VCIX-NV Exam Recap

Today I took the VCIX-NV exam (VCXN610) and failed with a score of 277/500 (pass mark is 300).  Really enjoyed the exam, NSX-v is such a cool piece of technology, it is fun to build stuff with the “swiss-army knife” of data center networking.  I will retake the exam in two weeks.  Update: 3 June 2015, passed today with 324/500.  Lab latency was particularly bad this time.

Impressions of the exam:

  • The latency issues I have previously experienced in the VCAP-DCA exam have improved.  However, be careful of fast clicking in the Web Client UI, particularly when using the Virtual Machine Console (90 second freezes while the screen updates).  Get used to “Click” or “Type” and wait a few seconds for the screen to refresh.
  • I had very good results with two concurrent Web Client windows, one for NSX Manager and one for vSphere.
  • Browse through the questions and Power-On the necessary VMs you will need to complete the tasks before you start (they take some time to come online).
  • Go through the lab and draw a network diagram of the NSX-v and vSphere infrastructure, including IP addresses.
  • SSH into the NSX-v and vSphere infrastructure you think you are going to need to troubleshoot.
  • Go through the task list and get an idea of the big picture.  Which tasks are on the critical path and depend upon other steps?  Which ones are quick wins that you can address immediately?
  • The task list is very wordy with ZERO diagrams.  Jump to the numbered tasks at the bottom to see what is actually required and then refer to the prelude text for supporting requirements and information.
  • Many of the tasks are quite convoluted and complicated, read carefully to make sure you understand exactly what is required before you start making changes.  Some actions are very difficult to undo if you get them wrong.
  • It is easy to get frustrated with the latency of the lab, take a deep breath and multi-task.  While waiting for one job to finish, start on the next step.
  • Keep an eye on the clock, you are in a time vortex.  It is over before you know it.
  • Official SLA for exam results is 10 days, but I had them in my inbox within 2 hours.  Impressive!

What does it take to pass the exam?  Aside from the obvious “know the blueprint”, my advice is this:

  • Read the following VCDX Study Plans for Network and Security.  If these lists make no sense to you, consider taking the courses for CCNA and CCNP to understand the fundamentals of networking and security.
  • Take the Pluralsight NSX courses by Jason Nash, they have enough information and lab demonstrations to understand most of the VCIX-NV blueprint.  Currently DFW, API and Service Composer are not covered in detail.  If you have the budget, take the VMware NSX ICM course instead.
  • Follow the HOL NSX lab guides, there is enough information here to fill in most of the gaps.
  • Go to the Education section of the NSX Link-O-Rama for loads of study and certification material.
  • Use the HOL for building and testing each component of NSX-v.  You can perform most tasks except for the NSX Manager install and NSX-v upgrades.  You can reserve each lab for 4 hours and 40 minutes (with two time extensions), delete every NSX component except for the NSX manager, delete the vCenter-NSX Manager relationship and start from scratch.
  • Assuming you understand the routing/switching fundamentals and the network security fundamentals, you should be able to prepare for the exam over four weeks with an approximate 40 hour investment of your time.
  • Practice troubleshooting NSX-v.  It is complicated and takes some time to understand what goes where.  Remember – swiss-army knife!

Residents of Riyadh – VCIX-NV Exam Center

There is only one test center in Riyadh that offers the VCIX-NV exam and that is Topaz Systems on the southern side of Tahlia Street.  Located in between Takasussi Street and King Fahad Road in the Al-Romaizan Building (first floor, entrance is on the eastern side of building).

I normally attend the Global Knowledge test center on Al-Oroubah Road, however Topaz has a great setup (neat, clean, comfortable padded chairs, fast network connection, 20 inch flat screens, offer of ear plugs for any noise) and they are open on Saturdays.  Perfect!

Additional Resources

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Chief Enterprise Architect and Strategist, 4xVCDX#133, NPX#8, DECM-EA.

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