Many of us in the industry have gone through many of the various certification programs out there and many of us started with the Cisco CCNA. I remember back to 2008 when I first got my CCNA, it took me 2 attempts to pass and I was impressed with the knowledge and confidence that I gained from it. That started me down the long journey towards eventually getting my CCIE (Wireless). Countless number of exams as I progressed through the CCNP Wireless, various specialist exams, other CCNA exams from free vouchers at CiscoLive, etc. But not much as changed since that day, other than a few new tracks as technology has evolved.
The Next Level
That all changes now though, and as a proud member of the CCIE Advisory Council I can say these changes are a good thing for the community and for those that are certified. Some of the issues with the current system is recognition may not happen until you have taken 3 or 4 exams, but you should be able to be recognized for your efforts so far. Rigid training paths require you to sometimes take exams that are not 100% relevant to what you do, we need more flexibility. Long cycles in between refreshes because of how much work has to go into refreshing 4 exams and blueprints means topics are obsolete and not testing what is important anymore potentially.
With the new framework that goes away! Collapsing the CCNA into a single exam ensures candidates have a minimal base knowledge that spreads across the entire platform. When you go for your CCNP now you will be able to choose your own adventure picking and choosing which exams you want to take allowing you to achieve various Specialist certifications as you go earning badges to show your progress. This flexibility I think will be great for those of us that just simply enjoy learning and provides more value to our organizations and customers.
How does it impact me?
Certainly many of you are already inflight or have taken various exams earning those highly sought after certifications, but fret not you are being taken care of. The transitional phase from the current certifications is probably by far the most encompassing and thorough that they could create in my opinion. If you have a certification currently you will easily transition into what the next level version of it will be. if you are inflight on a certification keep going! You will be transitioned as well based off of your current progress. There is no reason for you to halt your progress!
What about renewing?
Getting your certification is only part of the journey, keeping it is the next step and in the past that has meant every 2 years taking an exam, hoping you pass, and repeating again next time. A few years ago Cisco introduced Continuing Education Credits for the CCIE program to encourage people to further their knowledge set beyond where they are at right now. So why not allow everyone the ability to do that as well? Now you can, and there is some more flexibility in your options allowing you to mix and match more.
Big CCIE change!
For those of you currently holding your CCIE there is quite a change happening: no more suspended status. WHAAAT? Admit it, you have used the jail once or twice! Going forward we now get that year, 3 year certification terms FTW! Another big change is rolling recertification date. Your date is a moving target now based off of when you submitting your credits or took an exam.
For more information check out cisco.com/nextlevel
A new adventure!
Finally, big news out of the announcements at Cisco Live is the addition of DevNet certification track!
Cisco is readying you to be capable of “Unleashing the full capabilities of the new network” by bringing Software and Infrastructure together. Changes in infrastructure drive changes in applications which drives changes in business models. Everything is interconnected and needs to be understood at some level, it may not be to the expert level but it needs to be some level. This is where the DevNet Associate, Specialist, and Professional will come into play. Each of the CCNP core tracks will have a version of an “Automation” exam focused on that technology area that you can take to give you a small taste of what the DevNet certifications will be like allowing you to dip your toes into the water until you are ready to dive in (which I strongly encourage you to do!).
How can you get started on this journey when maybe you aren’t that experienced? Well it’s a lot easier than you think. Susie Wee (@SusieWee) and her team have created an amazing community over at DevNet and they are taking it to the next level now with the DevNet Automation Exchange. This will be a community based developer center that is created by us, curated by Cisco.
The DevNet Automation Exchange is about solving real use cases and show you how you can integrate it into your environment at your pace by breaking it up into three different options:
- Walk – get visibility and insights into your network
- Run – activate network and security policies across your network
- Fly – proactively manage and optimize with DevOps workflow
By leveraging the Exchange you’ll be able to get playbooks and code samples from the DevNet Code Exchange or complete solutions from the DevNet Ecosystems Exchange fast tracking your abilities. Being a self taught “programmer” I find the best way is to find examples of what it is you are trying to do and then building off of that, for better or worse. This new Exchange I think will be a great place to hang out and see what others are doing, for many the thought of automation is really hard because you just aren’t sure what you COULD do if you HAD the ability to do something.
Find out more at developer.cisco.com/automation
The Cliff Notes
A lot of stuff came out of the announcement today but I think the big thing is to stay the course, keep up your studying and journeys to your certifications but realize that after February 24th 2020 your learning path will be built off of the following three pillars:
Agility – putting you in the driver seat
Value – your path to productivity and career advancement
Leadership – the most critical skills for today and tomorrow
This is a win for us all and I am grateful to be part of the group that helped shape some of these changes as a representative of the CCIEs worldwide. If you are at Cisco Live here in San Diego and have questions feel free to stop me if you see me and ask!