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From an initiative of Gregg Robertson, this is a short interview. The original page is at: VCDX Spotlight- Andrea Mauro

How did you get into using VMware?

As most people I’ve started of course with VMware Workstation and honestly not with the ESX 1.0 (I remember that was not possible, at least in my Country) to have an evaluation or trial version.

My first virtualization project (for academic purposes) was building a virtual honeynet with Linux UML (it was the end of 2001). My first virtualization project based for a production system virtualization solution was instead with VMware ESX 2.5.

After that I’ve follow a lot of virtualization projects and I’ve started also to give some contribution to the VMTN Community (my nick is AndreTheGiant). This probably has open new perspectives, outside the limits of my Country and my native language (that isn’t English). For example, I’ve tried to applied with success to the VCDX3 path and also to vExpert 2010, 2011 and 2012.

What made you decide to do the VCDX?

The first time that I hear about VCDX was in the middle of 2008, and I filled the VCDX Qualification Review on August 21, 2008, just for curiosity and as a challenge.

I was thinking (wrong) that there were some intermediate certifications for each step (now there are the VCAP certification, but only for the VCDX4 path), and I was very interested to prove myself knowledge on the Admin exam.

I also was thinking that the VCDX certification was only of VMware gurus and only for big enterprise environments… But I’ve reconsidering that also in a medium project you may have several aspects and consideration that could be similar in a big project. You have only to design something that could scale.

How long did it take you to complete the whole VCDX journey?

I filled the VCDX Qualification Review on August 21, 2008. But the entire VCDX path was not available yet.

On September 8th 2008 I receive this mail with the blueprint of the Admin exam:

“Thank you for you interest in the VMware Certified Design Expert Program. We have received your pre-registration survey and are working to schedule more Enterprise Administration Exams. As soon as we have more dates and locations scheduled, we will send you the appropriate information.”

On February 12th 2009 I receive another e-mail with the great opportunity to take the Admin exam at VMworld Europe in Cannes. I schedule the exam at February 23rd 2009. On March 19 I receive the report with the result… PASS!!!

At this point was clear for me, that the intermediate steps are not useful… So I tried the full path and start studying for the Design exam. Unfortunately I lose the opportunity to take the beta exam of the Design exam… So I had to wait until the official exam was available. So I take the exam on October 23rd 2009, and I pass at the first attempt.

Then I scheduled the Defense step at the Partner Exchange 2010 at Feb 10th 2010.

So is more than one year… but with several dead-time due to the non-availability on the exams or the date (without them 3-6 months could be reasonable). A disadvantage to be in the early phase!

What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing the VCDX accreditation?

VCDX is not a status… it is just a path where the journey is more important than the final result (and also if you fail it could be useful). And you have never finished… VCDX follows the vSphere products and you have to study and pass other exams to upgrade it.

It’s probably one of the hardest certifications, for the required time, for the type of steps (there are practical labs in the VCAP-DCA, questions and design in the VCAP-DCD, design project, presentation, discussions, … really a lot of capacities are tested in this certification), for the coverage of the arguments (not strictly only VMware related).

And it’s also a way to approach and think to your virtualization projects.

Maybe today you are not ready for this certification, but from VCDX4 there are intermediate certifications (the VCAP exams), so you can just start the journey and then reconsider your goals.

If you could do the whole VCDX journey again what would you do differently?

Good question! Probably the same.

But I have to admit that know is a “little” simpler (compared to the first years): lot of documentation, candidates experiences, hints, examples, workshops, … this could really help in the preparation. So you could be more focus on what you have to do, and not also on what you could expect.

Now there are also several other products that you can integrate in a VCDX design and discuss in the defense. Could be another interesting opportunity.

Life after the VCDX? How did your company respond? Was it worth it?

Basically my professional life has not changed at all, but this was my choice. After the certification I’ve received several interesting proposal, but I like my jobs and I’ve chosen (for this period) to remain in the “same boat”.

I work in a small company, but I’m the co-founder of this company so it is something that I feel is mine.


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.