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Preparing for the Aruba ACMX (Aruba Certified Mobility Expert) Practical Exam: Study Tips and Advice

Aruba ACMX Blog

CCIE and ACMX background

As a CCIE-certified expert, I know the challenges of practical exams. They test your ability to design, configure and troubleshoot real-life scenarios within a limited time and under pressure. Although I worked on Aruba products for over ten years and passed my CCIE exam in 2006, the Aruba Certified Mobility Expert (ACMX) exam was a different experience.

In order to take the ACMX practical exam, passing the written exam is necessary as a prerequisite. You have 18 months to take ACMX practical exam after passing the written one, but the rules can change, and you better verify the latest policy before applying for the practical exam.

In the latest update on the ACMX exam page on the Aruba website, there needs to be a mention of 18 months validity period for the ACMX written exam. The page says, “Candidates must pass the Aruba Certified Mobility Expert (ACMX) written exam before registering for the ACMX practical exam. Aruba Education Services reserves the right to cancel a candidate’s practical registration if they have not completed the written exam before registration.” Please refer to this link for more details

https://www.arubanetworks.com/en-ca/support-services/training-services/certified-mobility-expert/

The current version of the ACMX written exam is HPE6-A79, 591Cert has valid dumps, and you can purchase from them. You can register for this exam from the Pearson VUE website. It is a proctored exam, and you can’t have any reference material (closed book exam). You can take the exam at the centre or online at home or the office. If you decide to take the exam online, you must prepare, do all system checks and read rules and policies carefully. The proctor will do a comprehensive assessment of your test environment to make sure you follow all the instructions are rules. Proctors are usually strict and ready to remove any item on your desk, any painting or note on the walls of your testing room, and to take any books or notes outside the room. If you feel uncomfortable taking written tests at home, consider taking the exam at the nearest Pearson VUE test centre.

How to Prepare for HPE6-A79 Written

Make sure to visit www.591lab.com for BOTH Written and LAB services

Preparing for the Aruba ACMX written exam can be considered part of the preparation for the practical exam. They both cover the same material and share the same suggested preparation course from Aruba, “Aruba Advanced Mobility Troubleshooting and Solutions, Rev. 20.21”. I did not take the recommended course before taking the written exam. However, after failing the ACMX practical exam on my first attempt, I took the course before passing ACMX practical exam on my 2nd attempt. To prepare for the ACMX written exam, I relied on my knowledge of the Aruba projects I implemented; I also studied the user guide for Aruba OS 8.6, the current version for the ACMX exam. Reading the Aruba OS user guide counts in your preparation for ACMX practical exam as you have this guide provided to you during the practical exam (the practical ACMX exam is an open book, but not open Internet. Aruba OS user guide will be provided to you in test PC you use to access lab environment).

The Aruba OS user guide can be downloaded from Aruba Support Portal (ASP); you may need access to this portal to see or download this document.

Aruba ACMX OS User Guide

Figure 1Aruba OS User Guide

The exam format is similar to most Computer Based Tests (CBT). I have completed many of these CBT exams in the past with the help of 591LAB and 591Cert dump services and used the following strategy:

1- If the correct choice is clear, select quickly and proceed to the next question.

2- If two possible correct questions, use your intuition to select the one that comes 1st to your mind. It is common for companies to have very similar answers in the choices and depend on your English language skill to use the right one. Spending more time on these questions won’t help; you better choose one quickly and proceed to the next one. Asking the proctor doesn’t help in these cases.

3- If unsure about the answers, remove any obvious wrong or unrelated answers. You will end up with two or three solutions. Apply rule number 2 and select the answer that comes 1st to your mind. Only spend a little bit of time as this confuses you more.

The questions can include exhibits for show command outputs that test your ability to read and analyze show command output and understand the meaning of this output. The exhibit can contain other commands or drawings. It would help if you read the options and then the output of the show commands to focus on the required information rather than understanding every line in the output.

The output of many show commands in Aruba includes the meaning of abbreviations for flags, states, or other critical values in the output. Please read this abbreviation carefully, as there is a good chance that the answer to the question is understanding these abbreviations in the output. For example, this is the “show ap database long” output. As you can see at the top of the output, there is a description of the meaning of each abbreviation used in the output.

Figure 2 Show command abbreviations and flags

Preparations for my very first attempt at the lab practical

Aruba provides sample questions for ACMX written exam; you should go over these sample questions to understand the format and what to expect on exam day. Sample questions are provided in the link below:

https://certification-learning.hpe.com/tr/datasheet/exam/HPE6-A79?version=5

I passed ACMX written exam on my 1st attempt with the help of 591Lab services. It was easy for me, but the practical exam was more challenging, and I needed to retake it as I failed it on my 1st attempt.

