Monthly Archives: October 2014

Road to VCDX

The morning of 16 October 2014 (APAC hours) was when my VCDX result arrived in my Inbox. My VCDX number is 180. This post is me sharing the experience, and also to acknowledge the people whom in one form or another played a part in this outcome.

Some time in 2003/2004 was when I first encounter VMware ESX. I was a storage admin and I heard from the Linux team how cool a virtual machine was. It had the capability to vMotion around and stay alive. Having been a HPUX admin managing mission critical MC/SG clusters, hearing that workloads can be migrated live between physical hosts was magical.

Fast forward to 2010, as the Oracle acquisition of  Sun Microsystems began to materialize, my responsibility as a Major Incident & Problem Manager came to en end. I found myself looking for the next big thing in my life.

Alas, I took to virtualization and picked up VCP (VMware Certified Professional) on my own.

Soon after, I started my first full time role as a VMware specialist. I was among the employee of ViFX in Asia to start delivering VMware projects in the ASEAN region. I had really good experience and the team was world class. We delivered some really cool VMware projects around the region and we were proud of it.

In Nov 2012, I joined VMware as an End User Computing (EUC) specialist in the APJ Centre of Excellence (COE) Team. I primarily supported the ASEAN Professional Services Organisation in delivering EUC projects and enabling consultants and partners on VMware’s EUC offerings.

Every 6 months or so, I picked up a new certification, starting with

  • VCP-DTVMware Certified Professional – Desktop
  • VCAP-DCDVMware Certified Advanced Professional – Data Center Design
  • VCAP-DTDVMware Certified Advanced Professional – Desktop Design
  • VCAP-DTAVMware Certified Advanced Professional – Desktop Administration
  • VCDX-DTVMware Certified Design Expert – Desktop

Many has asked me since when have I started to prepare for the VCDX, and my answer, “since 2010”. That’s where I really started my full time work around VMware solutions. The VCDX certification is not only an achievement of technological excellence, but also being able to demonstrate the ability to lead a discussion to design a solution, as well as to be able troubleshoot tough issues and work towards a solution for it. It’s 50% technical, and 50% experience.

Once a person is able to clear VCAP, it typically mean he/she should have some good level of technical skills. However, the IT world is huge and there are many ways to skin the IT Cat. That’s where experience in real world design comes into play:-

  1. seeing the same product being deployed in various different configurations
  2. speaking to customers, understanding what they really need (and frequently helping them figure that out first)
  3. encountering real world issues, and working through them successfully

If you have read different blogs about VCDX defence, you will have found a common theme, that the panel is out looking to see how you think on your feet, respond, and to be able to guide the conversation. There are many many more blogs about this, and I would direct you to Duncan Epping’s collection here.

I was asked which part of the whole journey to VCDX was the most difficult, my answer was just simply this “The wait for the result.” When the 3 hours defence ended, I felt completely exhausted. The brain was drained, but overall I thought I did alright. As the days passed, no news came and the mind began to playback what happened during the defence. Then you start to doubt in the areas which could have been done better.

The email arrived 10 days later. I was in the middle an AirWatch training and slowly opened the email and attachment. It was a great relief and ecstatic as I read through the result.

For anyone reading this and aspiring to attain VCDX certification, here is my advise.

  • Never rely on dumps for exams, you’ll learn nothing, and it dilutes the value of the certification
  • Get your hands dirty with deployments, be inquisitive, ask questions, think about why and what ifs
  • Know the alternatives
  • Do not only think about how to make it work, but why it should work that way
  • Think about what you design and deploy and how it will impact the lives of the support team
  • Always put yourself into the shoes of the users and see if that you plan to do makes sense; would you use and like what you implement?
  • Works towards to become a trust advisor; the journey and experience will tune your skills
  • For the certifications, you must always get hold of the blueprint, and read through everything recommended in every blueprint
  • For the hands on exams, definitely worthwhile investing in a home lab to get your hands on

Having a few more days after becoming a VCDX, I would have to say my entire life journey definitely contributed to my success and I would take this opportunity to thank a few people that helped to shape the journey.

  • My Parents and sister- whom got me started with computers from a very young age
  • My wife Winny – who supported me thoroughly and the countless weekends where she would fly solo with the kids while I prepared for the various exams
  • Lee Hong Chuang – my lead & mentor from my early days in HP who mentored me and gave some really good advises which formed my guiding principle
  • The APAC Systems Engineering Team at FedEx – Melvin Chong, Wang Tek Kee, Johnny Zheng who took me in and mentored me
  • Jackie Fribbens – my next mentor who took me through the journey as a project manager
  • Neil Cresswell – who accepted me into ViFX and guided me early in my journey to virtualization excellence
  • Laxman Bhatia – who guided me to my next level of professional excellence
  • David Wakeman – my current lead and mentor in VMware who showed me the way to excellence in presenting; and his support in my development

there are many more of you, and I thank you all from deep down inside.