TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight: Eric Shanks

Name: Eric Shanks

Twitter Handle: @eric_shanks

Blog URL: theITHollow.com

Current Employer: Ahead

VCDX #: 195


How did you get into using VMware?

I was at a Chicago Microsoft Users Group and a company called Altiris was speaking about virtualizing applications with their solution. The whole idea was pretty eye opening to me so when my boss suggested some enhancements to our infrastructure the virtualization concept was brought up again. After some testing we decided that VMware was the clear leader in the space so we virtualized our infrastructure on 4.0.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The VCDX certification was a challenge I wasn’t convinced that I could achieve, but I had to know for sure. A few other co-workers already had the credentials and I decided it was the time to find out what I was capable of doing.


How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

The whole process took me about six months to complete. I already had my VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD before I decided to try the VCDX so that helped, but I left myself plenty of time to work out my design before submitting it.


What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

Talk with your family first about the endeavour. The VCDX is challenging, but more than that time consuming. Expect to spend nights and weekends working on it. The VCDX journey is personal achievement but can’t be done without some support from family, friends and co-workers.

Aside from talking with your family first, the second piece of advice I’d give is don’t be afraid to fail. This isn’t an easy challenge and many really qualified people have stumbled on it. It doesn’t mean you’re not awesome, it just means you need to tweak your design or presentation skills a bit.


If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I would have made sure to understand the defense blueprint better from the start. I felt that there were specific sections of the blueprint where I didn’t have enough things in my design to present. Specifically my design didn’t have a lot of “Security” related items so I wasn’t able to talk in depth about it in my defense. If I could have done it over I would have added an additional security requirement and supported it with my design so that I could talk about it in the defense.


Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

After the process was over I was recognized at our company’s Tech Summit and given a bonus for the achievement. The feeling of a sense of accomplishment from meeting a personal goal made the process worth it.


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VCDX Spotlight: Nick Bowie

Name: Nick Bowie

Twitter Handle: @nickbowienz

Current Employer: ViFX Ltd.

VCDX #: 202


How did you get into using VMware?

I’d had exposure back in the earlier days with GSX and ESX Server through David Manconi (@dmanconi), when we worked together previously. I remember he was pretty excited about it, so I figured there must be something to it ;) But I didn’t really have the opportunity to pursue it professionally until late 2009 when I became involved in a large data centre migration project which included establishing an SRM enabled ESXi 3.5 infrastructure.


What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I had heard about it through my go-to places like Yellow-Bricks, as I tried to soak up as much as I could about virtualisation. It wasn’t until I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Michael Webster (@vcdxnz001), who had just achieved his and, later in 2011, Travis Wood (@vTravWood) who was so excited to be pursuing it that I started to understand the level it represented. When I joined ViFX I realised the calibre of people I was fortunate enough to be working with and felt I really needed to lift my game.


How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

It’s been such a gradual, incremental process it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it started in earnest. If I measure from obtaining the VCP5-DCV in September 2012, it took almost three years. It became a realistic goal after joining ViFX in August 2013 though.


What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

It’s not a race :) Each qualifying exam (VCP, VCAP DCA/DCD) are challenging in their own rights. Focus on the immediate, realistic goals and you’ll find your capabilities grow significantly through those achievements. When you’re at the point where you can submit the design: read the blueprint. Everyone says that, and I must admit I’d get a little frustrated at hearing it so often, but it’s true. Read it, understand it as best you can and make sure you touch on all the points.


If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would do it too differently. The design I based it on was light on some components of the blueprint requirements, due to certain constraints and challenges, which meant some extra work was required on my own time. While working on that project I completed a few others in between that were more “blueprint-friendly”, in BC/DR and vBCA Oracle based engagements, but this was the one I had invested myself into with the goal in mind so I was determined to use it all the way through.


Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

It’s only been a week, so it’s early days yet ;) ViFX are extremely proud to have the 2nd VCDX in New Zealand, and the only one in the VMware partner space. We definitely have more VCDX’s in progress – watch this space!


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VCDX-Cloud and DT VCAP Requirements Waiver Extended

A quick posting for those who may have missed it that the waiver of the VCAP requirements to submit for VCDX-Cloud or VCDX-DT has been extended to the October defences. This means if you are thinking of defending VCDX in either of these paths you have until August 25th to build a design and submit it as long as you have the VCP in the track.

waived

 

I know a number of people who were working tirelessly to get their submissions created before the April 1st submission delaine for June defences and this will certainly relieve some pressure there and will also mean a second shot opportunity for those who submit in either of the tracks for June using the waiver and don’t achieve the certification.

 

Good luck to all of those looking to submit for June and those now thinking of submitting for October.


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#vBrownbag #VCDX Series Follow Up

As people may or may not be aware the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am a co-host have been doing a VCDX series covering a number of topics around the VCDX and preparations for attempting it. We have done three sessions and all three recordings are below:

Next week we will have John Arrasjid and Mark Gabryjelski continuing the delivery of additional infrastructure architecture design advice and recommendations from a recent presentation John delivered at the Singapore vForum where he stated all three sessions of the presentation were full.

