As some people might know, I have been working hard to obtain my second VCDX certification. This time, I’m aiming for VCDX6-NV. I worked very hard to submit my application before the due date for the December round of defenses. It was a tough nut to crack, but I submitted my application and after a very pleasant week at VMworld Europe in Barcelona, the dreaded message from the VCDX program dropped in my mailbox on Monday morning:
Your application for your VCDX has undergone a technical review by VCDX-certified panelists. This review consists of scoring each application against the appropriate VCDX Design Defense Blueprint. We regret to inform you that you did not achieve a high enough score to allow you to proceed to the Design Defense stage of the process.
Without trying to sound overconfident, I can honestly say that I did not see this coming. I had several people review my design and I kind of copied my way of working around the supporting documents from my successful previous VCDX-DCV submission. I would say my design was at least on par with that design. I was pretty devastated to be honest. I mailed the VCDX program to ask for feedback and they swiftly responded with their feedback. All feedback was aimed at my supporting documents. This gave me a bit of mixed feelings. On one hand I was happy there was nothing fundamentally wrong with my design but on the other hand, failing on the supporting docs was pretty …. meh. So, how best to proceed?
vCommunity to the rescue
I tweeted about my disappointment and within minutes I had several VMware community heroes responding and offering help. The one and only quadruple(!) VCDX (Rene van den Bedem), VCDX and vCloud Director guru Yves Sandfort, fellow Dutch VCDX Daniel Zuthof, my (VCDX) colleagues at ITQ and many more. Everyone was really supportive and willing to review my documentation set. Sending my documents to 10+ people would likely produce a wide range of (perhaps even conflicting) feedback and at this moment, I feel like I really need to be laser focussed on what’s (f)actually lacking in my application. Because Rene obviously knows how to approach VCDX, and because he gave me some critical advice during my previous VCDX endeavour, I took him up on his offer and sent him my full application package. Rene was extremely fast and thorough in providing his feedback. Within a couple of hours he made clear what was missing. I’m not going to discuss specifics here but a lot of items relate back to stuff Rene has blogged about extensively. Check out this great post: https://vcdx133.com/2015/05/18/nsx-v-design-deep-dive/!
Deciding on my next steps…
I only had two bullet points of feedback. It is tempting to just focus on these two areas and fix what is apparently minimally required to be able to defend my design. I discussed my options with Rene because, being perfectly honest with myself, I could probably improve my design in a couple of areas. So, do I fix what is minimally required or do I spend some additional time to improve my entire application? Rene easily convinced me to do the latter. He reminded me that VCDX is a certification and that I am being scored against the blueprint. Nobody knows exactly how VMware VCDX reviewers and panelists score a candidate but it is safe to assume we are scored on the total of the application and the defense. The remote defense is just an hour so that means that I will have a short window of opportunity to score additional points to make up for the points I missed in my application. It sounds pretty obvious that the more points I score with the written application, the fewer points are required during the defense itself. I am going to take Rene’s feedback on my design to heart and I am going to take some additional time to improve my overall design!
I am attending AWS Re:invent this month so that means a pretty long flight from Amsterdam to Las Vegas. I am going to try to prepare everything that needs fixing in my application during this week, and use the time on the plane to actually revise my documents. The first leg is about a 10 hour flight and with the right preparation, this should be enough! Hopefully I can resubmit shortly after returning home from Re:Invent. I still don’t know why my application was rejected on the supporting documents in the first plade, since I took pretty much the same approach as with my first defense. Maybe the documentation standard is higher because there is a shorter window of opportunity to score points during the defense, maybe VMware is putting more emphasis on these documents in general, maybe the VCDX-NV reviewers are more demanding in this area… who knows? Fact is that I failed … and that sucks! But as I tweeted the other day, the amount of support from the vCommunity is overwhelming and I want to especially want thank Rene for his help. With his feedback and my renewed energy level thanks to the vCommunity … I’m ready to take another stab at the beast!