The road to VCDX, Part 6: Judgement Day

As you may have read in the previous post in my journey in becoming VCDX-DTM, I got invited to defend my design at the VMware HQ in Palo Alto. That’s when shit gets real and when you have to work maybe even harder towards the climax of a process that took me over a year. And one of the great things about this phase is that a lot of peers and people of the VMware and VCDX community are really helpful in achieving this.

The last 3 weeks have been quite tough. The first phases in the VCDX process were (in my case) stressful, but good to combine with a private life. That has completely changed now that the actual defense is very close.

As you may know, the VCDX application/defense process contains 3 parts that are taken into account for a final score:

  • The actual design
  • The defense of the design
  • The design scenario

The actual design is probably the easiest one to deliver although it will take the most time to deliver. You will have the ability in this phase to build a design based on the VCDX blueprint and validate this with peers and other VCDXes. Getting this validated and challenged multiple times by people with different specialties (networking, storage, desktop) is really important. After you are satisfied, you send in the design and the waiting begins.

In the meantime you start working on the second part of the VCDX application, the defense stage. I have been working on the slide deck for over a month. I created a lot of backup slides that contained data on multiple technical levels:

  • Main slides – Basic functionality and drivers of the design
  • Backup slide 1 (per subject) – more technical detailed, but stil readable for a customer
  • Backup slide 2 (per subject) – some more technical detailed than Backup slide 1, and mainly readable for the technical person at a customer
  • Backup slide 3 (per subject) – Technical details that are mainly used for a technical consultant (or VCDX panelist)

Because there is a huge amount of functionality in a VCDX-DTM design, you could end up with a large slide deck. Mine was over 80 slides, but contained every piece of information that was requested.

Something that I would highly recommend, is to do multiple mock defenses, including face to face ones. A mock through a Webex is also helpful, but the stress level gets even higher when someone is hammering you and you get pressures by the people in the room and a timer that is running. The more you practice your presentation, the better it goes and the more questions you will get from your mock-panel that you will remember.

During the defense I also experienced that it is of high value that you use an actual customer case. I got a lot of questions on why we chose certain options and when you can remember the discussions with the customer, this helps a lot.

And than there is a third thing, the design scenario. You basically get 45 minutes to create a design for a fictitious customer. You will get a short description of the scenario and you need to ask the panel (who turned into the customer) a lot of questions to create a solution. Questions like: What kind of uptime would you like to achieve? What kind of applications are you using? Who many users do you have? Do they work from home? Etc..
Make sure that you are practicing this as well during a couple of mock defenses.

One major advice on the defense and scenario: Have fun! It should be a lot of fun if your passion for IT/Virtualization/EUC/etc drove you into this.

So it is done. I faced the panel. I’m hoping that the process is done and that I can focus on new things for 2017. If not, I will continue my journey in becoming a VCDX-DTM.

More to follow soon..

Johan van Amersfoort