Is the VCAP-CMA Deploy Worth It?
| technology | system admin - David Chapman

Is the VCAP-CMA Deploy Worth It?

VMware has been an industry leader in the virtualization space for nearly two decades now.  One of their earlier products which would become known as VMware workstation was revolutionary in that it allowed someone to run another OS instance inside of their main OS instance.

VMware would later go through a few iterations and offerings of their products before we would see the polished flagship products we have access to today.  Not only that, they have quite an ecosystem of tools designed to meet the needs of even the largest enterprises yet be flexible for the up and coming businesses planning for growth.

It is not enough these days to simply virtualize an environment but the orchestration and automated deployment is a must for mature organizations.

What Is the VCAP-CMA Deploy?

VCAP-CMA Deploy on its own is a bit of a mouthful.  The official long hand title for it is VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Cloud Management and Automation Deploy.  It typically has a year associated with it so that you know how current it is and as of the time of this writing it is 2021.  VMware has year numbered certifications in some scenarios like this in order to help aid in determining how old the certification is.  The current exam number is 3V0-31.21 and it covers vRealize Automation 8.X.

For those familiar with VMware and some of the core products but not vRealize Automation, this is a cloud management tool that allows provisioning of the infrastructure from a central and automated tool.  It assists in multi cloud deployment, whether that is private and public or multiple public clouds.  A tool like this has many benefits but one of the major ones is consistency in provisioning and deployment.  A benefit like this helps with compliance needs.

Passing is 300 out of 500.  Interestingly enough not all questions on the exam are scored and count towards that.  The questions that are selected for scoring are random and not known to the test taker.  There are approximately 11 questions on the exam and it is estimated to take just over 200 minutes to complete.  This does have the prerequisite of an appropriate year numbered VCP certification which for the context of this article is VCP-CMA 2021 if you have no prior certification on this path.

What Does the VCAP-CMA Deploy Test?

When it comes to the VCAP-CMA Deploy, the exam is broken down into the following objectives:

  • Architecture and Technologies
  • Products and Solutions
  • Planning and Designing
  • Installing, Configuring, and Setup
  • Performance-tuning, Optimization, and Upgrades
  • Troubleshooting and Repairing
  • Administrative and Operational Tasks

How Much Does the VCAP-CMA Depoy Exam Cost?

The VCAP-CMA costs $450.  It also has the pre-requisite of a VCP-CMA.  It is definitely not the "let me take it and see what happens" kind of test at this cost.

What Experience Do You Need for the VCAP-CMA Deploy?

Anyone looking to certify on this should at least have 6-12 months of experience building out infrastructure in a Cloud or on prem virtual environment.  This is a very important exposure since the primary focus of this certification is about automating that type of provisioning.  On top of that, 6 months exposure to various cloud or VM build automation tools is preferred but not absolutely necessary.  As always, drive and motivation are key.  This is an in depth and advanced topic that you will want to immerse yourself in to succeed.  VMware recommends a minimum of 12-24 months of vRealize experience in a production environment along with 5+ years general IT experience.

Who Should Take the VCAP-CMA Deploy?

This is one of those exams that are highly specialized and requires a bit of an investment.  Those wishing to take it should have an interest in utilizing vRealize Automation to build out and scale and environment.  One of two categories is usually met, people trying to solidify their experience to warrant a raise and those looking to escalate and get a promotion into a role.  It is very possible in your current role, if you are building out infrastructure you are not using this tool or any other.  With that said if you are a VMware shop you should definitely look at going down this path, particularly if your environment is becoming difficult to build out further due to the size.

VCAP-VMA Deploy for Cloud Architects

Cloud Architects are traditionally those tasked with designing a cloud environment.  What does the networking look like, which sets of compute need to communicate with each other.  How does the resourcing of that compute look like and where will data be stored?  Those are all questions that a Cloud Architect will sort out when architecting an environment.

In this role they are likely already building out infrastructure for their organization using some sort of tool.  They may even be using vRA to some degree if the company uses VMware or prefers the VMware in their public cloud.

VCAP-CMA Deploy for Infrastructure Architects

This is a somewhat generic title but typically mirrors the duties of a Cloud Architect.  An organization may opt to have a more generic title to elude to hybrid cloud.  In other cases an organization's roots may have existed before the "Cloud Craze" and the title stuck.

In any case, the duties of an Infrastructure Architect are likely similar to a Cloud Architect, they may just operate in different environments.

VCAP-CMA Deploy for Senior Systems Engineers

A Senior Systems Engineer tends to be responsible for supporting and maintaining an environment.  They may support VMware, the SAN, some networking and build out and expand those topologies as necessary.  This role can be responsible for building out VMs and Physical servers as necessary as well.

This is one of those roles that is not typically involved in building out cloud agnostic infrastructure on a daily basis.  It is however a great example of a role that could be looking to make a change into that.  This is particularly true if the role currently involves exposure to VMware in any capacity but in particular vSphere/ESXi.  A Senior Systems Engineer has the exposure to see value in a tool like vRA and has climbed to their position by learning new technologies and becoming more senior in their role so it is not doubt they could easily pivot to become proficient with vRA.

Is the VCAP-CMA Deploy Worth It?

With any certification, the "Worth It" factor depends on a return on investment of the time and money spent studying and certifying.  With this being a highly specialized exam on vRealize Automation that bar is a little higher than an entry level certification.  On top of that, it does require a prerequisite certification before you can obtain this one, setting the bar a little higher.  All of that said, this certification is definitely "Worth It" for anyone in a role that could use vRA or already does on a daily basis.  VMware's certifications tend to mean a bit or "hold their value".  This is particularly so since it is versioned by year so as it gets dated, it’s easily apparent and recertification needs to happen, ensuring the freshness of the certification.

Using VCAP-CMA Deploy to Learn Skills

With any training path the first step is learning skills.  This certification is great for that.  At the point of studying for VCAP-CMA Deploy you already have an underlying certification to get here.  That grants a good baseline understanding of the stack.  Studying for this exam will help greatly advance your knowledge as you do a deeper dive into cloud management and automation.  It will extend that knowledge quite a bit.

Using VCAP-CMA Deploy to Validate Skills

As previously mentioned, VMware's certifications tend to show value.  They are rigorous and the certification carries which year it applies to so as it dates, it’s fairly public that a renewal/recertification needs to happen.  This is particularly so when that year gets too far behind the current year.  The higher cost to entry on this also tends to deter people who are not serious about this path.  If a certification is too economical, some people may opt to take it without studying just to see if they can pass.

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