A few tips for the VCDX defense

Tips for the defense from existing VCDXs  were one of the things that helped me the most preparing for mine.

one thing to note before we start is that each VCDX has it’s own experience and opinion about what’s right and sometimes VCDX A would say one thing and VCDX B would say the opposite, but that is just the nature of things as no one knows what is the  rubric used to score  a VCDX candidate and that includes me.

Take from this post what you think makes sense to you and i suggest you do the same from anything else you read or hear, except for  Rene van der Bedem’s blog AKA @VCDX133 http://vcdx133.com , it is awesome.

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Important to not burn out while preparing for the VCDX defense

I felt it a lot, the guilt of not working hard enough on my presentation before the defense, especially after submission of the application while waiting for the results to come in. It took a few weeks to know if we are going to defend our crazy design and during that time i’ve probably put 2% effort in average of the amount of effort I put when we worked on the design.

If you are in that stage you probably read many blogs about VCDX journey by now, many are saying to start working on the presentation a minute after you submitted the application and not to wait for the results.

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Incorporating business requirements into your VCDX presentation

reqs2

This is a question I asked my self many time throughout our preparation to the defense and we had several iterations of it before we got to the final version, how do I incorporate the business requirements into the presentation  (By saying Business requirements I mean constraints and risks as well).

Ggenerally speaking the main presentation should be no more then 15 minutes, this is not enough to cover everything in your solution design ofcourse, not even close, that’s fine since the presentation is meant to give you and the panel points for discussion from which you can break out to your backup slides (we had 80 backup slides!). There a several good posts about creating your presentation which i used:

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How to create top notch VCDX application documents

reasoning

I don’t presume our VCDX application documents were perfect, far from it. We had holes in our design that kept me up at night, but we had pretty good damn documentation which is even more important when you write a fictitious design but not only of course.

The main thing to remember when you write the design is write it as if the IT manager of the customer is supposed to read it, there is a big chance that his technical knowledge is off and he is very worried about the business requirements being achieved. He will probably give the documents to his technical staff for review as well and they will love punching holes in it.

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To VCDX with a fictitious design – Part 2 – some lessons learned

My first post ever in this blog was To VCDX with a fictitious design – Part 1 where I gave a high level overview of my VCDX journey. In this post I want to get more into the details and lessons learned from going for the VCDX with a fully fictitious design.

I’ll start by saying, there is no such thing as a fully fictitious design, even ours was made up of bits and pieces from different projects we’ve done in the past. It’s referred to as fictitious because it is not based on one coherent project that I can point to as the design, but, our design which was fictitious was built on 3 different projects, which brings me to my first lesson learned:

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Handling sub-optimal design decisions before the VCDX defense

So you’re design got accepted for a defense, that’s great! While preparing you find out there are few things you want to change, a few “holes” in the design. Maybe it’s questionable design decisions, maybe it’s just adjustments needed or maybe typos you missed. That’s OK, relax, no design is perfect and it’s OK to have second thoughts on your design decisions, just like with a customer you need to make the required adjustments and present it, right? Well, not so fast, this is after all your VCDX on the line, too many things that you will consider wrong will make it very hard for you to defend in front of the panel. In our design we had from all the goodies, sub optimal design decisions, stupid decisions and typos. So what to do? Well I got a lot of good advice from many top VCDX’s but one I got from Michael Webster aka @vcdxnz001 and Mark Achtemichuk aka @vmMarkA were right on the mark (mark on the mark, get it?). What they told me is to prepare for this with an alternate design choice but dont forget to explain your initial reasoning for the original decision. I would just add that it would be highly advised to think hard and try defending your original decisions as much as you can, you want to minimize the amount of faults in your defense, maybe you can tie it to business requirements or constraints then it might make more sense. Remember, If you rely on a constraint as a crutch you also need to be able to explain what you would have done if you hadn’t had it (words of wisdom by Joe Silvagi aka @VMPrime) . This can be approached in several ways:
1. Keep the original decision and defend it but prepare a backup slide in case you get asked about it. I would say that this is for decisions that can make sense I’m the business contaxt mostly.
2. Call out the issue before you get asked, explain why you made this decision and explain that in hindsight it should have been something else, important to note that you want to minimize the time it you spend on it in the defense otherwise you will enter that famous rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland but with out the wonder, just wasted time you can score on other things.
3. Change the decision putting less emphasis on the original decision, this is when the decision really doesn’t make sense.

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