TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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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.


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VCDX Spotlight-Josh Odgers

Name: Josh Odgers

Twitter Handle: @josh_odgers

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

Current Employer: IBM Australia

VCDX #: 90

How did you get into using VMware?

I had been a Post/Pre Sales engineer for a number of years, specialising in Storage / Servers / Wintel type technologies, the company I was working for at the time put me on the VMware Virtual Infrastructure – Install and Configure Course and wanted me to get VCP as soon as possible as a requirement of the VMware partner program. The course really inspired me, and I quickly focused my attention and career path on virtualisation and shared storage. I gained my first VCP (VCP3) in mid 2007.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

A good friend of mine (and former Colleague) James Wirth, better known as VCDX#83 and I decided to challenge ourselves and each other. It started out as a bit of a challenge or contest, but quickly turned into an excellent learning experience. In the back of my mind I also wanted see how my skills compared to the elite virtualisation architects (the VCDXs).

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

As always, I tend to put myself under pressure, which I did in this case. James and I agreed we would like to defend in Germany and take a run down the autobahns in a Porsche 911 Turbo, but we quickly realised time was not on our side as applications were due in December, so we agreed on Toronto.

I sat the VCP4 in November 2011 (after already sitting VCP5 thinking that would qualify me for the VCAP4 exams, big mistake!), then VCAP4-DCD in early December, VCAP4-DCA in mid December, then prepared my application in January & Feb (while also Sitting VCAP5-DCD Beta exam).

I completed the VCDX4 Defence in Toronto May 2012.

So all up, including study it was only October 2011 to May 2012, a total of 8 months.

I would however not recommend anyone try to go through the VCDX “Journey” in 8 months as I studied day and night, and had minimal personal life during this time. I was lucky to have had a solid 6 years working with VMware products, so the experience was essential, without the experience, I wouldn’t have had a chance.

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

The VCDX journey should be looked at as a huge learning experience, rather than just aiming for a certification.

Assuming you have several years (I’d suggest 5+) of solid VMware experience with significant and varied design experience, I’d give yourself 6 months per VCAP exam, and 6 months to prepare your VCDX application. So 18 months, total.

I would suggest

1. Do whiteboard design scenario sessions with other skilled VMware architects and consider the pro’s and con’s of every architectural decision, and when you use one setting over another, and vice versa. This is very handy, not just for VCDX defence where you will be asked these type of questions, but for a VMware architects day to day job.

2. Read, read, and read some more. Books like Duncan and Frank’s vSphere 4.1 HA/DRS & vSphere 5 Clustering books are excellent. Blogs, VMware Best practice documents etc are great resources.

3. Setup a home lab (if you don’t have a lab at the office). Test things, try as many different scenarios as possible and run through all the tasks in the VCAP4-DCA blueprint several times, as the DCA exam requires you complete alot of tasks in a short period of time, so you don’t want to have to refer to the manuals at all if possible.

4. Know the VCAP and VCDX blueprints back to front!

5. Repeat items 1 through 4

6. Refer to item 5

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

Take more time, a lot more! I still feel there is a lot I can learn, and I feel I would have enjoyed the journey more, as I wouldn’t have been under such tight time pressures. I would also have done more design scenario sessions with friends and colleagues, as these are great ways to learn as well as help prepare for the VCDX panel.

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

Was it worth it?? 100% Yes. It was definitely worth it. I learned a huge amount, and improved as a VMware architect. I now think my architectural decisions through much more and consider a wider range of options.

Life after VCDX for me is much like the VCDX journey, keep learning as much as possible, including improving my skills in complimentary technologies, such as Storage & networking.

I am planning on knocking off the desktop certifications VCA4-DT, VCP4-DT and VCP5-DT in the next couple of months, and when released, the VCPVCD511 (VCP-IaaS).

Hope I can get a healthy pay rise too! (Hope the boss reads this, wink wink, nudge nudge)


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VCDX Spotlight–Harley Stagner

Name: Harley Stagner

Twitter Handle: @hstagner

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

Current Employer: TBL Networks

VCDX #: 46

How did you get into using VMware?

