Cisco is updating its Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) program to make sure those who earn the certification know a thing or two about emerging technologies in addition to having traditional networking skills.
The goal is to align the CCIE with changing job roles and enterprise requirements, Tejas Vashi, director of product strategy and marketing, Cisco Services, told me. He said today's businesses need networking pros with core skills in routing and switching, but they also need IT pros who understand emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and network programmability, plus how these technologies work together to achieve business outcomes.
"We want to make sure experts in the industry with the CCIE certification remain the most relevant in the industry," Vashi said.
To that end, Cisco is revamping its certification programs so that those who earn their career certifications have this blend of skills and knowledge. Cisco is introducing the changes starting with a refresh of the CCIE Data Center next summer.
Specifically, beginning in July, the written exam will be updated so that 10% of it covers evolving technologies such as SDN, DevOps, automation, and cloud. Cisco said the new framework also is based on unified written and lab blueprints so that candidates can demonstrate holistic knowledge. The evolving technologies portion of the written exam will be continuously refreshed, Cisco said.
Other CCIE exams will be updated to incorporate the updated framework when they come up for refresh. Cisco also is updating its Certified Design Expert (CCDE) program to the framework.
I asked a Tom Hollingsworth, CCIE #29213, what he thought of the CCIE changes. He wasn't exactly impressed. Hollingsworth has a popular blog and is an organizer of the Tech Field Day event series.
"The addition of the evolving technologies domain to the CCIE is an attempt to answer critics of the slow and methodical nature of the exam. The CCIE teaches candidates how to operate an existing network, not how to plan and design a network of the future," he said in an email. "What does a wireless candidate need to know about DevOps? Should a data center CCIE candidate be tested on IoT concepts?
"The CCIE is not meant to encompass the entirety of networking. It is meant to test a potential candidate on their knowledge of process and protocol," he added. "Introducing a section with a moving target of topics not based on existing product lines sets a bad precedent. Rather than spending time and money writing questions about networking topics that are beyond the scope of a CCIE’s knowledge, Cisco should put more effort into developing concrete solutions around these topics that can be tested upon in future exam revisions."
Cisco also is updating its Certified Network Associate Security(CCNA) program to expand its focus from network security. Training and exams now also cover technologies and trends such as BYOD, cloud security, and virtualization.