My thought on 800 page VCDX designs
Although I’m not participating in the VCDX program any more, I still hold it dear to my heart. Many aspiring VCDX’es approach me and seek guidance on how to successfully pass the last part of the VCDX process, the defense.
Typically this starts with the discussion on the design itself and particularly how many pages the design should be comprised off. I heard stories about people advocating 800 page designs. And that makes me laugh, but mostly cry.
Let’s go back to the essence of the program and understand that the VCDX program has been erected with the idea to validate that someone is a skilled architect. That they can assist IT-organizations into building a successful vSphere architecture. In short, it’s just a stamp of approval of your skill as an architect.
Now with that in mind, how many skilled architects hand in an 800 page vSphere design document to a customer? How many customers would accept that? We are not in the business of writing the next Lord of the Rings novel. I worked on complex and massive architectures and most designs didn’t touch 150 pages.
When reviewing such 800 page designs, I noticed it’s more a cut and paste of official documentation on how a certain features work. It’s imperative that you know the inner workings of the pillars and foundation of your architecture. But your design should not be a thesis or a showcase of your knowledge of the products.
A design should highlight the requirements, the constraints and the chosen direction and technology. It should explain the workings of the used technology in a short and concise manner. Explain how this technology meet the customer requirements and if certain constraints require you to deviate from the default settings. Document thoroughly the effect the chose design on the service levels of the applications and architecture.
I feel that some people try to portray the defense as this herculean feat. And to be honest, if you haven’t operated as an architect for multiple customers, it might feel that way. But if you are the architect that has worked on multiple designs, that recognizes the risk-awareness culture differences between companies and how to cater to this need. That can drill down to the essence and explain why a certain requirement impacts a design decision and what effect this has on service levels or other requirements you should be fine!
Try to not to see it as the Mount Everest of your career, see it passing the defense as ceremony that validates your upward path of being a great architect. Do what you've always have been doing. If you provided your customers with 100 to 200 page designs, keep on doing that and submit such a design for your VCDX defense.