I listened to a recent Nutanix .NEXT Community Podcast (Episode #6) that had Mark Brunstad talking about the education and certification plans of Nutanix. Very interesting, it confirms a speculative post I wrote last year after VMworld US 2014 based upon rumours I heard around the Blogger’s Area. There is also Steve Kaplan’s blog post that alludes to this.
UPDATE: There was quite a bit of discussion on Twitter about the “Master’s” and “PhD.” parallels. Whilst there are some similarities, these references are merely poetic licence on my part. The main thrust of this article is that “Infrastructure Architecture Design” needs to evolve and become mainstream. In the future, if a University was to offer vendor-agnostic courses and degree levels all the way up to PhD., then that would be amazing.
If the VCDX is a “Master’s in VMware Infrastructure Architecture Design”, then Nutanix are planning on a “PhD. in Vendor-Agnostic Infrastructure Architecture Design”.
To my knowledge, having a Design Certification program that is vendor-agnostic has never been done before. For Nutanix to initiate this makes sense, since they are not afraid to “trail-blaze” a new way of doing things.
Mark alludes to Nutanix partnering with other technology Vendors for an industry-wide collaboration, which is a brilliant idea. As long as they can protect the inner workings of the program with NDAs, it would work. He also hints at the possibility of involving Universities to really bring infrastructure architecture design into academia. This could provide the pool of resources and experts that would be required to cover the technology permutations and combinations.
During the VMware Communities Roundtable Podcast (Episode #291 – 19:00min mark), John Arrasjid talked about co-authoring the upcoming “Art of Infrastructure Design” book which should be released in the coming months. His intention is to provide a vendor-agnostic manual for infrastructure architecture design. This will provide the first step in providing a tome that could be used by Academia to mainstream infrastructure architecture design for university under-graduates.
There is also the Virtual Design Master competition (37:00min mark of Episode #291) which allows non-designers to compete for prizes with some very fun, elaborate and complicated design scenarios (zombie apocalypse mixed with space colonisation). Incidentally, the vDM team (Eric Wright, Melissa Palmer and Angelo Luciano) are planning their third season of competition, which they cover during the Nutanix .NEXT Community Podcast (Episode #9). The vDM competition is proof that the vCommunity can provide a launchpad for novices to learn about infrastructure architecture design.
Contrast to the VMware Certified Design Expert program (VCDX)
The closest VMware comes to being vendor-agnostic is with the VCDX-NV track, where as long as NSX-MH is included you can use any Hypervisor.
On a side note, I think the current VCDX-DCV blueprint needs to specifically require knowledge of next generation technologies such as Server-Side Flash Cache Acceleration, Converged and Hyper-Converged infrastructure. Particularly since vSphere includes Virtual SAN and vFRC and they now have EVO:Rail and the upcoming EVO:Rack.
In summary, VCDX and CCAr are currently the pinnacle of expert infrastructure architecture design, but vendor-agnostic design certification programs and education tracks are the future, however difficult they are to achieve. vCommunity efforts are also a fun way to kick-start design careers.
All three podcasts are worth listening to if you are interested in infrastructure architecture design.