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Virtual Design Master 5 - Season Winner Chris Porter Q&A | I'm All vIRTUAL

Virtual Design Master 5 – Season Winner Chris Porter Q&A

Give a big shout out for this year winner, Mr. Chris Porter AKA VDM005. Here is my Q&A with Chris and his takeaways from this season.

VDM005, Chris, started slow. He tried to find him self through the first couple of challenges but he also showed great resiliency, great architecture skills, he was the one that understood best the Conceptual/Logical/Physical model. But the top two qualities I think stood out were the fact he did not took himself too seriously and was relaxed and easy going (or at least appeared so :-P) and showed a great deal of not been afraid to go out of his comfort zone which was something that was very important to me as a judge! Congratulations Chris for taking the crown!!!


  1. What was the best thing about the Virtual Design Master experience for you?
    I think the best thing was the path the competition took in encouraging us to look at solutions above the virtualization layer. Which meant looking at areas such as CI/CD, schedulers, source code management and infrastructure automation.Aside from that, there were so many other great things about the experience; such as being part of the VDM community, especially the impromptu discussion group struck up with the other UK based competitors. It was really good to get the motivation to play with a bunch of cool tech that I had had on my ‘To Investigate’ List for too long. And getting a much better understanding of Conceptual/Logical/Physical design and the chance to practice that understanding each week. Perhaps perversely, I enjoyed the defense each week, having the chance to chat with your peers about the technology ideas in your head was lots of fun.
  2. What was the hardest part for you?
    Finding the time. Each week presented its own juggling between long standing commitments, whether it was busy weekends away or deadlines at work. I had to find the time wherever possible which meant getting the train for my commute to get 20 minutes on the laptop rather than cycling to work or heading out at lunch to get some dedicated time. 
  3. What are your top 3 takeaways? 

    Don’t under estimate yourself and always look at taking the opportunity which challenges you. Virtual infrastructure architecture has changed forever. To deliver the real value you need to be looking beyond just virtualizing servers. The extended VMware community is such a great thing to be part of and have the opportunity to contribute to. 

  4. What was the challenge you struggled the most with and why?
    Definitely the last challenge. I felt things slipping beyond me when initially choosing a solution, but I felt I had caught up when I settled on Rancher. I then got stuck with the automation of infrastructure and focused too much on that for too long. That meant I felt increasingly stressed as the deadline got closer.
  5. What would be your recommendation for future VDM’s candidates? Any study and learning tips you can share with the community?
    Get something down on paper early. Setup Vagrant, Git and Visual Studio Code ahead of time and learn their basics. Submit something, anything. Ask on Twitter and/or Slack for people willing to review your work. Use Trello to organize the tasks each week. Use OneNote to organize your thoughts. The submission isn’t the end of that week’s work, use the time to blog, study the tech in your submission and reread your documents. Prepare a defense and time yourself to make sure it fits.
  6. What unknown tech you had a chance to work with you enjoyed the most?
    Cloud Foundry and Concourse – the concepts behind these technologies make a huge amount of sense. 
  7. What are your future plans? How would you leverage the new knowledge you acquired?
    Future plans for me are VCP 6.5, then VCAP Design, then potentially VCAP Deploy and we’ll see what happens after that :). I’d like to complete the 3 AWS Associate exams at some point as well (I currently hold two) and potentially look towards SA Pro. And maybe starting on Azure at some point next year.On leveraging new knowledge, having recently been promoted into an architecture role, I’m applying the design methodologies every day that I’ve had an accelerated chance to practice with VDM. From a technology perspective, container management with things like Rancher and Kubernetes, and PaaS with Cloud Foundry, are definitely something I’ll be encouraging within my company.
  8. Which mascot was your favorite?
    Let’s go with Cookie Monster, especially as you still had a mascot even though you were in the States that week!

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