Using VCDX Techniques to Develop New Skills

By Staff Contributor on September 23, 2015


IT is full of buzzwords. DevOps, SDN, NFV, CI, big data, SDS, hybrid Cloud: the list goes on and on. It’s hard keeping up with all of these new technologies, and choosing the ones that are relevant for you and your career development is even harder.

Now, I’m not here to tell you which trend you need to bet your career on. I’m here to show you two concepts that can help you define your career strategy and navigate the perfect storm of new technology.

To sketch why aligning your career development efforts with these new technologies is relevant, let’s look at this website’s navigation menu.


See how there’s a very strict separation between networks, systems, and virtualization? I think this separation limits us in developing relevant and future-proof skills and knowledge. It all interweaves in these software-defined days, and figuring out exactly which intersection of technologies is your sweet spot for career advancement is pretty hard!

Let’s see if we can simplify this a little, though. As a VCDX-certified architect, I was trained in using design rationales to structure my thinking, decision process, and design documents.

I use this to summarize and simplify the considerations that I need to take into account when designing an IT infrastructure and gives insights into the impact and compromises following a decision. It helps me backtrack my thinking, allowing for easy reconsideration when circumstances change and limit the ripple effect.

When applied to deciding which career path to follow, the rationale might look like this:
Consideration: Do I work toward VCP-NV or VCP-DCV?s
Choice: VCP-NV.
Justification: Because I already have decent experience in the DCV area and want to expand my horizons to find my sweet spot.
Impact: I will devote time working toward a network virtualization certification; cannot spend time on other certification. Will for now not be able to work toward VCP-DCV, delaying my plans to achieve VCAP-DCA before the end of 2016.
References: See “Is achieving VCAP-DCA before the end of 2016 realistic?”

And to complete the example:
Consideration: Is achieving VCAP-DCA before the end of 2016 realistic?
Choice: No.
Justification: Because I will work on VCP-NV in 2015 first, I don’t think achieving VCAP-DCA before the end of 2015 is realistic.
Impact: I will attain more broadly applicable knowledge and have a better basic understanding of different areas of the data center.
References: See “Do I work toward VCP-NV or VCP-DCV?”

In this way, you can decide, point-by-point, what the most valid route to your career sweet spot is. But how do you decide on the longer-term goals in your career?


This is where fellow vExpert and VMUG Leader Josh Atwell comes in. He has presented the notion of applying design principles to “architect the agile career” where he adds even more VCDX goodness to the mix.

The principles he talks about are:

  • Requirements
  • Assumptions
  • Constraints
  • Risks

You can use these four pillars to start designing your career, adding in minimum requirements (such as location of your ideal job or promotion opportunities), non-negotiable constraints (minimum salary or paid vacation time), assumptions (culture compatibility and amount of freedom in working hours), and risks (will you like a new job or will you have a supporting manager).

Using both concepts together allows unexpected opportunities to arise. Using the rationales you documented for each shorter-term step, you can circle back to any decision to effectively adjust for twists along the way without losing sight of your longer-term goals.

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