Alexander Thoma – @VCDX026 (“The Iron Panelist”) Joins Nutanix

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Alexander Thoma is the 12th VCDX to join Nutanix. Alexander was known as the “iron panelist” during his nine years at VMware because he sat through so many VCDX design panels. He oversaw half of all the world’s VCDXs’ design reviews.

Thoma said that not only is pursuing an NPX certification high on his priority list, but that he hopes to also replicate his “iron panelist” achievement as part of an NPX panel.

“It’s fantastic that a second company in the industry understands the value of a high-level architectural certification,” Thoma said.  “A deep technical understanding, requirements understanding and architectural analysis is required for customer success.”

I questioned Thoma about why an NPX certification is important in light of Nutanix’s “uncompromisingly simple” mantra. He responded, “Well, you certainly don’t need an NPX to install a Nutanix block which is very easy.  But while Nutanix slashes complexity, someone still has to design and implement the overall architecture.”

“Application requirements still have to be analyzed, gathered and put into the right context.  To do that requires NPX-level skills for the more complex enterprise solutions.  An NPX is someone who can drive data collection while keeping the big picture in place – making sure all the components work together.

“It is also increasingly important to have expertise in more than one hypervisor. While the features of hypervisors grow ever more comparable, the management deltas are still far apart. Nutanix gives customers the ability to efficiently utilize whatever hypervisor is best for the use case, for example – perhaps ESX for enterprise applications, Hyper-V for Windows Server and KVM for everything else.”

Thoma is a Sr. Solution & Performance Engineer for Nutanix, reporting to Michael Webster (@VCDXNZ001). Thoma’s responsibilities include developing solutions for business applications such as SAP, Oracle, Exchange, SQL.  He will also help evaluate new releases and will help with alliances tasks, especially with SAP.  Thoma will also be available to help both customers and partners with strategic initiatives.

“The best way to build a winning team, “said Michael Webster, “is to hire the most capable and talented people, and then empower them to be successful. Alexander is recognized around the world as a leading enterprise architect for virtualized and cloud environments, especially with regard to business critical applications including SAP. At Nutanix, we understand the value that expert level architecture skill brings to making our platform simple for our customers to use. We are incredibly fortunate to have Alexander on our team as we continue to expand our R&D and Solutions and Performance expertise in enterprise applications around the globe. ”

Mark Brunstad (@MarkBrunstad), Manager Curriculum Development of Nutanix – Educational Services, was formerly the VCDX Program Manager at VMware. He commented, “I’m really happy to be working with Alexander again because he is such an impact player and his skills will be amplified by this exceptional team. The talent we have is really setting Nutanix apart when it comes to the customer experience we can provide. People are talking –  the sky’s the limit.“

“I joined Nutanix,” Thoma said, “because I wanted to be able to make an impact. That requires being in a company with disruptive technology, and one that is not too large.  At a very large company, it’s hard to quantify your impact.  And, of course, the technology Nutanix provides is very interesting and has a lot of potential.

“With well over 1,000 employees, Nutanix certainly isn’t a start-up any longer, but it still has the dynamics of a smaller company. I can speak with anyone from resolution engineers to the Sr. VP of Marketing. People are open-minded and were soliciting my opinions from the first day on the job.

“I’m really, really excited.  It’s only been 4 days and I’m already totally sure it was the right move.”


10 Reasons why Nutanix leads the hyper-converged industry

When I started this blog site last October, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) was still a fringe technology. Just five months later and HCI has entered the mainstream. Rather than fielding questions about hyper-convergence, the inquiries I get today are much more often about what sets Nutanix apart from the rapidly growing pack of HCI players?

Nutanix isn’t just the HCI front-runner; it has a 52% market share. Here are my top ten differentiators as to why Nutanix leads the hyper-converged industry:

1.  A true distributed file system with roots to Google and GFS

Nutanix brings the same type of no-SAN distributed file system infrastructure developed by Google, and now utilized by all leading cloud providers, to the enterprise. The commodity hardware, “share nothing” Nutanix Distributed File System (NDFS) model enables capabilities such as self-healing and data locality that uniquely position Nutanix for enterprise requirements.

 2.  Google-like transparency

Google published papers in 2003 about how it redefined infrastructure with GFS including innovative technologies like Map Reduce and NoSQL. Nutanix is similarly transparent about how our technology works. No secrets, no politics, no misleading claims. (As an example, see

3.  Passionate employees

There are 1,648 billionaires on the planet, but only 190 VCDXs. Eleven of them work at Nutanix with more coming. These folks can pretty much work wherever they want. They’re joining Nutanix because of the technology, the culture and the opportunity to be part of revolutionizing the virtualized datacenter.

4.  Dedication to channel partners

Nutanix has been a channel focused company from day one. We strive to help our partners to not just be competent Nutanix resellers, but rather to be leaders in the new era of Web-scale HCI and associated cloud integration. We work with them to achieve differentiation, customer trust and expanded skill sets with programs such as Breakaway, Authorized Consulting Partner, and the recently launched NPX certification.

The learning, of course, goes both ways. We listen to our partners about how we can better serve their customers both today and in the future.

5.  A focus on an uncompromisingly simple customer experience

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Nutanix doesn’t just sell products, we deliver a customer experience. Nutanix simplifies the lives of IT administrators. Nutanix’s HTML5 Prism UI, for example, is beautifully designed and exceptionally intuitive and easy to use. Or consider firmware upgrades. Even the most advanced 3-tier architectures still require painful and risky firmware upgrades. But Nutanix changes the game with one-click, non-disruptive upgrades for all components including hypervisors.

