Meet NPX 013 – Wayne Conrad

  • Name: Wayne Conrad
  • NPX Number:013
  • Employer: Nutanix
  • Blog URL: N/A
  • Twitter: @wjconrad
  • Virtualisation background: I started using ESXi 3.5 in 2007 or so on a small 3 host environment to run our corporate network. The consulting firm I was internal IT for at the time had been thinking of starting a VMware practice. The environment was built then left for my care and feeding, so I had to learn quickly and quite enjoyed it. As I put it at the time “Microsoft keeps me awake at night with worry, VMware doesn’t.”
    A few years later I went to the optimize and scale class for 5.0, and then embarked on my journey into multiple VCAPs and consulting.
  • Storage Background:Storage was never my primary focus as a consultant, but over the years I’ve used CX, VNXe and VNX from EMC, Nimble, a little NetApp or Hitachi here and there. I’ve primarily used Cisco MDS for fibre channel but the occasional Brocade as well.
  • Hyper Converged Infrastructure background: I first heard about Nutanix thru the VMware User Groups a few years back. A lot of people were openly impressed by how many VCDXs they hired, and there was to be frank, a lot of jealous rumours about what the VCDXs were getting paid. I was impressed by the concept, but I saw the list prices that were way too high compared to another ROBO solution like a Dell VRTX. I had no idea exactly how aggressive the discounts were, or I’d probably have bought one. A year later at my VAR, I took the NPP training from Jim Corder with Megan Myers. I was very impressed by how simple the UI was and how easy it was to do everything, coming from the insanely complicated 3 tier world, it was a breath of fresh air.
  • Future of HCI and other emerging technologies:HCI is the future of the datacenter, period. The traditional model of a limited amount of storage controller sitting in front of a giant pool of disks doesn’t work in a world of high speed flash storage connected via PCI Express or storage DIMMs. I suspect there’s still market space for deep and cheap NAS or object storage models, but they’ve got to scale out. Forklift upgrades are not a 21st century solution and are way too inflexible both operationally and financially for our business customers.
  • Value of NPX: The NPX is a hugely valuable certification because it shows you can apply the same depth of knowledge and conceptual workflows from a VCDX level of knowledge on the VMware platform across multiple hypervisors. VMware has more or less admitted that the multi-cloud future is here by embracing AWS and Azure, which means embracing a multi-hypervisor future as well. No one cares or knows what storage is backing your cloud platform. Very few people care which hypervisor is backing your cloud platform. As architects, we’ve got to embrace the multi-hypervisor future before our customers start asking.
  • What made you go for NPX:I’m primarily a VDI architect these days, but obviously, I do datacenter as well. We’ve seen a wide embrace of cloud, multi-hypervisor desktop as a service offerings over the last few years, as many customers have just thrown in the towel on trying to get on-premises desktop hosting to be economical. The Nutanix NPX skill set both proves that I can speak multiple hypervisors but also that I can drive customer outcomes without having to resort to public cloud as the first option.
  • Advise to people looking into the NPX track:I started my VCDX / NPX journey four years before I achieved my NPX. I had several false starts on papers and spent years looking for the right type of project for my paper. I knew I wasn’t going to be capable of just taking a requirement set from a previous project, health check or something like that and building this level of design without deep customer involvement, but some people who are better at self-motivation and time management absolutely could do that. Looking back at my time at a customer, I absolutely could have written VCDX level designs every time we did an expansion to build new systems, so it isn’t strictly required that you join the customer space.
    You absolutely need to get spouse buy in for this. I spent about 2-3 months of nights and weekends working on my design doc, probably 200 extra hours. That’s a heavy burden on your family, so sell the vision.
    It’s important to realize there’s a useful limit of work you can accomplish every day, you’re not going to every day be in a state of flow where you productively write hours of materials. I found that writer’s block is more related to how tired and how much I’d been working. Rehearsing material to be written in my head was a big help.
    The biggest realization I had when writing was that I needed to write design decisions covering not just the how’s and why’s of every decision I did make, but the features I didn’t use as well, even the things that are not possible to use on the Nutanix platform like SIOC or storage DRS. Gaps come up when there’s a feature you didn’t use that could have helped achieved the business outcome you want.