I am very proud to have been selected to be part of a team of absolute superstars who in the last few months have developed what I believe will be the new standard in Enterprise Architecture certifications, the Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX).
The NPX was developed under the guidance of Lisa O’Leary, a PhD psychometrician and recognized authority in the development of expert-level panel-based assessments for the IT industry. This was a real eye opener for me into how to create a scoring rubric and how to ensure different examiners score as evenly as possible to ensure consistent results.
The NPX certification (along with Nutanix nu.School Education) is designed to produce and certify the best of the best enterprise architects with the main goal of ensuring customers get the best architects to design and deliver solutions which solve real world business problems while maximizing value and reducing ongoing costs.
During the development of NPX, myself and other members of the group basically decided that none of us should be able achieve NPX without each of us putting in significant time and effort to improve our skills, especially as it is required to demonstrate expertise both architecturally and hands on in multiple hypervisors and vendor software stacks. Considering the talent in the group, this was a big call!
I personally am enjoying the challenge of preparing my submission for the NPX based on a large scale project I am working on at the moment, and look forward to submitting my application and hopefully being invited to the Nutanix Design Review (NDR) to defend. I can already tell you this is more comprehensive than any single design I have done to date, and it will be a blast to defend.
So what will being an NPX mean?
Certified graduates of the NPX Program will have a very unique set of skills, including the demonstrated ability to deliver enterprise-class Web-scale solutions using multiple hypervisors and vendor software stacks on the Nutanix platform (VMware® vSphere®, Microsoft® Hyper-V®, and KVM).
This hypervisor agnostic certification for Enterprise Architects is a first in the industry; our groundbreaking approach allows an NPX the freedom to design cutting-edge Web-scale solutions for customers based solely on their business needs.
The depth and breadth of the solution design and delivery skills validated through our peer-vetted program make NPX the new standard for excellence. In accordance with program goals every NPX will be a superb technologist, a visionary evangelist for Web-scale, and a true Enterprise Architect – capable of designing and delivering a wide range of cutting-edge solutions; custom built to support the business goals of the Global 2000 and government agencies in every region of the world.
So what’s required to achieve NPX?
The first prerequisite is the Nutanix Platform Professional (NPP) certification. The NPP is really the entry level certification showing core Nutanix knowledge.
As per the NPX Application, the NPX certification is a two-stage process;
Stage 1 being a review of a candidate’s NPX Program Application.
If a candidate’s application is accepted they will be invited to participate in the NPX Design Review (NDR).
Now at this stage you’re probably saying, this doesn’t seem that hard, right?
Well, here is an idea of the required documentation:
- A current state and operational readiness assessment
- A Web-scale migration and transition plan
- Documentation of specific business requirements driving the solution design
- Documentation of assumptions that impacted the solution design
- Documentation of design constraints that impacted the design and delivery of the solution
- Documentation describing risks identified in the design and delivery of the solution and how those risks
- A solution architecture including a conceptual/logical and physical design with appropriate diagrams and descriptions all functional components of the solution
- Documentation of operational procedures and verification
The documentation set goes well beyond any certification I am aware of, but more importantly demonstrates a candidates ability to produce documentation which ensures the solution can be implemented , validated and operated in the event the lead architect is unavailable. This is a very high standard of documentation which I’ve rarely seen in my career.
In addition, 3 Professional references will also be required to validate the candidates experience.
Stage 2 being the NDR is modeled after an academic viva voce defense (live, oral exam) and requires candidates to present their solution to, and answer questions posed to them by NPX-Certified Examiners (NCE). The NDR also includes a series of hands-on exercises, which must be completed by the candidate. Successful completion of both stages is required to earn the NPX credential.
The NPX has a strict policy regarding fictitious solution designs.
NPX candidates may not submit wholly fictitious designs.
I pushed for this during the development of the certification as in my opinion, an enterprise architect should have a portfolio of work to choose from which negates the requirements to create a fictitious design.
In saying that, Partially fictitious designs are permitted when an existing design requires additions or enhancements in order to demonstrate competence in required knowledge areas (e.g., a backup or DR solution may be added if this component was outside the scope of the original design).
Adapting an existing 3-tier solution design to the Nutanix platform is also permitted. In either case the submitted design should contain a majority of solution components architected to support applications with service level agreements specified by actual business stakeholders.
The NDR itself requires the completion of an exercise involving a live Nutanix environment and completion of a design scenario. Both exercises will require demonstration of NPX-level solution design and delivery skills with a second solution stack/hypervisor.
An NPX candidate is permitted to choose the hypervisor you will be tested on during your NDR (it must be different from the hypervisor utilized in the submitted solution design). The hypervisor selected will be used for the Hands-on and Design scenarios during the NDR.
The Hypervisor choices are:
- VMware® vSphere®
- Microsoft® Hyper-V®
I would encourage all enterprise architects to stay tuned for the release of more NPX details via the Nutanix nu.School website and take on the challenge of NPX and become a better architect in the process.
The Nutanix Platform Expert Official Certification Guide is currently being written and should be released at Nutanix .NEXT this coming June.
I really enjoyed working with such a talented group of people in developing NPX, and I look forward to being a part of the program firstly as a candidate and as a certified examiner in the future to ensure the quality of Enterprise Architects in the industry only gets better!
Here is a group shot of on the final day of NPX development in San Jose.
Names (Left to right): Derek Seaman , Steven Poitras, Jon Kohler, Ray Hassan, Bas Raayman, Raymon Epping, Josh Odgers, Michael Webster, Artur Krzywdzinski, Samir Roshan, Lane Laverett, Mark Brunstad and Richard Arsenian.
Absent for Photo: Magnus Andersson , Lisa O’Leary, PhD Psychometrician.