6.  Industry-leading customer support

Most manufacturers claim that they emphasize customer service. Our customers and partners validate again and again that Nutanix takes support to a whole new level. Nutanix has a +88 Net Promoter Score and is the two-time winner of the Omega Northface Award for “Delivering World Class Customer Service.”

7. A furious pace of innovation

Nutanix’s engineering department doesn’t have a lot of ex-storage folks. Instead, engineers with backgrounds from companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter build massively scalable, very simple and low-cost infrastructure. It’s a completely different mindset, and it leads to rapid development in response to customer requests.

While some innovations, such as the industry’s first HCI all-flash node, incorporate hardware form factors, most are delivered strictly via software (Tesla-style). Recent examples include Metro Availability (for active/active datacenters), encryption, MapReduce Deduplication, Cloud Connect, shadow volumes, Plugin for Citrix XenDesktop, etc.

8.  Multi-hypervisor support

Some HCI manufacturers claim to be hypervisor agnostic though they only work with one hypervisor. Nutanix started with VMware in 2011, began supporting KVM in 2012 and then Hyper-V in 2013.

9.  Dell validation

While Nutanix isn’t the only HCI producer to work with legacy manufacturers, we go far beyond just providing reference architecture. Out of all the HCI players, Dell approached Nutanix to establish a true OEM partnership. The Dell XC Converged Appliances – powered by Nutanix software were painstakingly vetted by both manufacturers to ensure the same high standards of quality, simplicity and support that customers receive with Nutanix-branded appliances.

10. A Web-Scale mindset

The legacy storage manufacturers treat HCI as a storage option in a large line card. Nutanix eats, breathes and sleeps HCI as not only a vastly superior platform for hosting a virtualized datacenter, but as the inevitable future.

Nutanix’s success with HCI has already shaken up the industry as almost every large legacy storage manufacturer now has, or has announced, an HCI solution. And Nutanix’s efforts resonate with customers who tend to have a passion for the technology rivaling that of Nutanix’s own employees.  Nutanix’s first customer conference, Nutanix.NEXT, this June in Miami is chock full of customer presentations. I have six different customers speaking on my ROI panel alone.


Thanks to @vmmike130, @Sandeep_NTNX, @farazip and @vEd_NYC for edits and suggestions.



NPX certification reflects Nutanix’s status as the Switzerland of the Datacenter



Nutanix announced today the availability of Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX) certification. This certification program is the most rigorous in the industry, requiring extensive architectural capabilities validated through written exams, an extensive web-scale solution design, hands-on lab and design exercises, and a live peer review. And, an NPX needs to be an expert in not just one, but in (at least) two hypervisor platforms.

The Importance of Multi-Hypervisor Expertise

Nutanix is the Switzerland of the datacenter – we are hypervisor agnostic. Our customers can run any of the major hypervisors, or even all three together in the same environment. In the not-too-distant future, they’ll be able to move workloads back and forth between hypervisors. This is why Nutanix has experts throughout the company not only in VMware, but also in both Hyper-V and in KVM.

The hypervisor is the new sheet metal of the datacenter. While VMware dominates the virtualization landscape today, Hyper-V and KVM continue to make big strides. Customers increasingly demand multiple hypervisors for use cases such as big data, OpenStack and test/dev. This trend will accelerate as hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) becomes more widely adopted as the primary vehicle for hosting virtual machines.

Channel partners will play a major role in helping their customers transition from three-tier infrastructures to HCI. They need to be able to help them determine what hypervisors are the most appropriate for different applications or use cases, and then design and deploy a successful multi-hypervisor environment. The NPX certification signifies the very best multi-hypervisor architects in the world.

Beyond the Hypervisor

NPX requires more than multi-hypervisor expertise. There is an intense focus on skills required to migrate businesses from 3-tier to HCI as well as the ability to incorporate new technologies and operational model,s such as containers and DevOps, into Nutanix solutions. This is a very specialized set of skills, and the NPX program is first to market with a methodology that includes them in an enterprise architect certification.

The NPX Certification

The NPX program was developed by a team of fourteen Nutanix experts with many decades of solution design and delivery expertise between them. The goal of the program is to produce and certify the best Enterprise Architects in the world, so the bar is set very, very high in terms of skills required to achieve the credential. And that’s as it should be. The point of NPX is to serve the customer by ensuring a consistently excellent, customer-focused solution design and delivery. The NPX will enter the room at the X-level with the weight of the entire NPX community behind her. Holding NPX gives architects the privilege to address decision-makers directly and to be listened to as a peer.

Next Steps

The good news is that although NPX certification is a Herculean task, candidates will hardly be on their own. The program provides mentoring from some of the world’s best enterprise architects and a series of preparatory workshops to assist candidates on the journey to the pinnacle of IT certification.

And, for another industry first, and a big one, all of this is free for qualified candidates!

All you need to do to get started is register your interest via the NPX Program Homepage. Registering will allow you to download the NPX Design Review Preparation Guide and NPX Program Application. Once you’ve registered and reviewed the program requirements you can join the NPX community and start developing your certification plan. You can also contact Mark Brunstad, the NPX Program Manager, directly via