TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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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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Join Me At VMworld US 2016

VMworld 2016

Yet again I am honoured to have been given a bloggers pass to VMworld US due to my vExpert work but more importantly the vBrownbag TechTalks and opening acts that the vBrownbag crew will be running in the hang space.

VMworld is always an exciting conference to go to and if you haven’t yet booked your place then let me list some of the reasons I think you should attend as they are the reasons I try to attend every year.

  • On the Sunday of VMworld is Partner Exchange and TAM day where VMware partners can attend exclusive sessions talking about everything from future roadmaps for all of VMware product lines but also new solutions VMware are looking to release. The sessions are always extremely interesting and from my experience are the best chance to speak to the “rockstars” who evangelise and breath the various solutions. If you aren’t a partner or are looking for something less formal than PEX then the vBrownbag crew along with the vBrisket and VMUnderground crew are running opening acts with vBrisket for lunch and VMUnderground party at the end of the day. Opening acts has gained popularity with each year and the level of panels as well as those attending has also kept on increasing. The schedule for the day is:
    • 10:45am – The doors open
    • 11:00am – Panel Session 1
    • 12:00pm – Panel Session 2
    • 1:00pm – BBQ lunch by vBrisket
    • 2:00pm – Panel Session 3
    • 3:00pm – Panel Session 4
    • 4:00pm – Fin.
  • Also if you live in the US and want to do a road trip to VMworld then the vBrisket team are doing a road trip, you can see all the details here: http://www.vbrisket.com/vbrisket-bus-tour-to-vmworld-2016/.

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  • My second reason for attending is networking. I know it should be sessions or HOL but the ability to network with like-minded people and make relationships with people doing cutting edge work with the latest technologies has proved so beneficial to me in the past. The ability to network can be done in several places and at several parties but the best place IMO has to be the hangspace where you can sit at the bloggers table or speak to the VMware communities team as well as (and most importantly) listen and watch the vBrownbag TechTalks. If you have never heard of the TechTalks then a brief overview is below:
    • Tech Talks originated at VMworld 2012 where they provided an opportunity for community members, whose presentation submissions were not accepted into the main catalogue, to present the core of  a topic.  #TechTalks are a ten minute presentation by a community member for the benefit of the community. Since almost everyone working in technology has solved problems and learned something almost everyone could present a #TechTalk.  The format can be a slide deck or simply talking, they are usually about how to solve a problem or get the most out of a product. The TechTalk is captured on video and published on the vBrownBag YouTube channel.
    • If the conference Internet connection allows, the talk is also live streamed from the show.
    • #TechTalks are for community members to reach other community members, any topic that will help other people is good.  The one thing that TechTalks are not is an opportunity to present the corporate slide deck about a great product you would like us to buy.  #TechTalks are about up skilling and education, the only marketing should be from the TechTalk sponsors who help make the whole thing happen.
  • Anyone can watch the TechTalks and there are almost always a crowd of the biggest names in the industry,VCDX, vExperts and top 50 vBloggers either watching the TechTalks, Chatting amongst themselves nearby or writing up blogs and uploading videos to their blogs from the bloggers table. The community is very welcoming so please do come say hi and I promise if i am there I’ll try not be grumpy 🙂
  • Next are the sessions. The VMworld Schedule Builder opened yesterday and within 3 hours a whole bunch were fully booked just to show the sheer interest of people to listen to some of the biggest names talking about the biggest technologies such as Duncan Epping of Yellow-Bricks.com fame talking about “A day in the life of a VSAN IO”. The sessions are always engaging and cover technical depth from beginners all the way to veterans so there is always something to learn. the sessions are also recorded so if you can’t make it to a sessions due to a conflict then by registering for VMworld you get access to all the recorded sessions after the conference for you to watch in your own time.
  • Next reason are the hands on labs. the labs cover all technologies and not just from VMware but also partners including the EMC Federation. The labs allow you a brilliant way of working your way through using the latest solutions and technologies so if your boss is wondering what NSX is and if it will fit your companies requirements you can do several labs on it and then can not only help your company understand it’s benefits having gone to sessions around NSX but also know how to do tasks inside NSX due to the labs.

