TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight: Wade Holmes

Name: Wade Holmes

Twitter Handle: @wholmes

Blog URL: www.vwade.com

Current Employer: VMware

VCDX #: 15

How did you get into using VMware?

The year was 2004. I was an IT Specialist working in the IBM’s Business Continuity and Resiliency Services, and became aware of customers utilizing VMware for backup and recovery of their datacetners. I went to my manager at the time and told him about this trend, and that I was interested in becoming a VMware SME for IBM BCRS. I started working with ESX 2.0 and VirtualCenter 1.0, attended VMware training, and in 2005 became a VMware Certified Professional. During this time I spearheaded the creation and rollout of IBM BCRS’s first VMware based warm-site disaster recovery offering across the US, reducing the RTO of numerous fortune 500 clients. And so began the journey towards VMware excellence!

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

It was early 2008, and the VCDX certification was announced. The rigor of the requirements immediately attracted me to pursuing the certification. I knew this was a certification that could help further my career as an IT professional.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

I completed the VCDX the summer of 2009, after taking the beta exam and defending during the first publically available defense. Below was the path I took before defending.

VCP on VI3
Enterprise Exam (beta)
Design Exam (beta)

I had no idea what to expect when coming to defend, and was extremely nervous. I spent countless hours preparing, reviewing my design, making sure I knew the in’s and out, and could justify every granular detail I documented. Luckily, that was exactly the approach necessary for me to be successful. I can’t describe how happy I was when I got a phone call that I passed and was a VCDX! (yes, back then I was actually contacted by phone to be informed I passed). In becoming VCDX #15, I was the first non-VMware employee worldwide to achieve the certification (as I worked for a partner at the time).

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation? Dive in hear first to master your craft. Understand not just the what, but more importantly the why of architecture and design. Use the plethora of resources available to you online to become familiar with the format. Sign up for a VCDX Bootcamp to help prepare.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently? Nothing except more sleep the night before the defense (if you can sleep).

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it

I believe I have a unique perspective on the VCDX program, having completed the VCDX program in 2009 as the first non-VMware VCDX worldwide, and then joining VMware and participating in the ongoing development of the program as a panelist. As an outsider looking in, the VCDX program was a goal that drove me to work on my craft, and become a better architect.

Since joining VMware, my participation in the VCDX program has only helped to hone my skills as a virtualization and cloud architect. It has forced me to sharpen my understanding of enterprise architecture principals, principals that aid me greatly in my day-to-day role dealing with virtualization and cloud solutions. I will be forever grateful to the VCDX program in providing a vehicle that forced me to push myself, and aiding me to take my career to another level.


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VCDX Spotlight: Randy Stanley

Name: Randy Stanley

Twitter Handle: @randystanley

Blog URL: http://www.randystanley.com

Current Employer: IT Partners

VCDX #: 94

How did you get into using VMware?

In 2003 I was working for a small software development company managing their business applications and supporting their software development team. Initially we began utilizing VMware GSX Server for those simple use cases trying to consolidate and save on our hardware spend where ever we could. In support of the software development team we also deployed ESX in a lab environment for testing and development purposes only. A fairly common introduction and use case early on in the adoption of VMware solutions. Plus, vMotion was the coolest freakin’ thing I had ever seen.

It wasn’t until I re-entered the consulting field in 2007 that I really started to dive deep into the VMware products and they have been an integral part of every solution we sell and deploy. It was this exposure to the VMware technology that really allowed me to develop my abilities and deepen my experience. I also should say that a large draw for me was the large, friendly and helpful community that supported and shared knowledge around the VMware products; easily the best community with which to be associated.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

For me the decision was twofold, first because I’ve had the great fortune of working with one of the best consultants I know in Doug Baer, VCDX #19 and second for the shear challenge of obtaining the certification. A natural, underlying part of the equation has always been my love of the technology and interest in understanding how it works at its core. In my current line of work, utilizing the skills and knowledge measured by the VCDX certification is highly relevant and in many ways a validation of those abilities.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

It’s hard to say exactly when the journey started, as I had wanted to go after it for the last couple of years, but it seemed so far off and I never really got going. In May 2011, I started and then stopped my journey with a failed attempt on the required VCAP-DCA exam which in combination with a heavy load of customer commitments limited my ability to focus on it. Since I wasn’t accustomed to failing an exam, the DCA failure caught me off guard and I needed to regroup. It was then about 6 months later over the 2011 Thanksgiving (US) holiday that I had a little heart-to-heart with myself and decided regardless of the time, effort or success, I was going to go after the VCDX4 before it was updated to version 5. I was leaving too many good designs on the table which I had worked on with vSphere 4 to not try to at least defend one of them. That’s when my real, 6-month journey toward VCDX began. This involved the DCD4 exam in December, the DCA4 exam in January, the VCP5 upgrade and the DCD5 beta in February, the VCDX4 Design and application in March and then the VCDX4 Defense in May. Approximately 6-months start to finish, but ultimately the journey never ends or at least I hope it doesn’t.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

