Learning

VMware Learners Dish on How to Become a VCDeXpert 

Have you ever had an academic moment you wish you could redo? Maybe you took a major test. Afterward, you wished you had known something that would be the skeleton key to unlocking the entire exam. If you’re preparing for your VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) exam, you’re in luck. Recently, I polled VCDXs on Twitter, asking them what they wish they had known before starting their VCDX journey.  

Many of the responses I received were quite unique. Others orbited a similar topic. All of them provided helpful hints for potential VCDXs. Whether you’re signing up for your first course or hunkering down for a last-minute study session before your exam, take some time to review these insights from current certificate holders.  

Clear design, full architecture, can’t lose 

The VCDX “exam” is not like exams for other VMware certificates, which feature multiple choice questions and lab portions. VCDX candidates must instead design an entire solution that addresses the business problem of the exam prompt. To earn a VCDX certificate, candidates apply by submitting their solution. If selected, they must then defend their architecture design to a panel of three peers.  

It’s no wonder so many people who have ventured down the VCDX path cite document structure in their “if only I had known” wish list.  

Central to a candidate’s defense is a document outlining their architecture design. Here, a blogger dishes on his own VCDX experience. The blogger’s list of submission components is extensive, and that’s just an outline of the submission.    

A reply tweet to my question calls the document structure a “grey area.”  

The ensuing conversation is illuminating. Some folks would like VMware to provide an example to candidates as a guideline. Or, as one eloquently put it, “I (in no way) would expect to be provided a paved road. But having some form of directions could help in getting started.”

It makes a ton of sense that respondents discussed this topic at length. VCDX certifications are the highest level of VMware certification someone can attain. They represent elite expertise. Experts understand how to build a solution and how to share that solution with the rest of their organization. Yet not everyone thinks the same, which is why document structure is a bit of an open-ended question. The name of the game here is to explain your design clearly, no matter how you structure the explanation.

No agendas here!  

After you figure out your document structure and submit your application, the waiting game begins. If selected, you must defend the solution laid out in your document. After all that hard work, it’s difficult not to feel an emotional connection to your output.  

As other VCDXs point out, try to remember that the panel defense is not personal. VCDXs understand architectural fundamentals and how to apply those fundamentals to any business problem they face. Panelists only want to ensure that you can scale your knowledge to various challenges.  

Take it from Gregg here, who offers sound advice to any prospective VCDX. Panelists have no ulterior motives. They aren’t grilling you with difficult questions because they don’t like you. They’re evaluating your design, just as a tough boss would in a business setting.  

Tell me what you want 

There’s a pivotal scene in The Notebook where Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ characters are arguing in the rain. Eventually, a frustrated Gosling looks at her and says, “Tell me what you want!” VCDX candidates may have experienced similar frustrations during their architecture defenses, even if they avoided inclement weather during panel sessions. Allow this respondent to explain.  

This individual is a VCDX panelist. It appears many applicants wish they could read panelists’ minds during their architecture defenses. Of course, reading an exam proctor’s mind doesn’t help anyone actually learn the material. It only improves the probability they’ll pass the test.  

But, we take their point. And that’s why VMware provides a blueprint for VCDX candidates, like this one for prospective Data Center Virtualization VCDX certificate earners. The blueprint is Rachel McAdams dishing everything, explaining exactly what she wants. It’s a document that outlines the content of a candidate submission, the format and structure of the defense and the objectives of the application, among other important tidbits.  

VCDXs make for marvelous mentors 

This is not to say that VMware has covered every angle when it comes to guiding candidates to their certifications. Everyone learns differently, and VMware Learning understands that. That’s why we provide a library of material for VCDX applicants — and, really, for all certificate candidates — with as much information as possible.  

One VCDX who has successfully defended two applications points out that we’ve had many of these conversations during our VCDX Mentoring Series.  

The VCDX Mentoring Series is an encyclopedia of video discussions featuring many VCDXs. The series covers everything from defense day strategy to conceptual design and risk management while building architectures for submission. It’s just one of many resources for aspiring VCDXs, and it provides a helpful behind-the-scenes look at the process from experts.  

Be a VCDX, be influential 

VCDXs, the ranks of whom you’ll surely join soon, are at the top of their game. Whether they’re a VMware employee, partner, customer, teacher or trainer, these people know their stuff. As a result, they’re influential within their organizations. They make a real difference. First, though, they must demonstrate their expertise.  

It’s time for you to be influential. Visit the VMware certification page to learn more about the VCDX path and how you can start making a difference.  

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