The Real Value of the VCDX Certification

The VMware Certified Design Expert: VCDX. THE certification of certifications, especially if you work with VMware based solutions. It’s often regarded as the holy grail of certifications, and rightfully so.

But why is this the case, and why does “everyone” want to become one?

The reasons for it being such a highly coveted title, are pretty obvious:

  • Very few people can call themselves VCDX, at the time of writing only 186 people have successfully defended their design. 1
  • It represents something beyond being able to do well on a computerized test. You have to have actual soft skills as well, and be able to present advanced technical subjects in a coherent manner, in a possibly daunting environment. 2
  • It is the highest level of certification you can obtain within the world of VMware.

I have, on numerous occasions, stated that my goal is to some day become a VCDX, and it still is. But the fact is that the more I study the requirements and the more I think about it, the harder it becomes to achieve. This may sound counter-intuitive, but bare with me on this.

At first glance, and I’m sure this doesn’t just apply to me, it seems fairly simple. Get your VCP, and VCAP‘s in order, submit a design, get it verified, defend, and boom, instant VCDX. Certainly not easy, but how hard can it really be, right? But is that all there is to it?

Simply put, no it is not. The VCDX program is about validating someone skills as an architect, not teaching people to become architects. There is a huge gap to be filled between the VCP and VCAPs and the VCDX. Last fall I took a class in TOGAF 9.1, and that was a real eye-opener.

Architecture itself is more about methodology and frameworks, and less about technology. The VCDX places itself in both the methodology and the technology space, requiring candidates have one foot in each trench. That is a huge deal, and it really is like learning a new language, fluently.

Until I had this revelation last year, I thought that the biggest obstacle to obtaining the VCDX certification would be to produce the documents required, in the specified form factor and present the design. That is not the case. The biggest hurdle is not documentation, it is not technology, and it’s not presentation skills. It is the mindset and architecture skills that breaks the camels back. It takes a special kind of person to be able to pull that off, and you know what? That is where the real value of the VCDX program lies.

The more I learn, the more I realize that there is so much I don’t know. While the purpose of the VCDX program is to validate, not educate, I am learning a lot by trying to obtain the skill set required. Call it a side-effect, but it’s certainly not an adverse one.


Who knows, I might never actually become a VCDX, but one thing is very, very clear; I’m learning a lot while I stumble my way towards it. It’s a moving target, but then again, what isn’t if you work with IT.

Also, becoming a VCDX is not like beating that Final Boss in Doom II, it’s a new start, not and end.

  1. More than 186 people actually call themselves VCDX, and are outright lying. Check the official directory for verification. 
  2. For a complete list of requirements, look at the official blueprint for the chosen track. 

Random VCDX Tips and Quotes?

vNinja-LabsI needed something to spruce up my desktop environment, and it seems that one of the more popular ways to do that is to display random quotes and such on your desktop. Instead of hooking up to an existing quotes database, I simply made my own.

I have collected a few VCDX related tips and quotes, primarily from the archive Duncan Epping put together of VCDX Tips from VCDX 001 John Arrasjid, but also from the “submissions” I got from VCDX? Give Me a Quote! If anyone else wants their quote/tip/hint added to the database, please let me know!

But gathering all of these in a single location has no real purpose, so I managed to code up a really small PHP script that picks a random quote, and return it with attribution. The output is available at and should return a random line from the db on each query.

I use this in combination with GeekTool to display a random, changing, quote right on my desktop:

VCDX Quotes on the Desktop


Inside GeekTool, I run the following command to generate the output:
[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]

This  is set to refresh every 120 seconds, as long as I have internet connectivity.

Feel free to use the script to do something similar, or if you have a better idea for it’s usage let me know!

Seen “In the Wild” Gallery:

VCDX? Give me a Quote!

For a tiny project, I need some help from anyone who has completed (successfully or not) the VCDX process.

All I’m asking is that you provide me with a single line quote about the VCDX process, or the VCDX program itself.

Please send any quotes to me on Twitter, either as a mention or as a DM, your choice. Once I have a handful of quotes available, they will be made public for others to use as well…

A bit vague, I know, but more details will come later.