VCAP Test Track (lab on a lap)

A couple of weeks before VMworld 2012 I built a portable VCAP5-DCA replica on my Lenovo W510 laptop that included all of the major components of the DCA environment.  It matched the IP scheme, naming convention, password pattern, available utilities and documentation available on the DCA.  The one component it didn’t have was the initial “blank desktop” you log in to during the DCA with the floating toolbar.

Note that while Test Track doesn’t have FCP storage available like the real exam, it still features a scenario on FCP.  It also has multipath iSCSI and NFS plus 3 separate networks just like the real exam.

I then wrote sixteen scenarios for it (actually fifteen, plus a “vExpert only” scenario I wrote on the flight out there) that were “in the spirit of” the scenarios on the real exam.  The scenarios were intended to give prospective candidates some “hands-on” time with the exam.

Note that the real exam items are repeatedly peer-reviewed and are written for the DCA blueprint.  The Test Track scenarios have only 4 topics: Storage, Networking, Virtual Machines and Misc.  Mine also tend to be “trickier” than the real ones.

TT has been run at US and EU VMworlds, and a bunch of VMUG conferences in the US.  I also occasionally open it up via RDP for remote access (hit me up on Twitter if you are working towards VCAP5-DCA and want to try it out).   I also just worked out a user-initiated reset script which should come in handy.  While the original 16 scenarios were intended to be completely independent I have them grouped into sets of 4 which seems to work well.

The lab runs fine on my i7 Extreme w510 with 16GB RAM and an SSD – in fact I ran it off the second 7200RPM WD Black drive initially.  The SSD/7200 performance difference was hardly noticeable other than the lab booting ~90 seconds faster with the SSD.  I did make a secondary startup script that stops all non-essential services as it just barely fits in the 16GB of RAM.

Test Track lab layout running under Workstation 9 on Win7:

VC 1CPU, 4GB, Win2k3 vCenter 5.0
vCenter, Autodeploy, Syslog, SQL Express

SC02 and SC03 (ESXi 5.0)  2CPU, 3GB

DC  1CPU, 3GB (Win2k8 R2)
AD, DNS, DHCP, NTP, iSCSI target, NFS, scripts to populate observed network
for RDP access to test track, this serves as the initial desktop


VUM 1CPU, 2GB, Win2k3, vCenter Update Manager 5.0

With any luck I’ll have a DTA and CIA version out in the near future, tho probably not with 16 scenarios each.   A user-initiated scoring function is on the drawing board, we’ll see if I have time to implement it.   I do also have new hardware in the form of an Alienware 18″ laptop – however that is really proven to be a terrible system with all kinds of problems and mediocre performance.

Previous posts about Test Track:
Building a VCAP live exam lab environment

vSphere scripting : wait for vCenter

Automating your vSphere Demo environment with a vmrun batch file

vSphere5: Setting the Observed IP Range

Resetting the environment

Scoring VCAP Test Track

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