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Whoa, whoa, whoa wait a minute WTF? FREE EXAMS? WHERE DO i SIGN UP?! Hold a minute. This isn’t just an arbitrary free exam.
This is an arbitrary exam which comes with a Prep Guide and a wealth of training and education to SUPPORT your taking and passing the exam! <3
Steps Steps Steps! Wow, it can’t get easier than this (Okay, it can!)
It all starts at the Learning Center which breaks down each portion of the exam into Exam Objectives with respective training, education, videos and webinars, books and reference material and a load of other resources like SolarWinds Labs to help prepare and educate you for success!
Registering for the Exam consists of sending an email to the SolarWinds folks providing some details and then M-F within a decent period of time (It took me less than a days time) I received the link and credential information to take the SolarWinds Certified Professional Exam!
And Poof, that’s it! Prepare, Register and then take the exam from the comfort of your own respective computer, no magical testing center to go to or lines to stand in! If you think it can’t be this easy, I have to say, wow it is. So if you find yourself as someone who has or does work with SolarWinds or someone who WANTS to add that line item to their resume and career profile then look no further than this as a good way to progress!
One cool thing I learned recently is that SolarWinds model is “Try before you buy” and all of their products are available for a free 30 day trial to get your feet wet and see if it does what you want it to. Fast, Ready, and easy to work with spells awesome!
If you’ve been in the FICON, Data Center SAN, Internetworking or Converged networking tracks at any point in your career then the Brocade Distinguished Architect is the ultimate pursuit available within the Brocade family, and it is by no means easy, frankly quite the opposite! That said though, hopefully this can help steer you in comfort in the direction of a pursuit of this designation or the tracks leading up to it!
The Brocade Distinguished Architect is a series of exams. Oh, a series indeed! It is actually achievable by finishing 3 of the 4 tracks listed below. These tracks are broken down into FICON, Data Center, Internetworking and Converged.
The Brocade Certified Professional – 3 out of 4 tracks!
Brocade Certified Professional FICON Track
Brocade Accredited Data Center Specialist Exam 160-130 Brocade Accredited FICON Specialist Exam 160-140 Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator (BCFA) Exam 143-410 Brocade Certified Fabric Professional (BCFP) Exam 143-070 Brocade Certified Architect For FICON (BCAF) Exam 143-120
Brocade Certified Professional Data Center Track
Brocade Accredited Server Connectivity Specialist Exam 160-020 Brocade Accredited Data Center Specialist Exam 160-130 Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator (BCFA) Exam 143-410 Brocade Certified Fabric Professional (BCFP) Exam 143-070 Brocade Certified SAN Manager (BCSM) Exam 143-360 Brocade Certified Fabric Designer (BCFD) Exam 143-260
Brocade Certified Professional Internetworking Track
You do not have to pursue all 4 tracks to accomplish this, in my particular case I pursued the FICON, Data Center and Internetworking as there was a decent amount of overlap between those, and I have an extensive background in working with Data Centers, Internetworking and experience with FICON which made that particular pursuit significantly easier. That said though, after I did a cost benefit analysis I also found those three tracks combined to allow for taking only 13 exams to achieve the end result!
Accredited vs Certified
You may notice some of the exams are listed as “Certified” and others listed as “Accredited” The differences of those two is simple; Certified Exams are delivered via a Pearson Vue testing center and cost $150 a piece. Accredited exams are delivered via Kryterion, are non-proctored and delivered online via a Web Browser. To be honest, the Certified Exams were SIGNIFICANTLY easier than the Accredited exams, but none of these by any means are a walk in the park, unless you have extensive experience working with the technologies.
How do I even begin to prepare and study?!
Brocade as a family makes it both easy and difficult to prepare as most certification tracks often do. That is to say, it is not so easy you can go into it without any knowledge, experience or training; But also not such an enduring task that your real world experience and knowledge are discarded in favor of arbitrarily complicated questions! Each of the Certifications have available in the Brocade Certification Information pages links to reference materials, pre-requisites and Study Guides for each respective track! In addition to this, each track also has a series of web-based, online and classroom type training to prepare, educate and take you to the next steps!
