The purpose of this article would to share all my 3 attempts and the experience I have gained and each time I always feel I could do better and, Yes I can really do better but it's already over if you know what I meant. I have improved my design with many iterations each time comments were given what I was weak in.
This is purely my own personal experience and it will differ for different individual.
I submitted 4 times of defenses as early as 2011. Back then I just moved from IBM to British Telcom and I just tried my luck with one of my design document for defense in Germany with a payment of USD300. Well of course I was rejected with comments provided on my proposal content. Indeed these comments were good. I went through my document bit by bit and improved on it.
The first time I submitted and got through the technical document assessment was for the defense in Canada in 2012. I was excited at least my document got accepted this time. Meaning it has some quality else I won't be invited to the defense panel. 15 hours different from where I come from was not in advantage to me. I arrived few days earlier to adapt to the hours different. This was my first time in a defense and was not really sure what to expect. Was grill deep into Networking and mind went blank. First section after, I can physically feel my brain in my head. I did a post of this. Of course I didn't went through. I was caught off guard on questions outside vSphere.
Second attempt was during VMworld 2012, same as usual after receiving the comments on why I didn't do well in my panel, I improved further on my presentation and as well as my document. This time it was 13 hours different. To be frank, the time was affecting me this time round. I really couldn't perform as well. And this time I was deeply questioned on Storage which was my weakest spot. And attempt was also a failure.
I decided to attempt my last when it appears in Singapore this time round where the last time it was here was in 2009. This time, I am already losing lots of touch with post sales and mind went blank and I also couldn't remember some of my content of my proposal. This was all my own fault been bad at memorizing and having to do my daily update of the latest version of vSphere to my customers really messed up my brain.
The overall experience in every attempt got me to think deeper. Honestly I learn more every time it helps in my work during my presales engagement technically but perhaps not as applicable as a post sale consultant.
The forums and the blueprint that are sent to all the candidates when you register for the defense are a must to read. The videos from certification here is also very good reference. It helps me to redo my presentation style.
Be very prepared! Know your document inside out. You must be able to iterate what you have submitted. Ask if you do not understand any questions been asked. Think clearly before answering. I did twice the mistake in my 2 attempts giving a wrong answer after giving it to realize my mistake. Rather take sometime to think in your head to answer correctly then to give a wrong one and be penalized. Lastly, know everything you have put into the design not just vSphere. You need to know well all aspects that you have place in be it servers, storage and network. You can be tested by everything here. Even to the deepest technical questions on why this settings and not the other. You need to know the details.
You will get deep dive questions if there ain't any more questions the panel have on your design. That was what I felt I encountered even though I attended the bootcamp hearing that there won't be deep dive questions but more on design.
I personally feel that having no deep dive questions would not be possible. A cynical cycle might appear just like the army for all Singaporean have to go through as as a trainee. Your instructor plays hard on you, when you become an instructor you might inherit that and play hard on your trainee.
How your panelist behave is subjective. The facilitator is just to watch the rules. He/she is not technical and will not be be aware if the panelist is been "nasty" to you.
In summary, I felt I didn't do well in any of my attempts and I lack the technical knowledge in many aspect like storage and networking. Also my design could be graded as too simple but comments would never tell you that and I have still submitted the same for all attempts.
Nevertheless, I encourage those who are familiar with vSphere to give an attempt. Especially post sales consultant who experience it day in day out. Do not be discourage by it. Even if you have no intention to achieve the certification, an experience of this sort is hard to come by. If you are doing other roles you might just need more preparation work definitely.
Wishing all future participants all the best.