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  • Next is the solutions exchange which is firstly an amazing place to talk to all the top vendors and companies working within the virtualisation arena and secondly to maybe even win yourself a few prizes from the plethora of competitions all the stands are running constantly. I personally love walking around the solutions exchange after grabbing some food so that you can listen to all the vendors explain why their solution is the best fit for you and get in some much-needed sustenance as you will be walking A LOT at the conference.
  • Lastly are the parties, these are normally amazing and seeing as the conference is in Las Vegas the locations are likely to be unbelievable. The parties vary in craziness so you can attend mellow drinks or full or parties in clubs it is entirely up to you. Apart from the VMUnderground party the Welcome Reception kicks off the conference experience with food, drinks, and networking in the Solutions Exchange. The always energetic Welcome Reception is a great way to reconnect with old friends, network, share ideas, and get to know our inviting community of VMware customers, experts, and partners. The parties have only just started getting announced but you can see which ones have been announced on Hans’ blog here. The VMworld party finishes off the conference on Wednesday night and is hosted at the legendary Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the band has been announced and despite what some old farts say about the band selected I can’t wait to listen to Fall Out Boy!!

Hopefully i will see you at the conference and as I stated do come by the hang space and say hello, I will be wearing a vBrownbag shirt with my name and twitter handle on so I should be easy to locate and identify.

 

Gregg


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VCAP6-CMA Design Objective 1.1 – Gather and Analyze Business Requirements.

Due to my decision to aim for my VCDX6-CMA this year and thereby to get it submitted in time for the only VCDX-CMA defence of the year (so far) I have had to sign up for the VCAP6-CMA Design beta exam. I’ve been working on a very large-scale vRA 6.2 project for the past 14 months and so I hope this experience of designing and building it as well as my preparations via these objectives breakdown(plus my study resources) and using some of my VCDX5-DCV knowledge will help me. So I thought I would slowly post up each objective for my own benefit but also hopefully help other people looking to pass the VCAP6-CMA Design exam (beta or GA).I will be consolidating all the objectives on my blog page here.

Knowledge

Associate a stakeholder with the information that needs to be collected.

  • This is down to the questions you need to ask and also who you need to ask these questions. These questions are ones you are going to ask during the design workshop for the design/project. For the workshop you need to make sure you have the applicable project participants/stakeholders who can join the workshops (depends if you want one big one where people come and go at certain points or multiple ones where you speak to each business unit/ team). For the stakeholder meetings/design workshops I personally like to try bring in the following people, this does vary depending on the project and what has been chosen but 9/10 times these are the people you want to speak to:
      • Virtualisation administrators (if applicable. If not already present then future administrators of the solution)
      • Server Hardware Administrators
      • Backup Administrators
      • Storage Administrators
      • Desktop/OS Administrators
      • Network Administrators
      • Application Administrators (these are very important as their applications may have very specific requirements)
      • Security Officer
      • Project Sponsors
      • End users/ Developers/ Help desk personnel (this I find is helpful to find out what are the current support desk tickets/problems the company are facing and if these will impact the project in any way. Also these discussions are easy to have in the hallway/over a coffee but have alerted me to unknown risks that would have severely impacted the design and delivery)

Utilize customer inventory and assessment data from the current environment to define a baseline state.

  • This is a really strange one for a vRA design as this normally applies for a vSphere design where you are possibly migrating workloads into a new environment but I’ll take this as possibly an assessment of the current vSphere estate and if it is a fit for the customers’ requirements from vRA. This is still conceptual so basic things like sites connectivity possibilities if they want off site DR or stretched clusters.
  • This could also mean the workloads being created on the vRA portal as catalogue items are currently workloads running somewhere and an analysis of these to determine possibly sizing metrics to have for example 1000 of a certain developer workstation in the vRA environment is a possibility. Also if the workstations all require isolation from each other for something like CD/CI then you will know you will need Level 4-8 capabilities to provide this isolation from NSX or Palo Alto for example.

Analyze information from customer interviews to explicitly define customer objectives for a conceptual design.

  • · I think this is fairly straight forward as from the design workshops and interviews you have collected what their objectives are and also ensured from all the workshops there are no obvious conflicts of people’s plans for the solution they want you to design. A “normal” customer objectives piece would be:
    • Customer XYZ has embarked on a strategy to increase extensively the level of automation and the rate of virtualization of data centre services. The intention is to enable application and system owners to consume on demand services as a catalogue-based service through a web portal. By initiating this project, XYZ aims to create a platform for IT service delivery that:
      • Is cost-effective through improved resource utilization with the use of cloud management software.
      • Can host 1000 developer workloads.
      • Increases agility through the use of automation and virtualization provided by cloud management software.
      • Is accessible through the use of their custom XYZ-Cloud portal for the consumption of IT Services.
    • Customer XYZ has chosen VMware vRealize™ Automation™ to provide their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Given results of a requirements gathering survey, develop requirements for a conceptual design.

