“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s good to have goals. It’s good to have goals that seem like they might just be a little out of your reach as they force you to challenge yourself and grow.
On Thursday, I completed the goals a set of personal goals that I had set for myself at the beginning of the year – achieve my VMware Certified Professional Certifications on the Data Center and Desktop products. I passed my first VCP exam in August at VMworld. I passed the VCP Desktop exam Thursday morning.
This was actually the second time I took the Desktop exam. The first time I took it was on the last day of VMworld. I hadn’t actually planned on taking the test, but I had some time to kill before my flight. I barely missed a passing score on that exam, which I thought was pretty good considering that I had not prepared for that exam in any way and was rushing through it at the end. After a month of reviewing Jason Langer’s VCP5–DT study guide, I was ready to sit for this test again.
So now that I’ve achieved these two certifications, I’ve been trying to decide what’s next. It didn’t take long to set a new goal – to become a VMware Certified Design Expert, or VCDX, within three years.
For those who are not familiar with VMware’s certification tracks, there are four levels. Although the analogy might not be 100% accurate, I’m going to relate these levels to the different types of college degrees that one can get. Those four levels are:
- VMware Certified Associate (VCA) – a new entry-level certification track. Does not require any classroom training. Think of it as an associates degree.
- VMware Certified Professional (VCP) – The primary VMware certification. Requires a 5–day instructor-led classroom training and proctored exam. This certification is required to attempt any higher level certifications. Think of it as a Bachelor’s degree.
- VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) – The level above the VCP, and a VCP is required to try for this certification. Does not require any additional classroom training, but it does require in-depth knowledge of the products you are being certified on. Under the current programs, there are two VCAPs that you can get for each product track – Design and Administration. Design focuses on the planning and design steps of implementing the product, and Administration focuses on actually running it once it is implemented. This is equivalent to a Master’s Degree.
- VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) – This is a PhD of VMware Certifications. In order to even attempt this certification, you need to hold both the Design and the Administration VCAPs for the VCDX you’re attempting. Anyone aspiring to this level needs to submit a design for a VMware environment. If that design submission is accepted, they will need to defend that design in front of a panel of VCDX holders. Some people have spent over 500 hours on their designs or gone in front of the panel multiple times. Like I said…it’s the PhD of VMware Certifications. (For the record, the two certifications that come closest to this are the soon-to-be-defunct Microsoft Certified Architect, which was a very expensive certification that required learning from the programmers of the Microsoft system followed by a panel defense and the Cisco Certified Architect, which requires a CCDE and a panel defense). There are only around 125 VCDX’s currently.
My goal for acheiving this, as I said above, is three years. This seemed like a reasonable goal because:
- I have two take two advanced certifications before I can even attempt to submit a design for the VCDX. Depending on what products are released in the next couple of years, I will have to recertify to keep current.
- I want to get a lot more real-life experience, especially in the design area.
- The design work for the submission will take a significant chunk of my time.
- Baby Massey #2 is slated to arrive in early April.
I have put together a plan that will get me into position to meet all of the prerequisties of the VCDX within a year, and I’m starting to build up my home lab so I can really dive into this.
Now, I may never reach this goal. This is a very difficult road to go down. But there is no harm in not making it to this destination as this road is also filled with the rewards of knowledge and growth.