My climb to the VCDX

EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
I decided to create this thread to hold my long and difficult journey to the VCDX, keep me honest with the time I’ll be pouring in and hopefully serve as a guide/motivator for the many bright minds here on TechExams. On something of this scale, it’s paramount to keep track of the progress.

Why’s it long and arduous? Because my design’s about 90-95% fictitious and having to put together, validate and type it out on a blank canvas will take significant time and monumental effort. Another factor is I haven’t been an architect (lead or otherwise) for an end-to-end design, sure I’ve been involved in a few but I’ve only designed parts of them and this is what makes it harder.

For the uninitiated, the VCDX is the top level of certification that VMware have to offer. This certification is not about VMware technologies alone, but also about storage, networking, servers and the applications that’ll run on them. A VCDX must be able to understand a customer’s requirements and translate them into a successful solution. Being a VCDX opens up consulting and architecture engagements that would otherwise never be there, gets you noticed and brings the cash in. I’m mostly after the cash ;)

I have approval of my wife for this journey. Some may think – why do you need approval, and it’s a fair question. It’s because I’ll be locked away in the study thinking, whiteboarding and typing for next year or so and she’ll have to do many things on her own. I won’t become a hermit, that’s for sure though. I won’t forgo craft beer, football or the Cricket World Cup. Gotta keep a balance. She’s in this for me and I’m doing this for us.

So the plan is to:

- nut out the whole design and everything else within the next 6-8 months
- run it past some existing VCDX’s and some folks here on TE (you know who you are). Have the design ripped apart.
- edit the design based on what the above people say
- participate in as many mock defences as possible. Go to a VCDX bootcamp.
- defend in October 2015 or whenever there’s date available towards the end of 2015. I’d prefer to go to Singapore because it’s closer since I’ll be paying for this on my own (don’t care).
- defend again if I fail. I’m fully prepared to fail, but be assured I’m going to give it my very best shot.

Whatever it takes.
NSX, NSX, more NSX..

Blog >> http://virtual10.com
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Comments

  • dsgmdsgm Posts: 228Registered Members
    good luck to you, i am just on my vcp journey and then since i like networking am thinking of the NSX track
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Thanks! Get the VCP out of the way as quick as you can, I reckon people spend too much time prepping for the VCP than they should. When I say time, I mean the number of months, not the actual hours spent studying. I spent too much time on it too, and attribute it to the dry material. The VCAP's on the other hand are much more enjoyable. With the DCA you actually perform on the live lab just like for a real environment in your daily job and with the DCD you see how it all comes together.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Reading material:

    1. The HA and DRS Technical Deepdive book
    2. Watch all the DX vBrownbag videos (watched some already)
    3. The Art of Infrastructure Design (when it's out)
    4. Mostafa Khalil's Storage Implementation in vSphere 5.0
    5. Parts of the vSphere Design book.
    5. The tons of whitepapers I've bookmarked over the years.
    6. The various storage architecture guides HP have about their EVA's and 3PAR arrays (I have HP gear in my design)

    The aim of me going for the VCDX is to become a better architect along the way. It's about the journey, not the destination.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • lsud00dlsud00d Posts: 1,571Registered Members
    You're the man Essendon! Excited to watch you start this journey, set mile(click)-markers, knock them out, and get to your end goal.

    I'm sub'ing this thread so I can keep track icon_wink.gif
  • jibbajabbajibbajabba Posts: 4,317Registered Members
    When you write the design make sure it has references to things like hostnames so we can just search/replace easily in order to steal it.


    Obviously .... :D


    Nah, but good luck man. I used to have a job where I had spare time to study. Now all I got are late nights and weekend, so I can easily see how a supportive other half is essential (got one too, even though she is pregnant, she just keeps the beer, I mean tea, flowing if / when I have to work on weekends.
    My own knowledge base made public: http://open902.com :p
  • kj0kj0 Posts: 767Registered Members
    Awesome work bud! I'm excited for you. You'll knock it out of the park! You might need to stock up on paper and ink for all that revision! I think Niran would be a great resource for Fict.

    Mr Webster is a regular in Singapore so I wouldn't be surprised if you got him, although, they're a few coming up through the ranks!