  • Again this should be relatively straight forward for anyone as you’ve now spoken to all the applicable people and have taken down all their requirements and ensured there are no requirements conflicts. Requirements have to be very precise so that there is no misinterpretation that could cause scope creep and it forces you to ensure you know exactly what the customer requires and that they validate this as correct before you start the logical design. For example a requirement of “Customer wants high availability” is far too vague as everyone might have a different understanding of what high availability means. Your requirement should be “Customer wants 99.99% availability for the front end portal and 99.9% availability for consumer workloads outside of scheduled maintenance windows”. You would also include RPO and RTO values for these in my opinion in subsequent requirements so that SLA mapping is clear.

Categorize business requirements by infrastructure quality to prepare for a logical design.

  • I’m glad this is mentioned here as for the VCDX they are very big advocates for mapping your requirements to the infrastructure qualities. If you don’t know what the infrastructure qualities are they are:
    • Availability
    • Manageability
    • Performance
    • Recoverability
    • Security
  • So for example my previous concise requirement would fall under Availability, application of PCI/SOX/Hardening guidelines would fall under security, and ability to run the 1000 developer workloads would be performance.
  • This is also very helpful if you are doing requirements mapping from the conceptual requirements to the logical design decisions to the physical design decisions.

VMware Recommended Tools

The VMware recommended study tools for this objective are:

If you disagree with anything I’ve said above then please let me know and if I agree (I’m always open to learning) then i will update the posting. Now onto objective 1.2.

Gregg


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VCAP6-CMA Design Study Resources

A very quick posting around the creation of my new VCAP6-CMA Design study resources page now that the beta exam has been released. As I have done in the past for the VCP5 and VCAP5-DCV exams, I have started building a list of resources I will be using for the beta and if I don’t make the mark then the GA exam for the VCAP6-CMA design. If you feel I’ve missed any resources please do let me know as these pages seem to be very popular and so everyone can benefit with top class resources.

For those signed up for the beta, good luck!

Gregg


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VCDX Advice

The Love Guru - VCDX is achieveableSince my obtaining of my VCDX I’ve been humbled that some people have asked me for advice around aiming for the VCDX. So I thought I would ask as many VCDX as I could (and who would be willing to respond) to send me some VCDX advice one liners. If you are a VCDX and wish to add to the list then please let me know as I’d love to have a one liner (or a few like some people have done) from every single VCDX added to this posting. So below are all the one liners sent to me so far:

John Arrasjid VCDX #1 : “Those pursuing the VCDX program benefit from dedicated time each day to strengthen their weak areas, fully understand their design, and anticipate questions. By doing this & mock defenses, they set themselves up for success.”

John Arrasjid VCDX #1 : “Although challenging to achieve, the benefits of the VCDX certification is recognized in the industry. Your design, tech, operational, troubleshooting, & presentation skills are all important to VCDX and design success.”

Jason Boche VCDX #34 : “VCDX certification is a multi-step journey. The defense ties all together. Preparation and confidence yields success. Exhibit confidence, but not to a fault. Successful design has a key listening component.”

Andrea Mauro VCDX #35 : “You can pass or fail your VCDX defense. But the most important aspect is the journey itself. And you can improve yourself”

Chris Colotti VCDX #37  : “Do Your Best….and Forget the Rest” — Tony Horton 🙂

Magnus Andersson VCDX #56  : “A great learning experience no matter the end result.”

Michael Webster VCDX #66 : “Know what you don’t know”

Hugo Phan VCDX #75 : “Fail to plan? Then plan to fail, preparation is key.”

James Charter VCDX #106 : “Be honest with yourself on your strengths and weaknesses; use this opportunity to push yourself and focus on improving your weaknesses, it will make you a better architect”

Mike Tellinghuisen VCDX #111 : “Aim to be finished with everything 1 month before submission and try to get peer reviews of your design – you’ll be surprised at what a fresh set of eyes will pick up and it will ensure you have time to make any necessary changes.”

Jon Kohler VCDX #116 : “VCDX is just as much about the journey as it is about the outcome. You’ll likely find that learning the design methodologies as well as the defense preparation/presentation strategies will be extremely valuable whether you achieve the certification or not”

Rene van den Bedem VCDX 2xVCDX#133/NPX#8 : “Start with the Conceptual Model, then the Logical Design, Physical Design and Risks, finishing off with the Supporting documentation.”

