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VCDX Advice from VCDX001

Johns VCDX Tweets are fast becoming a fantastic resource of advise for those following the VCDX certification’s defense panel.  So I have decided to make it a fixed page on the blog site, so there will be no need to go searching for it,

Sitting at the feet of the Master

We all know that VMware have released a shiny new advanced certification called the VCDX.  In fact most of you will know of the VCDX secret agent 007 Duncan Epping (Licensed to design).  But what about the benevolent master VCDX001 John Arrasjid?  Nope, well his twitter account is here he is well worth following,  he is not prolific in what he tweets but when he does tweet it is useful.

What is out lined below is the sage advice in the form of tweets from of one of the senior members of the VCDX defence panel, there are over 50 and rising hints here.  Remember to bookmark this one as I am sure this list will grow 😀

When I started to syndicate John’s VCDX tweet tips I could not imagine that the list would get so long, as of the 24th of April we now have 96 tips.  However, that is not the whole story.  A large number of these tips are actually multi parted and as such the total amount of infomation contained in this list consists of well over 150 tips.

VCDX Tip    #1: Know your design inside out. Why, How and impact are important! Understand the requirements, justifications and consequences.”
VCDX Tip   #2a: Consider lessons learned from Enterprise Architecture and Services Oriented Architecture for virtual cloud design.
VCDX Tip   #2b: Note: books=support of cloud architecture design 4 VCDX not to help pass test. SOA is a key piece for VMware based clouds.
VCDX Tip   #2b: See Thomas Erl books (SOA Design Patterns and SOA Principles of Service Design) and Computing by Rittinghouse and Ransome.
VCDX Tip   #3: Practice what you preach and learn from others. Architects listen first. Don’t assume the answer before the discussion starts!
VCDX Tip   #4: Scenarios for VCDX defenses test journey to solution not necessarily the final answer. Whiteboard talk and ask questions.
VCDX Tip   #5: Troubleshooting scenarios – think of the architecture and implementation approach to resolution. Logs design SC Command
VCDX Tip   #6a: Application/Design Choice=(What decision was required? Don’t include simplistic choices that are standard ie: redundant NICs)
VCDX Tip   #6b: Include architecture decisions like use of active/standby layout in single vswitch design.
VCDX Tip   #7: Application/Justification=What compelling requirement/constraint/assumption/risk mitigation drove decision.
VCDX Tip   #8: Application/Impact=How did the decision affect other areas of the design w/r to technology/risk/schedule/skills/budget.
VCDX Tip   #9: Recruit peers to review VCDX design and application. Focus on architects and specialists 1st implementers 2nd. Red ink please.
VCDX Tip   #10: Try a dry run on the defense. 75 minutes w/peers to grill you on design and choices made. Practice breeds confidence!
VCDX Tip   #11a: Longer is not necessarily better. We have reviewed some designs over 500 pages total (8 docs) and some under 200 pages total
VCDX Tip   #11b: Focus on content not length. Focus on customer requirements.
VCDX Tip   #12a: What makes for a good design?
VCDX Tip   #12b: See other tips. Key answer = meeting requirements with appropriate technology to also match schedule and budget
VCDX Tip   #12c: Understanding and documenting the reasons for each decision including meeting requirements constraints and technology.
VCDX Tip   #13a: Blank application or missing areas in the application=immediate rejection. Application is a requirement.
VCDX Tip   #13b: Incomplete application form or referring the reviewer to the document where the form should be completed=rejection.