ACMX practical exam is limited in time and resources/documentation available during the exam. Although I have deployed tens of Aruba WLAN projects in large projects, the environment in ACMX practical exam was different. In real-life projects, customers follow Aruba’s best practices, and most projects are cookie-cutter. Typical project tasks include common design elements like dual Mobility Conductor (MCR*) with L2 redundancy and campus APs with tunnel mode SSIDs to the nearest Aruba controller. However, in the Aruba ACMX lab exam, they want to test “your ability to design and configure an enterprise Aruba WLAN deployment using AOS 8.6 and aspects common to enterprise customer deployments.”. as per exam details on the HPE website, “Candidates prove their ability to design solutions that include L2/L3 infrastructure, WLANs (including Multi-Zone) and Guest provisioning, design networks around dynamic segmentation and experience with voice applications including knowledge of optimization of UCC, video and multicast in Aruba environments.”. This is much more than typical WLAN project deployment, and you need to work hard to acquire the knowledge and skills required to pass this exam and not rely solely on your long experience with Aruba products.

Work vs Exam scenarios :

For me, the exam covers technologies and scenarios I don’t face in my daily work, things like:

MCR L3 redundancy. L3 redundancy was added recently to Aruba OS and was configured from CLI only. Later it became available from GUI, but as a new feature, customers take time to trust and adopt. In the exam, you must master all kinds of high availability, including L3 redundancy.

External license server. Most customers have to add licenses directly to MCR. Aruba added later the option of integrating MCR with your ASP account to update licenses. However, in the ACMX lab, you are not connected to the internet. Still, you may receive a requirement to integrate one MCR or MC into another MCR as an external license server. It would help if you practiced this in the lab. More information is in this link.

Multi-zoning. You need to understand multi-zoning requirements, configuration, and troubleshooting. The main issue is that practising and testing this feature requires a large lab setup with multiple MCRs. I’ll discuss lab setup later in this document.

Remote Access points (RAPs) are essential to the ACMX practical exam. You need to be able to configure, test and troubleshoot them quickly and have the capability to read flags and logs and show outputs to identify the current state of the RAP and suggested troubleshooting steps.

IAP-VPN. This part needed a lot of testing and preparation from me as it differs from my customer base scenario. Most of my customers use IAP in HQ, regional offices or branches where they have VPN solutions, and they don’t want IAP to build its own IPSEC tunnels to the main site. For large customers, the security team are different from WLAN and network teams, meaning VPN And IPSEC are under another team than the one that manages IAPs and WLAN.

IAP-VPN routing and DHCP options and configuration. My customer base does not typically have IAP as a DHCP server, and they usually have their own DHCP setup for wired and WLAN users. Configuring IAP for DHCP and VPN solutions requires a lot of lab testing to understand configuration steps and operation and troubleshoot each option.

You need to make sure and decide quickly to differentiate between different options once you read the question about which mode is required. You also need to know the steps to configure and troubleshoot every option.

When reading the question, you must immediately decide if this is local, distributed or centralized DHCP and L2 or L3 routing. Based on this, you can select the exact mode and start configuring and troubleshooting. Although the user guide and some references are available for you during ACMX practical exam, you only have the time to read a little during the exam. You better know the steps by heart and start the configuration immediately without further reading or hesitation.

The options for IAP-VPN are listed in the table below:

IAP VPN options and modes

Figure 3 IAP VPN options and modes

The article below provides more details about this subject. Review IAP and Aruba OS user guides for detailed configuration and troubleshooting steps.

https://www.arubanetworks.com/techdocs/Instant_421_WebHelp/Content/UG_files/IAP_VPN/rapNG_arch.htm

Aruba ACMX mobility technologies you must master:

– For sure, you should be an expert on typical features like MCR-MC operation, MC clustering, role derivation, SSID configuration, Campus AP (CAP) provisioning, registration and troubleshooting, CPSEC and all other exam objectives. This was simple as I do Aruba configuration every day. Configuring and troubleshooting these features was part of my daily life, including large networks with a complex configuration that requires a lot of tuning, troubleshooting and optimization.

Although you have 18 months (or more) to pass the practical ACMX exam after passing the written exam, I suggest you go for practical ACMX within three months of passing the written one. This way, the information you collect while studying for the written exam is still fresh in your mind, and you build on top of it to gain practical knowledge. I passed the written exam in February 2019, then decided to try ACMX practical exam during Atmosphere in Las Vegas in April 2019 with little preparation. I failed the exam on this attempt, and for a few months, I decided to forget about it and focus on my work and projects, as it needed a lot of preparation and lab setup that was not readily available to me. ACMX was offered only as an onsite lab exam that takes 8 hours and is offered only in certain cities, mainly in the US, while I live in Shanghai, China, with no ACMX practical exams in my area. I planned to try again during the next Atmosphere, but the Covid 19 pandemic changed everything and made all courses and exams available online anywhere globally.

Before my 2nd attempt, I decided to go through a proper study path that includes many lab practices and scenarios building. Luckily, I work for one of the main Aruba partners in Canada. I was offered to attend the “Aruba Advanced Mobility Troubleshooting and Solutions Rev 20.21” course, and the main thing is: it was virtual. I didn’t need to travel to attend this class; it was available online. Even ACMX practical exam became available online during the pandemic, making the process much easier for me.

