sense seeing as how a pre-req is VCP5.

My advice? Build a lab for this one, learn the products, master the concepts. vCloud isn’t easy even on the best of days, and having first hand experience is something that will come in handy in a big way on this exam.


If you’ll recall, it wasn’t that long ago when VMware certification junkies could only achieve either the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) or VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX). The certification scene was mostly a wasteland between those with VCP (lots of us) and those with VCDX (a very select few of the ultra elite). It’s good to see a wider variety of certifications available at a variety of levels. Having a vCloud-centric exam validates VMware’s investment in this product, and highlights their commitment to the future of cloud.

I wonder if VCP-IaaS will have a VCAP to go along with it in the future? David Davis sure seems to hope so. 🙂