VCDX Tip   #13c: Application requires 5 requirements/constraints/assumptions. and four answers (3 parts each) in each design choice area.
VCDX Tip   #14a: Core components of a VCDX submitted design include a design document with requirements and an architectural solution.
VCDX Tip   #14b: This design will include supporting information for the design choices. This is why the application mirrors what we look for.
VCDX Tip   #14c: The design also should include an assembly and configuration type document and a validation/test plan.
VCDX Tip   #14d: In the design you must touch the following areas: Network, Storage, vCenter, ESX, VMs, Security, Disaster Recovery, (cont)”
VCDX Tip   #14e: Monitoring upgrades capacity planning standard procedures and areas related to the requirements.
VCDX Tip   #15: Current docs must be in English. Other languages will come as we grow the number of VCDX. If u translate consider a reviewer
VCDX Tip   #16: Start early on application. Plan 8-24 hours to collect and update docs per blueprints and fill out app. Remember no blanks!
VCDX Tip   #17: Use VCDX application 2 identify new design patterns & new best practices in your design. Provide justification & impact.
VCDX Tip   #18: Considerations for design: SOA Cloud Enterprise Architecture extending the boundaries. Think Elastic Sky… 🙂
VCDX Tip   #19a: Example decision for ESX Clusters: N+2 Redundancy
VCDX Tip   #19b: Justification: Customer requirement of N+2 redundancy in cluster.
VCDX Tip   #19c: Impact: Lower utilization of resources in cluster to accommodate N+2 failure. Impact to ROI & TCO.
VCDX Tip   #20: Design Document must include requirements and an implementation to support them. It is not about diagrams alone.
VCDX Tip   #21: Validation/Test Plan typically will include test of virtualization platform/mgmnt tests infrastructure and adv features.
VCDX Tip   #22: Design Document includes conceptual model mapping requirements logical design and physical design
VCDX Tip   #23: Installation & Configuration Guide includes details on assembly of the physical design components. Test Plan can be combined.
VCDX Tip   #24: Preparation for defense – Create presentation outlining design and include reference diagrams for discussion during defense.
VCDX Tip   #25: Getting started – take a design and a red ink pen then review for blueprint items and a match of decisions to requirements.
VCDX Tip   #26: Sleep well night before after studying design and decisions carefully then take the test with confidence best foot forward.
VCDX Tip   #27: Consider extensions to design to meet all blueprint requirements. This is allowed but must be defensible.
VCDX Tip   #28a: Plan to include requirements/constraints/assumptions in a dedicated document or within the architecture design document.
VCDX Tip   #28b: Requirements table example: REQ-001 Customer requires that disaster recovery site supports the same SLAs as primary site
VCDX Tip   #28c: Constraint table example: CON-001 Customer has budget to support recovery but not at the same SLA levels.
VCDX Tip   #28d: Assumptions table example: To quote Benny Hill “”Never assume or you make an *** out of you and me.”” Note follows…”
VCDX Tip   #28e: Assumptions must be confirmed for risk mitigation.
VCDX Tip   #28f: Assumptions table: ASS-001 To mitigate risk REQ-001&CON-001 client resolves conflict. The design will match resolution.
VCDX Tip   #28g: All architects will at some point have conflicts in pool of requirements/constraints/assumptions.
VCDX Tip   #28h: A VCDX must be able to address conflicts in their design during discussions and obtain signoff of the final decision.
VCDX Tip   #28i: Ensure that the decisions made around conflicts include justification approval and impact to other areas of the design
