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Nutanix NPX: Multi-Hypervisor Enterprise Architect Certification

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

The Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX) certification seeks to validate IT professionals who are qualified to design, build, deploy, and operate virtual computing environments built around the company's platforms and technologies.

On St. Paddy's day, Nutanix announced its Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX) credential.

Nutanix offers a family of hyperconverged solutions that deliver enterprise computing and storage utilizing commodity servers, where each server runs some standard hypervisor (ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM) along with the Nutanix Operating System (NOS). Servers run Intel processors, along with standard server RAM, SSDs and conventional hard disks, and operate in clusters that share a single storage pool. Nutanix products are available directly from Nutanix, or through Dell.

Because anything related to virtualization and by extension, cloud computing, is white-hot at the moment, any and all such certifications automatically pop up on my radar. And because Nutanix works with multiple hypervisors -- namely, Microsoft's Hyper-V, VMware's vSphere ESXi, and the Linux KVM -- it's about as platform-agnostic as hypervisor platforms come nowadays. Add to that the storage mapping that Nutanix provides to support all of those environments, and their powerful mapping via NFS (for KVM), iSCSI (for VMware and Hyper-V), or SMB (mostly for Hyper-V) into each hypervisor, and you've got a high-performance, high-powered, and reliable cluster-based environment in which to stand up virtual infrastructures, platforms, servers, applications, or whatever else you might want virtualized. Hence, the great potential appeal and value for an NPX certification.

MORE: How To Become A Cloud Architect

The folks at Nutanix have obviously put lots of time, effort, thought and money into this certification program. They claim that the program will teach and validate "extensive architectural capabilities" using "written exams, a web-scale solution design, hands-on lab and design exercises, and a live peer review." To me, this smacks of performance-based learning, if not also performance-based testing, that's reminiscent of the philosophy and design of the higher-level Red Hat and VMware credentials. Another requirement also rings a bell: "applicants must be expert in at least two hypervisor platforms."

The "scenarios covered" recitation is also pretty interesting: "graduates will be able to help businesses meet the growing demand for hyper converged and multi-hypervisor use cases such as big data, OpenStack, and test-dev, will advise enterprises which technology is most appropriate for their IT environment, and determine how to use that technology as efficiently as possible."

Mark Brunstad, manager of Nutanix's certification training and delivery organization, carries this theme still further in his description of the program's goals:

"The market needs proven veterans who know how to successfully migrate companies to the same kind of efficient, scalable infrastructure used by Google, Facebook and Amazon. Our graduates will know how to deploy container technologies like Docker and Rocket and how to build infrastructure that supports legacy applications with OpenCompute economics."

Beyond the buzzwords and hype, this actually sounds like pretty good stuff. 

And certainly, Nutanix's methodology represents an understanding of how top-notch IT certification programs get built nowadays. They used a team of subject matter experts to define the curriculum, coverage, and test items, and worked with an experienced PhD psychometrician to develop their assessment and testing instruments. Furthermore, they use a two-stage examination process to vet candidates that includes a detailed program application, written testing, and a peer-managed design review to examine and provide feedback on candidates' skills, knowledge, and performance. There's even a mentoring element, to hook candidates up with experts in the enterprise architecture arena to make sure they learn what they need to know en route to earning the NPX.

Registration through an application page is required to learn more about the NPX, after which an email with a link to a PDF Preparation Guide and a detailed application form will be sent to whatever e-mail address you provide during the registration process. The NPX comes with some very hefty pre-requisites, as shown in this diagram:

Source: NPX Preparation Guide, pg. 6Source: NPX Preparation Guide, pg. 6Qualifying for NPX candidacy comes with some pretty high hurdles, including MCSE, CCAR, CCC PCSA, RHCSA, VCDX and TOGAF depending on your points of entry.

Obviously, there's more to this program than I can present in a single blog post, but it certainly shows lots of heft and promise. If a high-end virtualization/enterprise architect/cloud computing credential sounds appealing, we've got a new entry in that sweepstakes that looks like it has some real legs. Check it out!

To learn more about Nutanix new certification, visit the NPX program page and the company's official press release on the news.