My Journey to Obtaining my VMware vSAN 6.7 2019 Specialist Certification (5V0-21.19)

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I received a lot of feedback from my last certification exam review blog so I thought I would write one for my 6.7 vSAN Specialist. I will be the first to admit that I thought this exam was very straight forward and was truely testing your knowledge of vSAN. I will also admit I did not study for this exam and was able to pass it based purely on experience. However, I do have some useful links below including some focus points for the exam.

VMware Specialist - vSAN 2019

Background:
I have been working with vSAN since back in late 2014 early 2015. I have seen it through all of it’s growing pains and DellEMC wrapping a guard rail around it in VxRail. I truly do believe this is te best software defined storage solution on the market. Further transparency, I spend at least a couple hours a week continually expanding my vSAN knowledge whether reading update material or trying out things in my Non-Production environment.

I highly recommend purchasing Duncan Epping & Cormac Hogan VMware vSAN 6.7 U1
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=duncan+epping&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Exam Blueprint:
https://www.vmware.com/education-services/certification/vsan-2019-exam.html

vSAN Documentation – vSAN Monitoring and Troubleshooting, Administering vSAN, & vSAN Planning and Deployment
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSAN/index.html

VMware® vSAN™ Design and Sizing Guide
https://storagehub.vmware.com/t/vmware-vsan/vmware-r-vsan-tm-design-and-sizing-guide-2/

Useful Blogs:
http://www.yellow-bricks.com/
https://cormachogan.com/vsan/
http://www.virtualizationblog.com/tag/vsan/

First attempt: Score 360
I was surprised at how little install questions were on this exam. It may be that I got the pool of questions that weren’t weighed heavily on install but it was still surprising. A lot of the questions like I said above are pretty straight forward if you have been working with vSAN for even a year.

Things to focus on:
1. Tools – You really need to remember all the performance tools & monitoring tools and what each do. In addition, figure out which tools work best for troubleshooting situations.
2. Fault Tolerance – Please spend time understanding Fault Domains within vSAN and why and how you use them. This is critical for any vSAN engineer but all scenarios are fair game on the exam.
3. Stretch Clusters – whether you like them or not, you better believe there will be questions on the exam from technical all the way to design.
4. New features – please familiarize yourself with new features and functions that came out in 6.7 such as UNMAP.
5. Upgrades – Ever upgrade vSAN before? If no, that isn’t good, if yes, then you will do well on this exam. Understand the order of the upgrade operations and what you need to do to prepare for an upgrade.
6. Do you happen to know the vSAN math formula’s? If not, I suggest you make them part of you ever day life. Calculating raw space, slack space, PFFT, etc.
7. Disaster Recovery – understand all the ways to perform DR in a vSAN environment and how site outages can impact your environment, especially, stretch clusters.
8. Please review the three different maintenance modes. Their impact on vSAN and when to use each.
9. Please have a deep understanding of cluster sizing. Not just what is the minimums but also real world minimums for different workloads and situations
10. Know the subtle differences between hybrid and all flash and I’m not talking about all flash let’s you have dedupe/compression.
11. Encryption – not a lot to know here but know the results of enabling/disabling, what types of keys used, what it takes to setup, and what happens in failure events.

Summary:
My apologies to anyone who believes I am making a difficult exam appear easy. This vSAN exam would be difficult for people lacking the proper experience and day to day operations of vSAN. I hope this article was able to help point y’all in some good directions.

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