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Thread: vcdx or bust

  1. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #1

    Default vcdx or bust

    Well after finally finishing school I have decided to attempt VCDX. I am VCP4, so I have about 20 hours study down for VCP 5 currently. I wanted to get some feedback from the veterans here about what the odds might be of me succeeding.

    My background is,

    I work for a fortune 200 company and have been heavily involved in about twenty five enterprise class VMware designs/deployments over the last four years. Basically me and another employee have designed and implemented the compute, storage, DR, and decent parts of the network for these deployments. Granted most of them have been very similar, but we have refreshed these environments all at least once and the migrations/refreshes have presented some unique challenges. I've become proficient with Netapps, HP Blades, very strong with VMware, decent knowledge of Cisco Nexus for a server guy, good knowledge of SRM. Only one deployment has featured fibre channel, the rest have been NFS, zero ISCSI. Basically my role the last four years or so has almost been an internal consultant.

    So what I am wondering is, how well does my background fit up to what you guys would expect the successful VCDX candidate to be? I'd love to hear from a VCDX or anyone who has attempted the defense, but I value many TE members opinions. I am interested in any and all feedback, tips, etc.

    My general game plan is 12-18 months, VCP5, VCAP-DCD5, VCAP-DCA5, design, defense. I am planning to travel to VMware pex 2015 for VCDX bootcamp if it's open to the public. I am estimating ~1k-1500 hour investment. I am single, no kids, workload at work has really dropped off, so I am hoping for 21 hours a week.

    Why do I want to do this? I want the opportunity to work on the largest/toughest projects in the world, wherever I want in the world, and I want the financial rewards. I want to be able to reach a point in life where I can afford to give back to worthy causes of my choosing.

    Thanks in advance guys.
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  3. Senior Member darkerosxx's Avatar
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    #2
    Very interested in hearing responses on this.
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    #3
    One step at a time, right? Go get your vcp5. Vcdx is a huge undertaking! This looks eerily familiar to the ccie threads

    Good luck!
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  5. Learn it, Do it, Know it! Asif Dasl's Avatar
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    #4
    I try to live by the mantra of "Work Smarter Not Harder", anything which requires me to become 0.01% of the VMware population probably means there are better ways to achieve what I want to achieve. That's not to say those that have or want to achieve VCDX, shouldn't. But in most cases you don't need to be a rockstar VCDX. And I'm not afraid of hard work BTW.

    *For Me* it's a case of probably having to move or travel back and forward to London if I ever wanted to achieve VCDX (I'd be very surprised if I didn't), so if you have the opportunity to do it where you are then all power to you. But I would say, it sounds like you are kind of limited in your experience if most of what you have implemented is NFS which just uses one path, instead of multipathing used by iSCSI or FC. I would imagine you would have to have a wide degree of experience for VCDX.

    I think your timeline is very ambitious. But the thing about success is that sometimes people will tell you "You can't do that!" and you have to prove all the doubters wrong while sticking to your game plan. The VCAP's are still an achievement even if you didn't get to VCDX - it doesn't have to be all or nothing, there are many shades of success - just remember that.

    Check out these videos out you might find them interesting:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pI5pCjD0jU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92PThRfKGQw

    Richard Branson, who knows a thing or two about success put it best:
    https://twitter.com/richardbranson/s...37340783337473

    I wish you good luck on your endeavour.
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  6. Google Ninja jibbajabba's Avatar
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    #5
    Keen indeed... You say 12-18 months / 1500hrs study time ? ... Done the maths ? You'd have to study for over 3-5hrs a day to make this schedule work ... 7 days a week.

    There are people who did knock out the VCDX in 12-18 months, but that was with both VCAPs already under their belt and probably up to 10 years of experience. There is an approx. failure rate of 90% .. that might give you a good idea how tough this exam actually is.

