CompTIA Network+ N10-007 vs. N10-008: What’s New?
| technology | networking - Erik Mikac

CompTIA Network+ N10-007 vs. N10-008: What's New?

Technology evolves at breakneck speed. As technology changes, so do associated certifications — and this is the case with CompTIA's Network+ certification. In September 2021, CompTIA introduced an updated version of the Network+ exam, the N10-008. This new version will fully replace the Network+ N10-007 in June of 2022, at which point the N10-007 exam will be retired. 

During the time the two exam versions overlap,  you can choose to take either exam. In this post, we will cover Network+ exam in general, the differences between the two exams, and which one is right for your career goals.

What is the Network+ Exam?

The Network+ exam was introduced in 1999 to validate knowledge of all things related to network configuration and infrastructure. It's 90 questions long, features a mixture of performance-based and multiple-choice questions, and requires a passing score of at 720 out of a possible 900. As of February 2022, it costs $348 USD to take the Network+ exam.

The Network+ is not a vendor-specific certification. It tests on a wide range of networking concepts and skills that can be applied regardless of vendor. That's why earning Network+ certification is considered the ideal starting point for IT pros. The exam validates the foundational knowledge needed to expand to other areas of IT including security and the cloud

The first Network+ exam was called Network+ N10-001. Naturally, after several iterations, we arrived at N10-007 and subsequently N10-008. While these may be different exams, the overarching theme is the same: to determine whether applicants can troubleshoot, implement, operate, and secure a network environment. So, let's talk about how the two exams diverge.

What's Different About the N10-008?

The changes between the two exams aren't exactly huge. Nonetheless, about a quarter of the overall exam has been updated. Here's a breakdown of the exam domains and the percent of the exam they take up.

N10-007N10-008
  1. Networking Concepts (23%) 1. Networking Fundamentals (24%)
  2.  Infrastructure (18%) 2. Network Implementations (19%)
  3. Network Operations (17%) 3. Network Operations (16%)
  4. Network Security (20%) 4. Network Security (19%)
  5. Network Troubleshooting and Tools (22%) 5. Network Troubleshooting (22%)

The last two domains of N10-008 are virtually the same as the previous exam. Note the domain Networking Troubleshooting and Tools from N10-007 has been replaced with Network Troubleshooting. This is due to CompTIA wanting to focus less on individual tools and more on holistic approaches to troubleshooting.

The most notable changes between the exams are found in the first three domains.  Due to the fact the N10-008 is the first Network+ exam that focuses on network architecture, the term infrastructure has been removed. This means N10-008 exam takers will be expected to explain the characteristics and network topology of the SD-WAN. They will need to know how an SD-WAN is used to provide secure, reliable transportation in the same way WANs use MPLS.

Now that so many applications reside in the cloud, previous WAN architecture does not suffice. Because SD-WAN expertise is now an expectation, it is covered on the N10-008 exam. Because SD-WAN is relatively new technology, it is not covered on the N10-007 exam.

In addition to SD-WAN's, the N10-008 focuses on network performance monitoring and high availability as separate issues. Cloud technology heavily prioritizes the need for high availability. Generally, most cloud providers boast "11 9" availability, which means their stack will be available 99.99999999% of the time. However, this assumes that the cloud engineer configured everything correctly. There are several ways to add redundancy to servers and with so many backup strategies. So CompTIA decided to take out high availability all together, and make it a separate focus.

 Additionally, the network security section has been revamped to secure network deployments in a cloud, on-prem, and hybrid environment. It particularly focuses on hardening network infrastructure.

To put it shortly, there are four major updates in the N10-008: Virtualization, the cloud, the internet of things (IoT), and Cellular 5G. Let's address each one of those updates in more detail.

1. Virtualization

While virtualization is covered on the N10-007 exam, it is to an even greater extent on the N10-008. For example, section 1.2 of the N10-008 Exam Objectives requires knowledge on various different provider links such as Metro-Optical and Leased line. Because so many more people work from home, virtualization is more important than ever. So, CompTIA is adapting their certification to reflect this growing trend. 

On the N10-007, the extent of virtualization is covered in section 2.4. The N10-007 exam only requires a broad understanding of how virtualization software works, while N10-008 tests virtualization more in depth. For example, the N10-008 exam will test a candidate’s knowledge on how to troubleshoot a cloud virtual machine (VM) that is not connecting to the internet. 

Test takers should have an understanding of how to harden a VM, including which ports should be open and closed upon startup. And finally, N10-008 test takers will need to understand handling identity access and management in a virtual environment. 

2. Cellular 5G

Pretty soon, 5G will be everywhere. Because this technology will be ubiquitous from here on out, it will be covered on the Network+ exam. 5G is a fifth-generation technology standard for cellular connectivity and networking. It is expected that 5G will be able to transfer data at over 1GB a second, which is great news for anyone using an SD-WAN.