I started using VMware when it was introduced in one of my classes at ECPI University, where I received my Bachelor’s degree. We used VMware Workstation to set up an Active Directory infrastructure along with Exchange. I thought it was amazing that I could run multiple guests on one PC. It was during this time that I had the opportunity to technical edit a book called “Virtualization: From Desktop to the Enterprise.” I learned a lot about ESX and bare-metal hypervisors. I was hooked. VMware wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today, but I knew that it would be a hot technology by the potential for hardware savings alone. I looked into specializing in virtualization during this time.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The VCDX came out when I was well on my way to specializing in virtualization technology. I had achieved my VCP and was working as a server administrator responsible for designing and implementing one of my company’s first proper virtual infrastructures on Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3). It was awesome seeing the real impact that virtualization had on the company. The VCDX seemed like a natural goal for me to differentiate myself and show myself to be a true expert in virtualization technology, both designing and implementing.

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

It took me almost a year to complete the VCDX journey once I filled out the skills qualification review for VCDX3. That was in October of 2009. I found out my results on Tuesday, September 7th 2010 at 1:47 PM EST, a few weeks after my defense the week before VMworld that year.

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

Don’t be afraid to pursue this goal if you are truly passionate about VMware technologies. It may be tough, but the results are worth it. There is plenty of practical advice out there on various blogs and the VMware community forums about the specifics of the process and the panel defense. Research, research, research along the way. Aggressively pursue the first opportunity to do the panel defense. There are only a few per year, and historically only a few per version of the VCDX. You will never feel truly ready to do the defense. You just have to do it and trust that the experience will be valuable no matter what the results are.

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

From a process standpoint, I don’t think I would do anything differently. I work for an awesome company with peer engineers that helped me and supported me every step of the way. They took the time to do a mock defense on several occasions and came up with some creative questions about my design options to keep me on my toes. Even the account managers in my company got involved so I had some questions that I would have never thought of.

Having been through the process, I would say that I spent too much time worrying about the process. Yes, the defense will make you nervous. That’s normal. However, I think I spent too much time analyzing what I might do wrong in the defense that I drove myself crazy over the process. I should have just relaxed and trusted that I had a solid design and the experience to get through the process. That’s easy to say now that it’s done. So, I don’t know that relaxing would even be possible.

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

I am still working with the same company that supported me during my VCDX journey. My company has been awesome. They encourage engineers to be at the top of their game. I work alongside multiple CCIE’s and some very talented datacenter engineers that keep me at the top of my game. My company takes good care of all the employees and the VCDX achievement put me in an even better position within the company. The VCDX has changed my life and career for the better. It was absolutely worth it.


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VCDX Spotlight- Andrea Mauro

Name: Andrea Mauro

Twitter Handle: @Andrea_Mauro

Blog URL: http://vinfrastructure.it

Current Employer : Assyrus Srl (Italian company)

VCDX #: 35

How did you get into using VMware?

As most people I’ve started of course with VMware Workstation and honestly not with the ESX 1.0 (I remember that was not possible, at least in my Country) to have an evaluation or trial version.

My first virtualization project (for academic purposes) was building a virtual honeynet with Linux UML (it was the end of 2001). My first virtualization project based for a production system virtualization solution was instead with VMware ESX 2.5.

After that I’ve follow a lot of virtualization projects and I’ve started also to give some contribution to the VMTN Community (my nick is AndreTheGiant). This probably has open new perspectives, outside the limits of my Country and my native language (that isn’t English). For example, I’ve tried to applied with success to the VCDX3 path and also to vExpert 2010, 2011 and 2012.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The first time that I hear about VCDX was in the middle of 2008, and I filled the VCDX Qualification Review on August 21, 2008, just for curiosity and as a challenge.

I was thinking (wrong) that there were some intermediate certifications for each step (now there are the VCAP certification, but only for the VCDX4 path), and I was very interested to prove myself knowledge on the Admin exam.

I also was thinking that the VCDX certification was only of VMware gurus and only for big enterprise environments… But I’ve reconsidering that also in a medium project you may have several aspects and consideration that could be similar in a big project. You have only to design something that could scale.

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

I filled the VCDX Qualification Review on August 21, 2008. But the entire VCDX path was not available yet.