    Have a read at the process some of the current VCDXs have taken in order to become one :

    spotlight | TheSaffaGeek

    Scott Lowe did that in a year after passing both VCAPs ... I'd love to see anyone beating that
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  7. VCDX in 2017 Essendon's Avatar
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    #6
    While I'd tend to concur with jibbajabba that you have an aggressive timeline, I'll be the first to say it's possible. You certainly have a head start and a handy one at that. You have designed 25 environments, so you have a design or designs already. What you need to find out from your customer/employer is if you can you use their design(s) for your VCDX defense. The employer I'm currently at for example, does not allow their design be used as a VCDX design. Assuming you get the green light, you need to tweak/add/delete bits here and there to ensure your design meets all the requirements of a VCDX level design. Notice I stressed *ensure*, this is because you'll be $300 out of pocket if it doesnt. Check the VCDX application and blueprint for what you need to include and/or not include.

    Quote Originally Posted by slinuxuzer View Post

    My background is,

    I work for a fortune 200 company and have been heavily involved in about twenty five enterprise class VMware designs/deployments over the last four years. Basically me and another employee have designed and implemented the compute, storage, DR, and decent parts of the network for these deployments. Granted most of them have been very similar, but we have refreshed these environments all at least once and the migrations/refreshes have presented some unique challenges. I've become proficient with Netapps, HP Blades, very strong with VMware, decent knowledge of Cisco Nexus for a server guy, good knowledge of SRM. Only one deployment has featured fibre channel, the rest have been NFS, zero ISCSI. Basically my role the last four years or so has almost been an internal consultant.
    The above on its own, to me, is good experience and if fleshed out (according to VCDX requirements) is worthy of defending in front of the panel. From what I have gathered from the Twitterverse and elsewhere, a VCDX level design should incorporate a central site, a DR site and a remote site or two. This is of course not all-encompassing, this is what some successful DX candidates have stressed upon. Curious, do any of your designs have the above? Another thing to keep in mind is the DX design you submit doesnt have to be a real design from end to end, it is perfectly okay to embellish to cover off all of the things the DX panel would like to see in a design.

    I'd also like to mention that NFS isnt 2nd grade storage like it used to be known, it's an enterprise grade storage protocol. A fellow Aussie, Josh Odgers VCDX #90, has mentioned several times that his design had NFS all over it. What I mean is, you are not at a disadvantage to have used NFS in your design. What the panel will be interested in knowing is, for example

    - what are some of concerns people may have with NFS (multipathing etc..)
    - why did you choose NFS over block storage
    - what did you do for multipathing
    - what did you do to keep a keen eye on storage performance

    Get the drift, I hope? I should also add that a design based on, say FC, will also get asked similar questions. This was only to give you an idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by slinuxuzer View Post

    So what I am wondering is, how well does my background fit up to what you guys would expect the successful VCDX candidate to be? I'd love to hear from a VCDX or anyone who has attempted the defense, but I value many TE members opinions. I am interested in any and all feedback, tips, etc.

    My general game plan is 12-18 months, VCP5, VCAP-DCD5, VCAP-DCA5, design, defense. I am planning to travel to VMware pex 2015 for VCDX bootcamp if it's open to the public. I am estimating ~1k-1500 hour investment. I am single, no kids, workload at work has really dropped off, so I am hoping for 21 hours a week.
    Another member, dave330i, had about the same timelines as you (probably even more restrictive), he got through the VCAP's in a year then spent like 6 months or so getting the design ready (his used iSCSI, by the way). His design got knocked back, I dont remember why, to me it was pretty solid. Anyways, you have a aggressive timeline that's for sure. But given your experience, you can do it, I believe. Going to be difficult, for sure, you'll probably have to kiss away any sort of social life to get to the DX in 18 months, but I can tell you one thing - you'll be a better architect as a result of the journey. No doubt about that. The DX is all about the journey, the certification tops it off.

    Being in the USA you have a distinct advantage over others, there are more study groups there that do mock defenses as the defense date nears. I dont know if you know about this, but John Arrasjid, VCDX #1, runs the Academy X program to help DX candidates. Being in the same time zone helps I'd imagine! A few months ago I awoke at 2.45am my time for a vBrownbag that was done by Gregg Robertson and others. Check that out too. Visit:

    - vcdx133.com
    - joshodgers.com
    - Aspiring VCDX Study Guide Link-O-Rama - Derek Seaman's Blog << Great links in there
    - Get the VCDX Bootcamp book John's written.
    - Watch/listen all the vBrownbag videos about the VCDX.

