VMWare Foundations (2V0-620) – An Unwelcome Surprise

I’ll admit – achieving VCP certification is something that’s existed only within the realm of dreams for me for the last 10 years of my IT life. This wasn’t the case because of sheer difficulty, but rather because of price – VMWare mandated that you had to had their official course for VCP on your VMWare account, or they wouldn’t give you the cert, and that course ranged between $4,000 to $6,000 depending on version.

That dollar amount was what made other exams “lower-hanging fruit” for me to pursue, and VCP was thrown on the back burner. As of 2018, all that has now changed.

VMWare has now changed their policy on VCP so that approved collegiate continuing education courses that use the VMWare Press book for VCP will now count as credit towards this course requirement. This has turned a $4,000 prerequisite into a $350 prerequisite, and moved VCP back onto my “to-do” list at long last.

I’m pretty stoked. This was admittedly the weakest spot on my resume for a while since I have certs to tie to experience in all my other skill strengths, but had nothing with VMWare. I can finally tackle this challenge, and round myself out nicely. (in terms of skills, mind you – stay skinny, folks!)

If you’ve never held a VMWare professional-level certification before, VMWare requires that you first take their VMWare Foundations exam as a stepping stone of sorts before taking the actual VCP test. This exam is only $125, and can be taken from the comfort of your own home as an unproctored open-book web exam. This was the first objective on my VMWare road towards VCP.

Sounds easy, right? Well…..

The Devil’s In The Details

This test needs to be thought of as “VCP – Part One” instead of as an entry-level test that precedes VCP. To back this up, let me present the official recommended preparation path for this test, as listed on VMWare’s website:

You may have already spotted the two more obvious anomalies in this list.

Firstly, the official VMWare Press book for the Foundations exam isn’t listed in the recommended study materials. If you own or have already read the Foundations book, then I hope you’ll agree with my assessment of it in that it’s a technically-spritzed up sales pitch at best. It really just covers the feature differentiation between some of the different VMWare license editions, and only covers the extreme basics in terms of how to do anything in VMWare. If you have four months of part-time experience with VMWare, the book will be nothing but review for you.

Secondly, the prep course for the actual VCP exam IS listed in the recommended path. This might strike you as pretty odd for an “entry level” test that shouldn’t really be touching on any of the VCP topics to a real extent. At first, I thought this might have simply been a passive advertisement by VMWare to try and get people to shell out the $4,000 for their course to tackle this test, but it’s a bit too conspicuous in how it’s presented for that to be the case. Or is it?

​I’ll attest from my firsthand sitting for this exam that it’s not an entry-level test. I’d argue that it’s equally as hard as the actual VMWare exam, and the fact that it’s open-book has made VMWare graft questions into it that are either in obscure spots in both the Foundations or VCP books, or are in really hard-to-find locations on the Internet.

If You Love Exams That Test Real-World Skills, Well…

I hate this exam in the regard that all it tests you on are granularly-odd things about the VMWare setup and basic configuration experience, and minor feature differences between the different licensing levels and models. That’s it.

No hands-on tests. No simulations. No practicality. Just stupid, awkward questions.

​Why vendors are increasingly going down this route of crafting their exams this way is beyond me. Microsoft and Cisco are current full-time members on my list of “Vendors That Have Some Farked-Up Tests”, and VMWare is well on the way to joining them after this endeavor. All this mentality really promotes is:

  • 95% – people will just cheat on this exam, and devalue the certification
  • 5% – people will overstudy for the test after failing it once, pass it, then be discouraged from continuing on toward further VMWare certification

My guess is that more advanced VMWare exams aren’t constructed this way. At least, it’s my sincere hope that they aren’t. I can’t fault anyone for cheating on this test – I passed it by an incredibly narrow margin, and you only need 60% to pass! All because a vendor has deliberately made things far more confusing than they have to be, and is trying to use their certs as yet another “cash cow” source of income.

If You’d Like To Properly Take The Test, My Thoughts

If you bought the VMWare Foundations book, try and get your money back for it. Don’t bother reading it – it will do you next to no good on the test, or on VCP actual. I threw mine in the trash after passing the test – I pray to God no one else has to suffer through the frustration of the Foundations exam after reading the book and thinking they’re set.

After doing some searching on the Internet, I found an excellent guide presented by New Age Technologies in Louisville, Kentucky on this subject. One of their staff had recently taken his Foundations exam, and wanted to offer similar pointers for fellow exam-takers who genuinely want to learn the material the exam really pertains to. I’d like to offer a thanks to them, as I’ll mention their recommended documentation list below as I agree with it entirely:

These are all PDF guides that are freely available on VMWare’s website, and cover the actual test content pretty thoroughly. While altogether they are nearly 1,000 pages of content, they will give you a much better run at this exam over the course of a couple weeks’ worth of evenings.

In addition to documentation, make sure to walk through all of the setups along with them. Do labs. Make sure that you know which steps go where, and what options are available on each. I don’t think you’ll need to take the actual VCP book’s worth of reading or the VCP course to prepare for this test, so those checkpoints can safely wait until you attempt VCP after this exam as a next step.

No Command Reference Guide For This Test

I don’t have a command reference guide for VMWare Foundations, as I normally do with all of the Cisco and Linux tests that I take. The reason for this is that Foundations doesn’t deal with the command line at all.

Since most of the test questions are related to feature differences or step-by-step options, nearly all of that information will be available in the PDF documentation mentioned prior. My recommendation would be to have all of those documents pulled up in separate browser or Adobe Reader tabs as you’re taking the exam, and be prepared to quickly CTRL+F search through the topical ones if you run across a question you don’t know.

Keep in mind that you’re going to have to be fast with the searches when you need them – you’re going to have to average roughly a minute per question on the test, so you’ll have to consciously budget less time towards the easier questions to give yourself that extra minute or two on the hard questions you have to look up.

Summary

I get the impression that VMWare doesn’t take kindly to people trying to avoid “strip-mining” their wallets to get out of having to drop what’s currently $4,600 on their official VCP course in going the route I am. That being said, they’re the only major IT vendor that has a course requirement for their certification out there.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, nearly 90% of all IT exployees are “white-collar workers making blue-collar pay”. Entry-level IT jobs don’t pay great, and pricing technicians out of training to try and further their careers is a douche move in some regards.

I’m not sure what my opinion of VMWare will be once I have my VCP. At this moment, my opinion isn’t great, but could be worse. Time will tell what comes of that.

Caleb
Caleb Huggenberger is a 31 year-old systems engineer, owner of the non-profit animation streaming service 'Otaku Central', and Eastern culture enthusiast. Outside of long work days, he enjoys electronics engineering, cast iron campfire cooking, and homesteading on his acreage in the Indiana countryside.

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