With years of study for exams and preparing designs (and defending said designs in front of a panel), earning a VCDX certification is akin to becoming a doctor of VMware. So imagine doing it not once, but twice! But an elite group has done just that, earning coveted “Double VCDX” status. We caught up with two very busy recent double VCDX recipients to find out why they decided to go through the process twice and what it entailed.
Ray Heffer, VCDX-DT, VCDX-DCV #122, and vExpert 2014, is an architect working at VMware for the EUC Technical Enablement and Desktop Product Marketing team. Simon Long, VCDX-DT and VCDX-DCV, is a Senior Cloud Architect working for VMware’s OneCloud team.
They are both quite modest about their achievements and wanted to set the record straight right away, noting that the second VCDX certification doesn’t actually require any exams, just submitting another design. “So it’s not actually as daunting as the first VCDX, where you had do go in front of a panel of experts,” said Simon. But still.
How did you prepare?
Simon: The second time for me required less work. When I did my first VCDX defense, I submitted a desktop design even though the VCDX was for data center virtualization. For the second VCDX, I was able to submit the same desktop design again, however I spent an additional 10 hours making small changes to the design to help ensure my design met the requirements laid out in the blueprint.
Ray: Preparing for the VCDX-DT, this being my second VCDX, was very different than the first. This time, I was conscious that my design had to meet all of the blueprint areas for the VCDX-DT which meant that many of the sections in the original design were missing. I spent 60+ hours over weekends and evenings going through my design again and adding the relevant sections. Just because this design achieved my VCDX-DCV, I couldn’t be complacent and expect it to pass the application phase without much re-work.
What are your top tips to help others who may be preparing for their first (or second) VCDX exam?
Simon: Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your design. Don’t rush it or you’ll make mistakes. And, when you’ve given yourself enough time, you’ll be happier with design. When you’re more comfortable with design, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable in front of the panel. If you rush, you won’t know how to answer their questions. They’ll ask why you decided to do this or that, and not something different. The panel will ask the strangest questions to ensure you know why you’ve done it.
Ray: No matter which VCDX you are aiming for, expect to set aside many evenings and weekends to work on your design. Reach out to the community (forums, Twitter, blogs) as you’ll gain so much more learning from other people’s experiences. Take part in a mock VCDX defense with peers and colleagues, or at one of the VCDX boot camps.
Any superstitions or rituals you had during the course of preparing and taking the exam?
Simon: I’m not very superstitious. In the UK, there’s a theory that walking over three drains is unlucky, but I’ll just walk over them. Rather than worry, I just practiced my presentation well.
Ray: The gym, coffee and video games. You’ll be putting a lot of time into the VCDX, but you should make enough time to relax. For me, this was playing video games on a Friday night, going to the gym twice a week, and the coffee was my fuel for the late nights working on the design. Whether it’s hobbies or favorite sports, take time out for yourself as this will clear your head and keep you focused.
First thing you did to celebrate?
Ray: After my first VCDX I headed straight to the beach! After the VCDX-DT I found only one beer in the refrigerator, so I made the most of it!
Simon: I got the email (about my first VCDX certification) first thing in the morning at 3 a.m. (At the time, I was based in the UK.) So I tweeted it out and then went back to sleep. I think I might have cracked open a bottle of champagne later that day.
Congratulations, Ray and Simon! Achievement unlocked. If you want to share your VCDX story, superstitions you may have, or your answers to the questions above, send us a tweet or leave a comment.
To read more about Ray’s VCDX path and his double VCDX achievement, visit his blog post on the topic.
Be sure to follow Ray @rayheffer:
And Simon @SimonLong_ on Twitter, too.