Session Notes – VCDX Prep Session – VMware Partner Exchange

Summary = it’s doable but a long hard road.

Note: as with all my session notes this is a mix of what’s on the screen, what the presenters are saying, and my own thoughts. If something doesn’t sound like what the presenters would say, assume it’s just my opinion. šŸ˜‰ Or ask in the comments if not sure…

Everything covered today relates to VCDX4 & VCDX5.

People on panel = Mostafa, Chris Colotti, and more that I didn’t catch.

More after the jump…

  • Selection of a Design
    • The design you must submit for an infrastructure…
      • where business requirements drive design and implementation decisions
      • suited for mission-critical applications
      • in a managed environment
    • The design you submit may be partially fictitious
      • You must defend fictitious components as if they were real.
    • If your design is based on an actual project, you must have played an architect role in that project.
      • But not necessarily the sole architect.
    • vSphere must be the primary design component.
    • Side comments/questions.
      • to your benefit to submit a comprehensive design
      • focus/embellish on areas that are your strengths
      • you have 75 minutes….so put out a design that can fill up the time well
      • if you don’t present designs, practice presentation beforehand
      • anything you submit may come into question (i.e. if have View pieces in the design) — focus is on vSphere pieces but will hit on other pieces
      • if you submit a View desktop design, don’t focus totally on View
      • make sure that infrastructure has relevant resources to match the design in a real world, practical way (not just theoretically enough resources)
      • need to understand all components of design (hardware, infrastructure) even if you didn’t design those pieces originally
      • if submit a design with extra components, be careful that you don’t miss including the core design areas (that do affect your score the most)
      • don’t have to include specific products (example = vShield) but have to cover the general area (security)
        • Example: you wouldn’t get marked down for not including vShield but would get marked down if didn’t consider security at all.
      • If have older design and submitting it, consider how you would design it today when considering which products to add fictitiously.
  • VCDX Process
    • Showing flowchart of how the process works.
    • Need to cite everyone who participated in the design (in case they want to submit the same design later on a separate application).
    • Can use solution toolkits but best to modify so it doesn’t feel canned and better understand everything you’re including (whether from the kit or your own changes).
    • The kits are not VCDX quality submissions – there are things missing in them and VMware knows what those are….you had better know that too.
    • This is not a technical defense process – we assume you’ve got the technical pieces by having passed the VCP5 and VCAP-DCA.
    • What makes VCDX unique – both very deep technical and very deep business mapping.
  • VCDX Applications – Components
    • Completed Application Form
    • Signed Attestation and Statement of Conduct
    • Mandatory Documentation
      1. Architectural Design
      2. Installation Guide
      3. Implementation Plan – consideration for training, timeline and/or process for deployment
      4. Testing Plan – system-level testing, unit-level testing, do vSwitch setup make sense from an HA perspective?
      5. Standard Operating Procedures
    • Registration Fee
    • Ensure your submission is free of technical inconsistencies.
    • Side Comments
      • Andrew – Everyone does a lot with the Architectural Design…there’s a lot of space to show VCDX value in the Implementation Plan design.
        • Would love to see more creativity in the bottom 4 bullets below.
      • Remember that your design is your first impression to the panelists — better design in whatever way makes your defense easier.
      • All pieces above in one big doc? Doesn’t have to be….make it easy to follow. Some mention of splitting it into separate docs.
  • VCDX Interview Day
    • Approved applicants are invited to interview.
      • Interview is on-site meeting with panel of VCDX certified architects.
    • Interview process consists of 3 parts:
      • VCDX Defense – 75 minutes
        • Deliver short presentation (15 minutes) that introduces your design. Call out highlights, unique good stuff, etc.
        • Answer questions from panelists about the design you submitted.
        • Provide further insight into your design decisions and rationales.
      • Design Scenario – 30 minutes
        • Demonstrate that you can begin to work through design issues in a methodical and logical manner.
      • Troubleshooting Scenario – 15 minutes
        • Demonstrate that you can begin to work through design or operational problems in a methodical and logical manner.
  • VCDX Defense – Format
    • Panel
      • 3 Panelists – VCDX Certified, interact with candidate, record scores.
      • 1 Facilitator – ensures rules and timelines are adhered to.
      • Observers – VCDX certified, learning how to conduct defense, no interaction with candidate, assist in adjudication process.
