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.