    Anyway, Best of luck, I'll still drag you away for a beer when I'm next down your way!
    2017 Goals: VCP6-DCV | VCIX
    Blog: [URL]https://readysetvirtual.wordpress.com [/URL]
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Registered Members ■■■■■■■■□□
    I will be watching & subscribing to this thread with interest... Good luck man!

    I think out of anyone here on TE *at the moment*, there are probably 2 people that could do the DX and you are one of them. Go get it!!
  • ZentraediZentraedi Posts: 150Registered Members
    Good luck!

    BTW, how much support are you getting from your current boss/company? Might be tough to proceed without that...

    Also, have you networked with any of the current VCDX's in your area? Just wondering, as one of my coworkers happens to be a VCDX and is based down there in Melbourne. Seems like your city has quite a few for some reason.
    Current Study Track
    EMCCA, EMCCAe, EMCCE, VCIX-NV, Puppet Practitioner, ServiceNow
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 2,087Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Good luck. Pass or fail you get to learn a lot.
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • slinuxuzerslinuxuzer Posts: 661Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    Bro, we've talked some about this and our backgrounds. I'll do anything I can to help you. I've been pouring tons of time into this pursuit this month and I'm loving every minute. So far I have read Mastering Vsphere 5.5 cover to cover, Chris wahls networking for VMware admins cover to cover, and I have watched over half of INE's MDS/Storage CCIE Data Center videos. I'm telling you this because so far all three have been world class resources. Oh I also forgot I watched EMC storage essentials on my pluralsight subscription. They were all very good. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything.

    Edit: I am pretty sure Jason Nash is making a NSX video set on pluralsight right now, that should be really good.
  • ExpectExpect Posts: 251Registered Members
    sounds like a hell of a journey. good luck!
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    @jibbajabba – Yep, no problems! ;) I am in the same boat, I just have early mornings and weekends too. 2 hours in the morning 4 days a week then a few hours every Sat & Sun. The experience I’m getting at my job is great, I have a View 6.0 POC coming up so if that project takes off, it’ll be totally awesome because of the size of my company and its multinational presence.

    @kj0 – Cheers mate! Yeah I have reached out to Niran a few times already, he’s supportive of anyone going in with a fully fict. design and has given me a few tips. All adds up! Yeah I know Webster will be at Singapore for sure unless he gets dragged off somewhere else for his Nutanix forays around the world. It’s quite intimidating to be honest, but the thing that reassures me is the panel is there to try to give you a passing score. They want people to pass. As for a beer, ready for one at any time mate!

    @Asif – Thanks mate! I think there are more than 2 (slinuxuser and QHalo can also do it, though I know they need to their respective VCAP’s first).

    @Zentraedi – Thanks! As for support from the job, none. I’m a contractor so it’s not like they’ll be supporting me anyway. Makes it harder, no doubt, but not enough to put me off the track. I have one (used to be 2) current VCDX in a team I work closely with and there are 2 people in my team that are DX-calibre, one’s design was rejected for the defense in July. No lack of talent around me. Melbourne has a few DX’s probably because it’s Australia’s best city! Australia has 6-7 DX’s and 5 of them are here. I reckon you work for VCE?

    @Dave – that’s the intention mate. I’m in it to learn.

    @slinuxuser – Cheers mate! I highly recommend the Design (DCD) videos on VMworld’s YouTube channel and the BrownBag podcasts too. VMware gave all vExperts full access to VMworld’s videos the other day. Beyond awesome.

    @Expect- Thanks!

    Once again, thanks for the support guys. I wish I had you guys in my team at work, we’d all be DX’s in no time.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • Architect192Architect192 Posts: 157Registered Members
    I am in the same process as well, will take the DCA before xmas (did the DCD last spring) and I already started to adapt one of my earlier designs for the VCDX application. If you're interested, we could review each other's work, challenge decisions, drill for details etc... Just have to be open minded and not take anything personal when doing this :)
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • snadamsnadam Posts: 2,234Registered Members
    i dont consider myself a VM guy, so I dont have much to offer. However, but I will be keeping an eye out on this thread. Very interesting stuff and I wish you the best of luck.
    **** ARE FOR CHUMPS! Don't be a chump! Validate your material with certguard.com search engine

    :study: Current 2015 Goals: JNCIP-SEC JNCIS-ENT CCNA-Security
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Thanks again guys. @Architect192 - I'm okay to have my design to be ripped to shreds, the more it is critiqued the better the chance I'll have with the panel. It's all about the learning. I'll let you know when I am ready. Are you aiming for a defense date?
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • Architect192Architect192 Posts: 157Registered Members
    Not really... I have to finish the DCA first... And see how I feel about taking it. Next fall maybe? Next summer? Dunno.. :)
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • tstrip007tstrip007 Posts: 306Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    Essendon... very best of luck to you on this ambitious journey. I too will be following this.
  • bertiebbertieb Posts: 1,031Registered Members
    OOOH Interesting stuff.