Building your own Home Aruba ACMX lab vs AMTS boot camps:

Building the lab for ACMX practical exam is not that easy. Aruba offers virtual MCR and virtual MC, but you may need access to Aruba ASP https://asp.arubanetworks.com/ to download these virtual images and generate the required licenses. As I work for an Aruba partner, attending “Aruba Advanced Mobility Troubleshooting and Solutions Rev 20.21” (AMTS) course was my best choice, considering my tight schedule in projects and the required CPU and storage resources needed to build the lab locally in my home office.

AMTS is a five-day course that is “structured to help the student better understand the Aruba technologies, design mobility first networks, and strategize their implementation/configuration and troubleshooting methodologies. This course teaches how to take a complex scenario and break it down into manageable blocks while still managing your time accordingly.” More details about this course are in the link below https://inter.viewcentral.com/events/cust/search_results.aspx?cid=aruba&pid=1&lid=15&tstamp=1679443096676&event_id=620

The course, in many ways, replicate ACMX practical exam setup and helps you manage your time in the exam with a significant focus on troubleshooting scenarios and commands. The lab setup represents a typical Aruba 8. x setup like the one shown below and in this link https://developer.arubanetworks.com/aruba-aos/docs/about

Troubleshooting, Troubleshooting, and Troubleshooting:

ACMX practical exam

To be well prepared for the ACMX practical exam, you need to practice troubleshooting issues related to different WLAN network components. I am listing below the main commands you need to know and practice before the exam:

MCR-MC connectivity and MCR redundancy

show switches [all| debug | regulatory | state {complete | incomplete | inprogress | required} | summary ]

show vrrp

show master-redundancy

show database synchronize

show ip interface brief

show datapath tunnel

MC cluster

show lc-cluster group-membership

show trunk (to check allowed VLANs between members)

Show lc-cluster exclude-vlan

User connectivity and roles

show global-user-table count|list (from MCR)

show user-table (from MC)

show user-table ip x.x.x.x (more details about role derivation)

show rights (to see role details)

logging security process authmgr level debugging

logging security subcat aaa level debugging

show log security 100

show datapath session table (to see a list of firewall session, it can be specified to certain IP address also)

AP and WLAN status

show ap database long (from MCR or MC)

show ap active (from MC)

show ap essid

show ap bss-table

show wlan virtual-ap

show aaa profile

show whitelist-db rap (for RAP)

show datapath tunnel

show whitelist-db CPSec (for RAP)

IAP-VPN route and DHCP

show vpn config (from MCR/MC)

show vpn status (from MCR/MC)

show iap table long (from MCR/MC)

show iap detailed-table (from MCR/MC)

show vpn config (from IAP)

show vpn status (from IAP)

show datapath route (from IAP)

My 2nd attempt at the Aruba ACMX lab practical:

On exam day, you need to be fully prepared. You need to try your best to do all configurations precisely following the steps you did in your lab with no chance for trial and error. The exam is in an open book (not open internet), but you waste a lot of time if you rely on provided user guide to search for information during exam time.

It was COVID-19 when I applied again for Aruba ACMX practical exam. Everything was online, including the practical exam, making scheduling the exam any day of the week easier. I prepared one room in my house for this exam. I removed all paintings and foam from the wall. I removed the 2nd monitor and almost emptied the room of all furniture and pieces other than the desk, the PC and one monitor. I arranged for a backup Internet link and included some water, drinks, snacks and biscuits inside that area if I needed to eat something during the exam (please verify the latest rules as this may change). I also arranged for two photo IDs to be in the room. My phone was needed during ID verification at the start of the exam, but I was asked to keep it away later. You typically receive an email with clear Internet and PC pre-checks, exam rules, and policies.

My lab exam is before preparation. I removed all painting and foam from the walls before exam time

Figure 4 My lab exam is before preparation. I removed all painting and foam from the walls before exam time

When exam time came, I followed the instructions per the confirmation email and proctor instructions. ACMX practical exam is a proctored exam, which means the proctor verified your exam space before the exam. They ask you to move with the camera and to record every corner of the room, including the ceiling and ground. They even asked me to record the washroom that quickly opens directly to this room. I used that washroom multiple times during the exam. I selected that room because it was well-lit from the rest of the house and included its washroom.

Conclusion:

On my 2nd attempt, the exam was easy for me. All the scenarios were expected somehow, and I was able to complete all tasks on time. I had some time in the end for a quick review. Typically, I refrain from making changes at the end of the exam as they do more harm than good in most cases. Panicking during the exam or at the end of the exam may cause you to make a drastic change and affect other parts of the network, and the fire from all sides suddenly surrounds you. My advice is only to make changes if you are fully confident that the way you did it before was wrong and entirely sure that you can correct this without affecting the rest of the network.

The exam results took a few days, but I was confident this time. Passing the highest technical certification in Aruba makes you recognized as an expert in WLAN and Mobility, not only Aruba products. Practical exams have more credibility in the market than theoretical or written ones, attributed to valid reasons.

*MCR is Mobility Conductor, the current name for Mobility Master (MM). It was called MM when I took ACMX written and practical exams, but it changed later to MCR. I use the name MCR in this document to make it easier for the reader to understand which component this is.

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