TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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VCDX Spotlight – Rebecca Fitzhugh

Name: Rebecca Fitzhugh

Twitter Handle: @rebeccafitzhugh

Blog URL: technicloud.com

Current Employer: self-employed

VCDX #: 243

How did you get into using VMware?

I was voluntold! I learned VMware while serving in the military. My direct supervisor instructed me to upgrade an ESX host; I had no idea what VMware, ESX, or virtualization even was at the time.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

It seemed like the next logical step. I had achieved multiple VCAPs and VCDX was next. It was more of a self-validation than anything. I also hoped that it would help open up doors in order to take my career to the next level.

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

A little over three years. I attained both VCAP certifications on v5 in 2013. As for actively pursuing VCDX, it took 10 months. I began rewriting my design (had briefly started the previous year) with my VCDX partner in February 2016, submitted in May, unsuccessfully defending in July, resubmitted in August, and succeeded in November.

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

If you are considering pursuing the VCDX, I would recommend doing a self assessment and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. Work to shore up the weaknesses because as an architect you must be well rounded in many technical areas. Secondly, practice public speaking. Your soft skills matter as much as your technical expertise. And lastly, set realistic goals for yourself and find a study group that will hold you accountable.

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

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t change much. Failing was a huge learning experience and helped me get a clearer understanding of what the panel was looking for. I would spend more time up front doing mocks with more people and working on my presentation earlier.

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

My company was super supportive because I own it! Ha! As for post VCDX life, it has mostly returned to semi-normalness. But, I would say that the process and my preparation have changed my perspective and how I approach the design process. I’d say it was worth it for the personal growth and the people you meet along the journey.


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VCDX Spotlight: Byron Schaller

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?

Three points:

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.

Byron


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VCDX Spotlight –Ron Wedel

Name: Ron Wedel

Twitter Handle: FD_Hauza

VCDX #: 227

How did you get into using VMware?

The company I was employed with in 2007/2008 wanted to implement ESXi. We only had two four node clusters with shared storage. That company sent me to the vSphere 3.5 ICM class. My instructor in that class John Krueger was so passionate about the technology that it rubbed off on me.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

My current director pushes his staff to stay current with advanced certificates. After I passed my DCA & DCD it seemed like a natural progression. I also enjoy the challenge of something like this.

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

I wrote my first outline for my design in April 2015, so about 15 months total. This includes my three defences, I failed the first two.

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

Read the blueprint, find a mentor, find a study group and read the blueprint. This journey can be accomplished alone depending on your knowledge and job roles, but with an ever growing community why risk it? Be prepared to sacrifice a fair amount of your personal time. I wrote the bulk of my design during the summer, and was unable to attend many things. Also, make sure your family is prepared to support you. My kids didn’t really understand why I had to disappear into my office for 2 hours at random points during the day for mocks with my study group.

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

I probably wouldn’t have submitted for the October 2015 defences. I was very unprepared. Also increasing my T-Skills, I was a bit short on storage and that showed very much in my first defence.

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

It’s feels amazing to get this weight off my shoulders after 15 months. I honestly did not realize how much it stressed me out until it was over. My company was extremely supportive of the whole process and was excited for my success. I would say yes, it was worth it. I learned more about the entire infrastructure stack than I ever thought. In addition, I’ve made some good friends via study groups.


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VCDX Spotlight – Lior Kamrat

Name: Lior Kamrat

Twitter Handle: @LiorKamrat

Blog URL: http://imallvirtual.com

Current Employer: Microsoft

VCDX #: 230

How did you get into using VMware?

I’ve started from the early versions of GSX and Workstation 5.

Back then when all the virtualization stuff was new I felt that this is a game changer. At first, it was just for fun but later it helped me a lot during my career.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

Personal achievement and career opportunities. When I started to be more active in the vCommunity and saw all the other VCDXs getting recognition and becoming “virtualization smarter”, I just knew I wanted that.

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

From the first VCAP cert which was DCA until now, it took 3.5 years.

The VCDX process itself took me around 2 years.

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

I have a few advises but if I can minimize it to two it will leave your ego outside the door and the second one is you should truly be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to learn from your peers.

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

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t change anything except of my time management in the preparation for the first defence. I wrote an entire post just on this topic alone.

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

Well, since I am working for Microsoft know when really cares about it 🙂 . No one really knew what it’s like to be on your VCDX journey.

It was worth it big time. It is a great feeling to know you didn’t break under the entire thing. I am excited to see how this can be leveraged.


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VCDX Spotlight – Konrad Clapa

Name: Konrad Clapa

Twitter Handle: @clapa_konrad

Current Employer: AtoS

VCDX #: 211

How did you get into using VMware?

I first learned about VMware at University doing an internship in Spain as a Systems Technician. I was very much into networking and I got amazed what possibilities virtualization could bring and I made me to make a change in my future career. I decided to do my thesis on Servers Virtualization. No one was really interested in it at that timeJ.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I haven’t really planned to do VCDX. I always found VMware exams very challenging comparing to other Vendors. Having VCP certificate few years ago was an achievement. When I did my first VCAP I understood I can actually do more, but still did not think about VCDX as an achievable goal. There were less than 200 people in the world with that accreditation! When I got my second VCAP I thought, “OK, let’s do it”.