VCDX Tip   #29: Validation/test plans should include functionality/performance/utilization considerations for testing on regular basis.
VCDX Tip   #30: Question on number of VCDX’s – most recently announced VCDX is #25
VCDX Tip   #31: panelists spend approximately 4-8 hours reviewing application and submitted docs. We look for complete design as specified.
VCDX Tip   #32: design docents do not have to be based on vmware deliverables but must meet content coverage. Blueprints & app provide detail.
VCDX Tip   #33: having a good design without understanding all areas presented will limit scoring. Know the technology as you will be asked.
VCDX Tip   #34: panelists cannot provide positive scores in missing areas. Explaining what is missing does NOT score extra points.
VCDX Tip   #34: short answers without solid demonstration of technology or choices must be expanded to score.
VCDX Tip   #35: Cheat sites for vcdx won’t help.
VCDX Tip   #36: Sites that introduce design strategies and design patterns for virtualization that are supported by VMware will help.
VCDX Tip   #37: Liars claiming to be VCDX will be revealed as liars. Customers beware. If they lie on this then they will lie to you.
VCDX Tip   #38: Official VCDX certified individuals will in the future be listed by VMware so that customers can validate integrity.
VCDX Tip   #39: HP blade virtual connect can utilize redundant back-end 10G uink allowing creative perf and redundancy in vswitch design.
VCDX Tip   #40: If the design references strategies from Mr. Hanky – Do Not submit. 😉
VCDX Tip   #40: Designs including 3rd party technologies require candidate to fully understand the technology used
VCDX Tip   #41: don’t believe duplicate tip’s. Go with first one. 🙂
VCDX Tip   #42: Panelists are experts in various virtualization areas. Don’t make technology claims that are incorrect. – Duncan Epping
VCDX Tip   #43: Submitting and defending a design when stating “”best practice””,  know the background behind that practice. You will be questioned!”
VCDX Tip   #44: Best practices for majority may not be best practice for some. Think first! Justify & show impact to support change.
VCDX Tip   #44: Example of bad design – Utilizing two NICs for vSphere FT that are shared with vMotion, Service Console and VM traffic. BAD!”
VCDX Tip   #45: For partners especially – default VMware templates are only a baseline and do not constitute the minimal cutoff for VCDX.
VCDX Tip   #46: Customer defaults may be ok but provide guidance in your discussions as well as recommendations for change in your design.
VCDX Tip   #47: Reminder – ‘Just because’ will cost points. Know justifications & impact of choice. If bad, provide recommendations”
VCDX Tip   #48: Defense presentation outlines your background – project backgroun – Key points and reference materials
VCDX Tip   #49: VCDX Presentation should not include birthday, age, religion  or other areas that are outside of virtualization project.”
VCDX Tip   #50: Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery. Understand the difference. Apply both to design for bonus consideration.
VCDX Tip   #50a: When thinking of presentation to start defense, use the application framework to help with the flow. – Shridhar Deuskar”
VCDX Tip   #51a: vSphere designs have been accepted for the VCDX defense if they meet the criteria defined in the blueprints.
VCDX Tip   #51b: The differentiator between VCDX on VI3.x versus VCDX on vSphere 4.x is likely to be based on the test.
VCDX Tip   #51c: Note – for VCDX on vSphere 4 to work the Enterprise test and the Design test must both be upgraded to vSphere 4.ETA TBD.
VCDX Tip   #51d: All aspects of a design are reviewed and validated. If you include vSphere features you WILL be questioned on them also

