TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical

VCDX Prep Advice Series – Building your submission

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For every VCDX round I normally run unofficial face to face mock as the last hurdle and prep for all those defending the VCDX that round in the UK and for anyone wanting to come assist with the mocks and learn from them. I have run these for a number of years and have got really great feedback from them but last year alike to so many things I was unable to run any due to Covid and who knows if I can this year. So I thought I would do an updated series of postings around the advice I normally give in these mocks, advice I give in the VCDXPrepGroup slack channel I founded and run and link to postings where I summarised previous advice. I will break the series into distinct areas along the path to VCDX to try help people wherever they are along the path *NOTE* All advice here is keeping within NDA’s and despite me now training to become a VCDX panelist it is the same as when I hadn’t gone through the training.

The mysterious VCDX Design

I hear from a lot of people about various challenges and hurdles in building their design and below are the main ones:

  • Ive Never seen a “VCDX Design”

When I defended my first VCDX I received a fair few messages from people asking if they could see my design as they too wanted to submit but said they has never seen a design that got invited to a VCDX defence. What i shared instead was the table of contents so people can possibly understand the flow (in my personal opinion) a good design should have. I have pasted screen shots below of my table of contents from my actual VCDX-DCV submission and there is also the blog posting Derek Seaman posted a while ago around this exact topic. Every person and design is different but outlines like Derek and I’s are relatively the outlines most DCV designs follow that have a good flow from conceptual to logical to physical and cover all the pillars.

  • I’m waiting for the right project before starting my design.

This partly refers to my first posting and how I always tell people to just get started. It is highly unlikely you will find the right project and for most people I’ve spoken to and including my own your design will normally be a merger of two or more designs where maybe for the main design the customer didn’t ask you at that point to add certain features until later phases or not at all but you added them to your design to show you design skills and the lessons you learnt from another project which had those features are now in this design.

Basing it on real world projects helps you refer to those real challenges you had that will come to light when you have to defend your design and I can’t even remember what was and wasn’t in my main project that I based my design on as after a while it became it’s own sole project.

  • I haven’t passed my VCIX yet

Whilst you need the VCIX in your chosen track before submitting there is no reason you can’t start building your design whilst getting the certification as it takes a fair amount of time and effort to build your submission and you don’t want to wait until you have your VCIX and then realise it might take you much longer than you planned to build the design and submit. I have seen far too many people sadly lose the motivation at this point.

  • My customer/company won’t want me to use my current design.

This one is a tough one sometimes and I want to say that for high security customers you should get approval before submitting as my normal advice to people for this is that you can sanitise the design and change all the name to something generic which is actually fairly common for people to do but if it is military or government this is normally not enough so do get it checked. 

Sanitising your design is fairly easy and most companies outside the edge cases I mention above are fine as long as you remove their names and their information from the design and normally if they review it to ensure they feel it has been done sufficiently. The design’s are only shared with those scoring the designs as well as your panelists if these are different people and once your defence is completed these are removed so no one has them.

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