From Tech Leader to Subject Matter Expert: Shaping Nutanix Certification Exams


In the fast-paced world of IT, where the pursuit for innovation is relentless and knowledge is power, one aspect remains crucial: IT training and certification. It’s your path to career advancement and industry recognition.

As a longtime advocate for continued education and certification, I now find myself not on the sidelines, but an active participant as a Nutanix Subject Matter Expert (SME).

Gaining knowledge through certification

I’ve been in IT for more than a decade, but becoming a Nutanix SME was never on my radar. I cut my teeth by providing direct support in data centers, and working on high-impact projects appealed to me.

I loved the high-level architecture and infrastructure discussions, but being on call was appealing, too. It was thrilling to have the phone ring in the middle of the night. I never knew what problem was waiting on the other end of the line, just that it had to be fixed quickly. The pace and challenges kept me engaged and satisfied for quite some time.

By 2018, I found myself at Betclic, where we underwent a significant infrastructure refresh. We decided to partner with Nutanix, which would allow us to control our infrastructure rather than rely on someone else. Since my team was responsible for troubleshooting issues, we needed to have a deep understanding of the technology. As I started to learn more about Nutanix, I also learned about the Nutanix Technical Certifications, which are designed to recognize specific skills around managing a Nutanix environment. I thought, “If I’m good at something, I might as well get certified.”

The first level of certification I passed was the Nutanix Certified Associate (NCA), followed by the Nutanix Certified Professional (NCP) a few months later. The next step was becoming a Nutanix Certified Master (NCM), which proves the ability to analyze, evaluate, and optimize platform performance, configuration, and health. By 2021, I felt quite confident with Nutanix technology while preparing my Nutanix Certified Expert (NCX) certification. That’s when I came across an unexpected opportunity.

A peek behind the certification curtain 

Some people say that you make your own luck. In life, I believe the best way for anyone to become lucky is to make yourself into an opportunity.

The best way for anyone to become lucky is to make yourself into an opportunity. #NutanixStories

I got the chance to put my theory into action shortly after being NCM certified. The certification team reached out to the NCMs, asking if anyone wanted to become an SME and engage in the certification writing process. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered what it would be like to see what was on the other side of the fence.

Having sat the tests, I assumed creating the exams was probably as complicated as putting satellites in orbit. As it turns out, it’s not. Instead, a group of highly skilled people from varied backgrounds contribute to making the exams accurately reflect the current environment.


The process begins with a series of workshops. SMEs hold discussions and then work asynchronously to shape and define the trajectory of the exam. We start by identifying the minimum qualified candidate (MQC) and determining the foundations of what a Nutanix expert should be. We asked ourselves things like:

  • What skills should that expert role contain? 
  • How much do they need to know about networking?
  • Do they need to know a lot about storage?
  • Would it be useful for them to understand how CPU queuing works?

These discussions are where the true value of the SME comes to bear. Different perspectives can matter as much—or even more than—specific technical knowledge. One person might have spent time with a particular system or process and can offer profound insights. Another may have found a simple workaround for an annoying problem that the rest of the group never tried.

Once we set the bar for the MQC, we view the exam experience through their eyes. We spend time formulating the questions, and a team assists us in wording the exam properly. They help with small but essential details like determining whether the verbs are in the right place to ensure the candidate knows how to recall, apply or understand something. Those details make a big difference in the overall exam experience.

Going through the process has changed how I think about certification exams. Now, when I pass any certification, I have an insider’s perspective. I better understand the people who made it and what they had in mind, which makes the exam easier for me, whether it’s AWS, Azure, or any other certification.

Creating a blueprint

Just as transparency is paramount while creating the exam, we also want to be transparent with candidates taking the exam. During the process of writing the certification, we create what we call an Exam Blueprint Guide. This asset mentions everything required to pass the certification and includes links and references to all documentation we relied on to create the questions.


A candidate cannot say, “There’s no way I could’ve known that!” about a question because the link exists in the blueprint. As long as candidates read the minimum requirement for the certification, they see the exact material they have to study.

In this way, we strive to make the exam as fair as possible so everyone has an equal chance of passing.

Shoulder to shoulder with kindred spirits

None of this would be possible without the certification program team, who go above and beyond to be inclusive and accommodate individual considerations such as time zone differences and work schedules. They foster an atmosphere of humility and camaraderie where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas.

As you become an expert, you learn very quickly that there will always be many things you don’t know. Throughout the certification process, I always hear someone discussing a new use case for an existing technology or a specific architecture, and suddenly, it sparks a new idea for me. This experience allows everyone to level up their expertise.

And just as the program team extends a warm welcome every time we meet at a Nutanix event, other SMEs have become some of my closest friends. We connect socially, and some of us have continued our journey together as Nutanix Technology Champions. We all attend Nutanix events, and after we’re done with our Nutanix duties, we go have a blast.

The IT industry can be really disconnected. Working on something enjoyable with people who feel the same way creates deep connections. #NutanixStories

The IT industry can be really disconnected. Most of my daily tasks involve code, infrastructure, and virtual machines—most of which I can’t see or physically touch. Working on something I enjoy with people who feel the same way creates deep connections. Even though Nutanix is the common denominator for us all, we’ve built connections on top of that that are professionally and personally fulfilling.

Paying it forward 

Today, I run Nutanix on OVHcloud product, a cutting-edge cloud offering that combines the power and flexibility of Nutanix software with the reliability and scalability of OVHcloud. It’s a big leap from my start as a systems administrator and engineer, and gaining Nutanix certifications has been a massive part of my success. These certifications are associated with higher salaries and more job opportunities, which directly impact my personal life and the comfort of my family.

Becoming an SME has given me a fresh perspective on my work, too. As someone who provides technology to others, I’ve become more sensitive to why I do what I do and why it matters. Take a hospital infrastructure project, for example: At some point, a nurse will need to check whether they need to administer 10 milligrams of this or 20 milligrams of that. They will log into a computer, and the information they need will be on a Nutanix cluster. Any issue could impact patient care, so we need the most skilled people possible managing that environment. The more I can help other Nutanix users become experts, the better they can maintain these and other sensitive ecosystems.

There’s no downside to getting certified and becoming an SME. It will increase your market value, and you’ll meet great people who welcome and celebrate you. #NutanixStories

Nutanix’s core values are the four H's: You have to remain humble, hungry, honest, and do things with heart. Zooming out, that’s a good model to follow in life. I have more to learn and absorb by working alongside other smart people. For all the benefits I’ve gotten from being an SME, I continue to pass it on, sharing the program with others and encouraging them to join.

Knowledge may be its own reward, but there’s no downside to getting certified and becoming an SME. It will increase your market value, and you’ll meet great people who welcome and celebrate you. Take that first step to become your own opportunity, and you won’t be disappointed.