Leveraging these tools and some real world experience will prepare you to take these certifications and take your career to the next level!
Making the Honor Roll
As you proceed through the ranks of the many who’ve taken Brocade exams (They hit 30,000 exams taken this past weekend 4/5/2014) once you’ve achieved this rigorous and arduous process though, you make it onto the Brocade Distinguished Architect Honor Roll which is an official list of everyone who has achieved Brocades Highest Certification Credential Going back as far as January of 2011 until today April of 2014, there have been 88 people who have achieved this credential. Just like other highest credentials, VMware’s VCDX, Microsoft’s MCM and MCA, and Cisco’s CCIE, this certification track is not for everyone but it is an achievable and reachable target!
This track may not be for all but this is definitely a way to set you a part from the rest. Brocade has been a staple of the Data Center for a very long time, and are the market leader in their particular industries. If you’re looking to enhance your resume portfolio, grow your capabilities and really stand out, this is definitely a good way to do it! Good luck and good pursuits!
Ooh and here I am on the official Brocade Page, awesomeness :)
Maybe you’ve heard all the rage about the new Certification Exams from VMware at the Associate Level called the VCA! (VMware Certified Associate) and maybe you haven’t! Well, guess what, You’s gonna hear about it now! :) So a few things regarding these new Associate level certifications…
THEY’RE FREE TO TAKE AND INCLUDE FREE TRAINING!!!
And the test is delivered via the Web – Online from where you are!
###UPDATE!### – Inline in the comments Phil Wiffen points out what I had forgotten… The code is valid until at LEAST Nov 15th, so act SOON! Also you must take the exam within 48 hours of booking it (hence it expiring in 2 days).
Yea you heard me right. Now this won’t be free forever, but right now if you use the right formulae of success criteria (detailed inline here) you can get this for free. I’ve heard rumor this expires at the end of this year so get it done STAT! I also heard rumor it expires at the end of November, again knock it out!
Below this little list here includes a whole bunch of links you can use to go and register for Authorization and Register for Exams. If you read a previous blog post A Must-Read before taking your next #VMware VCP or VCAP Exam!!! it included the steps of how to go about requesting authorization to take an exam. But I’ll mention it here, you’ll need to request authorization to take the exam before you can even register for the exam, and thus schedule the exam respectively!
Free Online Training Resources:
VMware Certified Associate – Data Center Virtualization
This little list here not only includes a link to take you directly to the FREE training videos, but the grouping below also takes you to the individual sites for each track to Request Authorization and Register for the exams!
Simply click "Request Authorization" for an exam – and then choose the "Register for the Exam" option!
Then click "Schedule an Exam" after which you select the “Associate and Professional Level Exams” and you’ll need to login then!
If you’ve never done an Online Pearson Vue exam you should create a web account. The process whereby you requested authorization will supply you with the Candidate ID which is required to make this setup complete! I ran into the problem whereby my account was sort of messed up and tied to another account which did not let me login. As I know that VMware Education is so good at cleaning up and merging accounts…. I opt’d to create a new account on a different email alias of mine which also created ANOTHER Candidate ID, but at least it let me register then! :)
After logging in you should have the option to Register for a Pre-Approved exam!
WARNING! Unless you’re rocking your Chinese … Change it from the DEFAULT!
OMG ITS $120 YOU LIED TO ME! YOU SAID IT WAS FREEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! whoa, hold on there!
MORE LIES! YOU SAID ITS FREE NOW ITS ONLY HALF PRICE!@#!@#$@#!@# Don’t fret yet… wait until you get to the Payment Screen..
OMG OMG OMG ITS FREE FREE FREE! Yea. Get it while you can! For some reason mine said mine is only able to taken over the next 2 days which scares me into thinking OMG this won’t last… So get out there and register!