My advice to those interested in the VCDX would be to dedicate themselves to the investment of time and resources necessary in the effort. This may mean the setup of a home lab, the time to read product guides, the repetition of product implementation and design, and/or the review of countless blogs and knowledge base articles. But beyond having a sound technical and architectural knowledge it will also require comfort in the spotlight, an ability to present from a white board, a quickness to think on your feet, an ability to envision the big picture design, and an openness to feedback, critique and improvement. With all that said, bottom line for anyone seriously considering it, I would say go for it. You’ll never know what could have been if you don’t try. I believe many will be surprised by what they can accomplish when they focus on a goal like the VCDX.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I probably would have started it earlier. Overall I felt the execution was successful once I got going, but for me it was just the issue of starting and sticking with it. Beyond that I don’t think I would have changed much.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it

In my consulting position, the certifications are very much a part of the role and needed by the company to market, sell and deliver the solutions that we focus on. The certification definitely brought some recognition and accolades. It also provided some instant credibility amongst those in our community. For the most part, I do believe it was worth it mainly because of the challenge it provided to me and the opportunity to do what I love most which is work with the technology, understand the architecture of the products, solve the business problems of my customers, and participate in a community that is passionate about all these same things.


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VCDX Spotlight: Tom Ralph

Name: Tom Ralph

Twitter Handle: @tomralph

Blog URL: http://www.virtualserverguy.com

Current Employer: VMware, Inc

VCDX #: 51

How did you get into using VMware?

I first started by purchasing an IBM xSeries 1U rack mount server off eBay to try out this new product from VMware. I fired up the server in my home office, installed ESX 2.53, and started to learn about virtualization. After the first 20 minutes, I could see that VMware and server virtualization was the future.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

As soon as I learned of the VCDX certification, I made it a goal to achieve the VCDX certification and a number under 100.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

I had already had my VCP from 2007, I first took my VMware Design Exam in March of 2010, with the Administration shortly after that. I then defended my design in August of 2010. I then paced around VMworld awaiting my results, which finally came 2 weeks after the show ended.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

If you want it, go for it! I learned more about technology, enterprise architecture, and process than I ever thought I would have. During your defence know when to say ‘I do not know’, it is a hard skill to master but a critical one. Know the smallest details of your design and know them through and through.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

When I first attempted the VCDX certification, I was newly married to a wonderful woman that allowed me to focus 100% on the process. Now we have a 1-year-old child, I am not able to devote the time needed. I would take more time to thoroughly understand and complete my design.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

My previous company did not know what to make of the certification or what it really meant. It wasn’t soon after I got the VCDX certification that I made the choice to leave that company and move to VMware. From there, my career has blossomed and continues to do so.


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VCDX Spotlight : Fabio Rapposelli

Name: Fabio Rapposelli
Twitter Handle: @fabiorapposelli
Blog URL: http://juku.it/en
Current Employer: Juku Consulting
VCDX #: 58
 
How did you get into using VMware?

Back in 2002 I started exploring the VMware world with workstation, after a few exciting months playing on my home built tower pc I had the chance to try out ESX 1.5 and GSX, I wasn’t impressed at first (believe it or not I was a kind of server hugger at the time) but when ESX hit version 2 and I started to grasp its potential I was completely sold on server virtualization. I can tell you that there are ESX 2.5 still running in Europe and the US that rely on my custom built HA perl scripts 🙂
 
 
What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I remember hearing about VCDX on Duncan Epping’s blog,  I was genuinely impressed by the oral dissertation needed to pass the panel exam, it sounded like something that could really attest a true proof of knowledge, and being a high school dropout myself I always wanted some kind of payback and formal recognition from the industry I truly care about. That was definitely the thing that made my mind click.
 
 
How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

In late 2009 I started wondering about getting my VCDX, I wanted to take it slow because I was still doing field work every day so time was a constraint, I booked the first advanced exam in march 2010 for June (enterprise admin, the precursor of VCAP-DCA) but then I had to rush it because the VCDX3 window was closing and I didn’t want to redo the advanced exams so I spent all my summer holidays working on my design (my wife loved it… Not 🙂 ) and by November the 2nd I was defending my application.
 
 
What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?
 
Extensive hands on experience is definitely the best advice so build your home lab and start getting lab hours on it, and when you get to the defense know your design inside out, don’t overwork it, stick with what you know best and have hands-on experience with.

 
If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I would’ve probably took it slower, but in hindsight I’m not sure I would have accomplished the same result if I didn’t stay focused for two weeks straight on the design.


