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 Mikhail Kisselyov 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?
My IT career began right after college when I joined JSC Kazakhtelecom, the largest telecommunication operator in Kazakhstan, as a Junior IT Engineer in 2007. Today I work as the Head of Regional IT Infrastructure Department. In addition to managing a team of Systems and Network Engineers, I also work with different types of server hardware, virtualization solutions, enterprise-grade storage, backup systems, HCI, SDS, microservices, Kubernetes, and so on. I began using Nutanix in 2017.
How do you see NCX helping your career?
When you learn, especially when you prepare for an expert-level exam, you become a better specialist and it certainly helps you add value in your role and provides new career opportunities.
As I prepared for the NCX certification, I not only learned more about Nutanix, but I also learned a lot about design and architecture. All of the skills and methodology you learn during the Enterprise Cloud Solution Design (ECSD) Boot Camp can be applied in different areas with all vendors and solutions.
Why did you decide to get your NCX certification?
In early 2021 when I became a Nutanix Technology Champion, I learned of the NPX program during the kick-off meeting and was highly impressed. From there, I decided to pursue the certification.
To be honest, I wasn't sure I could pass the NPX exam, but I started to learn, prepare, and booked my spot in the ECSD boot camp. Then within a few months, the new NCX exam came out as a stepping stone to NPX. I thought that would be a good starting point for my expert certification, so that became my new goal.
What other certifications do you hold (Nutanix and others)?
In addition to the NCX certification, I hold the Nutanix Certified Associate (NCA), Nutanix Certified Professional - Data Services (NCP-DS), Nutanix Certified Professional - End User Computing (NCP-EUC), and Nutanix Certified Master - Multicloud Infrastructure (NCM-MCI). I’m also a VMware Certified Professional in Data Center Virtualization.
Can you walk us through the process of getting your NCX certification?
The process is simple. First, it’s required to achieve NCA, NCP, and NCM certifications (ex NCAP). All of those certifications I achieved during beta programs in 2019-2020. Then you need to participate in the ECSD Boot Camp, where you’ll learn about design methodology and participate in designing solutions based on real-world scenarios. During the boot camp, I learned that WHY you're doing something is also important as HOW you would do it. Also, it was great practice for presenting your solution in front of teammates. At the end of the boot camp you’ll receive the NCX presentation template.
I consider ECSD one of the best trainings I’ve participated in during my career. I wrote about my ECSD experience in my blog About how I visited the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Solution Design vBoot Camp. It’s written in Russian, but it can be easily translated with Google (translate button in the bottom left corner).
The next step is to choose the project on which this presentation will be based on and create a presentation of your project according to the NCX Exam Blueprint Guide. The presentation should include answers to the blueprint's questions about different aspects of your project. It should also include conceptual and logical designs, identified requirements, constraints, assumptions, risks and mitigation, sizing, backups, migration plan and other topics included in the Blueprint (about 20 in total). Here’s an important part - you need to have an answer for WHY every used decision in your project.
I prepared my presentation with two main helpers - NCX Exam Blueprint Guide and presentation template. I didn’t rush, and this process took about 6 months. Now I can say that this process can take a month or two depending on the project.
When the presentation is ready, the next step is to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for review. If everything is ok, you will be invited to defend it.
This is a live 1.5-hour process when you present your solution to a group of panelists and answer their questions. This was one of my biggest fears because I have a poor practice of spoken English, but I did it and it went smoothly! After the defense, you will receive results within a short time. In my case, it was a few minutes.
The last step - celebrate!
What tools/resources did you use to prepare for the certification, and what is your opinion of the NCX process?
I wrote an article about my NCX experience and left advice in it A couple of tips for preparing for the Nutanix Certified Expert - Multicloud Infrastructure exam. It is also in Russian.
Here are the main resources I used:
ECSD Boot Camp: You’ll learn a lot about methodology, design, and presentation.
Exam Blueprint Guide: The guide outlines what you need to include in your presentation. If you use the guide, you’ll know what you already did and what you still need to work on. It's a great check-list for any project.
NCX Presentation Template: It will help to build a proper presentation
Nutanix Hybrid Cloud Reference Architecture: This will show you how to build a good virtual infrastructure using Nutanix.
Documentation: Nutanix and 3rd party vendors used in the project
Books from IT Architect Series: I would especially recommend Foundation in the Art of Infrastructure Design.
I also want to recommend creating an action plan according to the Exam Blueprint Guide and using it regularly during preparation.
What advice would you give someone who is pursuing the NCX certification?
I want to share the advice I received: “Go for it. Regardless of the result, your skills will improve a hundred-fold by attempting NCX.” The hardest part of this journey is to start and a good action plan and timeline will help. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help, if you need advice or even a review of your presentation.
I also want to say Thank You to Nutanix for a large number of opportunities for learning and self-development, and very often for free. I would also like to thank Artur Krzywdzinski for the knowledge gained at the boot camp and for his help in preparing for the NCX certification.
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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