Does the Reputation of CCIE Drive the Popularity of All Cisco Certs?

Plus Lots of Answers to Questions Posed to Learning@Cisico

Does the good reputation of CCIE have an impact on people's choice to pursue their first Cisco cert? And if so, did the published CCIE stats have any impact on your perception of CCIE? Today I'll explore this one topic, and also wrap up the answers I gathered at Networkers this year to a variety of Cisco certification questions.

First, let me tackle the list of questions. This post is essentially part 3 of 3 discussing the questions we gathered back in this blog post in early June. A final thanks to Fred Weiller, Director of Marketing at Learning@Cisco, who graciously answered all the questions I asked of him. This post also includes answers I gathered informally by those in the know at the show.

CCIE Stats:

I asked Fred why Cisco stopped posting CCIE stats. For those who didn't realize, Cisco has posted stats about worldwide CCIEs, by type, by geography, and listed stats about multiple CCIEs as well. (Brad Reese, former Cisco Subnet blogger, used to blog about this topic with some regularity.) Fred's answer was that they simply analyzed pros vs. cons, and decided to stop listing the stats. The two specific cons: 

    1. Posting the stats was a manual process that required more than a trivial amount of time.
    2. Making the info available to competitors was worse than the benefit of making it available to those in the family, so to speak.

Additionally, I asked him if it had anything to do with the fact that Cisco didn't post stats for non-CCIE certs. While this wasn't necessarily a motivating factor, he did say that the decision to post CCIE stats pre-dated the existence of the Cisco Career Certs (CCNA, CCNP, etc), and changing so that the policy to not post cert counts across the board made some sense as well.

CCIE Open Ended Questions:

This one's a bit like beating a dead horse, but I wanted to mention it to be complete. The CCIE R/S lab exam formerly had Open Ended Questions (OEQs) as part of the lab. I had heard that Cisco might send a lab candidate home before finishing the day if they failed the OEQs. That was not true. Cisco clarified with me that while failing the OEQs meant you failed the lab exam, Cisco never sent anyone home early in the lab day because of the OEQs. OEQs are now dead, hoorah, so it may not matter much any more.

CCIE SP Ops Lab Performance:

Someone had asked me to ask about how the CCIE SP Ops lab exam was going - probably to find out if there a big failure rate like some of the other early times for new CCIE labs, that kind of thing. Short answer - they hadn't held any CCIE SP Ops lab exams as of Networkers. I've re-queued it for next time I ask around formally with Learning@Cisco.


I asked the CCIE program folks, and heard a lot, but only a little info is publishable yet.  What's publishable? There is a 100% chance of IOS XR being on the CCIE SP lab. No other details yet, including timeline.

CCNP Shrinkage - a Trend?

I asked Fred a question with the premise that CCNP shrunk with the changes early this year. Then I asked if that shrinkage was purposeful, or was a design goal, or a coincidence. It was an interesting reaction: CCNP shrunk? Once we talked through it, Fred said that making CCNP skinier/narrrowerlarger/smaller or whatever was not a design goal. Instead, the design goals were:

  • Remove redundancy vs. adjacent certs, e.g., all the CCNAs
  • Study current job roles, and change the cert to match

IOS 15.0

I asked about when we'd see IOS version 15.0 or beyond on a cert. Short version, that's like worrying about the flea on the tail of the dog. IOS version, from his perspective, wasn't considered when re-designing a cert. I imagine the CCIE team thinks about it more than the rest of the crowd, but for the career cert space, the IOS version appears to be a tactical choice driven by bigger issues, for example, to add feature X to the associated course and cert, you need IOS version 15.0.

Does CCIE Rep Impact Those New to Cisco Certs?

Now let's back up to the CCIE stats thing, and let me ramble a bit. I focused on Fred's comments that Cisco looked at the CCIE stats, and thought that there was more harm than good in posting the stats. Companies make choices like this every day, and that's fine with me.

But I wondered: what pros might we suggest to Cisco that would tip the balance back the other way? Or, would there be reasons - yet to be considered reasons - for Cisco to not just post stats for CCIE, but across the board? Or at least keep posting them for CCIE (and CCDE and Cisco Certified Architect)? (We are now squarely into Wendell's random thoughts, and not into info learned from Cisco.) Sure, I enjoyed being able to pop in and satisfy my curiosity about CCIE stats, but satisfying our collective curiosity isn't a very strong argument. So, let me toss it out for discussion: if Cisco asked your opinion about why Cisco should keep listing at least the CCIE stats, what would you tell them?

Again, just thinking out loud, I came up with a theory. It's admittedly a stretch, but it may spark some interesting discussion.

The theory is that folks considering jumping into their first Cisco cert see a very strong and respected CCIE cert at the end of the rainbow. (I know CCDE and Cisco Certified Architect are there, but I think CCIE is what's on the newbie radar still.) So... does the rep of CCIE have any impact on people's choice to pursue CCENT or CCNA? And the follow on: do the CCIE stats have any positive impact on the CCIE rep?

Here's part of my rationale: most folks who are choosing to start their Cisco cert work are working towards becoming more technical in the networking world. As a techie, they look forward to the options after that first cert, and see the venerable CCIE down the road. At the same time, they might not know many or even any CCIEs personally. So, the stats might have had some positive impact on their perceptions about he CCIE itself. Again, just thinking out loud, and it's maybe not a big impact, but it's food for thought.

Some related thoughts that make some loose ties to the idea that CCIEs rep is enhanced by the stats:

  1. Most newbies to Cisco certs are in or pursuing technical jobs.
  2. CCIE seems like a great goal for a techie.
  3. Most newbies don't personally know any/many CCIEs
  4. Most newbies perceive the reputation of CCIE from online sources, directly or indirectly
  5. The CCIE stats help that online reputation

So, let me close this longer post, and toss it to you folks. What reasons would you add to the list of pros for listing CCIE stats? Did CCIEs rep make any difference to you when you started CCNA? Did the CCIE stats have anything at all to do with it? If you have any specific recollections related to this from your own Cisco cert journey, I'd love to hear them.

Earlier posts in this series:

Insights about How Cisco Maintains Certifications

Cisco Considers IOS for Cert Self Study

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