Gap Analysis VCAP-DCD to VCDX
After now passing the VCAP-DCD now have to consider preparing for the VCDX. As I’ve started to think about it I’ve realized I’m going to need basically do a gap analysis of where I’m at now versus what constitutes a successful VCDX submission and then defense.
So what is the difference between someone who is a VCAP-DCD and a VCDX? A few critical things come to mind for me initially, but lets start out with what VMware defines them as on their certification page.
The VCAP-DCD is directed toward IT Architects and Consulting Architects who are capable of designing VMware solutions in a multi-site, large enterprise environment. They have a deep understanding both of VMware core components and their relation to storage and networking, and also of datacenter design methodologies. They also possess knowledge of applications and physical infrastructure, as well as their relationship to the virtual infrastructure.
VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) is the highest level of VMware certification. This elite group is comprised of design architects highly-skilled in VMware enterprise deployments and the program is designed for veteran professionals who want to validate and demonstrate their expertise in VMware virtual infrastructure.
One main difference of note above is consulting architects vs design architects, however this probably has very little bearing on differentiating between the two. Most importantly what stands out is that the VCDX program is designed for veteran professionals who wish to validate and demonstrate their experience. There is a clear definition here that according to VMware, they are expecting VCDX candidates to be those that are not only experienced, but can demonstrate their experience. Something we probably already knew here.
Now some things that come to mind when I start thinking about where someone goes from being a VCAP-DCD to preparing for a VCDX. These may not apply to everyone of course and these are just my opinions in some cases.
Every VCDX I know of is regularly participating in design exercises as part of their daily job and likely is a customer facing engineer. This is not to say that someone who is not the prior does not have a chance of successfully defending, but it means someone like myself who is an implementation engineer is likely at a slight disadvantage just based on not going through the motions of presenting and defending designs on a day-to-day basis. Additionally as Brian Rice has pointed out in his article on defending a fictitious design, it is important to think like an architect so throughout the process and up to the defense it will be important to play the role, even if you are not presently one.
Those who are regularly presenting to customers and in turn the VCDX panel need to be able to articulate their thoughts. They don’t just know things like the maximum number of servers in an MSCS cluster on vSphere or that you can’t VMotion these machines. They know that these things are constraints to any design and may either be acceptable or not based on the functional requirements of the customer. Additionally it is your job to justify your choices, just because you tell a customer or panelist your decision doesn’t mean it will not be questioned. In terms of the defense I have heard from many about your journey to the answer and not the answer itself.
Design Architects also know that all the information to a design is not going to be given to them. It is their job to meet the customers requirements, and to question and interview to get those requirements. Without doing so vital information will be left out and the design can be deemed a failure by the business.
There is obviously much more to it then that, so please share your thoughts below.