YOU DID IT! You are all set to take your VMware Exam which will mean the difference of you having the certification and NOT having the certification! Who knows, this could be the change that your life has been asking for, Excited Excited Excited!!! But wait, It’s not that simple!
This past September our good friends at VMware have instituted an “Authorization” process, whereby you need to take some steps BEFORE you can schedule! Or semi-specifically and verbatim…
All VMware exams require prior VMware authorization before candidates can schedule an appointment with Pearson VUE.
Candidates can get authorized by going to vmware.com/certification. This process can take up to 15 minutes. Once authorized, candidates can schedule their exam.
Awesome, right?! I mean, or not. I know what you’re chanting NANNY STATE. NANNY STATE. Yea. That’s what I said when I was FIRST going to publish this back when it happened several many weeks ago… But time to cut through the chaff to get down to what matters!
It wasn’t until the past week or two where VMware actually FIXED their links to make finding the registration portion ‘possible’, so now both links take you to the appropriate place instead of only one. Awesome!
When you finally find what you’re looking for, you’ll be prompted to login using your myLearn account, and then you get a list of ‘Pre-Requisite” sections to fill out. Interesting thing to note here; while running this through in my tests I was never able to get the “Continue” button to function correctly using Chrome, but it worked in Internet Explorer… Hey, whatever it takes, right? (If you experience a similar problem of the button not working, try another browser).
However, you may also notice that SOME of the tests you want to Authorize for may not be available, receiving only a “Back” button. We’ve historically found this due to some of the following reasons;
Your VCP not being recognized on your account
Your class not being recognized on your account
You took the VCP Exam and THEN took the Class, and they’re not granting you credit for it since it was done ‘after the fact’.
Irrespective of what problems you may experience, I’ve found the folks at Education to be *great* at helping out, and I have opened numerous cases (on this, and over the years for account mergers) Just shoot a mail over to “firstname.lastname@example.org” explaining your problem and they have a 48hr SLA for response to get it resolved. This can be a major challenge if you’re all excited to test TOMORROW and you cannot get your authorization in, so something to consider while thinking ahead!
That in essence covers the bulk of it, Pearson VUE changes due to VMware Policy LIKELY will impact you if you do not plan ahead. So, plan ahead, get authorized and Pass Pass Pass!
Keep up the virtually good work. OMG WORST TAGLINE EVER! ;)
From 2001 until 2006 I would regularly do presentations on OMG THERE’S FREE TRAINING OUT THERE WHY AREN’T YOU USING IT. Which even culminated in the release of a Technical Offerings training deck as noted in this blog post I published in 2006 (Yes, Seriously, in 2006) Well, guess what. A lot of that data is STILL highly relevant even today! So… Let’s get started! :)
Kicking off the realm of training videos I’d like to highlight our good friends at Microsoft with their release of the Microsoft Virtual Academy!
The MVA has a LOAD and I mean a serious LOAD of information, from Training Videos, Courses, Tutorials, Walkthroughs, even Tests and points and contests to increase not only the ‘fun factor’ but provide additional context in your education. For those of you VMwarriors out there who will discard this and say BLAH, SHOW ME THE VMware STUFF. I even did a little search for VMware in the “Quick Search” button and lo and behold lookie at the results!
So whether you are a rockstar, a seasoned professional or someone looking to get started and want to know where to get some good and valuable information without spending hours and $$$ in a classroom, this is definitely an excellent way to get started, so jump on in!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE FROM MICROSOFT?!?!
I know some of you are fighting the constant battle of “Damnit, can I attend Microsoft TechEd or not…” And with TechEd 2013 going to be in New Orleans I cannot blame you in the LEAST! But for those of you who just truly cannot find the time, the ability and are able to get away… something you should know.
ALL MICROSOFT TECHED CONTENT IS AVAILABLE FREE WHETHER YOU ATTEND OR NOT.
