Tag Archives: certification

VCDX: Defense

There isn’t really much I can tell about the defense itself without giving up way to much information so keep in mind this post is intentionally very vague.

As I mentioned in a previous post the defense itself has three distinct sessions.

The defense itself to defend the design and show the panelist you know everything there is to know about your design, including alternatives and expert level understanding of how different technologies/requirements/constraints can impact your design.

The design scenario to show the panelist that you fully understand the VMware design methodology and can use it during customer meetings. Its like a quality assurance test for the VCDX candidate design skill level for VMware.

The troubleshooting scenario is to show the panelist your technical skill level regarding the track you are going for and the method you use. The method is more about speeding the troubleshooting cause you have very limited time. There are very different technology stacks between the four VCDX tracks for the troubleshooting to focus on.

And just remember that the panelist is not there to make you fail, they are there to help you by asking questions that you can answer to increase the score (assumption on my part).

The time will fly away as soon as you start and before you know it the first section is done. Then you get a short break before the second section and before you know it that time has passed as well. Your brain will go into autopilot mode during the sections.

Then you are done. Expect to feel releaved and somewhat mentally tired. Don’t expect to run on full capacity the following days or week. It is quite normal to not remember exactly who was on your panelist.

Now only a “long” wait until the result email arrives.

VCDX: Defense Day

Before I start this post I want to emphasize on that this post just includes friendly recommendations and personal preferences and is not a bullet proof method of preparing during the VCDX defense day itself. People are different and some feed on stress. If you do, you will probably disagree with everything in this post. You have been warned.

There are most likely two scheduled times for the defenses, one on the AM (around 09:00) and one on the PM (around 14:00). I recommend at least trying to get the session that fits best to your body clock. Yes I said body clock. No I’ll not start talking about yoga and how feng shui can help (not that it couldn’t, just that I have no experience in those things).
The thing is most people have a preferred time of day where they are most alert. I’m crap at 9:00, but I’m much more comfortable after 12am and even more if I only had to take a leisurely train ride in the morning. Also I imagined that taking the train/cab/car/bus to a location I’ve never been to would not help the nerves.

As for the transportation to the defense location, that is always just a personal preference really. Google Maps was extremely helpful as always. If I didn’t have Google Maps I would get lost a lot the time when travelling. In Google Maps we trust (and hope they don’t send me into a ditch, cough Apple Maps cough).

When you arrive to the VMware offices (or the location specified in the defense acceptance email) you will escorted to a some sort of an waiting room. You can use the time for a couple of things. You could frantically go over notes or just relax. I recommend that latter one. At this point there is nothing that will stick, and there is always the risk it increasing the stress level.

Then one of the panelist comes and fetches you. You’ll have access to water in the room since the next couple of hours you will talk more than you ever have. The time is finally here.

VCDX: Defense Preparation Timelime

The VCDX defense preparation phase includes both slide deck creation and common tasks such as skill updates, potential question creation, alternatives, deep dives, skill transfers, mock defenses and study group meetings.

When is it best to start? Depending on your mental state at the time of design document submission, right away. I took 7 days off until I started creating my presentation and working on all the other items.

Never mind if you don’t know if the design was accepted. Just start. Worse case scenario is that you spent some hours on a presentation that you will use the next time you submit the design.

It will get really hard if you know 3 weeks before the defense that you are going to defend and the presentation is still a New button in PowerPoint.

As for which item to address first I focused on the presentation first and got a good template and the layout just right while getting feedback from my mentor and the study group.

Then I addressed my weakest skills, added to my presentation and did further study group sessions, including design mocks and troubleshooting/design scenarios.

As for a specific timeline of each item, I actually went and did the thing my brain allowed me to do. Some nights I just couldn’t do a single slide in the deck. Then I logged into Pluralsight and just watched some network videos. It was all about change of pace (and learning method; Read-Interact-Listen-Watch).

The time I spent for my defense preparation were about 216-260 hours. Why the gap? Cause I only noted 216 hours and those number did not include all the time I spent going over Quizlet and reading books.

Here is a graph of the time spent on preparations:


And here is a graph of the time spent each day on preparations:


Why did I use time to account for the time I spent on the project? Cause I could. And I’m a data junkie. I just really love looking at graphs with lots of connected piece of information. Don’t judge. 🙂

This time did not include the time I spent each day learning my Quizlet cards (during transit to and from work and also whenever I could) and reading various books for skill update. That would add about 40 hours to the total number.

At the start of the journey I scheduled how much time I would spend on the project. The following graph shows the difference between these two:


I planned for 270 hours, but was only about 20 hours short if the off-screen hours were taken into account.

So do start as soon as you can preparing because every hour you can put in will help in the defense itself.