Added 26th October 2009

VCDX Tip   #52: Enterprise Exam is a prerequisite to validate advanced skills and troubleshooting required by architects. Experience counts!
VCDX Tip   #53: Design exam tests architecture skills that include both technology and process. How do multiple parts fit together?
VCDX Tip   #54: Top VCDX candidates spent extra time on their application and design to fill in missing areas for complete scoring.
VCDX Tip   #55: Designs can adapt and modify best practices. Provide solid support for this and provide examples from experience.
VCDX Tip   #56: Design Exam – consider lessons learned from VCP and Enterprise tests. Know your weak spots and learn them.
VCDX Tip   #57: Design Exam – Integration is essential in a design. Know how to tie related items and understand their relationships.
VCDX Tip   #58: D.E. – covers design exam tips for future posts.
VCDX Tip   #59: D.E. Consider security, DR, DRS, Resource Pools, and other items that influence placement of disk/net/CPU/RAM/VM in cluster.
VCDX Tip   #60: D.E. (Tip from @jasonboche) – Pace yourself. Some areas require more time than others. Some have more weight than others.

Added 21st November 2009

VCDX Tips: Note- if you are a partner and would like to see a ‘VCDX Preparation Boot Camp’ at Partner Exchange 2010, talk to your Vmware rep
VCDX Tips: Note- We have a proposal to offer a 3-hour boot camp that includes a walkthrough of all parts including the defense and scenarios
VCDX Note: Partner Exchange is coming up in February 2010. Development of the VCDX Workshop is nearing completion
VCDX Note: Thanks to those providing feedback to VMware on interest for this 3 hour session
VCDX Note: The session will include a demonstration of conducting the defense, design scenario and troubleshooting scenario
VCDX Note: The session will also cover all the pre-requisites and guidelines for the application and conducting the defense session
VCDX Note: We will also have three VCDX Panelists and a Moderator to do mock sessions, so prepare if you wish to participate
VCDX Note: I have requested that seats be accepted for those already in the VCDX program (completed VCP and Enterprise tests)
VCDX Note: If you have not provided feedback to the partner program, please let them know you are interested in the VCDX Workshop
VCDX Tip #61: Troubleshooting scenarios include multiple paths that can be taken. Think of this as a murder mystery role play. Journey=#1
VCDX Tip #62: I plan on adding to the tips. If you have unique questions on VCDX I will post answers
VCDX Tip #63: Variation on an idea from Hugo Strydom “A VCDX should have a balanced lifestyle; family, training, exercise, work.”
VCDX Tip #64: Add to tip 63 – Maintain a good mental state when working/presenting. Clear thinking in difficult/stressful situations
VCDX Tip #65a: If planning on doing February VCDX defense at PEX, start planning now. Think of 4 major decisions made in each category
VCDX Tip #65b: Storage, Networking, Cluster, Resources, Security, Provisioning, BC/DR, next steps, and other areas tied to design
VCDX Tip #65c: Include the full design details, the justification on why a decision was made, and the impact as described previously
VCDX Tip #65d: Create presentation with the topology map(s), provide an overview of the design, and then include support info for defense
VCDX Tip #65e: Based on feedback, the VCDX Preparation Workshop will likely be offered at PEX. Mock defenses will be help
VCDX Tip #65f: Prerequisites include VCP, pass on Enterprise Test, and acceptance into program. Completion of design test gives priority
VCDX Tip #66: Get through the Design Test asap if you plan on submitting for a defense at Partner Exchange in February
VCDX Tip #67: For those asking about testing at PEX 2010, applications will be available in ~2 weeks
VCDX Tip #68: Update on PEX2010 – Development of the workshop is close to finished. Two hour sessions on Monday. Outline coming
VCDX Tip #69: Free 1/2 day VCDX workshops next month (Sydney/Melbourne/Singapore). Contact me offline. Space limited to partners