On September 8th 2008 I receive this mail with the blueprint of the Admin exam:

“Thank you for you interest in the VMware Certified Design Expert Program. We have received your pre-registration survey and are working to schedule more Enterprise Administration Exams. As soon as we have more dates and locations scheduled, we will send you the appropriate information.”

On February 12th 2009 I receive another e-mail with the great opportunity to take the Admin exam at VMworld Europe in Cannes. I schedule the exam at February 23rd 2009. On March 19 I receive the report with the result… PASS!!!

At this point was clear for me, that the intermediate steps are not useful… So I tried the full path and start studying for the Design exam. Unfortunately I lose the opportunity to take the beta exam of the Design exam… So I had to wait until the official exam was available. So I take the exam on October 23rd 2009, and I pass at the first attempt.

Then I scheduled the Defense step at the Partner Exchange 2010 at Feb 10th 2010.

So is more than one year… but with several dead-time due to the non-availability on the exams or the date (without them 3-6 months could be reasonable). A disadvantage to be in the early phase!

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

VCDX is not a status… it is just a path where the journey is more important than the final result (and also if you fail it could be useful). And you have never finished… VCDX follows the vSphere products and you have to study and pass other exams to upgrade it.

It’s probably one of the hardest certifications, for the required time, for the type of steps (there are practical labs in the VCAP-DCA, questions and design in the VCAP-DCD, design project, presentation, discussions, … really a lot of capacities are tested in this certification), for the coverage of the arguments (not strictly only VMware related).

And it’s also a way to approach and think to your virtualization projects.

Maybe today you are not ready for this certification, but from VCDX4 there are intermediate certifications (the VCAP exams), so you can just start the journey and then reconsider your goals.

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

Good question! Probably the same.

But I have to admit that know is a “little” simpler (compared to the first years): lot of documentation, candidates experiences, hints, examples, workshops, … this could really help in the preparation. So you could be more focus on what you have to do, and not also on what you could expect.

Now there are also several other products that you can integrate in a VCDX design and discuss in the defense. Could be another interesting opportunity.

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

Basically my professional life has not changed at all, but this was my choice. After the certification I’ve received several interesting proposal, but I like my jobs and I’ve chosen (for this period) to remain in the “same boat”.

I work in a small company, but I’m the co-founder of this company so it is something that I feel is mine.


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VCDX Spotlight: Frank Denneman

Name: Frank Denneman

Twitter Handle: @frankdenneman

Blog URL: frankdenneman.com

Current Employer: VMware

VCDX #: 29

How did you get into using VMware?

During our VCDX sessions in Copenhagen we spoke about things in your life you would always remember. My reply was ; Seeing  Return of the Jedi in the cinema, the falling of the Berlin wall, 9/11 and witnessing vMotion in action for the first time.

I clearly remember my colleague screaming through the wall that separated our office. “Frank do you really want to see something cool?” As an MS exchange admin/architect responsible for a global spanning exchange infrastructure nothing really could impress me those days but  giving him the benefit of the doubt I walked over. Peter sitting there grinning like a madman, offered me a seat, because he thought it was better to sit down. He opened a dos prompt, triggered a continuous ping and showed the virtual infrastructure explaining the current location of the virtual machine. As he started to migrate the virtual machine he instructed me to keep tracking the continuous ping, after the one ping loss he explained the virtual machine was up and running on the other host and to prove me, he powered-down the ESX host. I just leaped out of my seat, said some words I cannot repeat online and was basically sold. I think we migrated the virtual machine all day long, inviting anyone who passed by our office to see the best show on earth. No explanation needed of course, but from that point I was hooked on virtualization and the rest is history.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The VCDX certification is the highest echelon of certification. That by itself fuelled my drive to get it. The way VCDX is structured by presenting to a panel and defending your decisions was very appealing to me, how crazy as it might sound. Being part of the first group of VCDX’es in the world outweighed the fact that I was going to be grilled by a panel containing Industry leading individuals.

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

It took me something like 6 months. I completed the VCDX enterprise and design exam in 2009 unfortunately I received the results of my VCDX design exam 2 days to late. That meant I couldn’t submit my session for the panels in Frankfurt in 2009 and defended my design 3 months later in Las Vegas in January 2010.