Rene van den Bedem VCDX 2xVCDX#133/NPX#8 : “Consume technology to extract business value.”

Harsha Hosur VCDX #135 : “ Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Pursue excellence; success will find its way to you. “

Safouh Kharrat VCDX #136 :  “Give yourself enough preparation time before submitting your VCDX application and if you couldn’t make it, don’t give up! Use the feedback to improve your design and go for it again.”

Joe Clarke VCDX #138 : “Read. The. Blueprint. Again. 🙂 “

Niran Even-Chen VCDX #142  : “Manage your time right during this journey, taking a breath between sprints is important. I’m saying that because I’ve seen folks with excellent designs get to the finish line burnt and exhausted and they don’t pass”

Joseph Griffiths VCDX #143 : “Pace yourself delaying three months will not kill you. Detail everything on your design.”

Jason Shiplett VCDX #183  : “Do your homework. If you come into the design process without having prepared well, you put yourself at a severe disadvantage.”

Jason Shiplett VCDX #183 : “ Stick with it. There will be times in the process when you want to give up – I know I did. Tenacity is the key.”

Jayson Block VCDX #186 : “Know your limits, it’s okay to have them. When reaching for the clouds, don’t get trapped in the fog. Demonstrate you have a methodology and are confident in your approach.”

Thomas Brown VCDX #187 : “Do mock defences before you submit so you find the holes in your design while you still have the ability to fix them. “

Yves Sandfort VCDX #203 :  “Go top down or fail. The Conceptual is your sketch of your dream house, the logical is your architects raw drawing, physical is what you build the house from.”

Gregg Robertson VCDX #205 : “ If I can do it anyone can do it with enough work and sacrifice. Always ask yourself “Do I want it more than X” and you’ll be amazed how much time you find to get it done “

Jason Grierson VCDX #206 : “Motivation is key, you are running a marathon not a 100m dash. Pace yourself and believe you will make it to the finish line.”

Andy Smith VCDX #208 : “Focus on the blueprint and how your design maps to that blueprint and your customer’s requirements.”

Konrad Clapa VCDX #211 : “Understand every single decision you made! If you put it in the design know why.”

Niels Hagoort VCDX  #212 :”Do take all the VCDX clichés into account, but make sure you follow your own path in getting to the level of comfort in yourself and your design to successfully apply and defend”

Gregg


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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 Resources

I made it fairly public when I failed my first VCDX attempt that I was going to go all in for my second attempt and set myself a serious list of resources I was going to go through for it. I’ve received a lot of messages from people asking did I use all those resources and is all of that really necessary to obtain a VCDX number? There’s a few answers to this so I thought I’d write up this blog posting to cover it:

  1. Did you use all those resources!!?? Honestly yes and no, yes I used each of them during my preparations but I didn’t read and watch every single one from start to finish due to time constraints and also deciding at a point that focused preparations was a better method. Now this focused method was still fairly wide and I even used resources that were not even on the list, one of the biggest was the soon to be released “The Art of IT Infrastructure Design” by John Arrasjid @vcdx001 Mark Gabryjelski @MarkGabbs & Chris McCain @hcmccain.
  2. Which of those resources helped you the most?? Hard to say as each of them filled gaps in my knowledge. What I will say though is that for some of them they went into details I knew I would never remember but for ones like the 5 different HA states I made sure I learn them by adding them to my quizlet to test myself so they would be burnt in my memory ( Running,Partitioned,Isolated,Failed and FDM Agent Down in case you were wondering). I knew I had gaps in my knowledge and after speaking to colleagues and peers and asking them about their area of expertise I would then be able to see how far I had to go to learn. A few of these came from mock sessions where people would ask me about for example “How would your design have changed if the customer asked for FCoE?” or ” What mechanisms did you use to span the VLANs between the two sites?” , these showed me I needed to learn about not just the storage mechanism in my design but how it would have looked if they asked for something else and that I needed to T Skill on networking and truly understand why certain things were done.
  3. How did you find the time to go through these!!?? A few methods helped me do this:
    1. I would watch Pluralsight videos at 1.5x speed. I’ve been doing this for ages not just for CBT videos but also podcasts and you get used to it really quickly.
    2. Pluralsight lets you download a certain amount of videos to view offline on your tablet or even phone. I would watch the videos whilst at the gym on the bike, on the plane back and forth from my current project in Rotterdam as well as the train and metro back and forth to Rotterdam.
    3. As mentioned above I would watch CBT videos, read books, read blogs and listen to podcasts whilst commuting back and forth each week. I also would read and watch them in the hotel most evenings before going out for dinner or even get room service and just spend the evening doing that.
    4. I’m still trying to perfect this but after reading so much I seem to be getting closer and closer to being able to speed read whilst still retaining what I read. If I went to school now they would possibly diagnose me as ADHD so it certainly took me a fair amount of time to focus my mind and block out external noise (my wife isn’t too keen on this new skill 🙂 ) For this to work I’ve found a certain font and size via my kindle works best and I would ask myself after each page if I could explain what I had just read to someone and if I couldn’t I would reread it until I felt I could.
  4. What about new versions for example vSphere 6.0? True none of the resources I listed were even 5.5 per se nevermind vSphere 6. My design was a 5.0 design so I needed to ensure I remembered what was possible then but I did relatively keep up to date on the latest versions and what was possible. As rob Nolen mentioned in a vBrownbag we did around the VCDX, a good architect should know about the latest versions and what decisions you may have made in your 5.0 design that you would have changed now knowing where the newer versions have gone to ensure ease of upgrading (I paraphrase here).  It was hard to try not get mixed up between new features and what was possible in 5.0 so one bit of advice I would give is try submit a design for VCDX as soon after designing it as possible or upgrade your design to the latest version of vSphere 5 or even vSphere 6.

