VCDX #139 – I made it!

What an exciting week! I arrived in Singapore on Sunday to prepare for my VCDX defence on Tuesday and here we are not even a week later and I made it! VCDX #139!

Its funny, two years ago I don’t think I would have contemplated even attempting it, its definitely something that builds over time. A significant amount of effort was put in over an extended period just to get to the defence.

If memory serves me correctly it started about two years ago now, when three of us decided we would go for our VCAP exams and take it from there, the race was then on, who could pass them the quickest. One of them was Harsha Hosur (now VCDX #135). We all managed to get through them, this included the VCAP4-DCA/DCD and VCAP5-DCA/DCD, we were all working in VMware virtualisation roles, so working with the technology was a day in day out thing. I passed my last exam in April 2013, the VCAP5-DCD (5 months after my second son was born). I just then needed to work on a project to put a solid design together.

I changed roles into my current employer in June 2013 and the first project I worked on presented me the ideal opportunity (it actually involved two designs). The project went live in Jan 2014 and I started preparing myself for Sydney in April, got my application in and had it accepted. I really believe a real world project is what you need to take to the defence, without it you will make your life much harder, you live the design process and all the time taken to make specific decisions.

Sydney in April was probably a mistake, my design documentation was light in a couple of areas, and when April came round I found out I was not as prepared as I thought I was. This was after some tough mock defences with some highly experienced people in Melbourne. I had also become part of the EMEA VCDX study group that Gregg Robertson setup with lots of useful information picked up from that. Needless to say I did not pass in Sydney, but that on its own taught me a massive amount. I decided not to let all the work I had done sit on the sidelines for six months and decided to go all in and try for Singapore in July.

I think this is one character trait you need to have to see this through to the end, don’t let anything get you down, learn from everything and keep going.

I made significant improvements to my design paperwork and worked with a local VCDX to help prepare me fully for the defence the second time round. I was more focused this time, I was more confident in my design, but during the mocks I was doing I was not confident. I had to overcome my lack of confidence for the real thing.

A funny thing happened I was sitting in the VMware office in Singapore waiting to go in and I just totally relaxed, and that I believe is what did it for me.

I will not say anything specific about the defence itself, but I felt the design defense and the design and troubleshooting scenarios went really well. I walked out of there thinking that even if I hadn’t made it this time, I was much happier with my performance. I was exhausted.

Home to Melbourne I went that evening, delighted to see my wife and sons and really eager to find out the results. I am still amazed how quickly Mark Brunstad gets them out. When I got up on Friday morning (AUS time), I found twitter had gone berserk and a text from Harsha congratulating me (he had sat his defence the day before, with a foot injury and a head full of pain killers). Then I read the magic letter:

“Welcome to the VCDX Community. Your number is 139.”

Awesome! There are lots of people who helped me along the way, and I learned a great deal from the blog posts of the people who had already been there. I will post more as they have, along with my advice. I am also happy to review designs or whatever people need to help them get there!

It has definitely been emotional. I congratulate all those who were also able to attain this certification and wish all those chasing the goal, good luck!