VCDX Defence – A Reality

Seems like an age ago that during VMworld 2013 Europe Gregg Robertson coerced me into agreeing to put my name down for a VCDX defence date in 2014.  At the time I didn’t give it much thought apart from trying to help bring the panellist to the UK to help other people out who wanted a British defence.

Since then I completed the VCAP5-DCA which was a task in itself (as I don’t administrate a vSphere environment), this was followed by far too many hours putting together a VCDX Architecture Design before submitting it too VMware for review.

Yesterday at 18:17 UK time I received the email from Mark Brunstad which had ‘Your VCDX Application Review Results are attached. Please read the document carefully and respond as requested.’ in the email body.

My first thought was crap, never mind I can’t be defending must have gotten something wrong as there would be no way VMware would make you open up the attached PDF.  I felt a bit despondent but opened the attachment anyway to get my feedback.  Straight away my eyes caught the middle section of the PDF the location of the defences will be in Germany, eh (I thought), quickly scanning back I saw the words

I am happy to inform you that you have achieved a high enough score to allow you to proceed to the defense stage of the process

At that moment I felt two things exhilaration and nausea, pretty much the same feeling when I went on the 300ft Skycoaster at Kissimmee Florida


After I had picked myself up from the floor, reality sunk in that I have (somehow) managed to join the individuals who have been asked to step in front of the panellists to try and obtain the VCDX qualification.

Guess that means I will be making a impromptu trip in July to Germany!

VCDX Book Give Away – Results

Due to a technicShowCoverVCDXal oversight at London VMUG on 15th May 2014, Gregg Robertson and I forgot to give away the excellent VCDX Boot Camp book during our ‘VCDX Application – What Does IT Take?’ presentation.

On the 16th May 2014, I opened up the chance to win the book to the wider vCommunity and I’m pleased to say that we had 44 people register for a chance to win.


As the 44 emails came in they where each assigned a number e.g. email number 1 was assigned number 1.

Over the weekend my daughter and I put all the names into a hat and she picked out the lucky winner!


The soon to be proud owner of  John Arrasjid, Ben Lin and Mostafa Khalil excellent book is entrant number ‘6’ Craig Bramley.

Well done Craig, I will be reach out to you, to confirm your mailing address.

VCDX Book Giveaway

Due to a technicShowCoverVCDXal oversight yesterday at London VMUG, Gregg Robertson and I forgot to give away the excellent VCDX Boot Camp book during our ‘VCDX Application – What Does IT Take?’ presentation.

Written by John Arrasjid, Ben Lin and Mostafa Khalil the book is aimed at anyone who is embarking on the journey towards the elite certification.

The main chapters are:

  1. Certification Overview
  2. Preparation
  3. The Design
  4. Defense Overview
  5. Design Defense
  6. The Design Scenario
  7. The Troubleshooting Scenario

The book provides an in depth look into how the certification was formed and what the panellist expect from a candidate.

To add this book to your collection, just complete the form below on or before 9PM Friday 23rd May 2014.

The winner of the book will be drawn on 24th May 2014 and will be notified by email.

Note: The giveaway is open to anyone

London VMUG 15/07/2014 – Get Some

The next London VMUG is happening on Thursday 15th May 2014, so if you haven’t registered for the event yet, I urge you to get involved.

Click the link to register

The committee members have some great sessions lined up,  including:

  • Owen Sheehy – Introduction to Virtual SAN
  • Frank Buechsel @fbuechsel – SSL Certificates and SSO Architecture


If you want a chance to heckle Gregg Robertson @GreggRobertson5 and I come along to our ‘lightning talk’ on what it takes to submit for VCDX.

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
33 Queen Street
London EC4R 1AP

VCDX Submission – By The Numbers


I’m sure all of you know that the prerequisites for VCDX are VCP and both VCAPs.  I started the process of trying to achieve the VCDX certification back in October 2013, when I passed the VCAP-DCD and then two months later in December 2013 I achieved VCAP-DCA status.

I didn’t keep a log for the effort I put into the VCAP-DCA, but I believe it was approximately one month of study time, to get to a point where I felt I had a chance of passing.

Family Life

Why have I mentioned ‘family life’ in this blog post? Seems kinda irrelevant?  Well I would say it’s probably the most important part of the VCDX Submission process.

This point is crucial, do not underestimate how hard it is not spending time with your family (I have two children 2 and 6), you will be giving up your weekends, ability to attend family functions, time with your friends and doing the things you enjoy outside of work.

In December 2013 and January 2014, it was holiday season and I wanted to spend time with my family and to see if my better half would commit to the VCDX process, as I knew it would be grueling on the both of us.  My amazing wife said yes and it was time to find a design.

I was conversing with Paul Meehan @PaulPMeehan on twitter about the virtues of VCDX and he mentioned that the word VCDX had taken pride of place next to ‘Voldemort’ in things that should not be mentioned in the Meehan household.


Finding a design which meets the design qualities for VCDX Submission is hard work, not every customer you work with has a design that meets the required standard for Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability, Security.

I was pretty new to my current role, four months in and even though I had designed a number of upgrades and solutions, I didn’t believe any of them ‘cut the mustard’ in terms of design qualities.  I was working with a number of clients and knew I had something in the pipeline, but you are never sure if you will be the Lead Architect on the design or whether the clients circumstances would change.

So in the end, I decided to use a design I had done for a customer back in 2012!

The bad news was that it was going to take me sometime to get back up to speed on the design, but the good news was it ticked every one of the design qualities.

VCDX Submission

The VCDX Submission is broken down into the following key areas:

  • Architecture Design
  • Installation Guide
  • Validation Test
  • Implementation Plan
  • Operational Procedures
  • Application Form

So how long has it taken me to get to a point of being able to submit for VCDX?

Overall Total

267 Hours

68 days

Average 4 Hours per day

equivalent to 5 weeks annual leave and every bank holiday throughout the year!

VCDX Submission

Architecture Design

177 Hours

41 Days

4 Hours 20 Minute Average

239 Pages

112 Tables

34 Diagrams

To complete the first draft took from 1st February 2014 to 9th March 2014 and consisted of 34 days and 149 hours of effort.   The remaining time of 28 hours was reviewing and tweeking.

equivalent to a working month at 40 hours per week over four and a half weeks

Installation Guide & Operational Procedures

I decided to combine the installation guide and operational procedures as it made sense.

76 Hours

21 Days

3 Hours 40 Minute Average

141 Pages

14 Tables

57 Diagrams

To complete the first draft took from 10th March 2014  to 31st March 2014 and consisted of 17 days and 70 hours of effort.   The remaining time of 6 hours was reviewing and tweeking.

equivalent to two weeks annual vacation for someone who works 38 hours per week

Test Plan

6 Hours

2 Days

3 Hours Average

124 Tests

Implementation Plan

5 Hours

2 Days

2 Hours 30 Minutes Average

182 Project Line Items


3 Hours

2 Days

1 Hours 30 Minutes Average

Peer Review

Not added to the list is a review of my VCDX Architecture Design by colleague and all round good ‘egg’ Steve Wenban @stevewenban79

414 Minutes


7 instances of vCentre corrected

1 big thumbs up