Archive for October, 2009

VCDX Design Exam: been there, done that!

October 1st, 2009

Borrowing a blog post title from my friend in virtualization Duncan, I passed the VCDX Design exam this morning with a score of 369. A passing mark of 300 is required out of a total of 500. I had a lot of built up anxiety for this exam for a few reasons:

  1. Duncan Epping (mentioned above) had mentioned that he thought the Design exam was more difficult than the Enterprise exam. He’s already VCDX certified and he’s a VMware genius.
  2. I was at a loss as far as what to study. The blueprint covered topics that I felt were vague from a formal training or studying perspective. It implies the requirement of real world experience.

Therefore, my study method consisted of:

  1. 30 minutes looking over the VCDX Design blueprint
  2. 1 hour of brushing up on NPIV documentation
  3. 1 hour of reviewing virtualized Microsoft Cluster requirements
  4. A quick review of TCP/UDP ports used in VMware virtual infrastructure in the enterprise (including SQL, Oracle, SNMP, Syslog, AD, LDAP, NFS, iSCSI, etc.)
  5. Knowledge of vSphere must be thrown out. Candidates need to remember this is clearly a VI3 exam.
  6. 13 years broad IT experience, 8 years experience with VMware products, 5 years experience with ESX

Once in the exam room, I found it to be less difficult than the Enterprise exam (which felt more like a Red Hat exam than a VMware exam). I surmise Duncan’s experience was different as English is not his native language (although he speaks it exceptionally well) and there is a lot of reading and interpretation of data on this exam. There were also a decent share of short and to the point questions as well. While I admit I didn’t have the best score, I found many of the questions to be pretty simple and not what I expected on an advanced level certification exam. Part way into the exam I felt fairly comfortable about passing given the degree of difficulty I had thus far experienced and assuming this experience would continue through to the end.

The exam format is two parts:

  1. Part 1 consists of 51 multiple choice/multiple select questions. In this section also exists several drag and drop style questions. One of the drag and drop questions was missing an obvious correct component and had a duplicate of another. I don’t believe this was intentional. I commented on this question with the corrections needed.
  2. Part 2 consists of a Visio-like architecture design tool where you freehand place components for a customer design. There is an assload of reading and a poor presentation of the requirements and the actual design drawing all on one small screen – probably good practice when in front of customers who either don’t know what they want, or don’t easily convey what they want. I spent 27 minutes on the last design question and ended up running out of time. I highly doubt 100% accuracy of my design as I ran out of time before I was comfortable with it. Jon Hall, if you’re reading this, I’m curious to know what the grading scale is between the 51 questions and the final design.

So that’s it. I’m on to the VCDX Design application step once VMware invites me (I hear the design application is very lengthy documentation writing and takes about 2 solid weeks to complete – following the advice of other existing VCDX’s on Twitter, the application is NOT an area to skimp on), and then the final defense step after that.

I’m an end user and not in front of customers daily. Consulting is solid experience to have for the VCDX process. I think the VCDX is designed for consultants, therefore, consultants are set up well and have an inherent advantage. Wish me luck, I’ll need it.