    • Environment
      • Room with whiteboard, 1-2 projects, and presentation laptop
        • Personal laptops or PDAs not permitted in room
        • Bags stored in secured area.
    • Timer (only pauses between sections)
  • VCDX Defense – What we’re looking for
    • From Conceptual Requirements to Logical Model
    • Differentiate between logical architecture and physical architecture (calls out specific vendors, brands, etc.)
    • Better to start with requirements, move to logical architecture, move to physical architecture/vendors/brands.
    • Map the above into one or more infrastructure design qualities…
      • Availability
      • Manageability
      • Performance
      • Recoverability
      • Security
    • Build relationship models among design entities to create solutions based on those mappings.
    • Side Comments
      • Constraints – make sure to call out constraints and how/where they affect things in the logical design.
      • Simplest way to know difference between logical and physical is that logical does allow you to swap vendors under the covers.
      • Logical design = capture business requirements of the customer, what’s important to the customer
  • From Logical Design to Physical Design
    • Propose detailed specifications for the technology stack, showing the components’ mapping to the entities in the logical design.
      • Fault Tolerance stuff.
    • Virtual Machines – Including backup/recovery.
    • Compute Resources – Including hosts and clusters
    • Storage Resources
    • Network
    • VI Management
  • Candidate Characteristics – show mastery of….
    • Do Design Work
    • Know how to implement and guide on that.
    • Identify and mitigate risks inherent in the design.
    • Complete, clear and organized technical communication.
  • Tips
    • Before your defense session…
      • Make personal commitment to budget time for preparation.
      • Plan an working a minimum of 30-40 hours to complete the application and supporting docs (not including the design itself)
      • Consider forming study partnerships or groups.
      • Know your design thoroughly!
        • Review your design beforehand so it’s fresh on your mind.
    • During defense….
      • Use time wisely.
      • Allow for time in all design areas.
    • Talk and think out loud – panelists can’t hear what you’re thinking.
    • Use diagrams frequently.
  • Design Scenario – Format
    • Design exercise role play
      • Given a situation/scenario that requires you to begin to architect a design.
      • During the scenario, the panelists are your peers.
        • Focus is on the journey to the solution, not finished design.
        • Think out-loud. Talk through the process to let the panelists see you work the problem.
        • Ask questions to gather additional information for consideration.
        • Go through the steps to demonstrate your strategy and thought process.
        • Try to follow a thread to build your deisng on.
        • Use diagrams.
        • You might not finish in the time and that’s fine.
    • Duration – 30 minutes total.
  • More Tips
    • Sketch your ideas – walk through topology for the design on the whiteboard.
    • Think – Do I have all the information needed? What are the requirements, constraints, assumptions, and risks? Am I meeting all the business requirements?
    • Do – Ask questions! What is your strategy? What information do you need? What clarification? Is risk mitigation required due to some of the business requirements?
    • Don’t – Be silent as you work the design.
  • Design Scenario – Sample
    • Poke at constraints, do they really need to be there?
    • What servers are dev vs. prod vs. QA? What SLA’s on the workloads?
    • What were the compelling events that caused you to start this project much less run Capacity Planner in the environment?
  • Troubleshooting Scenario
    • Don’t necessarily try to figure out how to fix the problem (maybe) but definitely who should fix the problem.
    • Ask about what changed recently.
    • What is the PSP selection policy? Active/passive array? LUN trespass? Boot from SAN?
    • Start out with questions but try to have some kind of recommendation by the end.
      • Something on the whiteboard – diagram, thoughts, recommendations.
    • Don’t get stopped by short answers – I asked AV question and shouldn’t have taken the short answer.
  • Other Q&A
    • Design Length – have had short and long pass. Explore constraints and what might need to change.
      • Really about having traceability through the whole design.
      • Need more details in the design than being short.
      • Don’t need as much time describing features and technology – “how DRS works”.
    • Include scripts –
    • Minimum size – doesn’t need to be multi-site but that helps. Make sure to use features on the blueprint.
      • 50 VM’s could work as long as you cover everything in the blueprint.
      • Most designs have reviewed have hundred’s of VMs and 8 or more ESX servers.

2 thoughts on “Session Notes – VCDX Prep Session – VMware Partner Exchange

  1. Pingback: Think Meta » Session Notes Compendium – VMware Partner Exchange

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