Well, I did it. I successfully defended my VCDX design and received my VCDX-DV number 107, which means I’m the 107th person out of 110 in the world to achieve this certification. I talked briefly in another post about the amount of work that went in to getting to the defense. It’s a lot: 300-plus hours at least, probably more. That’s just for the VCDX part and not counting the VCAP certification study. It’s a very worthwhile endeavor, but you have to make sure you are prepared for it. If you are interested in obtaining it at VMworld this year, you should have already started preparing.
So, what’s the defense process like? Let me walk you through my defense at VMware’s Partner Exchange in late February.
I arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada on a Friday night, and my defense was scheduled for Monday at 2 p.m. I love Vegas, but I resisted its temptations and went into lock-down mode. A workmate, who was also defending, and I spent the next days locked in our hotel, going over design decisions and using the room’s windows as whiteboards. I think this is the only time in my life I went to bed at 10 p.m. in Las Vegas. It was truly key to have preparation time with lots of rest.
Our only real break was to attend the VCDX bootcamp put on by VCDX 001 John Arrasjid. If you want to get your VCDX, it’s a must to attend this. The bootcamp was a morning-long presentation and interactive session on what the VCDX defense consists of. Many VCDXs pop in and offer invaluable advice.
Monday morning came very soon.
I chose to get a good breakfast and relax before my defense. I was lucky enough to be staying in the hotel where the defenses were performed, so I didn’t have to worry about travel time. My nerves were getting to me; I was getting very antsy as the time grew closer. At 1:45 p.m. I headed down to the meeting room floor. I was greeted by the head of the VCDX program, who checked my ID and took my picture. He then introduced me to my moderator, who escorted me to the defense room.
Once inside the room, I was instructed to stand at the front and use the laptop there to get my presentation ready. After that was done, I was introduced to my panel and a couple observers. I was informed of the process and some rules and then was told to begin the 75-minute design defense portion. I fought through the nerves and began my presentation. Then came the questions—many, many questions from the three panelists firing them off fast and furious. Before I knew it, the time was up.
I was then escorted to a room for a 15-minute break. I didn’t feel too bad at this point – not great, but not bad. After the 15 minutes, my moderator escorted me back to the room for the design and troubleshooting sessions. We started off with a 30-minute design scenario, where the panel now acts like customers. I felt like I did poorly in this as 30 minutes is not a lot of time to get stuff done. I asked as many questions as I could and managed to scribble a bunch of stuff on the two small whiteboards.
Again, the time passed very quickly. Once 30 minutes expired, we jumped right into the troubleshooting scenario, where you are presented with a problem and have 15 minutes to try to figure it out. I felt I did well in this, but they don’t tell you if you actually found the problem. They only want to see the process.
Then it was over.
I meandered back to my hotel room feeling beat up but positive. As the minutes and hours and days went on, I felt worse and worse about it. Your brain, at least my brain, has a habit to dwell on the negative: What didn’t I answer correctly? Did I get that statement wrong? The doubts looped through my mind. Thankfully, the results were issued extremely fast.
I received the email early Monday morning. I opened the PDF and there it was: VCDX 107. What a feeling of elation, relief and excitement. It’s been my goal for years to achieve this, and I’m also glad I don’t have to defend again!
I really recommend this as a goal for all virt people; it drives so many positive things in your career. Know that there is a pretty big time and effort commitment, but the journey will make you better. Start with the VCP, and then go for the VCAPs. (The TrainSignal vSphere design series will help you a lot on the road to VCDX.) Get together with people who have the same aspirations, discuss it, debate it – learn. The community is fantastic, and we want more VCDXs out there!