Yea. Seriously. It is. It actually has been for like the last… Oh I don’t know… since 2004 I believe? And all of that past-content since they started posting and making it available online has been posted online. For some reason I’m only able to find the 2012 content and the 2011 Archive but who really needs access to material on product versions which may not even exist or are supported anymore, if you truly need that let me know and I’ll find the link!
A lot of you are familiar with TrainSignal and the loads of great content they create, produce and respectively sell out there (You can get access to their paid training video series and content on their website, Trainsignal.com) But when I reached out to their President asking, “Hey, you have any freeeeeee stuff!?!?!?” He pointed me over by here! So here is a whole bunch of videos freeeeeeeeeeeee of charge! And of course, don’t hesitate to check out the amazing content produced by the likes of Scott Lowe and David Davis and others!
Ya know… as an example here! :)
That should get you going on quite a load of stuff from Microsoft, to VMware, to Citrix and Cisco and beyond! But let’s drill down a bit into VMware now…
When it comes to VMware there are loads and loads (and loads) of information in the world, and often we never really know where to start… Well, here is a place to start and it’s home is in YouTube!
Yea, that’s lame right? I mean on YouTube there’s like a dozen channels?!?! Well, there are. Just go and use them. BAM, and BOOYAH.
VMworld Presentations are FREE TOO LIKE TECHED?!?!?
Well, no. Not exactly. Sorry! Although this last year VMUG Advantage did have a brief offer for free access to the VMworld content if you signed up for that… I’m unable to find any data on it at the moment, so that may have expired, but it’s still worth checking out!
SHOW ME THE LABS BABY!
You asked for Labs and here they are! More labs than you can shake a stick at!
Err, okay, maybe that was a little too literal! Let’s get on with our labs though!
FREE Hands On Labs from Microsoft!
The thing about Microsoft is… for 8+ years they’ve had FREE access to all of their products in a Try-Before-You-Buy model where you can DOWNLOAD any Product and play with it (okay, seriously that’s been around for going on 20 years) but they also instituted the Hands On Labs where the lab environments would BUILD themselves, provide you with a Lab guide to follow (or ignore) and learn and play with it that way. Not to mention all of the content they’d have in the Hands on Labs at TechEd would be POSTED and made available for you to go in and learn, explore and beyond!
This isn’t something new, it’s been around FOREVER, Here are links to where you can access it (as it’s actually available in several places).
Disclaimer: When I wanted to test something out, I’d spin up a lab which was designed to ‘best practice’ and go in and do whatever I wanted, I mean it was a lab environment available in minutes. Why not?
Interesting Fact, some of the types of labs and solutions available out there which you can play and learn from:
How to setup a product from scratch, like Sharepoint, Microsoft Exchange, SQL
How to MIGRATE a product from one version to another (like those products mentioned above and more)
How to Develop in a language like C#, Visual Studio, Azure, PowerShell and more
How to do other advanced types of things
Alllllllllllll the labs that were available at TechEd, so you know what that means… and if not, check it out!
You can find TechEd Labs in the Additional Content section here with this flask icon next to it!
Here at the MSEvents site there are a number of Virtual Labs on the “Virtual Labs” tab to choose and play from!
So if for a minute you thought this was going to be easy, or a single click site with all the answers. HAH.
FREE HANDS ON LABS FROM VMware?!??!
Well, not exactly.. I mean, sort of, kind of… but, well, let me explain. VMware recently announced “Project Nee” my dear friend Simon Seagrave talks about about it here at his blog. But ultimately, what Project Nee is intended to be is… VMware Hands On Labs publicly available online. However it is still in Beta at the moment. You can follow details of the VMware Hands On Labs by going here to the VMware Hands On Labs community!
Some additional places not even mentioned but you should check out, and all of the cited links for easy access and consumption:
So hopefully those of you out there who are looking to stay relevant, continue educating yourselves, maybe even heading down the certification track and whatnot will find this of benefit. I won’t lie to you, I’ve used these resources countless times over the years and I encourage others to. If you have any other sites to suggest, toss em into the comment section… This is an epic resources to reference from here until well.. until I write another one ;)