Paying it forward, how it helps me improve as a VCDX

I still consider myself a youngster in the VCDX community. I’m not the FNG anymore since there was another two groups to certify after the VMworld SFO 2013 group that I was in. Prior and after my own VCDX process I have been lucky enough to work with some great people on their VCDX journeys and though I would write a short post on how it helps me improve as a VCDX.

With these VCDX preparation activities I think that I have benefited greatly from this interaction also. There has been a good amount of talk on twitter by many around some of the work that John Arrasjid and the VMware certification has been working on. John’s goal is to enable the community both partners and customers during their VCDX journey.

payitforward

VCDX pay it forward

 

How does it help others?

This is probably sort of obvious, others that are preparing for their VCDX submission or defense should be seeking out help in their preparations. This is commonly done at those to major points. The first would be in preparing for their design submission, during this phase the person is documenting their design and supporting implementation and process steps. During this phase they are looking for feedback on their design choices and documentation formatting.

There are of course rules and guidelines that must be followed when helping others, you cannot give away secrets that you might have learned. What is helpful is working with applicants to make sure they are able to articulate their design vision so that others reading without any background can understand.

The other major phase would be in the form of mock defense panels. This would be find a few people that would server as panelists that you as the applicant will present your design to. The panelists would then ask you questions that are prepared and ones that come up in the process about the applicants presentation. This helps them be more prepared for the actual VCDX defense process.

 

How does it help me as a VCDX?

This part is what I really wanted to talk about, I think the previous items are pretty well known by most already. In doing this I hope to help show value for both sides in this type of interaction and building a stronger design community.

For myself I think that I benefit from helping others in both reviewing design documents and mock panels. I sort of enjoy reviewing other design documents, they can be very interesting some times. They allow me to get visibility to types of projects that I might not otherwise get to work on personally. During the reviews I also get to see design choices that others are making and why they might be making those choices. This helps to create questions and compare to reasons I might have made the same or different choices in the past. Its also helpful to see how someone might diagram a certain aspect of a design. An example would be maybe someone has done a very well job at diagraming a specific blade server network architecture, these can spark the creative juices and drive me to look at new ways to improve myself.

The mock panel discussions have also helped me in multiple ways. Before I successfully completed my own VCDX defense I helped others with mock panels, this helped my when it came time for my own defense. Moving forward there is still benefit to gain by participating in panels, much like what I talked about in the design review. I think that its helpful and a good learning process to verbally interact with others on their panels. This helps me become a better investigator to root out and discover technical details that might be hiding, there is also the opportunity to learn from the questions that other mock panelists answer.

I think that this whole process will continue to help me improve as a VMware architect. They will help me communicate and document better that my customers will benefit from.

My time like others is a premium, between family, work and other activities there is only a small amount of time left over for these types of activities. But I personally intend on working with others as time permits, the benefit has been worth the time to this point and I only hope that the others benefited as much as I did in the process. So when I have time and the right individuals approach I will try to help. I do try to vet out the requests, ensuring that the person is fully committed and far enough along in their process to warrant the commitment from my side.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware VCDX by the numbers

A while back I was impressed with some stats that a fellow community member Will Huber had put together. It was a study on VCDX data. He gathered data that was available publicly and created stats that showed the counts for VCDX holders by Country, State and Employer. Will was looking for help in keeping these details up to date and I volunteered. This data seemed pretty helpful and I think it’s worth the effort.

So I though keeping the data in a Google Spreadsheet for public consumption was a good idea. It also allows me to link to the different sheets from this post that will auto update. This way people can view the info without looking at the spreadsheet view.

If you are a VCDX holder and notice that your data is not up to date please reach out to me via Email or Twitter and I will get it corrected. Also if you know of another type of data or view you think would be helpful let me know, I will do my best if the data is easily available.

 

VCDX by Employer Type

The data in this section looks at what type of Employers VCDX’s are working for. We have grouped them into a few major categories.

 

 

The sheet below is the data that was used to create the chart above.

 

 

VCDX Types

The data in this section will attempt to illustrate the numbers for the different VCDX tracks. Now that there are three types of VCDX it will be nice to look at how the newer tracks compare to the original in terms of numbers.