    Quote Originally Posted by slinuxuzer View Post

    Why do I want to do this? I want the opportunity to work on the largest/toughest projects in the world, wherever I want in the world, and I want the financial rewards. I want to be able to reach a point in life where I can afford to give back to worthy causes of my choosing.

    Thanks in advance guys.
    You have great aspirations, the VCDX will help you get to those aspirations. Do it. I'll be barracking for ya.
    VCDX: DCV - Round 2 rescheduled (by VMware) for December 2017.

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  8. Not IT n00b dave330i's Avatar
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    #7
    One of the ways to speed up the VCDX process is to team up with other VCDX candidates and work on the design together.
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  9. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #8
    Yes, all of my deployments have featured a DR site, usually active/active, and some have had remote sites with DAS storage and Veeam replication. I have a fair amount of equipment at my disposal to lab up ISCSI and fibre channel. If I miss VCDX on the first or second try I figure I will have VCAP on my resume and will start looking at jobs at VMware, VCE, or other integrators where I can dedicate my time to VMware.

    Lots of really good info guys, I will likely start a thread soon to follow my efforts.

    Also, I am extremely lucky to be good friends with the other employee that has been involved with these projects and he is very competent.
    Last edited by slinuxuzer; 09-03-2014 at 02:49 PM.
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  10. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #9
    Well, after many, many changes I am back at it. Its funny that when I google VCDX forums looking for the VMware official VCDX forums I find my own cold thread. About the time of my last post I decided to move on to a new job as a Chief Architect for a federal service provider, the role has involved an insane amount of work and as I expected stifled my certification goals for a while, was it worth it, yes ten times over. I also had some significant events in my personal life that distracted things for a while.

    But with all that said I am still pursuing VCDX, but now have decided to pursue the NV track under the advice of several folks on my VMware account team. I finally have things running some what smoothly at the new job and have made some significant progress as of lately towards this goal.

    Before Christmas I took the VMware ICM 6.2 NSX course, and can say that it is was top notch, the instructor was also top shelf. I can also say that based on tons of personal research that the only real resources out there to learn NSX right now are three fold.

    1. VMware official documentation.
    2. Official NSX ICM course - this is almost a must if your green to NSX.
    3. VMware free HOL - Disclosure here these are the same labs you'll use in the ICM course, but are pre-configured a little more brown field than what you'll get with the ICM lab kit.

    The various other videos and books that are currently on the market just aren't that great, trust me I own them all, I think the Plural Sight videos by Jason Nash are decent, but at this point are somewhat out dated. I am looking forward to the Mastering VMware NSX book, but this was delayed.

    So around the time of the NSX ICM course my CCNA:RS expired and I decided that there was no better way to kick off my regiment than to re-cert on CCNA, I spent tons of time brushing up on CCNA content and re-certified two weeks ago. Then yesterday I took and passed the VCP-NV6 exam.

    At this point I am diving right in to the VCIX content, with the impending expiration of the current exam and it's replacement going live on June 2nd, I think I am just going to start studying for the version six deployment exam. I will be using the NSX HOL and my personal lab that I recently upgraded for this effort. Right now I am aiming for a Q1 2017 defense, I would have liked to try Q4 2016 but the last time I looked I didn't see any defense dates that fit up with that goal.

    For my design right now I am thinking a mixed real/fake design, I will be feeding some sanitized / modified artifacts into the design from a real VRA/NSX design I am doing right now and will be changing up some of the requirements and design choices, basically fitting back in some of the things I had to cut out for political, budget, or logistical reasons.