Also a special shout out and thanks to Rene van Den Bedem aka VCDX133 for co-hosting with me and supplying so many questions as well as answers on the VCDX Panel session. Go check out his VCDX series of postings if you want some of the best VCDX material available.

Koala can't believe it - Over VCDX 50 postings Still maintains a day job and wife?

Gregg


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VCDX Defences 2015

A very quick posting to alert people that the defence dates additional to PEX for 2015 have been released.

https://communities.vmware.com/thread/494802

Defences will be held simultaneously at Frimley (UK), Palo Alto (US) and Singapore (Asia) in June and October with more dates possibly created if there is additional demand.

I am personally looking at doing my second attempt for the June defences in Frimley and listed all the resources I’m using for my second attempt which I have been making my way through since late November 2014.

The EMEA #vBrownbag are also running a VCDX series which should be beneficial for those people thinking of defending or just wanting to know more about the certification.

Good luck to all of those looking to defend this year and let me know if you are defending as there is a VCDX study group running already for PEX and one slowly starting for the June defences.

Gregg


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Blog Sponsor – Pluralsight

I am pleased to announce the second sponsor of my blog: Pluralsight . I am really excited by this sponsorship as I have been a massive fan and user of Pluralsight’s and previously Trainsignal’s videos and online courses for years and they  have helped me pass all of my certifications within the last 7 years so you can understand how fond of the courses I am.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight’s purchase of Trainsignal has enabled the videos to now be available via your tablet and gives you the ability to download videos to your tablet so you can watch them without needing Wi-Fi like on a train or plane. I honestly can’t recommend them enough and would highly recommend you give them a try and sign up for their no obligation 10-day free trial. They have videos ranging from VMware technologies, learning programming languages from scratch or advanced courses , Windows technologies,hacking, A+ N+ , leadership courses and Scrum fundamentals to name but a fraction of the courses. For some of the certifications I have recommended and personally used Pluralsight courses for and will be using again in the future have a look at the following study resources pages and blog posting:

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcp5/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-study-resources/vcap5-dca-dcd/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcp5-iaas-and-vcp5-cloud/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/vsphere-5-x-cloud-study-resources/vcap5-cia-and-cid/

http://thesaffageek.co.uk/2014/04/28/vcdx-prep-round-2/

 

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight: Joseph Griffiths

Name: Joseph Griffiths

Twitter Handle: @Gortees

Blog URL: http://blog.jgriffiths.org

Current Employer : IBM

VCDX #: 143

How did you get into using VMware?

I came into IT when virtualization was just getting started. The more time I spent on call in the middle of the night the more I became motivated to find solutions. Application clustering was too costly for the developers and no business unit would agreed to it. Then came VMware it provided a live solution to hardware failures and great manageability benefits. At first chance I encouraged a proof of concept using VMware. Within the next two years we were 90% virtualized.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

At some point every technical person is faced with the choice to specialize in their field. When I looked at my possible options I was faced with some tough options. I have to choose between operating systems (Linux), Storage or virtualization. It was the same year I had the opportunity to attend my first VMworld (2012). While attending the conference I really enjoyed being surrounded by such a great eco system and company. I was able to have some great technical discussions with people and I love the conference. It became clear to me that I wanted to specialize in VMware. I needed to learn a lot more about VMware. I have always found that certifications make me learn with purpose so I started setting certification goals for myself. Since I had been in a technical role the VCAP-DCA made sense. Once I passed that test I just kept going.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

I got a VCP5 on Feb 2012. The certification journey really started with VMworld 2013 when I passed the VCAP-DCA and IaaS exams. This was followed up by the VCAP-DCD in Oct. 2013. I started on the VCDX on January of 2014 and submitted the design May 2014. The VCDX is not really a destination it’s really about becoming something not achieving it. I feel that my life’s experiences from a young child are part of my VCDX journey. I spent two years as a missionary for my church knocking on doors in Michigan. I like to think that really prepared me to stand my ground in a design defence better than any mock defence ever could. At the same time I feel like I am still trying to become a VCDX, I have a lot to learn.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

I have lots of advice and there is a write up on my blog (poorly written). The three largest pieces of advice I can give are the following:

  • Don’t kill yourself, set goals and keep them but keep balance don’t sacrifice the world for a cert. Lots of people think they are going to get it done by pulling all nighters… don’t it’s not going to end well.
  • Your design does not have to be perfect.. it’s not about perfect, nothing is perfect.
  • The key to school is figuring out what the teacher wants… read the blue print figure out what the teacher wants and do it… don’t try to outsmart the teacher.
  • Find a format for your documentation and stick with it.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

Spend less time trying to figure out the format and more time on content.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

LOL… well I switched jobs the week before my VCDX defence so the new employer was happy. I am still getting used to life after and a new job. Was the VCDX worth it? Yes, in fact even if I had not got the VCDX it was worth it. I learned so much about design… preparing for the VCDX forced me to learn more in six months than the last two years. If your desire to become a VCDX is purely in order to get a new job or more money you may not be on the right path.

What is next for you?

Great question. More certifications just don’t tell my wife… I already have the VCP-Cloud and I just finished a massive vCloud project and I am moving into a VCAC and NSX project so VCDX-Cloud might be in the future. Short term I think it’s time for a CCNA to help smooth over a rough bit in my knowledge.

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