NPX – Advice to Candidates

I am at Nutanix .NEXT 2016 and I have just finished 4 days of attending the Nutanix NPX Workshops and NPX Design Reviews as a Trainee Examiner.  I have certainly learned a lot from sitting on the other side of the room and I can say that being an examiner is much harder than being a candidate.

The NPX Link-O-Rama is a great resource for all things NPX, including this applicable list of articles in my VCDX Deep-Dive series (more than 70 posts).

However I digress, I wanted to highlight some key points that NPX candidates need to implement to enhance their chances of success:

  • Read the blueprint, it is a cliche, but candidates still do not read it.  Know it back-to-front and inside-and-out.  Make sure your knowledge and skill-set aligns with each area.  Create a skills matrix and rank yourself.
  • If you have never defended VCDX or NPX before, attend the Nutanix NPX Workshop at least a few months in advance to understand exactly what is required.  Depending upon scheduling, the workshop runs over 2 to 4 days and is led by Michael Webster, Josh Odgers and Richard Arsenian.  This is an interactive workshop where you form groups and create a design and take it through a life-cycle of customer requirements and presentation scenarios.  It is a fun way to learn and you will definitely have an understanding and appreciation for the amount of effort and skill it will take to achieve NPX.
  • Submit a document set that is comprehensive and covers each section of the blueprint.  Why?  The Blueprint is extensive (22 scoring areas) and the NPX Design Review is less than 4 hours long.  The more knowledge you can demonstrate in your document set, the higher your pre-score which will reduce the amount of ground you have to cover in your NPX Design Review.
  • Know your design and do not make stuff up on the fly when asked direct questions about it.  The examiners have very finely tuned “BS” filters.
  • Make sure your presentation follows the 22 areas of the blueprint.  Create a small table of contents on the side of each slide to highlight your progress.  The NPX scoring rubric aligns directly with the NPX blueprint.  Make it easy for the NPX Examiners to track you sequentially.
  • When you are asked a question, answer it as quickly as possible and get back to your presentation.
  • Speak clearly and concisely, the examiners cannot evaluate you if they cannot hear or understand you.  Use the whiteboard to clearly illustrate the point you are trying to make.
  • During the Design and Hands-On Scenarios, use a strategy to drive the exercise.  You want something that you can use anytime and anywhere to achieve the same outcome each time.

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Chief Enterprise Architect and Strategist, 4xVCDX#133, NPX#8, DECM-EA.