Title: The Official VCP5 Certification Guide
Authors: Bill Ferguson
Publisher: VMware Press
Published: August 26, 2012
Edition: 1st Edition
Reviewer: Arani Mukherjee
The moment we find a book that gears us for a certification, straightaway we get into ‘I need to achieve’ mode. With it comes the urge to use shortcuts and randomly ignore things that you might think are irrelevant. I have said this before and I will say it again: a certification is just one milestone in the journey to attaining expertise, it is not the endgame. In spite of the fact that this book is written for the purpose of a certification, it does much more than that.
This is tailored to make you competent on vSphere 5. I would, however, tip my hat to the author for making that task much more manageable and entertaining. He has given careful attention to the goals and has kept the journey as simple as possible. I would not waste your time extolling the need for virtualisation. That is a well established fact. What this book does is prepare you to extract the best out of some really efficient virtualisation tools brought to us by VMware, which holds the position of being pathfinder in the virtualisation industry.
To ensure that the readers are not overwhelmed by the information the author has made some subjective assumptions, which are as follows:
- This is not a ‘virtualisation for dummies’ book. You will need prior exposure/experience with virtualisation
- You should have access to a vSphere 5 environment. Workstation 8 with the VMs will suffice.
- You are looking to be the ‘One Ring to rule them all’ once you complete reading this book. The approach is ‘What is Important?’. You don’t become an overlord in VMware virtualisation, but I reckon this book will get you on that path pretty much!!
- The author Mr. Ferguson says, and I quote, “My job is to know this material so well that I can make it easier for you to learn than it was for me to learn”. I couldn’t agree more. Time and again, I have implemented this same ethic when I have written tutorials or designed training courses.
The book has its own flow and order of chapters. This has been done diligently to maximise output in terms of learning.
There are 8 chapters to contend with and each chapter has a nice preamble of the topics it covers. That is followed by a Cisco style ‘Do I know this already?’ style quiz. This is among best practice in the field of writing books geared for any certification. The chapters are interspersed with Notes sections, which are repeated at the end of each chapter. Each chapter ends on a review and a questionnaire. This is a watertight arrangement when the goal is to make the learning more streamlined.
The first 3 chapters mainly deal with planning, installing and configuring the vCentre Server and the ESXi. I am throwing the jargon in as well assuming that by now you would know what an ESXi is i.e. a hypervisor. You also learn how to install and configure the network and storage side of vCentre.
Chapters 4 and 5 talk about the administration of the setup. Readers get a feel of how to manage all those VMs and the associated virtual applications. They get introduced to the concept of cloning and exporting VMs as well.
Further on, it is all about how to keep your VMs fit and healthy. The topics cover disaster recovery and failure management. Readers learn how to make lean, mean virtual machines that can pick themselves up should they stumble, and get going with minimum fuss.
Chapter 6 is like a biology lab running a dissection session. Instead of a specimen, you have the core components of vSphere opened up to give a better understanding of how they all work together to deliver a virtual environment. Once you conceptualise that, you can spot an issue and pre-empt a problem with a fix. Hence it is called ‘troubleshooting’, you spot a trouble and you virtually shoot it!!
Chapter 7 talks about the four major resources that are critical for a virtual system: CPU; memory; disk; and network. They need to be monitored and managed for any sign of stress or impending failure. Any problems need to be sorted out so that there is no adverse impact on the service level of the VMs.
I wanted to include Chapter 8 as part of the conclusion itself. Not just because it is obviously the last chapter. More so because by its own virtue, it ends the revision phase that highlights the key topics important from the certification point of view. Frankly I have not seen a final chapter more inspirational and motivating. It has a very positive appeal about itself. I relished the fact that the author does not try to work up the readers to a feverish pitch towards the exam. Instead, what he does is summed up perfectly by his own line, and I quote, “Let your mind relax, it’s not life and death after all”.
This is one of the few books, by my estimation, that has been written for the purpose of a certification but surpasses the objective by miles. It also carries, and quite easily at that, the label of being a reference guide and a ‘how to’ guide, even when the certification objective has been achieved. This is a must have for all VMware qualification aspirants who wish to further their career into the realms of virtualisation.