I believe every goal needs to have a logical conclusion, the end result doesn’t matter you win some you loose some.The importance of pursuing a goal till it reaches a logical conclusion is paramount. In my 11 years of IT career I have spent more than 8 years in the field of Virtualization and yes I am passionate about this technology and how it has shaped a new era in IT.
To me the journey to become VCDX have been such a goal , now it has reached a logical conclusion and I am VCDX#124. My journey started soon after VMware officially announced the VCDX certification more than 4 years back , I was working in VMware R&D at that point of time. Having passed all the VCP exams which released by that time (VCP 2/3/4), I was looking for a new challenge and VCDX was one of them. So I appeared for the VCDX Enterprise Admin exam (now VCAP DCA) which was the first VMware advance exam and was a prerequisites for the VCDX3 along with the Design exam. I manage to clear the exam at that point of time. However soon after that I left VMware to join IBM Consulting and then didn’t appear for the design exam.
I rejoined VMware in 2011 in VMware professional services and again started pursuing the goal , but by this time the certification has moved to it’s next version which was VCDX 4 , with prerequisites of (VCP4, VCAP4 DCA , VCAP4 DCD).I cleared my VCAP exams and started working on my design to be submitted for the defense , however I couldn’t finish the design for submission due to my jam pact work schedule and lot of traveling. By the time again the certification was revised to VCDX 5 and again I had to go through VCP5 , VCAP5 DCA and VCAP5 DCD as prerequisites for the VCDX 5.
I again cleared all the prerequisite exams and soon started working on my design , the design was done very well and it has all the components which was mentioned in the blueprint , all the supportive documentation was also given same importance. The design submission was approved by the VCDX certification team and I was called for the Design defense in Singapore on 29th October. This was the moment I was waiting for last 4 years and it finally came. I went to Singapore 3 days in advance and focussed on my preparation for the defense. Those 3 days have been the most focused period of my life :-). I went through my design multiple times , I created lot of artificial questions which could be asked by the VCDX panelists , worked on getting some new design scenarios and possible solution for the second part of the defense which was the design scenario , also refreshed my memory for the third part the troubleshooting scenario which was natural to me having worked in VMware support earlier but was not easy as I have not been doing hard core troubleshooting for almost 6 years now. The defense experience was very good and I had privilege to defend my application in front of three best technical brains in virtualization as my VCDX panelists (you know who you are), the defense was not easy however I manage to reach at a logical conclusion at each of my defense stage. After the wait of nearly a week I woke up in the morning and found an email from Mark regarding my results ,with silence and prayer I opened the attached PDF and for a moment I was numb :-).
Yes, I passed and the goal the dream has reached it’s logical conclusion I am VCDX#124.
Lets have a look at what is the process to become VCDX. My experience currently is for VCDX-DCV as well as in the outline below I will be covering VCDX-DCV.
For VCDX you need Commitment and focus , you need to spend many hours preparing for the prerequisites exams and then more than that for your Design submission. This will require lot of time investement out of your family life , so make sure you involve your family early in the process so that they understand.
Below is the path to become VCDX-DCV as outlined by VMware.
The 5 stage process for VCDX DCV is below.
1. Achieve VCP-DCV certification
2. Achieve VCAP-DCA certification
3. Archieve VCAP-DCD certification
4. Submit a design
5. Defend your design
Read my below articles for detail on VCAP DCA and VCAP DCD exam preperation.
The VCDX Application Process
1. Architecture design – The design of your vSphere enviroment
2. Installation guide – Installation steps to implement your design
3. Implementation plan – Is about roles, responsibilities, timelines etc
4. Testing plan – Test & acceptance document
5. Standard operating procedures – About how to operate the design
On top of this the actual application (a separate document) should be filled out. You can also add any supportive documents such Diagrams , Capacity planner results , flowcharts and any other documents referenced in the design. Also have a look at the VCDX Application and Defense Review Process.
There are some very good resources available on VMware website to start with.
VCDX Bootcamp videos are a must watch , you should also read the VCDX Boot Camp Book as it provides very good insights on how to approach the whole VCDX process and increases your chances of being VCDX. There are few other blogs which have very good information about the process just use google and you are there ;-).
Once your document pack for submission is ready you need to make sure that you have reviewed all the documents as they are as per the blueprint and free of any grammatical and spelling mistakes.
Defending your Application
The VCDX defense consist of three parts:
1.The interview process (75 minutes) in which the panelists will ask you questions on your design
2.The design scenario (30 minutes for VCDX-DCV) in which you have to create a logical design based on a customer case
3.The troubleshooting scenario (15 minutes for VCDX-DCV) which is about troubleshooting a case based on information provided on problematic scenario
Time management is key here , if you have come so far you know how time flies in these exams (like VCAPs).To get some experience in presenting and answering questions it’s a very good idea to run a mock defense. Find people who can act as panelists. These will people will review your design and ask you questions about your design.Practice the defense of your design, but also practice the design and troubleshooting part. It’s also a good idea to create a document which have a summary of loopholes identified by your peers and also you , this will help you in getting answers ready if the same question comes.
Writing your Design
The design is the most important part of your application. Remember if your design is rejected you can’t go further in the process.You can choose for an actual design, a partially fictitious design or a wholly fictitious design. An actual design is generated as part of an actual design and implementation project, a fictitious design is based on work done as part of a design-and-implementation project but is modified to demonstrate vSphere knowledge, the wholly fictitious design is just a fictitious design and in my opinion takes more work than the other two.
Whatever options you choose make sure that Business Objectives/Goal , Requirements , Constraints , Assumptions , Risk and Risk Mitigation is clear and concise as that becomes the base of your design. The design should be able to show your skills as an architect and should have all the necessary components which you will consider for the vSphere Design project. So always pick a challenging project for the design submission.
Know your design inside out !!
I hope this article helps you in your journey to VCDX. It’s a long process which requires considerable effort, but the whole journey is worth the effort and remember only few people in world hold the VCDX title which in itself a very motivating factor . All the best and good luck for any one appearing for the exam.