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Preparation Hints

While having a solid design grants you the opportunity to defend, your performance in the oral defense is what matters. I’ve seen experienced candidates with artful designs succumb to the pressure and fall apart in the defense. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised when candidates with garden-variety designs excel and demonstrate strong design skills.

Practice makes permanent. Increase your comfort level and odds of passing by building experience in the same types of settings. Take every opportunity to put yourself in similar situations, whether in front of a customer or in front of peers in a mock defense. Focus on preparing succinct and accurate explanations to anticipated questions. I’ve seen many cases where an insufficient explanation led to follow up questions, consuming time off the clock.

An appropriate design hinges on the overall customer’s business objectives and use cases. Every design consideration needs to reflect this. We are no longer in a world where building expensive architectures with the latest widgets is acceptable to customers. Creating efficient cloud systems for end-user consumption requires focusing on what capabilities are truly needed. Designs that are innovative typically have unusual constraints that force the architect to think outside the box.

Do a mock defense to get used to the time constraints. Have a systematic method for working through both scenarios. Hone in on the objectives presented and make sure you address them. Panelists are interested in your thought process and approach—it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Lastly, don’t overthink it. Pass or fail, it’s a great learning experience. If you don’t pass, reflect on the experience, enhance specific skills, and try again.

Recommended Study Resources

The VMware vCloud Architecture Toolkit (vCAT) is a publically available set of collateral stemming from work that the original VMware Cloud Practice team produced. That team designed and implemented many of the initial vCloud deployments. I admit to being somewhat biased, having been one of the key contributors over the past two iterations.

vCAT provides a wealth of information on architecting cloud solutions. Focus on the Architecting a VMware vCloud and Service Definitions documents, but also peruse the Operating a VMware vCloud document for operational guidance. The Services Definitions documents outlines a sample set of requirements, while Architecting a VMware vCloud provides design considerations and patterns. For those preferring a hardcopy, it will also be available on Amazon.

For instructor-led classes, VMware education offers a VMware vCloud: Design Best Practices course which walks students through the design considerations for vCloud environments.

For an inside view of what occurs during the defense, VCDX Boot Camp is a book I co-authored with John Arrasjid and Mostafa Khalil. In this book, we distill our insights gleaned from conducting numerous defense panels and workshops. Tips and methods are offered for structuring your VCDX approach.

Lastly, for any of the written tests, make sure you download and follow the test blueprint. The blueprints are invaluable in that they specify the test topics and associated documents where the test materials are derived from. If you prepare by reading and understanding all the listed documentation, chances are you’ll do fine.

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