Update 15th January 2010

VCDX Tip 69a: The VCDX Preparation Workshop has been approved for Partner Exchange ’10. Sunday from 1-3pm, February 7th.
VCDX Tip 69b: If you are coming to PEX 2010, the VCDX workshop is on Sunday and VCDX Panel Defenses are Monday and Friday.
VCDX Prep Workshop coverage: 1) The process 2) The application 3) the design 4) the defense 5) the design & troubleshooting scenarios.
VCDX Tip 69c: Those testing at PEX should already have applications. If you haven’t gotten it and qualify, please contact VMware cert team.
VCDX TIp 69d: Applications for the VCDX defenses at Partner Exchange will be sent out on Monday, December 7th. Finish early!
VCDX Tip 69e: When registering for PEX, the VCDX Preparation Workshop on Sunday, February 7th, will be an option to add to your schedule.
VCDX Tip 69f: The course of action is for me to do another follow up. Checking now.
VCDX Tip 69g: still waiting on feedback for the application for PEX.
VCDX Tip 69h: Although I am not involved in sending out the applications I offer my apologies on the delays in the VCDX Applications.
VCDX Tip 69i: I would recommend you start collecting your design materials together in preparation of the application showing up.
VCDX Tip 69j: Ensure that you have 5 each of requirements, constraints, and assumptions.
VCDX Tip 69k: Ensure you have 4 design decisions for each of these categories: Storage, Network, Clusters, BCDR, Security, VM Config, Updates,
VCDX Tip 69l: Dependencies, Monitoring, Implementation & Next Steps, Installation Procs, Standard Procs such as P2V and VM Deployment,
VCDX Tip 69m: and Testing/Validation. Also include two risks.
VCDX Tip 69n: For decisions, be complete and do not use acronyms. Focus on the outline of the decision, the design choice, the justification,
VCDX Tip 69o: and the Impact to other areas of the design and the project. Do not list the justification under the impact. Think about how
VCDX Tip 69p: the decision affects other design choices, budget, scheduling, technology choices, etc. Be as complete as possible.
VCDX Tip 70: Once again, apologies on the delays. We hope that the applications are sent out soon as time is getting very short.
VCDX Tip 71: Just got confirmation from several people that they have received their applications for VCDX testing at Partner Exchange.
VCDX Tip 72: When you get the application, start moving forward with completing it per my previous posts. Time is of the essense!
VCDX Tip 73: The application form specifies for item 7 “Disaster Recovery and Fault Tolerance Considerations”. It does NOT say VMware FT!
VCDX Tip 74: VMware FT could be a consideration for a vSphere deployment maybe but the application specifies very clearly Fault Tolerance !FT.
VCDX Tip 75: First apps are showing up for VCDX at Partner Exchange in VMworld. First come first served. If you have a question, ask here.
VCDX Tip 76: Please use full sentences and check for grammar when submitting your application for clarity when the panel reviews.
VCDX Tip 77: VCDX Panel Defenses at PEX’10 – If you need to rework your application or design, you will have until January 15th I believe.
VCDX Tip 78: Times up. End of day today is the deadline for VCDX Application rework for Partner Exchange defenses.
VCDX Tip 79: Remember that the application must be 100% filled out. Justification != Impact. Application does not replace documentation.
VCDX Tip 80: Based on feedback we will provide example ‘Table of Contents’ for the documentation required.
VCDX Tip 81: VMware standard for design docs include: Architecture Design Document, Validation/Test Plan, Implementation Guide, Blueprints (Visio), Next Steps, Operations Guide, and other docs where relevant to the project.
VCDX Tip 82: VCDX submitted docs missing areas that are in the application cannot be scored on those areas, thus risking loss of points.
VCDX Tip 83: Applications with incomplete sentences, acronyms without definition, same justification & impact entries risk rejection.
VCDX Tip 84: Update: Collection of VCDX Tips found on blogs by Duncan Epping (@DuncanYB) and Tom Howarth (@tom_howarth). Thank you guys!
VCDX Tip 85: Best wishes for those testing at Partner Exchange! Best wishes for those testing at future events.
VCDX Tip 86: Those translating their design documents to English, please have someone validate the technical translation.
VCDX Tip 87: Upcoming VCDX testing anticipated for Munich and Sydney in Q2, and at VMworld 2010 and VMworld EMEA 2010.
VCDX Tip 88: bad translation example: “The ESX waiter will be implemented on a four-way quad-core waiter.” (Not all translators are equal)
VCDX Tip 89: Practice defending your design in advance. Pick someone that will dig deep on your design choices and the docs you submit
VCDX Tip 90: Looks like I messed up on the number. This is what happens while on work around the world and vacation. Will fix in next tip.
VCDX Tip 91: See http://bit.ly/Am4a0 for update. Next tip will be 92. Wow. Considering that there are some with multiple parts, that’s a bit! about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck
VCDX Tip 92: Once again, justification does not equal impact. Impact can be both positive and negative.

Updated 24th April 2010

VCDX Tip #93: PEX2010 VCDX Preparation Workshop booked solid. Just opened more seating. Those on waiting list should get in.
VCDX Tip #94a: Rework of a VCDX application has a deadline to meet VMware req. If rework does not meet requirements, then it is rejected.
VCDX Tip #94b: Given that we were overloaded with resubmissions by candidates we must limit future candidates to one resubmit of their app.
VCDX Tip #94c: Why? Because of the time required to review an application and design documents.
VCDX Tip #94d: Same applies for resubmit of a design that does not meet all requirements. Be sure to reread instructions before resubmit.
VCDX Tip #95: VCDX documentation requirements reflect VMware’s stance on what is required for fully delivering a design.
VCDX Tip #96: Partner Exchange VCDX testing slots completely filled and deadline passed. Next opportunity is Munich and Sydney in March.
VCDX Tips: New schedule for VCDX panel defenses now posted on VMware.com.

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