Get VCP the smart way

Becoming VCP: Part 2- Part of the plan

Welcome back, and thanks for joining me again for the latest installment of the Becoming VCP series, where I chronicle my path to getting the vCenter Professional Certification to pave the way for you!

So, after my first week and interaction with, I’m here to deliver my impressions. You’ll see that it’s not quite what I expected in some ways, and totally on par in others. I’ll give you the way forward as well and how to best incorporate this program into your VCP plan.

So, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, I’ve been laying out my exact plan to get VCP6 by way of VCP5- with being a central part of it. Let me get you up to speed with Stanly.

About is part of Stanly Community College in Abermarle, North Carolina. They are really more of a technical school than a community college. The reason I care about them is they’re a part of the VMware IT Academy, which is designed to help students get VCP certified at a much lower cost than a typical for-profit training center (think New Horizons, etc.).

VMware requires that you take on of their certified courses as a condition of getting VCP. No class, no cert- even if you pass the test. That’s not necessarily a bad thing- this keeps some barriers of entry in place so the market is not flooded with VCPs, diluting the certification.

Pros and Cons of using Stanly


  • Cost – $185 USD + book (~$60)
  • Longer training schedule (around 45 days), which may help some assimilate the information easier
  • Self-paced and 100% online delivery
  • Fulfills the VCP5 Exam requirement

Some Cons exist as well:

  • Longer schedule may not suit some learners who want to get it over with.
  • Online delivery has an instructor, but you don’t interact face-to-face (for those burning questions)
  • Offered on vSphere 5.5, not the latest version 6.
  • WAITING LIST – this course is so popular that there’s a waiting list. I got on in June and now it’s November

You MUST  follow the instructions exactly for the course and the exam or it won’t show up in VMware’s system. This is not a joke. I interacted with a guy on Twitter who took the test outside of the instructions, and it didn’t end up counting.

You do get a discounted test voucher upon completion of the course, so I certainly won’t be taking the test outside of their processes.

The class offered is basically VMware’s Install, Configure, and Manage, which is VMware’s entry-level course. The course is based on ESXi 5.5 and vCenter 5.1. In my searching, I didn’t find anyone but the big ($$$$$) training companies offering VCP 6.

Related – Go to the first post in the series


Initial Impressions

Stanly uses Moodle, and open source learning platform, for their content delivery. This where you read content, get instruction, send mail to the teacher, and watch training videos. When I logged in and got settled, I was able to see the course syllabus and key information and watch the required videos.

As is typical, they have a separate module that houses their VMs for the labs. I’m not sure if these VMs are housed at Stanly, VMware, or some private cloud. I noted that the lab module runs on Java (which hopefully will go away soon) and did not play well with Chrome 44. It worked just fine in the latest Firefox. No big deal.

The labs themselves were surprisingly responsive. They run in Chrome on a Ubuntu OS. They’re not super computers that I can tell. The VMware cluster I’ve used so far also worked very well. I suspect that they’re using nested virtualization, which is when you virtualize you hypervisors. Crazy- but it worked well.

One thing that struck me as odd is that so far, the quizzes at the end of the labs ask only if you participated and how long it took to complete. Maybe I was asking too much, but I expected to see some practice questions relating to the content. Now, I’m only into the first few lessons, so I’ll have to report back on that on.

In the end, however, this isn’t that much different than you would get if you went with a big tech training center- you get the learning delivered to you, and it’s up to you to understand it and expand on it on your own. This is why it’s so key to create a plan and stick to it, and also to get accountability so you don’t get off track.

Just one part of the plan

Pay attention to this: No all-in-one program- anywhere- is enough to pass the VCP5 or 6 Exam. There are just 2 ways to prepare yourself for these certification tests:

  1. Get years of in-depth experience and do a quick study and pass.
  2. Dive in and learn the material so well you could teach it.

I have had about 1 solid year of using vSphere, but I have not gone that deep with it. For me, I am going to dig into multiple sources. Here is the generally accepted way of preparing:

  • Plan out which order you want to take the certifications
  • Alert your spouse/SO/friends about what you’re doing and when you will be busy
  • Focus on 1 certification at a time
  • Pick a consistent lab and study time, and use lab and study materials daily
  • Expect to use multiple resources for your certification
  • Prepare to go over each resource at least 2 times
  • Schedule your test and tell your family and mentor(s) the date (for accountability)

If you need help with your plan, check out my previous post.

Overall, not bad

I expect the Stanly experience to be good part of my plan. It’s certainly a great deal more affordable and flexible than paying around $4000 USD for a week, take off from work, and hope you retain enough. To get set up with them:

Here’s the home page for this and here you can get on the Waiting List. You can also just request information.

Thanks for reading! If you found this interesting or helpful, please share it with someone with the social icons. Have your VCP already? Tell us about your experience below. Join my email list (top/top right of your screen) so you can stay up to date on this process. I’m excited to see where it goes and if I can help you get there.


See the other posts in this series:



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