Name: Josh Odgers
Twitter Handle: @josh_odgers
Blog URL: http://www.joshodgers.com
Current Employer: IBM Australia
VCDX #: 90
How did you get into using VMware?
I had been a Post/Pre Sales engineer for a number of years, specialising in Storage / Servers / Wintel type technologies, the company I was working for at the time put me on the VMware Virtual Infrastructure – Install and Configure Course and wanted me to get VCP as soon as possible as a requirement of the VMware partner program. The course really inspired me, and I quickly focused my attention and career path on virtualisation and shared storage. I gained my first VCP (VCP3) in mid 2007.
What made you decide to do the VCDX?
A good friend of mine (and former Colleague) James Wirth, better known as VCDX#83 and I decided to challenge ourselves and each other. It started out as a bit of a challenge or contest, but quickly turned into an excellent learning experience. In the back of my mind I also wanted see how my skills compared to the elite virtualisation architects (the VCDXs).
How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?
As always, I tend to put myself under pressure, which I did in this case. James and I agreed we would like to defend in Germany and take a run down the autobahns in a Porsche 911 Turbo, but we quickly realised time was not on our side as applications were due in December, so we agreed on Toronto.
I sat the VCP4 in November 2011 (after already sitting VCP5 thinking that would qualify me for the VCAP4 exams, big mistake!), then VCAP4-DCD in early December, VCAP4-DCA in mid December, then prepared my application in January & Feb (while also Sitting VCAP5-DCD Beta exam).
I completed the VCDX4 Defence in Toronto May 2012.
So all up, including study it was only October 2011 to May 2012, a total of 8 months.
I would however not recommend anyone try to go through the VCDX “Journey” in 8 months as I studied day and night, and had minimal personal life during this time. I was lucky to have had a solid 6 years working with VMware products, so the experience was essential, without the experience, I wouldn’t have had a chance.
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?
The VCDX journey should be looked at as a huge learning experience, rather than just aiming for a certification.
Assuming you have several years (I’d suggest 5+) of solid VMware experience with significant and varied design experience, I’d give yourself 6 months per VCAP exam, and 6 months to prepare your VCDX application. So 18 months, total.
I would suggest
1. Do whiteboard design scenario sessions with other skilled VMware architects and consider the pro’s and con’s of every architectural decision, and when you use one setting over another, and vice versa. This is very handy, not just for VCDX defence where you will be asked these type of questions, but for a VMware architects day to day job.
2. Read, read, and read some more. Books like Duncan and Frank’s vSphere 4.1 HA/DRS & vSphere 5 Clustering books are excellent. Blogs, VMware Best practice documents etc are great resources.
3. Setup a home lab (if you don’t have a lab at the office). Test things, try as many different scenarios as possible and run through all the tasks in the VCAP4-DCA blueprint several times, as the DCA exam requires you complete alot of tasks in a short period of time, so you don’t want to have to refer to the manuals at all if possible.
4. Know the VCAP and VCDX blueprints back to front!
5. Repeat items 1 through 4
6. Refer to item 5
If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?
Take more time, a lot more! I still feel there is a lot I can learn, and I feel I would have enjoyed the journey more, as I wouldn’t have been under such tight time pressures. I would also have done more design scenario sessions with friends and colleagues, as these are great ways to learn as well as help prepare for the VCDX panel.
Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it
Was it worth it?? 100% Yes. It was definitely worth it. I learned a huge amount, and improved as a VMware architect. I now think my architectural decisions through much more and consider a wider range of options.
Life after VCDX for me is much like the VCDX journey, keep learning as much as possible, including improving my skills in complimentary technologies, such as Storage & networking.
I am planning on knocking off the desktop certifications VCA4-DT, VCP4-DT and VCP5-DT in the next couple of months, and when released, the VCPVCD511 (VCP-IaaS).
Hope I can get a healthy pay rise too! (Hope the boss reads this, wink wink, nudge nudge)