The road to VCDX, Part 4: Discipline

Wow, again it has been a few weeks after the last post around my journey in becoming VCDX-DTM. And what a past few weeks it were. If anyone told me it was this hard, I would probably laughed at them. Since the last blog I learned something about myself I didn’t think I had: Discipline.

Let’s get back in time a few weeks. My design got roasted big time. But what do you do when you fall down? Of course, you get up again. And that’s what I did. I had one major goal: Submit on the 25th of August, one day before I would fly to Las Vegas.

In my last post, I wrote about creating a story line for the design and stick to it. And so I did. I completely rewrote most of what I already had and made it a lot easier for the reader to follow me.  Unfortunately, I also have a full time job as an architect at a big insurance company in the Netherlands, so I had to do this next to that job. And that’s where discipline comes in. When you are so focussed in achieving something like I do now, it will become easier to stick to the plan.

I learned some other stuff as well along the way:

  • Word 2016 for Mac still sucks ass. Auto save does a good job, but you need to make sure that everything you do is saved.
  • Making copies to different cloud providers is a good idea. I used both Stack and Dropbox and when one of them broke, I still had the copy of the other. Which saved me from a heart attack.
  • Having people to guide you who are true specialists in certain areas is really helpful.
  • Paying those people off with massive spare ribs is how you get them to stay helpful.
  • Drinking coffee during both day and night doesn’t really help in the long run.
  • Drinking beer doesn’t either.
  • The road in becoming VCDX has a low W.A.F.
  • It’s hard to explain what an IT Architect does for a living to people who think a Raspberry Pi is actually something you bake in the oven. It’s even harder to explain why you drag yourself in a journey like this.
  • A homelab is essential in validating stuff. I wrote most of the design at a customer that uses Vblocks (which I don’t think have a lot of W.A.F.), but I still got to validate and test some of the things that I designed.
  • The design is one thing, but don’t forget about the supporting documentation. That could be a lot of work as well.
  • Oh and be sure to link your requirements instead of just referring to them as text. Saves you a lot of work when you change the sequence of requirements.

And yesterday it finally happened. I submitted the whole thing. Basically enough pages to lift a monitor with 6 centimeters.


Now the waiting starts for at least a couple of weeks. And hopefully it’s good enough to be invited for a defense at the Palo Alto office of VMware.

I will keep you posted.

VMware announces AirWatch Express

Today, VMware announced a new version of the Mobile Device Management Suite called AirWatch Express.  AirWatch Express is a more admin-friendly, less complicated version of AirWatch that mainly focusses on SMB and Telco customers.

AirWatch Express will be available for only $2,50 per User per Month and contains a couple of new cool features that are hopefully coming to the normal AirWatch Suite as well.

Simplified Console

The first thing that is new, is a simplified console. And it’s simplified for a couple of reasons. First of all, AirWatch Express has less functionality. Second of all, blueprints are introduced which consolidates a lot of functionality.

The differences in the interfaces are quite clear.
The differences in the interfaces are quite clear.
Easy setup

Setting up AirWatch is quite some work. Although it has a great wizard that helps you started and configure everything, the wizard has been greatly simplified in AirWatch Express:

AirWatch Express blueprint


A new wizard-based feature that let’s you configure a new use case in AirWatch by answering questions. Stuff like the type of applications you would like to add and for what types of devices and which users. In a simple overview you are able to select policies for multiple devices, which saves you a lot of time and makes managing mobile devices a lot easier.

The AirWatch Express Blueprint wizard helps you create a new use case.
The AirWatch Express Blueprint wizard helps you create a new use case.
Configure passcode and restrictions in one simple interface across multiple platforms simultaneously.
Configure passcode and restrictions in one simple interface across multiple platforms simultaneously.
It's very easy so create device profiles and link them to a certain use case.
It’s very easy so create device profiles and link them to a certain use case.

As you can see in the above screenshots, setting up AirWatch Express is very easy which could assist less-technical administrators in setting up a Mobile Device Management solutions in just little time.

AirWatch Express is directly available via and a free month by registering for a trial license is available as well.

Great work AirWatch!

The road to VCDX, Part 3: Get challenged!

So, it has been a while since the last post around the road to achieving the VCDX certification. There are a couple of reasons for that of which I will explain some of them in this post.

The main reason for my absence is that I have been working quite hard to write my design. And that has been a great challenge (and still is).

The project that I have been working on in 2015 (on which my design is based) was a VMware Professional Services based project. This means that the documentation that I had to use for that project was based on the VMware PSO delivery kit. The kit itself contains a lot of template documentation, visio drawings, installation documentations, slide decks, etc and is a great help to guide you through a project. But the kits also have a major downside. And that downside is that they lack a good story line. I found that out when doing a first presentation of my design to the study group I’m in. The design itself looked good, but it was quite hard to guide the group through my journey. So I got roasted.. :(

VCDX design roast

So I started over, this time from scratch.

As I mentioned in the earlier posts, the road to VCDX is also about becoming a better architect by learning through the process. And so I did. The most important thing I learned in the past couple of weeks is to create a story line so your readers can easily understand your design and the process you went through to create it.

As an example, the main topics in your storyline could look like this:

  • Project definition
  • Conceptual overview
  • Use cases overview
  • Desktop design
  • Applications
  • User Management (including AD)
  • Horizon View design
  • vSphere integration (including cluster design)
  • Storage design
  • Network design
  • Security
  • BCDR Design
  • Maintenance and Monitoring

This story line is becoming the backbone of my design and as it looks now, I’m already 60% done with still a couple of weeks to go before submission. So advice number one: create a story line and stick to that line.

Advice number two based on the above experience: get challenged on a regular basis by peers or study groups to avoid building your complete design and get it roasted just close before the submission date.

I am aiming for a submission date at the end of August 2016, so still lots of work to do..