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

The way I perceive VCDX is that it’s a validation of your skill-set as an architect. Through the years 2010 and 2011 I participated as a Panel member and seen many candidates. Usually the candidates that passed the exam were comfortable in having a dialog with the panel members. Being able to listen and respond to the question in such a way that the reply contained not only the answer but also explored the train of thought of the question itself. This usually is a product of having gone through multiple customer-facing projects as an architect. Helping the customer to understand how the product works and how certain features support with their business requirements or leverage or align with existing constraints. One often heard tip is to know your design. And this is really key! It doesn’t matter if your design you submitted is something you did 6 months ago, but you really need to know the details of the designs. The best advice I can give is know why you chosen for a specific setting but most of all understand why the other options of that particular setting did not align with your design. For example, understand why you selected port id load balancing on your vSwitch, but be ready to explain to the panel why IP-hash wasn’t a viable option for this particular design. Leaving out or disabling features to avoid discussing that technology does not work, for example if the requirements listed the customer was seeking for a high consolidation ratio \ high return of investment, then you better bring your A-game if your design list DRS as disabled. Another key is to know when you should leverage the whiteboard while explaining a certain configuration. Practice at home or at work drawing your diagrams such as storage layout or a vSwitch design, find a type of diagram that conveys the architecture and allows you to feel comfortable explaining it while drawing. I’ve seen many candidates trying to think about how to draw the architecture. This by itself should not decrease your score, but it cost a lot of time and believe me that is something you do not have when defending your design!

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

To be honest, no. I took a design I worked on for many years, I know my design choices inside out. The presentation deck I prepared had all the key diagrams in the main part and contained every possible diagram as a backup slides. I dressed the part, fully suited up just as I did with customers, giving me the correct frame of mind and just enjoyed the journey. One last piece of advice I can give. Enjoy it, enjoy being there in front of the panel. Before you know you are out the door again and if you prepared well you never have to do it again.

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

I’m currently not pursuing any level of certification as it is not a requirement of my current role. Earning VCDX opened many doors for me and I even prioritized it over finalizing my thesis for my bachelor’s degree. Though it’s not the primary basis of my the evolvement of my career it certainly contributed to it.


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VCDX Spotlight: Duncan Epping

Name: Duncan Epping

Twitter Handle: DuncanYB

Blog URL: http://www.yellow-bricks.com

Current Employer : VMware

VCDX #: 007

 

How did you get into using VMware?

I guess like many people… we were looking for a way to consolidate servers as we were growing out of our datacenter. Especially cooling was a huge problem for us so we needed to drastically lower the amount of iron in our datacenter. We explored several options but VMware was the only enterprise solution at that point. It proved to be the right decision, and that is also what was a huge change of direction in my career. Cause I changed from being a Windows admin to focusing purely on the virtual layer.

 

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

Well I worked for VMware already at that time. I was invited to take two early beta exams for VI3, which are now known as VCAP-DCA and DCD. Our group were literally the first group to take those exams. After about 6 months of waiting I finally found out that I passed those exams. When I was told I could do the VCDX Defense Panel I figured why not. Back then, and I was the first to actually take the exam (together with Richard Damoser who was in the room next to me), the process was slightly different though… You could say the early group did the beta defense.

 

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

From those beta exams to the defense itself probably 9 months in total. Funny thing is that in my case I heard 10 days before the defences were scheduled that I got a slot. Because I did not anticipated on it I didn’t have my docs ready. Although I heard it 10 days before, I only really had 4 days to complete the design as the panel of course needed to review and prep as well… on top of that I had a holiday with the family scheduled. So every night when my kids were in bed I was typing like a mad man. I guess I work best when under extreme pressure as the docs were accepted and the outcome of the defense was a pass 🙂

 

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

Don’t just talk about it, DO IT! If you want to become a VCDX you better start prepping today. It takes a lot of time to produce a proper set of documents and those documents are the key to success. Before you go to the defense make sure you know your design. I know many will think “hey I do know my design”, but go over it with a colleague. Let him question you… You will notice that some decisions were made “just because it is a best practice”, well that is not the right answer I can tell you that. Know why it is a best practice, know why it met you customer’s requirements. Know your design inside out!

