So I finally achieved a goal that I set a long time ago. It still hasn’t set in that I did it and I don’t think that it ever will. My parents still think that I put computers together and that this means I can now do it better than I could before. Either way, these were the major points that I hit going through the process.
Set a Schedule:
I personally gave myself about 2 hours a night during the work week for my design document for the first 2-3 months prior for submission and about 4 hours on weekends. I would ONLY stick to this schedule during that time so that I had a regular review schedule as well as a way to add more meat to the document. I have a whiteboard that sits between my kitchen and my office and this is so that when I get coffee I have to stare at it as my Keurig makes crazy hissing noises. Write down the sections that you need to edit or have peer review and just keep it there as a tabling area. This will remind you of what you need to do and if you are feeling risky and fancy you can even set dates for these. I honestly wish that I thought of this during the earlier parts of the design. I came across this idea with about 2 weeks left and it helped me stay on track. Adjust your schedule accordingly when getting closer to the defense day. I think towards the end I was doing 8-12 hour days just re-reading my design and doing mocks.
Prior to working on your design every night go back and re-read what you have done thus far. This will cement this in your brain as to what you have done and help you memorize it. I also used this policy when I went through and did mocks. Always read your design and know it inside and out.
Side note: If you aren’t extremely intimate with your office suite of choice….get prepared to be. She is a cruel mistress but she is going to be your best friend through a majority of this.
Ask yourself questions:
My design was based off of a real customer environment that I had implemented. If you are going to submit for this beast, you need to make sure that if you are using a fictitious design then you need to treat it like a real one. Either way when I was going through every paragraph either editing or writing I was writing questions for myself that I thought someone would ask me. For example think of it like you have your 5-6 year old nephew next to you and your design is like a popup book. “The customer used the super powerful blade of B200 M3 to say the monster VM” and he asks WHY, WHY are you doing this? Why did they do this? Could it be done better? Should it be? What features am I risking?
Always keep things like this in mind and be ready to fully explain EVERYTHING that you did. Alot of us in our group for the mocks started utilizing Quizlet for just things to ask ourselves or to keep in mind.
Side note: If you are walking around and arguing with yourself about why you did something, make sure you put in like a bluetooth earpiece or headphones. People thought I was crazy in my apartment complex and still look at me funny.
Brad Christian @BChristian21 is a huge life saver and to be perfectly honest I don’t think many of us would have passed without his efforts. Brad reached out to all of us via Twitter and got us doing mock defenses with one another every night for 3 weeks straight. Alot of us were used to arguing with ourselves and not doing it against other people. With new people come different questions and different personalities and during our first mocks it made me feel like I knew absolutely nothing and like I wasn’t going to make it. This was a HUGE motivator for me. You need to be ready to asked anything and everything about your design and this group really pushed the limits of us. There were a few times where my fist wanted to go through the monitor but it made me better and it’s best to not take it personally.
Don’t Take it Personally
There were a few times that I got a bit touchy when people were hammering the hell out of me. Think about it like this, you are in a room with smart people and they all know things that you don’t. They WILL find your weakness and they WILL make you feel dumb about it. We all aspire to be good at what we do and be as knowledgeable as possible and these people are here to push you out of your comfort zone.
During the mocks we didn’t really focus on this and this will make or break you when the time comes. Think of scenarios of when you were fixing something or even ask your friends. It’s all about the process you take and the way that you vocalize it. I worked in support for almost 3 years so I was having a blast doing mocks for the group but some of you may not have this available to you. If I were you I would head over to the VMware Communities and pick a problem and attempt to solve it with as little information that is in the thread. If it is already solved then see what approach those people took and how you may have done it differently.
To be perfectly honest….we didn’t practice these and I would recommend doing that haha.
You have been preparing for months and you are ready for this. The panelists are just people like the rest of us and they are in the business of making more VCDXs. You need to be confident and know your design inside and out. Everyone that I talked to said that a majority of the anxiety that you will be facing will fade after answering the first question. Use your PowerPoint as your backup for your entire defense. If there is a diagram that you have put it in the back of the deck so you don’t have to draw it. Keep in mind that you may have to draw it anyway so you need to know it inside and out.
What not to do:
Seriously though also look at the official video here: http://vmwarecertificationvideos.com/k34f/vcdx-defense-preparation-what-not-to-say/
I felt that I learned a large amount and developed a great group of friends during this entire process. I was opened entirely more to criticism and became a bette consultant because of it. This process is like no other and has a great community behind it that are extremely eager to help anyone and everyone that is attempting.
Did you read anything?
Of course I did! There are several books that I practically lived next to during the entire process
VCDX Boot Camp: Preparing for the VCDX Panel Defense by John Arrasjid, Ben Lin, and Mostafa Khalil
Storage Implementation in vSphere 5.0 by Mostafa Khalil
VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman
Are you planning on defending soon?
Get a hold of James Bowling @vsentinal and let him know! He is working on getting a group together for the Cambridge defense. Here is the submission document here
If you need anything and I am not a part of the panels I would be delighted to help you. Just tweet me @kalenarndt