Cisco Updates Data Center Specialization Certs

But Still No CCNP DC

Cisco has several (9) well-established Specialization certifications focused on Data Center technology. Today, Cisco announced changes to those certs. Today, I'll give a quick bit of background, a little on the changes, and defer more more detailed look for a little later down the road.

I'm on my way to Interop when writing this post, so my apologies for not getting more specific about changes. I will list several links at the bottom of the post, though. I figured it was better to let you know today, and give a few links, and defer a longer look until I get time to dig deeper.

Existing DC Certs

Cisco has one design cert, and one support cert, for each of 4 areas of DC technology:

  1. Unified Computing (aka servers)
  2. Networking
  3. Storage
  4. Applications (eg load balancing) 

The official names of each certs happen to use a lot of words, but you can check out this link to see the official names.

If Cisco ever decides to make a CCNA and/or CCNP DC, they will most likely take the specialization cert exams and courses. (That's pure speculation on my part, by the way.) So, let's take a little closer look at those 4 certs.

The existing requirements (before today's announcements) for these support certs varies quite a bit. For instance, the application specialization cert takes 1 exam, with 1 course associated with that exam. The networking focused cert has 2 exams, each associated with a different course. The storage specialization cert varies a bit, with 1 exam, but two 5-day courses associated with that exam.

Finally, the unified computing cert currently requires the most work. First, you need a VMWare cert (VCP), plus the storage DC specialization, plus the networking DC cert. (Or you can take 1 exam instead of the taking one storage and one DC networking exam.) Also, per the the VMWare site, VCP requires that you take a class to get the cert, unless you already have an earlier version of the cert, which adds to the cost.

All in all, the breakdown works well for those who need to really do the work. Each individual DC specialization requires less exams than any of the CCNP cert, plus it matches the typical job roles. But the Unified Computing specialty is a bit more work.

Changes: Network Infrastructure and Unified Computing

The short version of today's announcement is that Cisco has revised the courses and exams related to both the support and design DC specialization certs for two areas: Unified Computing and Network Infrastructure. They will have nice long transition times, with around 6 months of overlap between the old and new exams.

Unified Computing gets an update for the one exam/course path that you can do instead of getting the storage and networking DC certs. The course/exam (DCUCI) , at brief glance, looks at UCS, routing/ switching, and Nexus. And the course includes some new self-study learning that you can take before attending the class. The Unified Computing design cert gets a similar treatment, with one exam/course (DCUCD) plus VCP.

Networking Infrastructure essentially gets a new single exam (DCUFI) path to meet the requirements, in addition to the existing 2-exam/course path.  

In general, the changed courses have about 30% estimated new content. Note that I've not looked at the topic lists yet.


Here's a link to the main page for the DC Specializations, with lots of info branching from there. Hopefully, this is enough to get you started. Feel free to post impressions on these changes here!

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