 

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

Not much to be honest. I used two existing designs and merged these. I made sure I had constraints, assumptions, risks etc. There were politics involved in those projects and I made sure I exactly knew what drove some of the crazy design decisions in there.

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

When I took my defense we were at an “off-site” in San Francisco. The people who passed that week were all pulled up on stage during an “award dinner”. I can tell you that I felt really honoured receiving my VCDX plaque from the VP of Technical Service back then, Enis Konuk. Besides that, how cool is it to be up on stage with people like Mostafa Khalil, Kamau Wanguhu and John Arrasjid.

See pic in the below blog post, first 8 VCDX’s

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2009/05/15/vcdx-award-dinner/


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VCDX Spotlight–Nathan Raper

About two years ago I came up with the idea of the vExpert Spotlight to help people looking to get into IT,virtualisation and possibly gain the same kinds of roles a number of the vExperts are in. I’m pleased to say the idea gained loads of interest and is now being published three times a week on the VMTN blog. At present I’m looking to start my journey on becoming a VCDX5 and came up with the idea of using the same kind of format as the vExpert Spotlights but getting the current VCDX’s to answer a few questions so that VCDXWannabe’s like myself can find out more about each of them and why they decided to start the journey in becoming a VCDX. I asked a few of the VCDX’s I know who follow me on twitter if they would be willing to answer the questions and as is the case in the VMware community, everyone was more than happy to do it and liked the idea. So I would like to introduce the first in hopefully almost 100(the current number of VCDX’s worldwide) VCDX Spotlights and one from a good friend of mine who obtained his VCDX only a few months ago:

Name: Nathan Raper

Twitter Handle: @nateraper

Blog URL: nateraper.wordpress.com – I swear I’ll blog soon!

Current Employer: Catholic Health Initiatives

VCDX #: 85 – that’s “ochocinco” for the US folks 😉

How did you get into using VMware?

I worked for a small Citrix and Microsoft reseller in the late 1990s (Hensmann Technology in Castle Rock, CO for anyone who remembers them) that was focused on delivering solutions to small healthcare providers. The owner was a forward-thinker and saw VMware as a game changer. We started using ESX 1.5 internally and went to the 5-day certification class so that we could attain VCP certification and become an authorized reseller for VMware. I was hooked…

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I love a challenge! VCDX was a motivation for me, a goal that would help me take my virtualization and datacenter skills deeper. I also saw it as career insurance – a way to differentiate myself in the job market.

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

I think it was some time in mid-2010 that I started exploring the idea of pursuing VCDX. In late 2010 I made up my mind and I started studying in earnest for the DCA exam and took that in early 2011. That’s probably the most difficult exam I’ve ever taken (although VCP2 was no walk in the park either). DCD came later that summer. I stalled a bit at that point because I knew that there was a lot of work that needed to go in to my design and there was uncertainty from VMware whether or not they would hold another VCDX 4 defense. I also had taken a lot of time off from pursuing my Master’s degree and needed to take some classes toward that. When VMware announced that Toronto would be the final shot at VCDX 4, I got busy! So I guess around 18 months, but I certainly didn’t hurry.

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

Do it! I learned a tremendous amount through the process and took myself beyond limits that I thought that I had. Don’t look at the VCDX as a purely technical certification – it’s not. VCDX requires both technical and business skills, so seek peer review of both your submission and your presentation skills. Plan to do several mock defenses with both technical gurus and business leaders – the business leaders may ask more difficult questions and ones that you wouldn’t otherwise prepare for! Study the blueprint, VMware publishes it for a reason. And get support from your family and friends – find a cheerleader to keep you motivated when it’s late at night and you want to give up. VCDX is a long journey and I could not have achieved this without the support of my wife!

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

I would definitely work more on my soft skills and mentally preparing myself. I’m in a position right now that doesn’t require me to be in front of people very often, so my presentation skills had dried up a bit from my consulting days. Above all I would learn to control my nerves better and calm down – I was a nervous wreck during my defense!

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

Well it’s only been a couple of weeks since the results went out…not a lot of time for change, but it has certainly opened up some exciting doors for me. Several folks at my company congratulated me and my boss took me to dinner but I don’t think that many understand the significance of the certification. My reps and contacts at EMC and VMware were all excited and happy for me. Was it worth it? Absolutely!