[Book Review] VCDX Boot Camp: Preparing for the VCDX Panel Defense (Rough Cuts version)

Since I plan on submitting my VCDX application in time for the VMworld 2013 deadline, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the VCDX boot camp book. While the book has not been officially released, there is a “rough cuts” version of it available right now via Safari Books Online (you can find it here). The book is written by John Arrasjid, Mostafa Kahlil and Ben Lin; all VCDXs.

The book had a nice flow to it, starting from where the program came from and the different tracks that exist today, then going to the defense process and finally example scenarios. Here a list of the chapters along with my opinions of each:


  • Chapter 1: Certification Overview
    • Nothing too fancy here. Chapter covers each of the VCDX tracks (there are 3) along with an overview of the VCDX process as a whole
  • Chapter 2: Preparation
    • This chapter starts with the application and discusses the VMware side of things (application processing, review, etc…). The chapter also discusses how the defense panel/room is layed out and how to practice for the defense via study groups and mock defenses
  • Chapter 3: The Design
    • Here the design blueprint is covered. What the panelists might be looking for in your design is also discussed; I find this information to be very useful as I’m beginning to prepare my design
  • Chapter 4: Defense Overview
    • You’ll get an inside look at the panelists perspective in this chapter. You’ll also read about how the defense is timed and what you can expect when you arrive
  • Chapter 5: Design Defense
    • Here you will read about how the design defense portion of the defense will go. You will find out how your presentation should be structured along with what content you should, and should NOT present (SPOILER ALERT: DON’T BRING GIFTS FOR THE PANELISTS!)
  • Chapter 6: The Design Scenario
    • This was my favorite chapter, and also my least favorite. I do not do designs everyday and part of the defense is a 30 minute design scenario where you must take some loose requirements, coupled with panelists (the customer) feedback and create a base design. It’s my favorite because it truly gives me some focus points, it’s the worst because it makes me question whether I’m ready for this or not…and I definitely don’t like that
  • Chapter 7: The Troubleshooting Scenario
    • This chapter is much like the previous two, but covers how the troubleshooting portion of the defense is laid out, and what the panelists are looking for

The book has tips from current VCDXs scattered through the chapters; a few useful tips. You’ll see a lot of scenarios for the the Design Scenario portion of the defense and the Troubleshooting Scenario portion of the defense. This may be useful and some of them you can see being discussed live on a past vBrownBag podcast on the VCDX boot camp in which John and Mostafa both were presenting. The 3-part series is posted on Vimeo (listed below) and also available on iTunes.

vBrownBag VCDX Boot Camp

You probably want to take this review with a grain of salt since it is merely a one-sided perspective. I have yet to submit an application or do a panel defense, which means I can’t honestly tell you that this book will help you pass the defense. However, I believe it will. The book gave me insight on how the entire VCDX defense process is structured and a glimpse into what the panelists might be looking for. The book also exposed one of my weaknesses, and I will surely do better in that area (design scenario) then I would have without having this information. I’m will definitely be picking up a copy of this once it is officially released to check out any new content added. I would love to hear some reviews of this book from current VCDXs.

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