Name: Chris Wahl
Twitter Handle: @ChrisWahl
Blog URL: http://wahlnetwork.com
Current Employer: Ahead
VCDX #: 104
How did you get into using VMware?
I started with VMware workstation as a way to test application builds and work with other operating systems simultaneously. This later branched into using VI3 to experiment with the idea of splitting up servers at small businesses into single-role virtual machines. I eventually ended up deploying VI3 clusters to a large number of automotive dealerships throughout the Midwest using my standard design template. It was so cutting edge and exciting that I decided to shift my career focus from systems administration to virtualization administration and design.
What made you decide to do the VCDX?
I’m a huge certification junkie which requires I turn over every stone possible to test my skills. What’s more ultimate of a test than the VCDX? I also assumed the journey would improve my skills along the way, which held 100% true. I learned a lot about doing a robust enterprise design by examining what the VCDX program desired out of a qualified candidate.
How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?
I thought about the VCDX around the beginning of 2012 when I brought it up to my boss. I spent most of 2012 trying to find a good fit on a client design and improving my skill set to make passing realistic, such as completing the CCNP. Beyond that, I’ve been working on vSphere designs and writing a technical blog for years which I’m sure helped.
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?
I would imagine we are our own worst enemy. There are a million reasons we can’t do something. Ignore all that – learn what is required for VCDX and educate yourself on the process (lots of blogs out there describe the experience), lay out the milestones needed to achieve it, and go do it. I think the hardest part is getting exposure to enterprise design. Getting others to review your design can help as everyone has had different experiences and exposures – I worked heavily with my co-workers as all of them are experts in one discipline or another. They really pushed me to be better. I also read several dozen designs that were available publically and internally to build upon my ideas and better my understanding of various technologies and tactics
If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?
Give myself more time to work on the VCDX deliverables. I was kind of caught off guard when I was given approval to apply for Barcelona and only had about a month to get my paperwork in order. It required a lot of late nights and all of my weekends to do it. My wife shouldered all of the copy editing work to fix my grammatical mistakes and also came up with all the graphics for my docs and presentation. This was a huge help and I would not have submitted in time without her.
Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it
I’m happy to have passed, but now I’m even more motivated to help others along the way and be a mentor for the program. It was really neat to be a part of the group that broke the 100 mark and I think there are many others out there who are up to the challenge.
My company was really great about it and celebrated the achievement as an organization. I credit them, along with my team, with being vital to being a VCDX and look forward to further growing with the company. I’d say it was absolutely worth all the time and effort, even if I had not passed this first time, and I am looking forward to the next big challenge.