31 Jan

How long does it take to become a VCDX?

I recently have received a couple of questions regarding how long it takes to get the VCAP-DCA and a while back someone even asked how long the whole process to become a VCDX might take.

The purpose of this blog entry is not to answer the question but to discuss what it takes for each step, although I will try and explain what time I have taken on the steps I have completed thus far.  I have an idea in my mind when I would like to do certain parts of the path but the true answer will depend on when I feel I am ready. For purposes of simplicity and the fact the VCDX3 has only one last defense possibility(I believe), this will focus strictly on those who are not a VCDX 3 already and are pursuing the VCDX 4. As I have only gotten as far as getting my VCAP-DCA, I hope to update the latter part of this entry with more of my experiences.

VCP—>VCAP-DCA—>VCAP-DCD—>Design Submission—>VCDX Defense

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VCP 4

The first pre-req is to be a VCP 4. If you are a VCP 3 you have a series of courses you can take to upgrade your eligibility to take the VCP 4 exam. I chose to take the Troubleshooting course which was of much better value to me then taking the ‘What’s New’ course to upgrade. Additionally you will need to take and pass the VCP 4 exam. If you are not a VCP 3 then you need to take the Install/Configure/Manage Course plus the exam.

If you don’t yet have your VCP and are currently studying for the exam take a look at Simon Long’s blog where he has a simulated test and some great notes/blogs relevant to the exam.

After the VCP you don’t need to take the VCAP-DCA first, but for purposes of this layout that is how we will roll.

Total Time Invested-Couple days in class + a few days studying max/mins for the test + previous experience

VCAP-DCA

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There are not any requirements to sit for this exam other then the above mentioned VCP. As of now it is not something you can just book through Pearson-Vue though and will need to sign up to take it. Other then that in my honest opinion you really need to just focus on mastering the objectives of the VCAP-DCA Exam Blueprint. VMware has a great set of documentation and going through those documents alongside a home lab will go a long way.

I have compiled my study notes online and in a PDF, but also recommend these other sites who have posted study notes. If you know of others please comment.

Below are the courses listed by VMware as recommended and I’ve listed them in the order I would take them if I couldn’t take them all,which I didn’t.

  • VMware vSphere: Troubleshooting [V4x] – Personally took this course because of the need to upgrade my VCP 3 to VCP 4. I thought this course is probably your most bang for your buck as it covers a broad area of the blueprint compared to others. If you can only take one of the four this would be the one in my opinion.
  • VMware vSphere: Manage for Performance [V4x]- A coworker took this course and I was able to review the course materials and saw how great this course would have been to take. It is a close number two.
  • VMware vSphere: Automation with vSphere PowerCLI [V4x] – I would have loved to taken this course to gain more powershell knowledge but in terms for studying for the exam, the blueprint only has one section devoted to PowerShell. In terms of studying for this exam the above two cover a broader base of the exam.
  • VMware vSphere: Manage and Design for Security [V4x] – Another course I did not take. This one falls last based on what I have heard about the course and the amount of items it hits on the blueprint. A few said this course was equivelant to reading through the VMware Hardening Guide.

And then comes taking the test. Bring 400$ and four hours of your time and the be prepared to wait a month for your results. I’m sure some others will get their results quicker but that is how long it took for mine.

Total Time Invested – A lot…..3-4 months of weekend studying which included compiling the VCAP-DCA Study Guide + some previous experience(including the Troubleshooting Course which was my pre-req for the VCP 4). Oh lets not forget the month of excruciating waiting for the results = )

VCAP-DCD

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Like the VCAP-DCA, this is not something you can just book through Pearson-Vue though and will need to sign up to take it.  Now read this section and those going forward with the following disclaimer, I have not achieved the VCAP-DCD or VCDX and am voicing my plans and opinions of the rest of the process based on what I know, which may be nothing = )

Again there are not any specific requirements to take this exam other then being a VCP 4. There are two recommended courses of which I have taken the one, the VMware vSphere Design Workshop. I have heard many suggest this course mimicked a lot of what was necessary to help them submit a defense. Having attended the workshop I will say as others have to be prepared for a class that is not a regular lecture, but more of a guided open discussion. Sometimes the tangents end up going in good directions and sometimes not, but the instructor did a great job of guiding the course. The true value in this course is seeing how others did things differently, worked with different storage or network considerations.

The second recommended course is the Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Fundamentals course, which is a four hour on demand web course. This is a topic that is specifically not covered in the design workshop so it looks to be a nice supplement to preparing for the exam.

Links to Recommended Courses

And again then comes taking the test. Bring 400$ and four hours of your time, but the results are immediate this time. I plan on taking the test something a few months from now so I’m sure I’ll have more to add then. For now I am focusing on supplementing my design workshop by going through the VCAP-DCD Exam Blueprint and reading all the documentation mentioned. I had a huge personal value in compiling all my study notes so I will do the same thing again for the VCAP-DCD.

The Remaining 90% of the Process

Design Submission

Sort of a joke, but then again not really. If you listen to what others have to say the design submission is a long process, one that may result in rejection of your application if not done correctly. From what I gather, considering you have a work and personal life be prepared to spend at least a month to complete this portion.

Your design submission can be based on a real or fictitious example.

VCDX Defense

You’ve gotten this far, but now is time to defend your design, demonstrate your ability to do a new mock design, and demonstrate your troubleshooting skills. All in front of a panel of experts .

Application and Defense Resources

Below are a list of some of the resources I have found for mentally preparing for what I will eventually tackle.

For starters the most comprehensive write up of their experience, along with delicious book mark links can be found from Harley Stagner. I may be biased, but Harley lists not only the details of his journey but shares bookmarks to other’s experiences and documentation. Harley also recently answered some questions live on twitter regarding the VCDX Journey.

Secondly I’d recommend checking out the following for some great information:

http://technodrone.blogspot.com/2010/10/journey-to-vcdx-not-complete-yet.html

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/tag/vcdx/

10 thoughts on “How long does it take to become a VCDX?

  1. I would say 6-9 months in total if and when you are a seasoned architect/consultant, otherwise you will fail the last step.

  2. Id agree with Duncan, I think it depends on you experience. Especially for the design exam. The main timing issue is being able to get a slot on for the defence. You could mess up the times and end up waiting for another 3 months.
    Glad to see your thoughts though as they are a great insight for anyone wondering what the process entails.

  3. Thanks for the breakdown. I will be heading down the VCAP-DCA path as soon as I take the performance course. I took the Powershell course and I highly recommend it, especially if you are not well seasoned in powershell. I purchased the trainsignal Troubleshooting course and am working my way through it.

    I debated the security course but am VERY glad on your insight for the course. I wondered how advanced they would get in it.

    C
    http://darusintegration.blogspot.com

  4. Pingback: My Week in Geek – February 4, 2011 : My Geek Finds

  5. One thing I don’t see is a cost associated with the design submission and defense, is there a fee?

  6. I haven’t seen it posted anywhere for the 4.x track, but would suspect that will be included in the blueprint when it is released. Last I recall hearing it was 400$ for the application fee and then 400$ more for the defense, plus travel expenses of course.

  7. I’d also agree with Duncan. In my case it took 8 – 9 months to go through the process and come out with VCDX 4. This is after 15 years in the IT industry, 13 years experience with VMware products, and 7 years of consulting. Well over 200 man hours went into my application. This was all done in what little spare time I had and while on airplanes and at airports.

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