Name: Garrette Grouwstra
Twitter Handle: @VirtualCanadian
Blog URL: vCanadian.ca
Current Employer: Long View Systems
VCDX #: 127
How did you get into using VMware?
I was working for a small ISP in 2009, and began a consolidation project to go hand-in-hand with their upcoming infrastructure refresh. As soon as I started using ESXi 3.5, I thought that the whole idea of virtualization was something I needed to focus on professionally.
What made you decide to do the VCDX?
For the past 2.5 years, I have had the privilege of building and architecting a public cloud offering to help diversify the services that the company I work for offers to clients. VCDX-DCV had been on my mind at the time as I watched others in the organization (@vcloudmatt and @DavesRant) go through the process. Once the Cloud track was announced, I knew that would be my next goal.
How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?
That is a tough question, as the VCDX-Cloud certification is still brand spanking new. I had to complete all of the prerequisites first, I received the VCP-Cloud in August of 2012, followed by the Beta’s of the VCAP-CID, and VCAP-CIA, which I received in February 2013.
I started writing my design documentation in March of 2013, putting it aside while I planned a wedding and went on a honeymoon, and picked back up in August 2013. With the help of my design Co-author, Matt Vandenbeld (@vcloudmatt), I was able to complete the application by the end of December, and was fortunately invited to defend in February 2014.
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?
1. Get support from your family, and work. I was lucky that both my husband and Long View Systems gave me time, and supported me on this journey. I could not have remained sane without them.
2. Set milestones to complete sections of your design doc, and within all supporting material. Keep to the deadlines.
3. Don’t work in a vacuum. There are many great resources out there, both blogs and people (Inside and outside of your organization). Use them
4. Know your design inside and out. Really, I mean it.
5. Accept that you may have submitted a design with mistakes. Own those mistakes and call them
6. Practice, practice, practice! Find others in the community that are able to assist you, and do mock defences, design and troubleshooting scenarios. Brad Christian (@BChristian21) organized mock defences between most of the candidates defending at PEX. The group ripped my design apart more so than they did in the room, and were amazing help preparing.
7. Breathe. Take a time out before the actual defence to compose yourself.
If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?
The only thing I would do differently is more mocks. I saw myself grow so much as a consultant and VCDX candidate during the weeks leading up to the defence, and the mocks were a LARGE part of that. I wish I would have done more troubleshooting and design mocks.
Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it?
The VCDX is a certification I achieved for myself, not for my company. They have been supportive along the way, and all congratulated me, however I did not, and do not expect much to change from a company perspective.
The biggest change personally, is that I have free time again. I’m still trying to come to terms with that and debating how to fill the void that VCDX prep has left.