As you will be aware in my last post I will now be starting my VCDX design in an effort to be ready for the October defences in Frimley UK. I am under no illusions as to the mammoth task that faces me and the toll it will take out of me by the time I’ve had a crack at this.
You can almost compare it to something like Man in the 1960s deciding it was time to have a go at landing on the moon so nothing short of a monumental effort is going to get me to my moon. There are going to be few dummies spat out, tantrums thrown and self-doubt along the way but sod it, I’m all in. I’m a normal guy, I’m not a genius, I find it a major challenge trying to keep up with all the new technology coming out and doing my best to remember the bits that matter!
If and when I get to the end of this road you can be sure that you too can do it, it just takes some effort and I’ll be letting you know about it all the way through it, with no bullshit and telling it how it is.
So some more good news! I’ve been contacted by Nutanix and asked if I’d like their help during the process. This help with be in the form of mentorship being offered by some of their many VCDX holders in their company. Firstly I was chuffed to have been considered and secondly very excited to speak to Mark Brunstad (pretty much the godfather of VCDX) and get his blessing on this.
To be clear though, I will be doing all the work, no-one is going to be doing it for me and I’ll be doing all the hard graft. They will certainly help me prepare for process and give me a bloody good grilling and tearing me to pieces but to be honest, I damn well need this and look forward to it. Personally I learn best from being surrounded by those of a higher standard as it raises my game too and I absorb a lot more by seeing others point of view.
Let’s start then! Well naturally the first thing I will need to do is read the VCDX blueprint which for the Datacenter version is found here:
The first section essentially tells you pre-requisites to take the VCDX. As things stand at this point in time, I’ve still yet pass the VCAP-DCD and the DCA however I do have some time to get this done and dusted before October and already have the DCD booked for later this month…..which I should actually be studying for right now on this Saturday night. Slaps wrist, bad man! These posts don’t write themselves!
So the pre-requirements are:
- VCAP-DCD – (No easy feat either)
Section 1.2 tells you who should consider doing the VCDX process and there are no real surprises to be had as it pretty much says anyone can do it. Big caveat to this however, it will be more likely that if you have a day to day job of doing designs for vSphere and enterprise scale you’ll be a better position technically and experience wise to get through successfully.
Section 2.1 tells what needs to be in the design and gives a hint at the process you are expected to follow. At a high level the design submission will need:
- A Conceptual model/design
- A Logical design
- A Physical Design
I will write a separate post as to my understandings as to what Conceptual, Logical and Physical designs are and their definitions as quite frankly trying to find good examples of these is a struggle and the white paper which you are pointed to by VMware in this:
With respect to the author who I’m sure is extremely well respected, this document just isn’t good enough and not in a language that everyone can understand and very confusing to put it as politely as I can. The next post I’m going to do will be to explain what I think the definitions are of all three of these in plain English or at least attempt to.
The section then goes on to say that writing a design document that has more pages than the JANES Weapons Encyclopaedia 2014 (No idea how many it has but can assume it’s a lot!) it will not necessary mean that it’s a good design document. In short this section is telling you to Keep it Simple Stupid! (KISS). Mental note, it’s quality not quantity! Can’t believe I actually blogged that and should get my mind out of the gutter.
Moving on! Section 2.2 explains the process of the design defence IF your design passes the steely eyes of the design reviewers.
A long story cut short, you will need to do the following on the big day:
- Do a short 15 minute presentation of an executive summary of your design and the justifications you took to come up with that particular design.
- Get “grilled” by the VCDX panel – I’ve read reports that this isn’t as bad as everyone makes out as all the guys/girls on the panel are there to try and help you show your skills rather than be the enemy trying to shoot you down in flames.
- Go through a design problem which is done by a conversation between you and the panellists and is expected to last 30 minutes.
- The last stage is working through a scenario where you are expected to troubleshoot and prove that you’re methodical in your approach rather than just jump straight to the fix or root cause.
The whole process is expected to be around 2 hours excluding breaks. This to me doesn’t feel like enough considering the sheer amount of time and effort taken to get there in the first place and so a small window to allow the panellists to measure your ability. I guess they are pretty switched on and can work out the blaggers from those that know their onions but still, 2 hours is all you’re getting so guess I’d better make the most of it and make a good case to pass.
Sections 2.3 to 2.8 go over smaller details such as your integrity i.e. you haven’t lied about anything like qualifications etc or more to the point, section 2.7 where it tells you about the retake policy. It’s a hard factor life that very few people make it through the VCDX process the first time. While I don’t want to be a glass half empty guy, I do accept this is a fact and statistic which goes against you. In the Army we used to use a saying (one of many) which was:
FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL
We also used the seven “Ps” which might sound a little rude but still something I always use and stick to even now as a “civilian” all these years later:
Proper Planning and Prevention, Prevents Piss Poor Performance
If I do these and keep my nerves under control then it’s going to help on the day.
This leads me up to section 3 which is THE most important section and already has raised a few things for me to think about more seriously and start practising.
I will cover the rest of the blueprint in part 2 of this post and also go in to further details for the designs I’ve got in mind and see which one could fit the blueprint best. Until then, thanks for reading and staying awake!