The CCIE is Dead? Long Live the CCIE!! And CCNA! And CCNP!

So ... on 10th June 2019, Chuck Robbins in his keynote at Cisco Live US announced the biggest shake-up of the Cisco Certifications programme ever.  What had gone before was swept away under a tidal wave of SDN and programmability.  Or was it?  Let's take a bit of a look under the hood of those announcements and see what they mean for the engineers and developers on the street.

Disclosure: as a member of the CCIE Advisory Council, I have been lucky enough to have had some insight into these changes as they have been developed over the last two or so years.  The Council is a group of 30 or so invited long-time CCIEs who are there to represent the voices of the Network Engineer and Network Architect in the development of the CCNA/CCNP/CCIE programme.  We have been closely involved with Learning@Cisco in developing the structure of the updated programme, and our feedback has helped shape the policy around it.

The keynote serves as the announcement that Cisco are serving notice on the current programme organisation - the changes described here come into force on 24th February 2020.  Any questions?

So how will the current programme change?


1) The CCNA will no longer be split up into separate tracks.  It will be a single foundation networking certification for *all* network engineers, covering the fundamentals of networking, access, routing, IP services, security and automation;

2) The CCNP will continue to be split into tracks - Enterprise, Service Provider, Data Center, Security, Collaboration - but now require you to pass just two exams.  You will not need a CCNA as a formal prerequisite, but the knowledge from the CCNA is assumed and will be tested as part of the CCNP exams.  In order to obtain a CCNP you will pass a 2-hour Technology Core exam in your chosen track (more on this later) which builds on CCNA fundamentals to test detailed knowledge of the technologies covered in the tracks, including how to secure and automate those technologies.  To complete your CCNP, you will also need to pass one Concentration exam on an advanced topic.  For each Concentration exam you pass, you will receive a new Specialist certification, and you can take as many of these as you like, so you can be seen to be making progress and learning new things every time you take an exam.  The exams can be taken in any order.

3) The CCIE will also have the same tracks - and the requirement here is to complete the same Technology Core exam for the CCNP plus a new version of the fabled Lab exam in your given track.  In the Enterprise space there will be a choice of two labs - the equivalent of Routing and Switching and Wireless.  This means that the old CCIE Written and CCNP Route and Switch exams are all effectively replaced with a single Technology Core exam.  The Lab will be split into four stages - dubbed Design, Deploy, Operate, Optimise - across two modules, and will include elements of low-level design, configuration, automation and programmability.



Why are they doing this?

A number of the certification tracks were coming up for review at the same time, and over recent years the programme has been getting progressively more feedback that it is at risk of quickly getting out of date.  It is hard to keep monolothic exams - like those in the existing tracks - current and relevant in our changing industry.  Areas such as automation and SDN in particular were very difficult to shoehorn into existing syallabi.  There was also a frustrating  lack of demonstrable progress when pursuing certs like the CCNP and there was a desire to give a visible reward for each exam taken.

So it was decided that a simpler, more modular approach to the programme was needed and that now was the right time to look to convert the programme as a whole to this arrangement, in order to ensure the certs reflected real job roles in the years to come.

I have a cert already, will I lose it?

Any existing certification you have will continue to be valid until it expires.  On Feb 24th, the certs you already have will also entitle you to the new versions and any associated Specialisations.  So in theory, you go through the process and come out of the other end with more than you went in.  Your old cert will eventually be retired.

What about recertification?

All of the certs are being brought into line with their recertification requirements.  So, once you are certified, you have three years from the date you passed the exam to complete the recertification process.  Cisco have changed these though.  You now no longer have to pass one of the exams to recertify - you can if you want to take that approach, but they have introduced the idea of Continuing Education which has been seen to be very popular with CCIEs over the last couple of years, so that you earn a number of credits through attending Cisco Live sessions, attending official training, or taking part in question-writing activity for the certification programme for example.  Each activity carries a specific number of credits; each certification needs a particular number of credits to recertify.  More on this to follow.

I am part way through my CCNP - what happens?

Everything you do between now and February will be valid, and will translate to a Specialisation or Core exam in the new programme.  The migration process will ensure that nobody loses out, and if anything, you should come out of it with something visibly more than you have now.  In the coming weeks, a tool will become available on cisco.com to allow you to see what will happen to your certification progress and guide you to where you will be on Feb 24th.

So what do I do now?

Simple!  Don't panic!  The best thing you can do is to continue with any learning and certification path you are following.  The more you have completed before February 24th, the more you will get out of the migration process to the new programme.

Blueprints, training and reference materials are being released throughout June and onwards for the new programme, so you will be able to start preparing for the new certs if you feel you won't be ready before February.  But otherwise, keep going!  Keep learning!

Check out www.cisco.com/nextlevel for more info.  Also, check out the other certification announcements from the 2019 CLUS keynote.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! Great information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pleasure! Thanks for reading, feel free to subscribe for more detail as it’s revealed!

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  2. Hi Darren,

    Thank you for this article.

    There is something I am wondering if you might be able to help clarify. Essentially, there is some confusion on some forums that I have come across where it is agreed that any existing CCNP R&S holders will be automatically updated with the new CCNP Enterprise certification come the changeover date; however, there is an opinion that regardless of this, you will still have to take the actual CCNP Technology Core exam before you can take the CCIE Enterprise lab.

    Would you be able to shed on any light on this at all?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CCIE_trekker

      I can get official confirmation of this, but my understanding is that if you have your CCNP R&S, after Feb 24, you will hold the Enterprise Core and the Advanced Implementation Specialisation - in which case, you will be eligible to sit the lab, as you will qualify having passed the Tech Core exam.

      There is a migration tool specifically for CCNP tracks which may help shed some light on the before and after situation:

      https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications/professional/ccnp-routing-switching-migration-tool.html

      Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the quick and informative response. Much appreciated!

      Delete
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