VCDX – What Went Wrong?

It’s now two weeks since I received my results from Mark Brunstad’s team that I had failed to pass the VCDX on my first attempt, something which I completely expected as I failed to perform on the day.


Feelings, what is Craig going on about, isn’t this meant to be a technical blog?  After I had finished the defence, design and troubleshooting scenario, I had a multitude of feelings with one being a sense of relief that it was all over, but the overwhelming one was disappointment in the sense that I felt I had let everyone down who had supported me, my wife and children whom had spent endless hours away from me and also my employer who had sponsored me throughout the process.


Anyone who has embarked on the journey to VCDX understands that you make a massive investment not only in personal time, but you forsake your life for a number of months.

I was lucky enough to be involved with the EMEA VCDX Study Group, which was originally formed by @GreggRobertson5.  We met every night from the day we received confirmation that we had been accepted to defend.  The group was formed of:

  • Sunny Dua @Sunny_Dua
  • Safouh @safouh75 #VCDX136
  • Magus Edh @vTeraherz #VCDX140

We then had regular guest appearances from Frank Buechsel @fbuechsel who provided some excellent troubleshooting scenarios for the group to digest.

Each night we went over certain aspects of vSphere such as networking, storage, virtual machine design, troubleshooting, design and presentations.  This was excellent as it allowed me to home my skills and I’m sure the other guys would agree that I lead most of the areas explaining how various components worked.

I knew that from a technical perspective I was fairly strong across all areas and their was an expectation within the EMEA Study Group that it was a given that I would pass!


I had an un-official mentor which was Rene Van Den Bedem @vcdx133 whom spent his own personal time to help me throughout the process investing a massive amount of his personal time in helping me tune my skillset.

The same should also be mentioned of Steve Wenab @stevewenban7 who was constantly challenging me and asking the most random of questions!

Even though I failed without the help of these two individuals I would have failed on an approach/technical perspective rather than what I mention in the section below.

What Went Wrong?

From a preparation perspective I had spent five months (February to July) aiming towards the VCDX, I had performed mock defences both with the EMEA VCDX Study Group and with work colleagues and I was in a good place.

So what went wrong then? Have you ever been writing a document and you can’t remember how to spell a word such as ‘went’? That was me on the day, basic things that I can normally knock out of the park without even thinking about it, I just couldn’t do!

If I had of passed, it would have made a mockery of the VCDX process as I knew, that if I had seen me on the day then I wouldn’t have thought this person is VCDX calibre.

What’s Next?

The plan is to go for the VCDX again early next year, I did consider October in Frimley (UK), however with family commitments and with VMware launching numerous new products that I need to get my head around (Horizon 6, vSphere 6, NSX, VSAN) it wouldn’t have been sensible to go for this time frame.

What I take from the whole process is that (without sounding arrogant), I know that I’m at VCDX level, something which I’m sure my EMEA VCDX Study Group members will confirm.  I just need to perform on the day, I’m not sure if that’s easier than having to enhance your technical knowledge or not!

Watch this space…

8 thoughts on “VCDX – What Went Wrong?

  1. Keep pushing on Craig, VCDX is one of the hardest and most elite certifications to achieve – You’ve done well coming this far, it’s just a matter of polishing things up, learning from your mistakes and trying again.
    The nervous, feeling of letting people down, not prepared; we’ve all been through it – It’s similar to your first job interview.
    You may have not passed this time, but you’ve come out with some solid experience.

    Keep fighting the fight – end result is worth it.

    -Richard Arsenian (VCDX #126)

  2. It’s kind of like a drivers license test. You can still be an excellent driver and fail the first time, sometimes it’s just how you perform on a given day. You got this Craig!

  3. Craig,

    We’re all pulling for you and watching your journey around the world! All the best to you. Get your number next time and let’s call this cat skinned!

    All the best,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s