I passed the CCMSE+VSX exam today. Check Point does not have this test listed on their cert site right now, but it is still available at the VUE testing centers. Through the years I have helped design and implement VSX deployments for Fortune 500 customers. I have setup several dozen VSX environments, and have worked on PoCs and bakeoffs as well. One of my first major deals at Check Point was displacing a failed Cisco FWSM infrastructure at a very large government agency. So for me, VSX is something I have worked on before.
Unlike the newer R70/71 CCSA/CCSE exams there is no online study guide or practice questions. You walk in cold on this one. The way I prepared for the exam was to build a basic lab. I had two servers; one for Provider-1 and the other for VSX. There are a lot of Provider-1 questions on the exam so I would definitely recommend that you understand the different CMAs (Main, and regular) as well as the licensing model for VSX-CMAs. I ran through several basic scenarios using a virtual router, and a virtual switch. This allowed me to refresh on the concepts of warp links, external vs. interal VRs, Vsw behavior, and the CLI as well.
I had the official VSX training manual, but honestly I could have focused on the R67 VSX Admin guide. All of the material you need to know for the exam is straight out of the admin guide. I will say though that the VSX training manual will give you some good ideas on types of lab scenarios to build if you are new to VSX.
There were no screenshots on this exam which I thought was a little odd. It was all text which meant there were questions that would reference the name of a particular object “window” in SmartDashboard. For example you could narrow a question down to two answers but is the title of the “window” the “Physical Interfaces” or “Physical Interfaces Template”? It’s the kind of thing where I might not know the exact name of the “window”, but I could show you in three clicks how I would set that up. I also had about five questions where they referenced the “Admin CMA.” This was kind of confusing as the VSX admin guide talks about the “Main CMA.” After the test I found that the Training Manual used “Admin CMA” but the official documentation used “Main CMA.” Not a huge deal but sometimes you feel that the answers are splitting hairs, and/or trying to trick you. Oh well, tests are like that.
I came prepared knowing how to setup a clustered VSX environment with Provider-1, but there were a few other areas I could have studied on a little more. In particular I lost points on some IEEE-type VLAN definition questions. For example where in the header is the 8 byte VLAN definition? They were fair questions and are in the documentation, but it was an area I chose to gloss over. I was expecting the detailed questions to be more around CLI stuff like resource control, vsx_util, vsx stat, etc.
The rumor is that Check Point will merge the CCMSE and CCMSE+VSX into one exam. I don’t know if I agree with that approach, and personally I like having the two different CCMSE designations. Now it’s on to the CCMA written…