The NCX Interviews: Akmal Waheed, Founder and Consulting Architect at Avancer PI Solutions

  • 29 September 2021
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The NCX Interviews: Akmal Waheed, Founder and Consulting Architect at Avancer PI Solutions
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The Nutanix Certified Expert (NCX) certification tests candidates on their ability to create and deliver Cloud-Smart solutions that leverage the Nutanix stack for Private Cloud and the best offerings from our Public Cloud partners for hybrid services.

Every NCX is an expert in their field and has the proven ability to design enterprise-scale solutions that support business-critical applications with service level agreements specified by business stakeholders.


Recently we caught up with Akmal Waheed to talk about his experience earning this expert-level certification and to get his advice for other professionals looking to earn their NCX.


Can you tell us a little bit about your IT background?

I started my career as a technical support engineer for printers at Hewlett Packard. I was promoted to support laptops, and then to enterprise servers. That’s where I got exposure to virtualization, and really where my journey started. 

I moved on to VMware, where I joined as a technical support engineer. I worked on VMware products there until 2013, until I moved on to SoftwareOne as a virtualization subject matter expert, consultant, and solution architect. I also participated in the Virtual Design Master Challenge, a competition that I would go on to win. These experiences gave me a great start and led to me starting a technical blog called vdm-001 on Blogspot, which I maintain to this day. 

I went on to join Dell EMC in 2014, where I primarily worked on projects concerning automation, as well as private and hybrid cloud. Afterwards, I joined Nutanix in 2017 as a senior consultant before being promoted to a consulting architect. I was the main point of contact for cloud & automation projects in the APAC region. I was also working on projects on the Nutanix platform, including migrations and disaster recovery, as well as other projects with additional Nutanix products. 

In September 2020, I started my own venture, avancerPI Solutions, and we were onboarded as a services partner with Nutanix shortly thereafter. 

I hold over 40 certifications and over 15 with Nutanix, including NCP (Nutanix Certified Professional) and NCM (Nutanix Certified Master). I hold all of the Nutanix services certifications available today, as well as many of the sales and technology certifications as well. I also have over 15 certifications from VMware, and others such as DellEMC Expert-Cloud Architect & Certified SCRUM Master.


Can you walk us through the process of getting your NCX-MCI certification? 

It starts with delivering some complex projects. I was playing the role of architect, consultant, and implementation specialist. I went through the Enterprise Cloud Solution Design boot camp, which was a great help. It gives you complete exposure to what is needed. The Exam Blueprint Guide serves as the primary guide, and the consulting experience is a great help as it ensures that you collect all the necessary information like requirements and constraints from the customer before you make design decisions based on said criteria. Throughout each project, you are mitigating risk, which is also a crucial element to the process. You also must make sure you consider design principles such as availability, scalability, simple manageability, security, and resiliency in your solution.

Of course, there were the mentors who supported me. I would like to highlight David Quinney. He gave me good exposure to the certification process and was a great resource throughout this journey. 

What is your opinion of the NCX process, and what resources did you use to prepare? 

Getting the chance to deliver a project end to end is key. You need to be able to follow the blueprint, and within the one hour presentations, you need to be able to know more than what you are presenting. If a panelist asks you a question, you need to be in a position to provide technical answers and justify your positions. Throughout the process, I utilized a multitude of blogs, such as Josh Odgers’ articles, articles from the NEXT community, and solution guides on the Nutanix site.  

Overall, the journey was great. It’s not like any other exam because you are standing in front of panelists defending your design. It’s not about right or wrong, it's about justifying your decisions and meeting customer requirements. The oral portion of the exam was great as you are challenged by the panelists and need to provide an immediate answer.


Why did you decide to get your NCX-MCI certification, and how do you see it helping your career?  

I had two main reasons behind getting this certification. First, it’s not an easy certification to get. You are defending your design in front of experts, and it takes a lot of preparation. Secondly, as a services partner, this certification has been tremendously helpful in getting customer’s confidence. Very few partners are involved in the design phase. By securing this certification, we build confidence from both Nutanix and our customers. 

On a personal note, it has given me the courage to go into unknown territory. It has given me the ability to look at things differently, not just on the technical side, but regarding all kinds of day to day activities. The more time spent planning, the simpler the execution will be. I think this formula is key to this certification. Architecting and designing is very important, and I think this also applies to other activities in day to day life. 

» Click here to find out more about the NCX-MCI certification. 


This article was written by Neil Grasso, Customer Marketing Specialist. 


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