Cisco is one of the world’s foremost network hardware companies. Its equipment and standards have been adopted by businesses throughout the world. Cisco has organised training courses for many years, including those run by accredited training providers. From October 2013, the certifications available have been updated to reflect changes to the design, methodologies and implementation of networking services.
Technology Tracks in Cisco Certifications
Cisco certifications cover several levels (CCENT, CCNA, CCNP and CCIE) and several technology tracks or “collaborations??? as Cisco refers to them. These are:
- Routing and Switching – This track is related to the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot routed and switched networks.
- Data Center – Data Center certification provides training and a certification program that helps people make the best use of a data center network.
- Security – CCNA Security covers core security technologies, including the installation, troubleshooting and monitoring of network devices. This is to demonstrate competency in the technologies Cisco uses in its security infrastructure.
- Service Provider – SP certified individuals configure, implement, and troubleshoot Cisco Service Provider Next-Generation networks, and manage carrier-grade network infrastructures.
- Service Provider Operations – SP Operations validates knowledge and skills in a troubleshooting environment within a carrier class network infrastructure.
- Video (CCNA only)
- Voice – CCNA Voice certification validates knowledge and skills required to administer a voice network.
- Wireless – Wireless certification validates the knowledge and skills to manage wireless LANs, specifically those networks using Cisco equipment.
Cisco Certification Levels
The entry level certification is called Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT). This validates a person’s ability to support a small enterprise branch network, including installation, operations, troubleshooting, and some network security tasks. You need a CCENT in order to progress on to higher levels of qualification.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is the level above CCENT. It validates the ability of someone to support medium-size routed and switched networks, using Cisco hardware. CCNA qualifications are spread across the various technology tracks mentioned before, so someone would become a CCNA-RS (for Routing and Switching), a CCNA-DC (for Data Centers), and so on.
The next step up from being a CCNA is the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) qualification. This validates abilities to support local and wide-area enterprise networks and also to work alongside specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless and video technologies. As with CCNA, the CCNP qualification is streamed to qualify the holder for one of the specialised technology tracks.
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) qualification is viewed by Cisco as extremely prestigious. Cisco introduced the CCIE certification in 1993 to help industry distinguish the top tier of networking experts worldwide. There are, in fact, very few CCIE holders as the certification requirements are very strict. CCIE qualifications are streamed across the various specialised technology tracks.
Cisco and authorised training partners run courses that usually end with the participants sitting through an examination designed to test their competences with the subjects they have been trained on. If you pass the exam, you gain a qualification.
Each technology track has its own set of training requirements. As someone moves from CCNA upwards, the complexity of the education correspondingly increases.
Courses provide participants with hands-on experience with Cisco hardware and software. Many courses have prerequisites that require you to have had prior exposure to networking at suitable levels to attend a course. For example, to qualify to take the CCNA-Security exam, you have to have qualified already as a CCENT or a CCNA-RS (Routing and Switching). To qualify to take the CCNP- DC (Data Center) exam, you have to have passed the CCNA-DC certification.