VCDX-DCV: Strike One

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Back in February, I decided that I was going to seriously pursue getting my VCDX certification.  This is not only a big deal because of the amount of work that it requires, but because for the past 15 or so years I have shunned the pursuit of any and all certifications.

After completing all the pre-requisite exams, I submitted my design in September, targetting a December defense date.  To my joy/surprise/terror, in early November I was notified that my design was cleared to move to the defense phase.

Last week, I travelled to Palo Alto for my first VCDX defense attempt.  I felt the first session of the defense went fairly well.  One of the panelists presented me with a number of questions about RPO/RTO and apperant conflicts between my RPO requirements (“last committed transaction”), and the capabilities of the design to support that RPO in scenarios such as data corruption, operational oppsies, etc.  I navigated these waters poorly.

Aside from that, I was presented with some questions surrounding operational activities that I suspect weren’t called out in their intention: i.e. the automated process for building hosts and scaling the environment, is the same process to follow in the event of node replacement/failure.

My presentation deck ended with something like +- 10 minutes remaining on the clock, which was used to discuss some non-DCV related items in my design.

After a short break we resumed for the role playing scenario.  All I have to say about that was it was not what I expected, the panelists lived up to my expectations of playing completely uninformed folks, with surprisingly opinionated interjections at times.  Most critically, I completely failed to hold to my strategy in terms of executing the design session.

It will be interesting to see what feedback I receive from the panelists, and if it aligns to my perspective.  I am sure there will be a number of things I thought went well, which actually went poorly.  I am hopeful I receive it in the next day or two.  And that “very soon” doesn’t mean another week or two of waiting.  As unfortunately, if I want to give it another attempt in the next cycle, I must reapply by Janurary 4th, which is going to arrive very quickly with the holidays and moving.

Notes to my self for next time, based on my experience:

  • If something happens to the defense timer, pause and ask them to fix the issue or provide time alerts.  Not having the ability to do time checks hurt me.
  • Work the design meeting like you would a brain dump at work.  Follow your gut and throw your idea up on the board.  I spent way to much time “teaching.”  The “dumb” panelists drew me in and suckered me into teaching instead of solutioning.
  • Stick to the strategy during the design session.
  • Revisit RPO/RTO requirements and capabilities and be able to speak to the conflicts between them.
  • Clarify some operational activities based on the question I received.