Name: Byron Schaller
Twitter Handle: @byronschaller
Blog URL: vbyron.com
Current Employer: RoundTower Technologies
VCDX #: 231
How did you get into using VMware?
I started with VMware Workstation in 2000 when I was writing code for a living. I started working with ESX in 2005 with version 2.5.1. VMware products became my main focus with the release of VI3.
What made you decide to do the VCDX?
This is complicated. Mostly the challenge and to prove I could. In seeking validation, I ended up gaining far more. I’m easily twice the architect now compared to when I started.
How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?
I completed my VCAP-DCD in February 2014. I guess I was passively preparing from that point until I began in earnest writing my design in May of this year (2016). I submitted in July and worked on my deck from the day I submitted until 2 days before I defended in September. In all I probably spent 200 hours this summer between writing, revising, and raw study.
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?
1. Get a mentor.
2. Get a study group of people you respect and trust. Mine was fantastic and I’m sure we will be friends post VCDX for a long, long time.
3. Understand your use case. What the workloads you are running on your clusters actually do for the business matters. Understanding the business impact of the applications leads to justifying design decisions. If you design an infrastructure for it’s own sake without taking this into account, I’m almost sure you will fail the defence.
If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?
I would have used a real use customer design. Mine was entirely fictional. The upside is I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only folks to pass on the first attempt with an entirely fictional design and without working with a partner(s).
The downside is that it made the process significantly harder. I had to make up all my performance and sizing data and make it feel real. That was very hard, and I still think I could have done a better job of it. If I had those numbers collected, because they were real, it would have saved me significant time.
Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it?
My goals around learning include knocking out all 5 AWS certs by the end of the year and then starting on my VCDX-NV.
My company has been pretty great about everything, however with Rene (VCDX #133) as my boss I would expect no less.
In the end was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.
The friends I gained and the skills I cultivated were well worth the effort. Without a doubt the VCDX journey changes you in ways few things can.