My ramblings about all things technical


EMEA #vBrownbag VCDX Series

Let me first wish everyone reading this a very successful 2015, I have a substantial amount of things I’m planning to do/accomplish this year and one of these is to get my VCDX and so this series is certainly going to help with this.

As the name alludes to, the EMEA vBrownbag of which I am one of the three hosts is going to be starting a VCDX series all around the VCDX to try help people along every section of the journey to obtaining the certification. I know all the things I am looking to get out of the series but despite me wanting to make it focus just on the things I want to do/know I wanted to get out a posting asking people what they would like us to cover. As I’m sure you are aware there are NDA’s attached to the certification but I am certain we can keep to these and have cleared this idea with the powers that be within VMware who are happy for us to do and will be participating at points also. Below are the rough plans for the series which we can run as long as there is content and people are interested. If you can please write in the comments section what you would like to see then we can start getting the ball rolling.

EMEA vBrownbag VCDX Series

  • January 20th (Confirmed) – VCDX Q&A Panel

A panel of a number of current VCDX and the VMware VCDX program manager where those burning questions you have about the VCDX can be asked. People need to come with questions for this.

  • February 10th (Tentative) – VCDX Design Scenario Mock Panel

We will do one or even two VCDX Design Scenario Mock Panels where a pre-agreed volunteer will do a VCDX Design Scenario Mock with a set panel just like the real defence and then will analyse what the panelists feel they did right and wrong.

  • February 17th (Confirmed) – What is required in a VCDX submission?

For this the name describes it all. We will go through what is required in a VCDX submission by following the VCDX blueprint and showing the depth and breadth of documentation that you should be submitting to be invited to defend your VCDX design.

  • March 3rd (Confirmed)  –The Art of IT Infrastructure Design -Part 1

The authors of The Art of IT Infrastructure Design book will be covering their new book and what it entails and how it is a valuable resource for those looking to obtain the VCDX.

  • March 10th (Confirmed)  –The Art of IT Infrastructure Design -Part 2

The authors of The Art of IT Infrastructure Design book will be covering their new book and what it entails and how it is a valuable resource for those looking to obtain the VCDX.

  • March 17th ( Confirmed) – VCDX Bootcamp Session with John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Chris McCain, and Mark Gabryjelski 

A VCDX Bootcamp session will be run by John Arrasjid, Mostafa Khalil, Chris McCain, and Mark Gabryjelski.

As I said this is to help those thinking about doing the VCDX or even those who are already on the path towards it to get the information and knowledge they are looking for so let us know your thoughts on the tentative schedule and what other things you would like to see. Also don’t forget you can sign up for the EMEA #vBrownbag via this link.

Lastly a shameless plug of if anyone is interested in knowing all the resources I’m personally going through for my second VCDX attempt you can see them here.


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VCDX Spotlight: Wade Holmes

Name: Wade Holmes

Twitter Handle: @wholmes

Blog URL:

Current Employer: VMware

VCDX #: 15

How did you get into using VMware?

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

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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VCDX Spotlight: Michael Webster

Name: Michael Webster

Twitter Handle: @vcdxnz001

Blog URL:

Current Employer : I own IT Solutions 2000 Ltd

VCDX #: 66


How did you get into using VMware?

In 1998 I started with the first early versions of VMware workstation on Linux while I was working at a large ISP. This allowed me some great options for supporting customers on multiple OS’s without having multiple machines. I started using ESX in 2002, and even with the very early versions could see the potential.



What made you decide to do the VCDX?

I wanted to achieve VCDX as a competitive differentiator from other consultants and consulting businesses and I wanted to prove to myself that I could be one of the best in the world at what I do. I also wanted to prove to VMware that I was a serious partner.



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

At least 10 years, if you include the work experience that leads up to it. I think the previous work experience I had was one of the factors that helped me be successful the first time through. If you’re just interested in the certificate path it took about 12 months in total from the time I passed VCP4, VCAP4-DCD, VCAP4-DCA and VCDX defence. Most of the time was spent waiting for the exams to become available.



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

Read the blueprints and application documents very carefully and do exactly what they say. Re-read them multiple times and make sure you cover everything. Make sure you know your design inside and out like the back of your hand. Be prepared to answer any questions on any aspect of it. Make sure you know where you made mistakes and can point them out and make sure you know where you deviated from best practices and why. Read all of the blog posts from the other VCDX’s about their journey and the tips that they give. Everything you need to know to be successful in VCDX is already publically available if you’re ready. Be prepared to invest hundreds of hours and a significant amount of money (yours or your companies). Do a mock defence with people that can ask pointed questions as a customer would so you have to explain and justify everything. Make sure you are comfortable presenting and can think and design and troubleshoot on your feet.


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

I don’t think I’d change anything.

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


Regardless of how my company and customers responded the process was definitely worth it. I loved the process and I learned a lot from it. Even if I wasn’t successful at the defence it would still have been worth it, just for the learning experience alone.

It has opened a lot more doors since I achieved VCDX and I have had the opportunity to work on a few more exciting projects that I may not have had otherwise. Some customers are specifying a requirement for VCDX in their RFP’s. So being one of such a small group really is worth it.

I get the opportunity to contact and work with quite a few other VCDX’s and this is very valuable, as everyone has different experience and there is always opportunities to learn more.

One thing that I constantly have running through my mind is “With great power comes great responsibility.” I think with having achieved VCDX people pay a lot more attention to what I say and do and I have to be a good role model. The number of followers and connections I have has certainly increased a lot. So there can be a lot greater consequences for what I say in public and I try to be mindful of that. But it’s not going to stop me speaking my mind. But I do consider the impact a lot more before I take a position on something.

But everybody is human, even VCDX’s. We can’t know everything, but we do try and know what we don’t know, and if we don’t know something say so. Integrity is of the utmost importance.

This is always nice also:


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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


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VCDX Spotlight: Duncan Epping

Name: Duncan Epping

Twitter Handle: DuncanYB

Blog URL:

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