I recently read this article on The Register about the VCDX certification, which was contributed to by Michael Webster. Generally I find that articles around certification focus on a two key themes:
What’s involved with obtaining the certification?
What are the benefits of obtaining the certification?
That this article was no different was no real surprise. What did surprise me was some of the feedback the article received on Twitter. The flavour of the article was questioned, as were the use of the words “brutal”, “interrogation” and “inquisition”, which looking at it a second time, I can see may be perceived poorly.
But for me, these words conjured a memory of my past, watching black belt gradings when I trained in Hapkido. The process in this case was to run those grading ragged, make them spar, throw some more anaerobic stuff at them, make them spar… and the process continued. To those who knew no better, all they could see was that these people were being forced (unfairly) to fight when they had very little to no energy. For those who had been around a little longer, they recognised that these people were being asked to demonstrate their skills under pressure – to show that their journey to this point had instilled in them the ability to respond not just when the situation was perfect, but also when it was tough. The process required technique, heart and a solid base of training.
This was the imagery that the article gave to me. That just because you have reached this point, panelists will not go easy on you. That you will be placed under pressure so that the panelists can see how you will handle yourself in the real world, when your decisions are questioned and your customers and their architects/engineers are asking you why you didn’t do things another way. For me, it illustrated that this is not just another multiple choice exam – that it requires commitment, real world experience and support. Sure, commenting that Michael has a Porsche in his garage comes off as a bit crass, but again this just seemed to illustrate a point – obtaining your VCDX will give you some great opportunities that you may not otherwise have.
I guess this just illustrates the power of perception. Maybe I’m biased. I’ve met Michael a few times now and know his contribution to the community, including VCDX Bootcamps, work on an SSL certificate management appliance, and his ongoing commitments to educating people about the virtualisation of business critical apps. At the end of the day, these contributions are what separate the men from the boys.
Thankyou to all those (VCDX or otherwise) who make our community great.