My VMware VCDX Defense Experience

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While most of my readers were already home with their families, or packing up and checking out of their hotel rooms on the way to the airport, I was getting ready for probably the most important 2 hours of my technical career.

So here we are, Friday at 7:15am – a few minutes to grab some food and collect my nerves before I enter room Foothill D at the SF Marriott. To my luck, I enter the lobby of the Mission Steak restaurant and guess who’s there….the entire VMware Certification team, including panel members for my VCDX.  There goes collecting my nerves.

Right at 8:00am I walk over to Foothill D and they’re not quite ready, so I get to talk with another VCDX candidate in the hallway for a few minutes (they ran two panels at the same time)…helping him calm his nerves helped me relax a little. Within a few minutes they were ready.

I enter the room, there are (3) VCDX panelists along with two other individuals, one is an auditor ensuring the process flows smoothly and that the panelists are fair. The other is a member of the VMware Certification department ensuring all legal needs are met and that my questions were answered.

As detailed in the application, you first have 15 minutes to give a brief executive overview of your design, it is my suggestion to include a brief biography of yourself and why you’re a good candidate for the VCDX Certification.  After you’ve completed the summary (btw-using the entire 15 minutes is not necessary, and is not shunned upon if you don’t), you will then get into the 55 minutes of actual defense.  In this section the (3) panelist will ask you random questions about the design, why you did what you did and why certain decisions were made.

After the completion of part 2, you will get roughly a 10-15 minute break.  Enough time to hit the bathroom, grab some water and recompose yourself for the last two steps.

Step 3 is a Role Playing Scenario, in this section you’re presented with a list of specific requirements (hardware type, applications, SLA, etc) and you need to design the environment for the panelists. I strongly suggest using the provided whiteboard as much as possible.  In this scenario the panelists are customers, so they will not know much so you need to ask the right questions to get the answers you need to finalize the design.  For this section you only have 30 minutes. You do not need to complete the actual design, the panel just wants to see the process you use to determine the design and how your thought process works.

In the final step you will be presented with a problem, the panelists are administrators from different departments (Storage, Networking and Computing).  You will be given a design diagram, along with the symptoms of the problem.  You have 15 minutes to resolve the issue.  With that said, you do not need to resolve the problem, the panel just wants to see how your mind thinks and what questions you ask to get as close to the resolution as possible.

So, how was my experience?  I was a little nervous, but I did the best I could do given the short amount of time provided to prepare. I had a little bit of heartburn last night, but I’ve calmed down now and only time will tell. But like I said, I’m confident.  I’ve been doing this for many years and I should be OK.  If not, there is always next time!  With that said, if all goes well I should be VCDX #20 (based on information provided by VMware Certification).

They did about a dozen defenses the days around VMworld, from what I hear there was about a 50/50 pass/fail rate….that is a fairly high amount of failures!   All I can say,  prepare and do not be nervous – pretend you are presenting in front of some customers!

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.  However, I cannot divulge into exact details on the defense, I’d be more than happy to help you prepare.