 

 

The sheet below is the data that was used to create the chart above.

 

 

VCDX by Employer

This has proven to be a popular view into this type of VCDX data. Here we are illustrating the count of VCDX per each employer. Gives a good view into how companies rank in the number of VCDX’s they currently have on staff.

 

 

The sheet below is the data that was used to create the chart above.

 

 

VCDX by Country

Here we are simply looking at how the VCDX population is spread out over the world. Gives a view of how each Country ranks in the percentage of VCDX’s.

 

 

The sheet below is the data that was used to create the chart above.

 

 

VCDX by US State

This view may not be as popular with our international holders but I know the people in the US like to keep an eye on these. It’s interesting to see a few states have developed VCDX clusters. I was not surprised to see the large number in California with the size of the state and VMware HQ being there, but the Colorado number jumps out. Must be the mountain air that draws VCDX holders to Colorado.

 

 

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VCDX Preparation index

After completing my VCDX recently I thought it was in order to gather up many of the resources that I and others used to prepare. These are helpful blog posts, podcasts and books that will give people insight into the process and possibly help find others that can form a study group.

I am working on making this the go to list for VCDX help and information. If you have a suggestion of a good source that you created or found drop me a note in the comments or send to me. I will keep this up to date to help future VCDX’s prepare.

 

Books

VCDX Boot camp by VMware Press

 

VCDX Demographics

Google spreadsheet that shows VCDX counts by Country, Type, Employer and others. (Thanks Will Huber for the jumpstart)

VCDX by the Numbers – Blog post with Charts to illustrate VCDX demographics

 

VCDX Application

These are a collection of links that will help you with understanding the VCDX application process and what to watch our for.

Frank Denneman – Application Form Tips

Josh Odgers – The VCDX Application process

Duncan Epping – Using the vSphere Plan & Design Kit

 

VCDX Preparation

Read each of this links to gain insider experience on how others have prepared for their VCDX attempt. Each post has a few great tips for someone making their first attempt or someone making another VCDX attempt.

VMware Communities – Example VCDX design document

VMware Communities – FAQs for unsuccessful VCDX Candidates

VMware Communities – Pitfalls of a fictitious design and how to avoid

VMware Communities – Thoughts on VCDX multi-part

VCDX Community in VMware Forums

VMware VCDX instructional videos

Duncan Epping – VCDX Tips from John Arrasjid

Chris Colotti – VCDX Defense Tips

Tim Antonowicz – VCDX Preparation Q & A

Michael Webster – Recommendations for VCDX candidates 

Duncan Epping – 5 Tips for preparing for VCDX Defense

Kenny Garreau – VCDX How did you organize?

Tom Fojta – My journey to VCDX-Cloud

Running a VCDX Study Group

 

VCDX Stories:

These are a list of stories from different community members that have been both successful and unsuccessful with the VCDX process. Read and learn from their past attempts.

Bad News My VCDX design defense experience

Harley Stagner – My VCDX Experience

Jason Nash – My VCDX Defense….Or How I Flew to San Francisco to Choke…

Jason Boche – My VCDX Defense experience

Brent Meadows – VCDX Experience and Tips

Cowger – VCDX Process and Experience

Chris Kranz – VCDX Journey

Tom Fojta – VCDX Experience

Rick Scherer – My VCDX Experience

Kenneth van Ditmarsch – My VCDX Defend experience

Josh Odgers – My VCDX Journey

Fabio Rapposelli – My VCDX Defense Experience

Scott Lowe – On the VCDX Defense

Maish Saidel-Keesing – Journey to VCDX not yet complete

Brian Suhr – Swing and a miss my first VCDX defense panel

Brian Suhr – Twas the night before my VCDX defense

Brian Suhr – vBrownBag path to becoming VCDX and my tips

Chris Wahl – Go Go Gadget VCDX

Joep Piscaer – I’m VCDX 101 (Worth it for Carlton dance alone)

Gregg Robertson – VCDX interviews – Greg has a list of questions he asks all VCDX to answer

 

Mock defenses and Boot camps

These links are a collection of various resources that will help you with understanding and planning the defense process. An important part of succeeding a VCDX submission is mock or practice defense sessions.

