Name: Shane White
Twitter Handle: @ausvmguy
Blog URL: none (yet)
Current Employer: Southern Cross Computer Systems
VCDX #: 95
How did you get into using VMware?
In 2007, I started playing with Workstation. In the 2nd half of that year, I completed a training program I had been on for a while. I had seen ESX 2.5 installed but didn’t know a lot about it. When I asked my employer what the options were for continued training and/or specialisation and virtualisation was an option, I elected to go down this road. I got my VCP3 in October of that year and had the opportunity to do nothing but VMware onsite for the next 3 years or so with one of our clients.
What made you decide to do the VCDX?
I have always liked a challenge. With the exposure and skills I obtained onsite, and the satisfaction I got from working with VMware technologies, I decided that attempting VCDX would be enjoyable, definitely challenging, but not unachievable.
How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?
If you count from the time I decided to go for it, just under 2 years. Due to my commitments onsite, I couldn’t spend large blocks of time on my design. I achieved both VCAP4 exams in Nov 2010 (4 days apart!). I started working up the design in late November 2010 and had my 1st defence attempt in Singapore in November 2011, which was unsuccessful. The feedback received from this defense and from a 2nd unsuccessful defense in Toronto in May 2012 was applied to a revised submission aimed for defense at VMworld in San Francisco in August 2012. On the 3rd attempt, I was successful!
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?
I found it particularly valuable to have had practical experience working with a real environment. While a home lab is very useful as well, a real environment will encounter real design decisions and configuration issues that may not arise in a home environment.
Consider carefully the kind of design you are planning on submitting. My design was a totally fictitious one. My success shows that you can defend a fictitious design, but it is likely to be harder than if a real design is used.
Either way, read the blueprint and make sure you address ALL the criteria and that you know, not only what your design decisions are, but also understand why that choice was the most appropriate in your situation. This means having a good grasp on the business requirements that have a bearing on those decisions.
Don’t get discouraged if your 1st (or subsequent) attempts are unsuccessful. View it as an opportunity to improve. Achieving VCDX has been described as a journey, and the entire journey can be beneficial and bring satisfaction if you let it.
If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?
I’d read the blueprint more closely and more often! Apart from that, I wouldn’t do anything else differently. I enjoyed the whole experience and found the whole process immensely educational.
Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it?
SCCS was definitely pleased with the successful defense.
As for me, the sense of satisfaction of achieving something significant is immense. The increased confidence when facing a situation is also noticeable.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Even if I had decided not to reattempt, the process of developing the design, all the researching, and preparing for the defense and developing the presentation was of great benefit.