Meet NPX 007 – Michael Webster

  • Name: Michael Webster
  • NPX Number: 007
  • Employer: Nutanix
  • Blog URL: http://longwhiteclouds.com
  • Twitter: @vcdxnz001 and @WebScale007
  • Virtualisation background: 15 years of virtualizing business critical applications and Unix to x86 migrations. VMware since workstation beta. Specialty in Monster VM’s. Mainly in large enterprise environments.
  • Storage Background: I’ve designed and implemented storage solutions from most of the main vendors including IBM, SUN/Oracle, EMC,  HP, Dell, HDS, NetApp, covering FC, FCoIP, FCoE, iSCSI and NFS protocols.
  • Hyper Converged Infrastructure background: I lead the Business Critical Apps team as part of Nutanix Engineering / R&D, prior to this I was a Senior Solutions and Performance Engineer, I started researching and working with Nutanix about 2 years ago in June/July 2013
  • Future of HCI and other emerging technologies: Done right Hyperconverged Infrastructure should drastically simplify the datacenter and allow for unlimited scale and ease of management. It should enable the customers to go home early, spend more time with their family and have their weekends back. This is because it’s build to self heal, be upgraded during the day non-disruptively, and be incredibly simple to manage, to the point the infrastructure becomes invisible. It should put the control and the leverage back into the hands of a customer. The customer should be able to easily choose between on premises or public cloud and be able to change easily. VM’s in a hyper converged context are as easy and as quick to spin up and schedule as containers, with very low overhead. But containers and their management frameworks needs to be managed as first class citizens as well. Again, giving the power back to the customer, their developers, and their teams to manage the environment as they see fit. Programatic control of the infrastructure allows developers to be much more productive and give far more consistent results when rolling releases through the development lifecycle to production. Ultimately the infrastructure should be invisible and self managing allowing the customers to focus on their applications and higher value added activities. There is definitely still a place for Monster VM’s in the context of HCI, but we need platforms that can support some level of scale up, in addition to the ability to support unlimited scale out. But you should not have to sacrifice the predictability, consistency of performance and the quality of services that are inherent in the platform just to cater to a small number of high performance VM’s, all of the necessary QoS should be automatic. This is where localization of data and choice of high end nodes in the distributed cluster comes into play. But we should not just think of data localization in terms of nodes in a cluster but also points of presence in a public cloud as well. For cloud to be embraced to the fullest extent either network bandwidth needs to become unlimited and cheap, or the cloud nodes need to move closer to the cloud consumers. This is only possible with a highly modularized and miniaturized platform that can scale and be very simple to manage, even across hundreds or thousands of sites. These are just some of the things that will shape consumption of IT and consumerisation of IT over the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Value of NPX: The value in the NPX comes from having to put together and defend a design to meet a customers business requirements and form an end to end solution on multiple hypervisors, with an eye on the future of technology so that the underlying design does not have to be drastically modified. This is then packaged up into a fully enterprise class project delivery package that is then defended in front of a panel of examiners. Some of the key aspects are also the low risk and efficient migration from the source systems and having to have a deep knowledge of existing three tier architecture in addition to what changes are necessary in a hyper converged world. Operational readiness and managing the organizational change is important given that many customers are coming off physical platforms, let alone changing their underlying infrastructure operations model. Nutanix makes the infrastructure and platform simple, but the enterprise organizations are still complex and so are the applications and systems that need to be deployed upon the platform. NPX addresses all of these requirements. It addresses them for multiple hypervisors, clouds and emerging technologies. It is completely unique in the context of enterprise architecture certifications as a result of this. We expect every candidate to know the full breadth and depth of their design in detail and all of the supporting technologies, and the implications of their decisions and the alternatives. The bar has been set very high due to the need to have multi-skilled multi-disciplined architects that can sit across complex business solutions and simplify them to the fullest extent possible to address customers pain points. Complex is competent, simple is genius. NPX should be able to take complex situations and solutions and make them as simple as possible.
  • What made you go for NPX: I was part of the original team that helped create the certification. We saw a gap that wasn’t being filled for enterprise architecture expertise and the ability to change from legacy architecture to more modern architecture in a low risk way, while supporting multiple hypervisors. Having been through other expert level certifications we knew some of the areas we wanted to address in this new certification. Knowing one hypervisor or cloud is not sufficient if you have to migrate from one to the other. I saw the opportunity to learn a lot in a short period of time and learn some completely new technologies that I hadn’t covered before. I was very used to migrating from physical to virtual, even from Unix to x86, but from one hypervisor to another creates new challenges as the entire ecosystem and management frameworks need to be considered. Sometimes the business risk of moving just isn’t justified. Having to weigh up all the different aspects and learn to the same detailed level all of the different options and then defend it, was an exciting process. It was very tough, but was also very rewarding. I have learned a lot in the process and I’ve become a better architect as a result. I would say it’s a similar learning curve to other expert level certifications, as we expect the knowledge of the alternative hypervisor to be equivalent to that level. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be part of the initial bootstrap group for the certification and be an examiner for other candidates when we hope to produce many of the worlds best architects in the future to help this whole industry grow. Having NPX will allow me to work on even more very interesting projects at customers all over the world.
  • Advise to people looking into the NPX track: My advice would be to get started with Nutanix Community Edition, download the NPX application, read all of the requirements thoroughly. Work on a design with a real customer or convert a real customer design. Wholly fictitious designs will not be accepted. If you have mainly experience with VMware then VCDX is a good starting point on the way to NPX. With Microsoft the Private Cloud Certification is a good start. RHCE or RHCA for RedHat and CTP and other certifications for the other vendors. While these are not prerequisites for NPX, they are a great start to build upon to get the foundational knowledge that is required. If you are interested in achieving NPX get in touch with Nutanix and if you have a design ready to go and you are able to go in front of the examiners in the short term they can pair you up with a mentor and will organize preparation workshops. The longest journey starts with a single step, just get started.
  • Other: NPX 007 – Licensed to Simplify, favorite drink, Vodka Martini, Shaken Not Stirred.