If it’s time to update your certification or you’re currently studying for a Cisco CCNA or CCNP, Cisco is updating its material this year for its data center exams. Technology evolves every year, so certification exams are constantly updated to account for new areas and specialties. If you’ve already earned a certification for the old data center exam(s), you should definitely consider adding the new material to your study regimen.
The CCNA Data Center exams impacted are the Cisco Data Center Networking (DCICN) 200-150 and Introducing Cisco Data Center Technologies (DCICT) 200-155.
The CCNP Data Center exams impacted include:
If you intend to pursue a career working with cloud technology or in any corporate data center, you should study for and take at least one of these exams. The DCICT (200-155) exam is more introductory, so it’s a better step for beginners. For people with a little more experience, the DCICN (200-150) exam is a more optimal choice. All the CCNP exams go into more specifics and assume you have a base knowledge of the technology.
All of the new exams had some material removed and new material added. Here is a brief overview of the changes.
CCNA Data Center Exam Changes
The new CCNA Data Center exams include the Cisco Data Center Networking (DCICN) 200-150 and the Cisco Data Center Technologies (DCICT) 200-155.
What material was removed?
- Any product-specific material from brands outside of the Cisco network.
- Cisco IOS router topics.
- Product specific functionality such as password recovery, booting, and diagnostics.
- Fundamentals such as SAN architecture.
- Network design models.
- Network services such as load balancers, Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE), and Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS).
What material was added?
- An increase in data center topics regarding data center architecture, unicast and multicast, authentication and authorization, and accounting (AAA)
- New switching technology questions, port channeling, and data plane separation
- Overview of fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
- Data center storage and IP storage architecture and design
- Expanded virtualization topics
- Overlay, Underlay, and data plane topics
- Cloud computing basics.
- Cisco-specific Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) concepts including policy-driven application deployment model, and the ACI logical model
CCNP Data Center Exam Changes
The new CCNP Data Center exams include the Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCI) 300-175, the Implementing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (DCII) 300-165, the Implementing Cisco Data Center Virtualization and Automation (DCVAI) 300-170, the Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (DCID) 300-160, and the Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (DCIT) 300-180.
What material was removed?
- Any product-specific topics such as Nexus switches and Cisco NX-OS Software
- How to implement UCS Server Virtualization Features
- A reduction (not complete removal) of network virtualization
- Adapter FEX, VM-FEX, and Nexus vCenter Manager integration
- Basic knowledge of data center architecture and design
- Data center security implementation and design
What material was added?
- Automation, centralized management, and scripting tools
- Dedicated domain security
- Data center storage connectivity including FCoE
- New data center technology such as VXLAN and implement data center protocols
- New routing technology such as OSPFv2, OSPFv3, and ISIS protocols
- Broad data center security such as ACLs, CoPP, fabric binding, and port security
- Troubleshooting routing protocols
- Troubleshooting virtual switching technologies
- Application Centric Infrastructure
- Troubleshooting LAN and SAN security as well as compute security
Are the New Exams Worth It?
Cisco has some of the most difficult exams to pass, and some may wonder if it’s worth the effort. If you don’t know what certification to study for, Cisco has the most benefits between potential salary and respect in the industry. Not every cert is recognized as valuable in the industry, but Cisco certifications help applicants set themselves apart from others during the interview process. These certifications and exams are definitely worth the effort.
Successful exam applicants can use their certifications for a variety of positions, but the average salary for a Cisco cert holder is between $40,000 and $130,000 per year according to PayScale.
It’s also a benefit for college graduates who need to set themselves apart from other applicants — when you’re new to the field, you have no portfolio, no experience, and nothing to show other than your degree. Thousands of others have the same resume, but having a Cisco certification sets you apart and shows that you’re dedicated to having a career in technology and data center architecture.
Before you start, just know that certification isn’t easy to get, which is why it’s respected in the field. You’ll need to dedicate hours to studying, reading, and taking practice tests.
Having a Cisco certification on your resume will help you increase your salary, give you an advantage in an interview, and help you understand one of the most popular IT vendors on the market. You can’t go wrong with a Cisco cert, but make sure you study for the new material before you take the exams.
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