The VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) certification is the most elite of all certifications in the IT industry, and by far the most difficult to achieve. Written exams, preparation of a solution design that can run hundreds of pages, and having to defend all aspects of this design are all part of the certification process. Only 123 engineers across the globe have managed to obtain it thus far, and around half of those work at VMware.
The VCDX certification is not just about VMware, it’s also about servers, storage, networking and applications. The VCDX must also be able to understand business requirements and effectively translate those requirements into technical solutions. He/she must also understand the limitations of virtualization and be able to adapt technology to enable successful implementations. The certification is realistically impossible to achieve without a great deal of real-world experience.
The value of a VCDX certification to a Solution Architect is obvious. The distinction automatically opens doors in terms of job/consulting opportunities, speaking engagements and access to hard-to-reach people. It also makes them part of the tight-knit community of VCDXs around the globe who share ideas and technology.
Many VMware partners, both manufacturer and channel, do not really understand the value of a VCDX certification. Nutanix is not one of these partners. With the arrival of Michael Webster, we now have four VCDXs, ranking second only to VMware. And we continue to actively recruit still more VCDXs as well as to encourage existing employees to obtain their certification.
The primary areas of VCDX value to Nutanix include credibility, product improvement, hiring, and VMware partnership.
The large incumbent datacenter manufacturers have a long-time established business with an entrenched partner channel and huge customer base. When they speak, the media and the industry listen. Cisco, for example, was able to quickly become the world’s second leading blade manufacturer with UCS even though the company had no prior server experience.
When an early stage company such as Nutanix seeks to disrupt the entire datacenter with a new technology, it is much more difficult to grab mindshare from customers, channel partners, analysts and the industry at large. VCDXs can work where they choose. The eagerness of so many VCDXs to work with Nutanix helps provide validation for new approach to datacenter architecture. And because VCDXs tend to be passionate as well as prolific speakers, writers and social media practitioners, their Nutanix advocacy has far-reaching effects throughout the industry.
The Nutanix Distributed File System originated with a couple of the developers of GFS, including the lead scientist, who saw an opportunity to bring the advantages of true convergence to commercial and government enterprises by leveraging the hypervisor itself. Nutanix engineers who came from companies such as Google, Facebook and Oracle leverage their experience with massively scalable architectures to continually enhance Nutanix’ products and capabilities. But they don’t necessarily have the touch points of helping clients build out Nutanix-enabled enterprises.
Our VCDXs help bridge this gap because of both their broad-based knowledge and their ongoing extensive interactions with clients, partners and Nutanix field personnel. They assist our product engineers by letting them know where Nutanix is working really well and we have opportunities for improvement or enhancement.
The hiring process at Nutanix, while standardized, is also particularly rigorous in order to identify candidates with a broad base of skills. We’ve found that VCDXs are exceptional in that regard. This isn’t to say that we see the four magic letters and immediately say, “They’re really good”; VCDXs go through the same evaluation process as everyone else. But VMware’s training, testing and certification is a remarkable screener for finding the top architects. In addition, they tend to be exceptional communicators. The VCDX candidates have to defend their solution against barrage of questions from a panel of other VCDXs. How they handle themselves in defending their solution under pressure is all part of the certification process.
Hiring VCDXs also sends a clear message to the virtualization community that Nutanix is willing to make the investment to bring top talent to the organization. Great technologists tend to attract other outstanding architects and engineers who want to work with similarly able peers.
VMware is an important Nutanix partner. A lot of our clients like the VMware stack including vCD, vCloud Suite, Horizon Suite, etc. Having VCDXs on board helps us provide a very high level of pre-sales and post-sales support and strengthens our partnership with VMware.
Measuring the VCDX Value
While Nutanix is very big at identifying metrics and holding people accountable for reaching them, we have not attempted to quantify the worth of a VCDX. But everyone, from the top executives down, understands and recognizes the benefits we receive from having VCDXs on our team. And we’re working to give back to the community. We recently ran a contest to sponsor an architect in obtaining VCDX certification. We were so impressed with the responses that we ended up sponsoring two VCDX candidates.
Thanks to ChrisFendya (@ChrisFendya) of Nutanix partner Trace3 and to Lukas Lundell (@LukasLundell), Josh Odgers (@josh_odgers), Jason Langone (@langonej) and Lane Leverett (@wolfbrthr) all of Nutanix for their suggestions.