Yesterday I stopped by the VCDX town hall to catch up with some old friends and see the state of things since I left VMware. Some of the things I am going to say may upset some people. I bit my tongue a little yesterday afternoon, but as I was thinking about it, now I think a few elephants in the room may need to be said. I will start by saying I have been a VCDX since 2009 and I have long been a supporter of it. What I am about to say is not to be negative, it’s simply a pragmatic view of things. Let’s start off with a few data points. I will admit I don’t know how to solve all the things I am going to point out. Frankly I tried when I was the VCDX Evangelist for 18 months.
- The Program has been around since 2008/2009 so next year it will be nearly a decade old
- There is 257 VCDX’s worldwide
- They certify on average 30ish new VCDX’s a year
- The Panelists have full-time jobs and volunteer for panels
- VMware employees only (Today) are allowed to serve on panels
- Most people agree that reaching 1000 VCDX’s make it critical mass
- Most customers don’t even know what a VCDX is or means
With these points in mind let’s be honest about some of them. There has been many feelings on the VCDX brand. Most VCDX’s yesterday admitted they rarely even mention it to customers. Also most customers if you mentioned it probably still don’t know what the heck it is. So the question is after 10 years why is there still very little brand recognition? How long do you go without real brand awareness? How do you gain it?
Let’s address the others really all at once because it’s tied together. It’s simple math about scale. If 1000 VCDX’s is critical mass and currently in the last few years 30 on average have been certified that’s TWENTY-FIVE more years to reach 1000. Even if you could certify 100 per year that’s still more than SEVEN years! This is the elephant in the room in these conversations that nobody wants to say or point out. Due to the fact that panelists are full-time employees with other responsibilities and volunteer it is very limiting on how many panels you can do.
Factor into this that the years above is assuming EVERY candidate would pass. So really how many panels do you need to hold in a year to get 100 people to pass? Honestly…..a shit load more than is even possible with the number of available panelists. It’s a people problem. Now, what if you had “full-time” panelists? Maybe that would help, but do we have to ask ourselves if the panel model itself really even scales to meet the ultimate goal of hitting critical mass? Is there another way it can be done? Honestly I am not sure. I was one of the supporters of remote defenses, but the people problem still exists. You need more bodies and you don’t get them without more VCDX’s and more volunteers.
Look, in 2009 when I got mine I was extremely proud of my accomplishment. I did it for myself and nobody else as do most people. I am simply doing what I tend to do best……asking the hard questions and pointing out a pragmatic view of things. I am not just trying to be a hater of the program, I am still a VCDX. In fact yesterday I was the lowest number in the room at #37 which I still think is pretty cool. I know a lot of people have dedicated years to achieving the certification and supporting it and I am not trying to detract from that. All I am simply asking is where does it go? Can it sustain like this with customers rarely even knowing what it is or a lack luster brand recognition after a decade?
I realize this may spark a lot of conversation and controversy, that’s not the intent. It is to spark some critical thinking by folks on if this is sustainable, and how in the heck does it make it to critical mass like everyone wants in less than 25 years at the current pace. Do the math yourself it simply does not add up right now.