Is the VCAP-CMA Design Worth It?
| technology | system admin - Graeme Messina

Is the VCAP-CMA Design Worth It?

The VCAP-CMA Design certification (VMware Certified Advanced Professional Cloud Management and Automation Design) validates your skills as they relate to designing and integrating vRealize Automation 7.2 solutions. The cert is aimed at IT professionals that work in large enterprise environments with VMware infrastructure.

We want to delve into the details and look at the ways that the VCAP-CMA Design could be used in your own IT journey on your way to certification. For a full rundown of the exam objectives, check out VMware's website

What Is VCAP-CMA Design?

The VCAP-CMA Design is a certification that will validate that you have knowledge and skills that relate to VMware cloud management and automation design. It covers conceptual design principles that you will be able to formulate based on customer requirements.

Earning it means you will be able to transform your knowledge into practical advice that is directly applicable to the VMware range of services. Items that you will become familiar with are logical design and developing an architectural solution into a physical design.

In order to pass the exam you must have the required knowledge to design and create solutions for items such as:

  • vRealize Orchestrator
  • vRealize Operations
  • vRealize Business for Cloud
  • vRealize Log Insight
  • NSX

You must also understand public and private cloud infrastructure and design models such as multi-tenancy, governance and compliance. You should have at least five years of IT related experience and preferably at least two years experience with designing an enterprise cloud with VMware vRealize Automation as per VMware's own best practice policies.

In order to be able to successfully complete this exam you must have earned a VMware Certified Professional certification as per the VCAP7-CMA Design exam blueprint.

What Does the VCAP-CMA Design Test?

The following sections are required learning for the exam. Successful candidates must understand each of the eight sections outlined below.

  • Section 1 – Create a vRealize Automation Conceptual Design
  • Section 2 – Create a vRealize Automation Logical Design
  • Section 3 – Design a vRealize Automation Management Infrastructure
  • Section 4 – Design vRealize Automation Tenants
  • Section 5 – Create a vRealize Automation Resource Design
  • Section 6 – Create a vRealize Automation Blueprint Design
  • Section 7 – Complete an Extensibility Design
  • Section 8 – Complete a Catalog Design

Section 1: Create a vRealize Automation Conceptual Design. Section 1 covers information gathering and the analysis of business requirements. You must understand how to cater for a client's needs by using the VMware products that you have learned about. You will also learn how to gather use case information so that you can compare your model with it. You must understand how to differentiate requirements, risks, constraints and assumptions.

Section 2: Create a vRealize Automation Logical Design. Section 2 deals with business requirement mapping, as well as the Logical design of vSphere products. You are also required to know how to map service dependencies as well as what the availability requirements are for the Logical design. You must know how to build availability requirements into the Logical design as well as manageability requirements and Performance requirements. You must also understand the recoverability and security requirements of the Logical design.

Section 3: Design a vRealize Automation Management Infrastructure. Section 3 covers all items relating to designing a vRealize automation management infrastructure system. Items include vRealize automation deployment characteristics as well as designing the automation backup system for a vRealize system. You will also need to understand how to incorporate the use of additional products and tools into a vRealize automation design.

Section 4: Design vRealize Automation Tenants. Section 4 covers vRealize design for automation tenants. You will need to determine use cases for multi-tenancy as well as determine and identity sources to allow for a secure tenancy design. You must use an authentication method that fits the requirements of the clients and you must assign system-wide and Tenant specific roles based on administrative functions. You must know how to represent an organization structure with business groups and be able to identify a notification design based on requirements.

Section 5: Create a vRealize Automation Resource Design. Section 5 covers items related to the Creation of a vRealize automation resource design. You must provide an Endpoint design, compute resource design, provide a fabric group design provider network profile design and finally provide a reservation design.

Section 6: Create a vRealize Automation Blueprint Design. Section 6 requires that you understand how to create a vRealize automation blueprint design. This includes providing a custom property and IaaS blueprint design — as well as the evaluation of XaaS capability for use with a given design.