For the resources like most of the things for the VCDX it’s all about making time for it and realistically looking at how you spend your time and how you can use it more efficiently. I was catching the 6:50 flight to Amsterdam every Monday morning after waking up at 3:30 am to make it to the airport and through Heathrow in time to board and 99% of the time I looked around the cabin everyone but me had their eyes closed and was trying to get another hour of sleep. It’s not easy at time but you have to ask yourself how badly do you want it.

Gregg

 


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What Changed Between My Two VCDX Design Submissions

I’ve been asked quite a few times what did I do differently in my architecture design between my first submission and my second so I thought why not put out a posting around some of those changes whilst not breaking NDA and also still making people work at it so they learn like I had to which has benefited me greatly.

  1. The first change was that after my defence I did what Lior has  recommended in his VCDX Attempt, Strike One – Part 3 posting and wrote down all the places I thought I was lacking and needed to strengthen for my next attempt. I also ensured that the feedback I got from the panel around my weaknesses (these are fairly generic for eg. “ Recoverability was lacking in the logical design” ) were addressed in my design so that I wouldn’t have those problems next time.
  2. I got good design review feedback from peers and my mentor that were also generic in that they told me to look at an area and think about all the decisions there without telling me what was wrong. This may seem harsh but I think it’s the best way and keeps to the mentors “code of conduct” as it makes you learn how you can do better without someone telling you what to change as then 1. You aren’t learning and 2. It’s your design not theirs.
  3. The next change was one that took quite a while due to me having to retrofit it into my design but I implemented and applied the requirements matrix mapping Rene mentions in his posting to ensure I had clear mapping between my conceptual,logical and physical design sections. A large portion of this was implementing all of the design decision tables into my design for all my design decisions. This method was/is brilliant and really makes you think about every possible option and why not only did you choose one of them but why you didn’t choose the others. This also helps you remember in the defence why you made these decisions and why the others weren’t the most optimal. An example of one of the logical design tables that I had for VDC is below:Design Decision – DRS Enhanced vMotion Compatibilityimage
  4. I  read through my whole design whilst doing the requirements matrix mapping and with now more experience as an architect behind me made improvements to my design and simplified wherever possible so that the solution not only met the customers requirements but was also operationally easier to manage once I walked out the door. This also applied to my operations guide where I made improvements.
  5. I ensured all my physical design decisions mapped to validation/tests within my validation guide thereby proving I had validated them and the test we ran to prove this. As stated before my design was a real world design so these tests were actual ones I had done before and actually had in my original submission but the mapping of these ensured there was a clear link from conceptual all the way to validation.
  6. I standardised and simplified all my diagrams. For my diagrams I had a few that I had used varying colours for when I first built the design to make it look flash but all it made them look like were that they came from different sources. For my design I tried to standardise all the colouring and not make the colours neon colours and also simplified them where applicable so they made more sense.

If you want to read about my utter joy about passing the VCDX then have a look at my VCDX #205 posting and also my VCDX Spotlight.

Gregg