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VCDX Spotlight : Hugo Phan

Name: Hugo Phan

Twitter Handle: @hugophan

Blog URL: www.vmwire.com

Current Employer: VMware

VCDX #: 75

How did you get into using VMware?

I first started using VMware in 2005 when I was shown VMware Workstation by a trainer during my MCSE courses, I was immediately hooked and then it spiralled from there. My career then focused on datacentre consolidation and VMware was central to my roles as a customer and then a partner and eventually as an employee.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

There are many reasons, some of these can be considered slightly egocentric, such as the acronym on a business card or e-mail signature, the profile on the VCDX Directory, the kudos that comes with the certification and the career opportunities and doors that are open to VCDX holders. However the primary reason why I decided to go through the process was down to the challenge, I always enjoy a good challenge and the thought of achieving the VCDX certification was a central driver to me obtaining it.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

5 years if ‘the journey’ is classified as starter’s gun from passing VCP3 in 2006. There were many hurdles in the way such as kids, family stuff, changing jobs, life in general Smile but I would count it from the day that I passed the VCP4 so it took around 6 months to complete.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

Put your mind to it, plan your journey and execute. It’s as simple as that.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

I would have made the commitment to it a lot earlier. I do have one regret and that is I did not go for the VCDX3 certification, mainly because I felt that I was not ready. There are many readers that are probably thinking the same thing, don’t. Just go for it, have a vision, engage people to help you and deliver!

Once I made the decision to go for VCDX4, I pretty much planned and executed it according to my timelines and objectives, you can read about that here http://vmwire.com/2012/02/24/my-vcdx-journey-5-simple-steps-to-vcdx/. Good luck!

Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it?

Definitely! I would say it was worth it from a personal point of view – achieving the certification allows me to focus on other aspects of my personal development and not focus too much time on certifications. It’s certainly contributed to some of my successes since obtaining VCDX but it’s not been critical to those successes.


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VCAP5-DCA is now GA

A very quick posting for those people out there who are looking to either test out their skills over and above the VCP5 accreditation or those like myself you are hoping to try for the VCDX5 accreditation. The official posting went out earlier today as did the blueprint which hasn’t changed since the beta.

If you feel you are willing to take the challenge of the VCAP5-DCA then you can register for the exam here. Due to my being part of the VCAP5-DCA beta I have already started listing all the resources I’m going to use for the exam on my VCAP5-DCA and DCD Study Resource Page and I’ve also almost finished covering all the VCAP5-DCA blueprint objectives.

Good luck to everyone looking to do the exam and if you know of any other resources I’m missing from my resources page please leave a comment so I can add it to the list

Gregg


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VCDX Spotlight: Kenneth van Ditmarsch

Name: Kenneth van Ditmarsch

Twitter Handle: @virtualkenneth

Blog URL: http://virtualkenneth.com

Current Employer: hqVirtual B.V. (Freelance Virtualization Consultant)

VCDX #: 40

How did you get into using VMware?

In 2005 I joined a company which was primarily focused on implementing SAN infrastructures. Due to the growing customer demand for VMware environments they asked me to fill in the VMware consultancy piece, which I was very happy with obviously. At that time I was the only one doing VMware within the company which made it really hard work to get up to speed, which I couldn’t have done without the VMware Communities at that time!

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I’ve always been someone who likes to have certifications on stuff that I’m working on and the idea of being one of the few within the VCDX community drove my eagerness on getting the VCDX certification.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

The complete journey for me (VCDX3) took about a year. First of all I started with the Enterprise Administration and Enterprise Design Exam which could only be done abroad due to the limited amount of Pearson Facilities delivering the exams. Secondly, with approval of my customer, I started to translate customer’s vSphere Design for delivery to VMware. Last but not least I got invited to present and defend the VCDX design that I submitted.

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

As said multiple times on different blogs: “know your design”. It is very important to have a valid technical and/or organizational reason for the design decisions that you made within the design.

In 2010 I also wrote an article about my VCDX experience with some tips in there:

http://virtualkenneth.com/2010/03/31/my-vcdx-defend-experience/

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

Basically there is only one thing that I would do differently and that’s all about personal life. I stressed myself so much on the VCDX Track that I actually became sick after doing the defence. Guess a lot of stress got relieved 😉 So my lesson learned on this one is to not stress myself so much.

Life after the VCDX?  How did your company respond?  Was it worth it?

I joined VMware Professional Services (PSO) like a month after getting the VCDX certification which basically means that I was already talking to VMware about the position and that my former employer also knew I was leaving at the time I was doing the last steps in the VCDX track.

Was it worth it? Definitely! While working for VMware I got the luxury of becoming a VCDX Panellist member (after internal education) and I learned so much more during that time!

Looking at me as a freelancer nowadays I also benefit with the VCDX certification since it’s still a very unique certification which is getting more and more attention lately.