Section 7: Complete an Extensibility Design. Section 7 deals with how to complete an extensibility design. You must address functional requirements that can’t be delivered through a default functionality. This means that you must understand how to complete your own extensibility design. Finally, you will need to design an event broker integration.

Section 8: Complete a Catalog Design. Section 8 covers items relating to catalog design. The items included are purposely omitted entitlements needed for a given design and the approval policy requirements for equipment design.        

How Much Does the VCAP-CMA Exam Cost?

The VCAP-CMA exam will cost about $450 to take. This exam has a total of 70 items with a passing score of 300 using a scale method. You will be given approximately 135 minutes which includes time to complete the exam for non-English speakers.

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

In order to take this exam, it's recommended you have VCP-CMA certification, but it's not required. You should also have at least five years of IT experience with at least two of those related to cloud and VMware disciplines. VMware has also outlined what a minimally qualified candidate should look like within the exam objective document which we have linked to above.

Who Should Take the VCAP-CMA Design Exam?

People that should consider taking this exam are IT professionals who already work within a VMware environment and have experience with maintaining and managing cloud infrastructure. As stated above, candidates should have at least five years of IT-related experience with two of those years being focused on cloud environments.

You should also have completed the VCP-CMA certification, which is the prerequisite certification to writing the VCAP-CMA. The exam itself will set you apart from your peers because it is an advanced certification. It deals with a lot of the design elements and automation functionality that advanced cloud engineer roles often require. If you are looking at just getting started in this line of work, then you may find that there are better suited entry-level certifications to help you build towards this level of expertise.

VCAP-CMA Design for Cloud Solutions Engineers

If you already work with VMware Cloud (VMC) infrastructure as a cloud engineer then this could be just the certification for you. The main focus of this exam is aimed towards the design and implementation of a cloud platform as well as the daily maintenance and upkeep of the system. This means that if you are looking to earn yourself a more senior role with more decision-making responsibilities, then taking this exam is a good choice for you.

The exam also covers many of the elements that you would expect to deal with when consulting with clients, management and decision makers within an organization. That is not to say that there are no technical aspects to the certification. There are many practical applications of this certification such as Automation, High Availability and Security, as well as Disaster Recovery and Redundancy. Due to the exam prerequisites you should already have your VCP-CMA before attempting this certification. Salaries for this role range from $61,000 to $135,000 according to payscale.com

VCAP-CMA Design for Cloud Solutions Architects

If you are already providing solutions for clients and for management, then this could be a great certification path for you, especially if you want to expand out into the VMware universe of cloud-based products. You will need to complete the prerequisites in order to write this exam. The exam will not only teach you new skills if you are lacking in any specific areas, but it also works as an effective way to verify and validate your current skills.

Whether you are already in this role, or you are aspiring to become a cloud solutions architect, then you will be interested in the earnings of such a role. Qualified Cloud Solutions Architects can expect to earn more than non-qualified ones, so that is another reason to seriously consider getting certified. Salaries for this role range from $82,000 up to $143,000 according to glassdoor.com

Is the VCAP-CMA Design Worth It?

The VCAP-CMA Design is definitely worth pursuing, especially if you are looking to either validate your skills, or to learn new ones all together. The exam focuses on many of the key items that you will need to further your career.

Using the VCAP-CMA Design to Learn Skills

This is an advanced exam aimed at already knowledgeable candidates, but it is still able to teach new skills and key concepts. You will learn how to take client requirements and turn them into fully fledged systems that can deliver secure, scalable solutions that a modern business can run from within the cloud.

Using the VCAP-CMA Design to Validate Skills

For those that are already in the design space this exam offers great value as a validation certification. It shows that you not only understand how to design and build solutions that work, but also that you understand how to adhere to VMware's best practices and standards. Having this advanced certification from VMware will give you the recognition that is needed to differentiate yourself from an increasingly competitive cloud-skill-based job market.

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