    Goes without saying I wish you the very best Ess, and the beer is on me when you finally get through it icon_thumright.gif
    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they are genuine - Abraham Lincoln
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    So I ran my design idea and what I've put together so far past a current VCDX at work, and had my confidence brought crashing down.

    Takeaway - Think you know something about VMware design? Talk to a VCDX and you'll realize you don't know enough.

    Re-work..
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • bertiebbertieb Posts: 1,031Registered Members
    All part of the process I suppose mate :)
    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they are genuine - Abraham Lincoln
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    True dat bud.

    Redoing my design idea. Another takeaway from my meeting with the VCDX yesterday - think of a simple design, one that ticks all the boxes the panel wants to see, lock it in and make no changes to the core design. Too easy to get carried away with a fully fictitious design. Apparently, Scott Lowe's design had 5 hosts and 50 VMs at 2 sites. Simple's the new complex.

    I bought a new whiteboard yesterday. Stocked up on some markers, in it for the long haul.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • Architect192Architect192 Posts: 157Registered Members
    Essendon wrote: »
    True dat bud.

    Redoing my design idea. Another takeaway from my meeting with the VCDX yesterday - think of a simple design, one that ticks all the boxes the panel wants to see, lock it in and make no changes to the core design. Too easy to get carried away with a fully fictitious design. Apparently, Scott Lowe's design had 5 hosts and 50 VMs at 2 sites. Simple's the new complex.

    I bought a new whiteboard yesterday. Stocked up on some markers, in it for the long haul.

    I laughed at the whiteboard thing.. I bought one 2 weeks ago lol :)

    My design is an actual design I made 2 years ago. Not too crazy, but covers everything from a-z. 12 servers on 2 sites... My biggest problem is filtering out what I did with them. Half of them were for the server farm, the other half was for VDI. The 2nd site was the DR site and I had SRM running to protect the environment. Since SRM and View are out of scope for the VCDX exam, I'm finding it hard to document my design while excluding those aspects...
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Looks like you've got a decent design going there. I don't know why you say View and SRM are out of scope, they sure are in there. One of the things I've got in my design is SRM design. 2 VCDX's I know had SRM in there, no problems. Defending for DX:DCV with a part Server Virtualization/part View design is, however, not a good idea and Gregg Robertson found out the hard way. Just makes for defending 2 designs at the same time.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • Architect192Architect192 Posts: 157Registered Members
    My point exactly. I don't want to add products/solutions that will make the defense even harder. The VCDX-DCV covers vSphere and I want to keep it at that...
    Current: VCAP-DCA/DCD, VCP-DCV2/3/4/5, VCP-NV 6 - CCNP, CCNA Security - MCSE: Server Infrastructure 2012 - ITIL v3 - A+ - Security+
    Working on: CCNA Datacenter (2nd exam), Renewing VMware certs...
  • QHaloQHalo Posts: 1,488Registered Members
    Will be watching closely. You know how to get a hold of me mate. Cheers!
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Went through the VCDX Bootcamp book and the blueprint with a fine tooth comb over the weekend. Put my design on my whiteboard and added most of what I need to embellish in my design to make it DX-worthy. Lots of early mornings coming up.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Had to change my design a little bit, removed 2 things, added a few. This is a known problem with fictitious designs. I need to lock it in. Oh, getting some decent practice with Visio! After Excel, Visio is the next best thing MS have come up with.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • DeathmageDeathmage Posts: 2,496Banned
    here is a silly question what is the difference between vExpert 14' and VCDX?
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Registered Members ■■■■■■■■■■
    Very valid question, there's an enormous difference between the two. The vExpert is awarded for contribution to the virtualization community, the VCDX validates a deep architect-level understanding of virtualization technologies, networking, storage etc..
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • DeathmageDeathmage Posts: 2,496Banned
    So VCDX is the VMware equivalent to CCIE or MCA?
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