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

Well there are 2 things actually. One is the time I needed to get proper experience and second is the time to prepare and pass all exams. I believe you really need to have Enterprise experience to pass VCDX as it is not only about technology. Thankfully, I always worked with big customers in Atos so it was a natural process for me. I believe it took me minimum 2 year to pass all the exams. But I would not be able to make it if I did not get the hands-on experience in the first place.

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

There are few things. First, stop thinking that there is any limit to what you can achieve. Second, take small steps. Third, understand that VCDX is not only about technology. Fourth, know EVERYTHING about you designs. Fifth, do mock exams with people that can really challenge you.

Last but not the least, find a Mentor.

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

I will not lie. VCDX journey took part of my private life away and you really need to take it into account. I did and I actually took some weeks of holidays just to concentrate only on VCDX. However, I would not really do anything differently. I took every opportunity to prepare and learn about the program. We had lot of on-line mock exams with my peer Krzysztof – invaluable. I also prepared myself mentally for the exam and possible result. I wanted to pass it in first attempt but I thought if I don’t then I am not there yet. It allowed me to accept both scenarios and get confidence.

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

Getting my application accepted was already a big achievement for me so I really felt like on a cloud nine! When I got a phone call from my peer in the morning saying ‘results are out, I passed!’. I set in front of my laptop, browsed my mails and found out that I was VCDX #211! That was a day I had champagne for breakfast! (Btw. I was on my annual leave at that timeJ).

I still think that VCDX is not as recognizable as it should be. We did get a lot of recognition from colleagues that understand what VCDX is but I guess it will take some more time for people to understand the real value. So was it worth? – yes definitely! The thing that I was most happy about was that I did stand in from of the panellist and I did defend my own design! I would definitely do it again just for this experience!

Btw. I would like to thank Krzysztof Hermanowski for all the time spent late evenings doing mock exams. Artur Krzywdzinski and Magnus Andersson for all the useful tips I got. AtoS colleagues for all the support. Also all guys from the Study group.


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VCDX Spotlight: Jason Grierson

Name: Jason Grierson

Twitter Handle: @JasonTweet7889

Blog URL: www.virtualtiers.net

Current Employer: Cisco Systems

VCDX #: 206

How did you get into using VMware?

I started just prior vMotion being introduced. I was working for a loaning company at the time which was an early adopter of VMware. At the time I was lucky to be part of the project to upgrade to the latest version and saw vMotion for the first time. I knew right then this would change the way Datacenters would work.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I had been working with VMware for a number of years now and had held my VCP since 3.5 upgrading it along the way. I figured it was just time to strive for my VCDX. Why couldn’t I reach the VCDX and what harm would come in trying. Little did I know where the journey would really take me.

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

Between the VCAP-DCA, VCAP-DCD and VCDX the journey took me a year and half pretty well.

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

My advice would be to go for it! It’s not an unachievable exam that sits on a pedestal. It’s a lot of hard work and time commitment but in the end the lessons you will learn while striving for your VCDX is priceless. You will become a much better architect and meet many others striving for the same thing which will only expand your network of professionals. The lessons learned along this journey will only better your career no matter where you end up going.

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

Umm I don’t really know lol. I would probably focus more on my defence probably knowing what I know now. Also there would probably be sections of my design I could improve on.

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

Life after my VCDX has gone back to normal for the most part now that the dust has settled. My company was very excited that I passed and send out a Canadian wide email so now there a lot more VMware questions being fielded my way lol. Was it worth it, yes absolutely! I couldn’t imagine the growth in my career or where an exam track would take me and am extremely appreciative of all of those who helped me along the way. I’m also beyond over joyed to have my VCDX # and am looking forward to seeing my Partner achieve his soon as well.


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VCDX Spotlight : Joe Clarke

Name: Joe Clarke

Twitter Handle: @elgwhoppo

Blog URL: www.elgwhoppo.com

Current Employer: Rolta AdvizeX

VCDX #: 138

How did you get into using VMware?

Started leveraging it when the company I worked for started a P2V project in 3.X days.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The desire to become the first VCDX at my company, and a little bit of notoriety as well.

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

Start to finish, it probably took me 6 months. Writing that documentation definitely took several full Saturdays at the office.

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

DO IT. You will learn more than you ever imagined, pass or fail. Get ready for a rough period of time however, you will be consuming a lot of personal time.

http://elgwhoppo.com/2014/07/13/how-the-path-to-vcdx-will-change-you/

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

Thinking back, I probably would have perhaps relaxed on my documentation a little, but that’s only because I think I perhaps did too much. For example, I literally spelled out every single design consideration and rationale that I encountered with a full pros and cons matrix. That may have been a little over the top, but hey, it sure helped me make sure I knew why I had decided something.

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

The VCDX was a definite “market value adjustment” talking point in my yearly review. It also started a domino effect, and we now have 2 other VCDXs at the company in total, with several more studying currently for 2015 defenses. Completely worth it, highly recommend.