It has been a while since I’ve visited the land of Cisco certs (along with any new posts since my official Meetup retirement a month or so ago). However, one of the many things we need to do to keep up to date in our industry (along with the other items I outlined in my Quarterlys) is to keep up to date.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited the land of Cisco certs, so I visited their site over here. Before I begin with this post, I cannot stress enough the relevance of real world experience over certs. Just like any news you hear, always remember to consider the source of the news that you are receiving (aka – cisco pitch for a cisco cert). However, if a major networking vendor is making a new cert track, it means there may be some merit into learning some of what track is meant for and for whom.
Since my last visit, they have added a few more associate level tracks (Cloud, Cyber Ops, and Industrial).
CCNA CLOUD (two exams)
210-451: Understanding Cisco Cloud Fundamentals
- This exam seems to go into the basics of what is a Public, Private, Hybrid cloud. Public being AWS, Azure, Rackspace, etc. Private meaning on-perm, your traditional DC. Hybrid being the “best” of both worlds (you own on-perm private along with some public workloads). The exam topics then get into Private DC — no surprise here Cisco UCS Manager comes into play here to manage the B, C, (maybe S?) series servers. Cisco Nexus switches make an appearance here as well. If anyone has taken Cisco’s CCNA Datacenter track I can see here some overlapping.
- One thing I am happy that Cisco is finally now pushing is for network automation & programmability. Networking depts have long been the bottleneck for automation and my guess is that with these certs will teach a method to do this. Mind you, this is not a new paradigm (its actually been around for some years now), but once again — great its finally in a cert to start teaching people about this without needing to get it from a vendor and/or search the sea of user groups/NANOG/Packet Pushers/etc.
- Being a cloud cert, Cisco ACI & VXLAN are listed as exam topics. If you’ve ever played with OpenStack or VMware’s NSX, they are similar approaches to the same “SDN problem”.
- Cisco also throws in another product – Cisco InterCloud. I personally don’t like to read a vendor’s datasheets or videos as they are heavily biased. I found (granted Cisco videos), a hands on demo and presentation into what InterCloud is (YouTube videos here and here). From what I saw, it seems to be more of a orchestration platform to manage both your on-perm (private) and public (AWS, Azure, .etc) all from one UI.
- However, the biggest issues here is the as of March 31, 2017 — Cisco will terminate it’s InterCloud offering. As always — keep up to date on industry news to avoid learning a product/protocol going the way of the dodo.
- Finally, the last section here “Cloud Storage” go over basic terminology and theory on storage (something we probably should of learned back during the CompTIA A+ days), but here just in case you haven’t.
210-455: Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration
We get more theory here like how to create a snapshot report, whats a chargeback model, and it appears for section “Administering and Reporting” you may need to be familiar with VMware and/or UCS Manager to configure creating of vms, snapshots, configuring roles (can someone please confirm this for me?)
Next, we get into how to use UCS Director “within the Cisco Prime Service Catalog”. UCS Director was a way to manage a larger organization than just using UCS Manager. (along other things).
Then it goes into some sections on how to use Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) to manage our public/private workloads. There’s a YouTube video demoing it here. I haven’t found any recent videos on this so keep your ears open for any industry news on this.
300-460: Implementing and Troubleshooting the Cisco Cloud Infrastructure
I’m seeing alot of overlapping with the CCXX Datacenter track here. Storage, Compute, and Networking here are all UCS manager tasks we learned in CCXX Datacenter track, along with any VMware experience (most shops have this so I’m sure you don’t need a test to teach you how to make a vm or create a vDS switch). UCS Manager and the Nexus 1k have been on the DC track already.
One new thing I see here, is the introduction of VXLAN, under the Network Connectivity section for UCS Manager.
300-465: Designing the Cisco Cloud
Something new here from the DC track is (kinda) introducing the pre-package Compute,Storage,Networking bundle solutions — Flexpod, Vblock, and VSPEX. Checking out the industry news, I’m sure you’ve all heard the merger between Dell and EMC, along with the tensions with the VCE alliance (many articles mention this, including here). I am also seeing a lot of “designing” and “selecting the best” type of questions. Seems more of a theory exam than actual implementation.
300-470: Automating Cisco Enterprise Cloud
Skimming through the exam topics here, this post is getting a bit long and so I’ll have to come back and edit this later on :)
300-475: Building the Cisco with Application Centric Infrastructure
Ahhhh….this one cert this which finally gets into the WHAT & HOW ACI works. Finally we get into what VXLAN is, how to configure it, what a spine & leaf architecture is, what EPGs, tenants are, how to integrate ACI with firewalls or load balancers, whats APIC, whats Puppet/Chef, Python. Out of all the certs I’ve “reviewed” so far, if you really want to take one, this would be the one to take (or even better, just get the Cisco Press book or reading materials).
CCNA CYBER OPS
210-250: Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Fundamentals
This certs seems to be decent when it comes to entering the cyber security world. It goes through some networking basics, common attacking methods, what is cryptography, and how to use certain methods to defend against these attacks. I can exactly speak much to this cert track as I’m not in the security field. Cisco throws in along with the industry known technologies their products like Cisco ASAs, IPS, and some other ones I haven’t touched yet like Web Security (WSA) and Email Security (ESA).
210-255: Implementing Cisco Cybersecurity Operations
Being an ethical hacker, it really helps to understand the devices you are trying to attack. I like the fact Cisco threw in how the Windows and Linux file system works. The analyzing of Wireshark pcap’s also are a nice touch as well, but with only less than a 22% of the exam, for a deeper dive I’d go to Wireshark University to learn this over a Cisco cert.
Wish I could offer more meat on the other exam topics on here, but it *appears* to be what you need to at least get started in the security field. (some please comment below and let me know!)
As per Wikipedia — “The Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) is an industrial protocol for industrial automation applications. It is supported by ODVA.”. So it doesnt appear to be directly linked to any one vendor or product, but more of a standard — more of my liking! Going through the topics here I see some layer2/layer 3 topics, but this exam reminds me more of a ITIL or PMP exam than a Cisco cert.
Furthermore, as of Feb 8th 2017, the prices have increased to take the exams…
Entry – 125-165$
Associate – 165-325$
Professional – 300$
Expert – 450$
CCIE Lab – 1600$