So after an epic 2017, whats next?
In short, taking a serious crack at becoming a VMware Certified Design eXpert (VCDX). Specifically, the VCDX6-DCV certification.
This is not a decision I’m taking lightly, and part of being serious about it is publicly stating my intention in this blog post. I expect to re-read this post over the next few months to gently remind myself why I’ve chosen this path.
So why VCDX and why now?
If you’re a VMware admin its more than likely you are aware of the VCDX certification – its something I’ve known about for several years. I’ve been VCP certified for 8 years but its only in the last 18 months I’ve thought about whether VCDX was a possibility.
For me I want to pursue the VCDX track to really focus on developing my skills as an Infrastructure Architect. I’ve been designing and architecting systems in an adhoc fashion for a number of years, using a combination of common sense, experience, peer discussions and online content. Mid last year I was promoted officially to the role of Infrastructure Architect, so I feel it’s the right time to start following a more distinct methodology when architecting solutions. The VCDX design methodology is something I’ve been using more and more, and the more I use it the more it makes sense. To me, coming from perhaps a more technical than academic approach, it gives a sensible structure to going from speaking to the business down to providing a physical design blueprint, and what comes in between. Working and preparing for VCDX will allow me to practice and enhance my skills as an architect. That will be in areas such as documenting requirements (and assumptions, constraints and risks), whiteboarding, structuring design documents, infrastructure sizing, validating assumptions, diagrams, getting a better understanding of VMware’s full technology stack (vRA, Horizon etc), testing my ideas in the lab, and writing usable installation, operational and validation documentation. Whether I get to finally submit a design or even get in front of a defence panel, I know I will have learnt a huge amount along the way.
There are also a number of things that have fallen into place recently that are driving me to think there will never be a better time in my career to have a crack at VCDX. I’ve recently finished a design for a large data centre relocation and have authorisation to use an amended and sanitised version of that design in my VCDX submission. I’m also likely to have assistance with the fairly considerable cost, which helps.
Aside from that, I had a couple of big independent validations last year, outside of my promotion, that I might have some part of the mindset to work as an architect. In October I gained my first VCAP certification, by passing the VCAP 6.5 DCV Design exam. And in July/August of last year I had a significant self confidence boost in taking part in and winning season 5 of Virtual Design Master. I think one of the big takeaways from VDM was that I got positive feedback on using the Conceptual, Logical and Physical design model, something which is critical to a VCDX design.
On top of those factors, we’ve recent completed some disruptive renovations at home so I have a settled place to study and to setup a lab. And my wife is on-board with me taking on this challenge, although I will be working hard to balance work, study and family.
I’ve also recently started reaching out to a few VCDX community members to help with advice, design reviews, and mentorship. Thanks to those that I have spoken to for already providing great assistance.
So really there is no excuse not to have a good crack at this now; a base design, funding, 1 out of 2 VCAP certifications, personal development, the right environment, family buy in, and community support. I’ll be taking the VCAP 6.5 Deploy exam as soon as its released, and in the meantime I’ve already started working on my VCDX design. I plan to submit later this year – wish me luck!