 SD-WAN's/5G combination will be a game changer in regard to network connectivity. For the new Network+ exam, make sure to understand the relationship between the two. Once again, this has everything to do with the new work from home life. It is important to have a deep understanding of the various wireless technologies and standards.

The N10-008 Network+ exam expects you to know how to troubleshoot 5G connectivity. For instance, because 5G is short range bandwidth, it only works within a thousand feet of the 5G tower. So when troubleshooting, you need to verify that the user is within range of the tower. These sorts of questions and more will be asked on the N10-008 exam.

3. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or IOT, is covered on the older exam. Like virtualization however, it was covered very broadly and briefly. That's not the case with the N10-008 exam. For example, in section 2.1, items such as refrigerators, speakers, thermostats, and doorbells are referenced. When taking the new exam, make sure you know how to remotely access IoT devices on your network.

Also, all IoT devices have a log that monitors their activity. Understanding how to access these logs is vital to passing the exam. As a practical example, take the thermostat. It is possible you will have to program the thermostat from a central location, and turn it up or down depending on local weather conditions.

The N10-007 exam glossed over technologies like Bluetooth and RFID. As society — especially homes — becomes more interconnected, the demand for professionals to troubleshoot them increases. CompTIA recognized this and quickly adapted the N10-008 exam to include these new environments.

4. The Cloud

Not surprisingly, the cloud is taking center stage in all things digital. On the N10-008 exam, the cloud plays a far larger role in both sections 3.0 and 1.0. Only broad knowledge of the cloud was needed for the N10-007. It is now required that you understand cloud redundancy concepts such as Warm Site, Cold Site, and Hot Site. In addition to redundancy, load balancing traffic is a critical component of cloud technology. Expect questions on different load balancing methods and when to use different types.

One way to think of the cloud is as a giant server with the capability of serving virtually anything the end user needs. That means all the actions it performs are a service. Therefore all its capabilities have as a service appended to them. Software, Infrastructures, Platform, and Desktop as a Service (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, and DaaS, respectively) will be covered on the N10-008 exam.

Think of SaaS as things like Office 365, Azure AD, or the AWS management console. They are accessed from a web browser and everything is hosted in the cloud.

  • IaaS is creating networking applications in the cloud. The routers, switches, firewalls, and everything else you need is located here.
  • PaaS deals with the actual deployment of applications via the cloud. It deals with the intelligent provision of infrastructure, and the deployment of code via continuous delivery.
  • DaaS allows administrators to provision customized desktops to users. The desktops will have provisioned SaaS application and storage.

Remember this is a networking exam, not a cloud exam. You are not required to have in-depth understanding of all of these cloud concepts. But it is necessary to know what they are, how to troubleshoot them, and basic configuration. Based on all this, cloud knowledge is the biggest difference between the N10-007 and N10-008 exams.

Who Should Take the Network+ N10-008 Exam?

If you are new to the network game, then this is the perfect certificate to start off your career. Let's take a look at a couple roles that benefit from CompTIA Network+ certification.

Network Administrator

CompTIA Network+ certification is perfect for anyone who works with networks on a daily basis. It covers everything you need to know, from networking fundamentals to hardening a network against malicious activity. Furthermore, it looks great on a resume and shows prospective employers that you are knowledgeable and committed to learning the latest skills.

Network Helpdesk

Who here hasn't had their day saved by a network help desk associate? These employees are on the front line solving, troubleshooting, and triaging user issues in real time. It goes without saying that the CompTIA Network+ certification can greatly increase the overall knowledge of anyone working on an IT helpdesk.

Junior Cloud Engineer

The breadth of cloud knowledge is the key difference between the N10-008 and the N10-007 Exam. Thanks to the changes made by CompTIA, you will have the knowledge needed for some entry-level cloud positions. The job market is hot right now, and cloud engineering is only becoming a more and more in-demand profession. By earning the Network+ certification, you will prove you have the chops to troubleshoot cloud and hybrid networks. For even more cloud expertise, check out the CompTIA Cloud+ certification.

Who Should Take the Network+ N10-007 Exam?

If you are already studying for the N10-007, then there is no need to switch to the N10-008. It is always better to get a certification sooner rather than later. The one drawback is that the exam will be retired by June 2022. So, it is critical to prepare and take the test before the exam retires.  With exception to the Junior Cloud Engineer position, all of these aforementioned positions are perfect for anyone getting this certification.

Final Thoughts

The biggest take away is this: if you are already studying for the N10-007 exam, then continue studying for it. There is no rush to take the N10-008. You've got until June to earn the N10-007. 

Otherwise, go ahead and take the newest iteration of the Network+ exam. It is an excellent way to learn the fundamentals of computer networking — and get up to date on the latest trends. Furthermore, it validates that you have networking chops to current and potential employers and increases your marketability in a very hot and competitive IT job market.

 

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