How to plan a VCDX mock defense panel

vBrownBag VCDX Boot Camp Part 1 Mock Defense

vBrownBag VCDX Boot Camp Part 2 Design Scenarios

vBrownBag VCDX Boot Camp Part 3 Troubleshooting Scenarios

 

 

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Twas the night before my VCDX defense panel

Like many others my journey towards earning the VCDX certification has been a long one. I thought a short write up on the final phase was in order. These are some of the things that I did in the last day before to help me prepare technically, mentally and physically for what awaited me.

 

The night before the defense

This was my second try at the VCDX defense so I was a lot more comfortable with what would be taking place the next morning. But to work on improving my chances and confidence I wanted to make sure that there were no surprises. So the evening before I wanted to make a dry run on getting to the defense location. This was not a big deal because I was able to book a hotel room in the same location as my panel. But still, I did not want there to be any confusion. So I took the long journey down from the 30th floor to the 2nd floor of the hotel where the defense panel would be hosted.

vcdx sign copy

 

The location was easy to find with these posters letting everyone know what was going to take place here the next day. That lead me to the meeting room that I would defend in. I had the room name from my invite but the name did not strike me until I saw it in person. Olympic was the room name, at the time I felt like there would be an Olympic session happening behind those doors in less than 24 hours.

 

room name copy

 

After doing a dry run on finding my way to the meeting location I would need some food and then back to final preparations. So I found a local burger place and grabbed some food. There would be no food eaten that would make me sick or affect my performance in any way. Then it was back to the hotel room to continue preparing for tomorrow. The image below shows what I was facing for the evening. At this point I was just hours from my panel was not going to be learning anything I did not know already. But I needed to revisit some important topics and be sure that I was familiar with all the little parts of my design.

I will need to make sure I remember why I made decisions for or against certain methods or technologies. I should be able to intelligently talk about all options and understand the customer project and the constraints, risks, requirements and assumptions related to this project. Make sure I don’t get confused with other customer projects and then the most important part. GET A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP!!

photo copy

 

Then the email arrives

If you have ever waited on good or bad news to arrive via email in the past you have some idea of what the feeling is like. You wait for the email to arrive then there is anxiety about opening the email to find out the results. Well in my case I was saved this anxiety. Turns out that I elected to sleep in the day after my defense and traveling back home made me exhausted. So to recover and start off the holiday weekend I grabbed some extra sleep. Little did I know that Mark and the VCDX team kicked butt and got the results out right away to everyone.

After awaking and looking at my phone, the home screen was filled with missed calls and texts congratulating me. Still being a bit confused I raced to my work email and checked, sure enough there was an email from Mark Brunstad. Could this be real and so fast? I opened up the email and then the attachment which the top portion is shown below. I had passed and was now awarded the VCDX certification, after some loud cheering and announcing to the family I was a bit in shock.

vcdx letter

 

Can’t say thanks enough

There a bunch of people that I need to thank for helping me at some point during this journey. But most of all my family and co-workers for supporting and helping with this goal.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Book Review – VCDX Boot Camp from VMware Press

VCDX-Bootcamp If you working on your VCDX design or thinking about taking a shot at it, you will want to consider reading VCDX Boot Camp from VMware Press. This is a short focused book that gives to a little bit of a look at the process leading up to and on the day of your design defense.

The whole VCDX certification and process is still a bit of a mystery to many. VMware has been working harder lately to promote the VCDX certification and have additional opportunities for candidates to attempt the defense process. In the past there were only a few blog posts and limited details in the VMware forums about the program. This has grown over the last year as more people have earned the VCDX cert.

VMware has been holding VCDX sessions and mock defenses at VMworld, PEX, VMUGs and even one online via the vBrownBag podcast. These sessions are hosted by several VCDXs from VMware that look to educate the community on the process and increase their chances to passing. This does not mean they are going to teach you how to architect VMware solutions or tell you exactly what you need to know. They are there to help you understand the outline of the defense process and provide some guidance on the design submission process.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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