    Also, my good friend and fellow team mate is following the same regiment and is just a hair behind me, right now the plan is to defend a co-design with just the two of us as contributors.
    Last edited by slinuxuzer; 04-30-2016 at 05:58 PM.
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  11. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #10
    Took and passed VCAP6-NV exam yesterday, score 400. Now I'm off to continue writing the design package.
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  12. kj0
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    #11
    Congrats. Well Done.
    2017 Goals: VCP6-DCV | VCIX
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  13. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #12
    Finally, I can report that I have submitted my VCDX-NV design package as of tonight. The final systems design document is 138 pages, 24,500 words, 34 diagrams, and 37 tables.

    -Install guide is 107 pages and 11,000 words
    -Operations guide is 127 pages and 12,000 words
    -Test plan includes 120 different test items and is done in excel
    -Implementation plan was no small task and special thanks to my good friend and best project manager I know for helping us there.
    -Configuration guides - these include all the fine grained settings and configuration items - these ended up being massive.
    -Application - Believe it or not completing the application is no small task.

    My best friend and fellow co-worker and I started this process in late December 2015, at the time we were very experienced with VMware vSphere and networking overall, but knew almost nothing about VMware NSX. So far the timeline has looked like this

    Attend NSX ICM 6.2 course - December 2015
    Acheieve VCP-NV - April 2016
    Attending NSX Troubleshooting and Operations Course - July 2016
    Achieve VCAP6-NV - OCT 2016
    Attend NSX Design and Deploy 6.2 - OCT 2016
    Begin writing design package - December 2016
    Complete and submit design package 5-12-2017

    We requested a defense date the week of August 21 in Palo Alto, and if I am reading VMware's info correctly it may be as long as June 26 before we are officially invited to defend. For now, we have both agreed to take a full 9 days off from VCDX and after that we will start working on the presentation and doing mock defenses.

    So far its been a long hard road, but I've been dreaming of owning an elite Tier-1 certification since I was 18 years old, now at 33, I think I can actually see it coming true, almost there.

    For anyone looking for advice on VCDX, first I'd say don't be intimated by the page count, if you have access to VMware "SET" or delivery kits, use them as inspiration, but realize they have numerous errors and need to be molded to "your" design.

    Second, plan, plan, and plan until your eyes bleed about how to tackle the whole process, the better you plan, the easier actually doing the design is.

    Lastly, I can't even imagine doing this without the top flight partner I've had the pleasure of working with, my hat is off to the guys that do this solo.
    Last edited by slinuxuzer; 05-12-2017 at 06:11 AM.
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  14. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #13
    Finally received the offical invitation to defend my design and scheduled tentatively for August 24, though VMware is toying with the idea of changing the defense dates this cycle to after VMworld. Presentation deck is complete, and I am preparing for the final leg of the process.
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  15. VCDX in 2017 Essendon's Avatar
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    #14
    Glad they didn't reschedule your defense. Knock it out the park mate, you got this.
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  16. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #15
    Well, that did bring it in one day to the 23rd, I had already booked travel, but was planning to come in a day early, so I lost my buffer day, so if travel issues happen etc, oh well, thats life. But yes, I am excited and ready to complete this process, been a long road.
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  17. VCDX in 2017 Essendon's Avatar
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    A day's not too bad. You got this, barracking for you and Kev.
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  18. kj0
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    Go get 'em! Best of luck.
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  19. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #18
    Defense complete for myself and my design partner, fingers crossed and we are both hopeful, the official word is "Ten business days waiting time" that means either this week or early next, really hoping not to have to wait over the weekend, but with VMworld this week, a weekend wait is likely.
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    Fingers crossed! Would be an amazing achievement!
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  21. Cyber Donkey slinuxuzer's Avatar
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    #20
    Happy to say, after years of talking about doing a Tier-1 cert. like CCIE or VCDX - I have finally put my money where my mouth is. As of this morning I am VCDX:NV #262 - Can't thank TE enough for being there for me for literally 14+ years that I have been a member now.
    Last edited by slinuxuzer; 09-06-2017 at 03:37 PM.
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    #21
    Congratulations!!!
    Booya!!
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    #22
    This is awesome news! Congratulations
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  24. Not IT n00b dave330i's Avatar
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    Congrats. Awesome achievement.
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  25. kj0
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    Great work! Congratulations!
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    Congrats! That's awesome!
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