The NCX Interviews: Ayub Khan, Nutanix Senior Resident Consultant

The NCX Interviews: Ayub Khan, Nutanix Senior Resident Consultant
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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 proven their ability to design enterprise-scale solutions that support business-critical applications with service level agreements specified by business stakeholders.

Recently we caught up with new NCX, Ayub Khan, 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 about your IT background? 

I’m currently a Senior Resident Consultant with Nutanix Saudi Arabia for enterprise customers. I’m a seasoned, multi-skilled ICT professional with 18 years of rich experience and expertise in managed IT services delivery, IT projects, and customer success consulting. I have expertise in handling migrations and transitions of all volumes using in-depth knowledge of designing & implementations of data center facilities, data center technologies, IT infrastructure, IT applications, data management, and enterprise cloud.

Why did you decide to get your NCX certification? 

In early 2021 I decided to start putting time into my NCX preparation. As you can see based on the number of certifications I hold, I see value in achieving these expert level certifications. You don’t put in the time and effort to certify if you don’t associate the certification with value. Each stepping stone along the way proved that I have demonstrated specific IT skills. 

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

The NCX-MCI certification requires a real-world design that you've done, so I thought there's no better choice than taking a previous project design and migrating it to a Nutanix based solution. So I dredged up all my documentation from 3 years ago, and read it over. I was shocked to remember how complex 3-tier solutions are, and in particular the SAN/RAID/LUN configuration.

Going through my previous Nutanix project designs I was ripping out page after page of complexity. LUNs? Gone. SAN? Gone. Fibre Channel switches? Gone. Boot-from-SAN? Gone. Cisco service profiles? Gone. You get the idea. And the best part about it? The actual environment where my previous design was based on is a project that I was actively involved in migrating almost entirely to Nutanix. So my NCX-MCI had a dual purpose of both defending, and transforming a real customer from 3-tier to Nutanix simplicity. Win-Win!

My previous project data center currently hosts all of the application and database workloads on the 3-tier architecture based on the customer’s technologies and physical servers. The workloads are a mix of Microsoft and Linux Operating systems with a majority of the workloads running Microsoft Operating System. 

What tools/resources did you use to prepare for the certification and what was the NCX process like?

For anyone starting down the NCX-MCI path, the freely available NCX-MCI Exam Blueprint Guide is your Bible. It has all the topics you need to cover to properly submit and successfully defend for NCX-MCI. It is absolutely critical that you follow this to the letter and cover everything, including all of the required documents. Although all of the documents are important, to me the Architecture Guide is where you will spend the majority of your time.

In addition to studying the documentation, I conducted a few mock defense presentations with a group of qualified friends who were willing to provide honest feedback. I also read a lot of blogs from others who had been through this journey to see what they have done in the past to prepare for it. But by far the most valuable tools for me were the peer reviews and the Enterprise Cloud Solutions Design (ECSD) Boot Camp. 

After you get all of your documentation in order, next comes submission time. The application is quite detailed and requires documents you've spent probably 6-9 months working on. After submission, your documentation is scored and if it scores high enough, you are then invited to an in-person defense. Submission time is roughly 3 weeks prior to the published defense dates.

If accepted, now is time to start working on your PowerPoint slide deck for your defense. You will use this slide deck to walk the panelists through your 60 minute defense, where you will be asked questions about your design, alternatives, and why you did what you did.

What advice would you give someone who’s pursuing the NCX certification? 

Here are a few of my important points for you to consider if you’re pursuing this certification: 

  • The examiners want you to succeed, listen carefully to their responses for clues. 

  • React to their answers if something does not make sense.

  • Start with the silo you are most comfortable with after the Conceptual Model (assuming it is a deliverable for the scenario), this will get you started and then give you a chance to warm up.

  • Speak out loud, you cannot score points if you are silent! 

Are you interested in pursuing the NCX certification? Visit our website to learn more and get started.

This article was written by Karlie Beil, Customer Marketing Specialist. 

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