You Knew I Had to Comment on the Cisco Certified Architect Program

So, I if I save $10 a week, I should be able to take the test by 2037!

Two years ago at Cisco Live, Cisco brought about 50 CCIEs in a room to present their ideas about the new expert design certification and architect certification. The CCDE was already in motion and the Architect program was on Cisco's minds. Surprisingly, most of the conversation and questions from the CCIEs were about the architect certification which we had more interest in. From my notes, it appears Cisco has adhered to their initial idea to have the architect program use a board exam possibly with Telepresence. Since many of you have probably read a lot of news about the CCA....err...Cisco Certified Architect (going to be tough to not reflexively use an acronym for a name with three capitalized words), I'll jump into the comments:

  • There is a lot of anger on the Cisco Certification message boards about CCIEs not being allowed to take this exam. Some feel that with 3 or more CCIEs you should be able to take the Cisco Certified Architect exam. Sorry, but I disagree. The CCIE is still about configuration and deployment - how the stuff works. I know a lot of CCIEs that can configure OSPF in their sleep, but can't tell me why splitting an OSPF area is poor design. Let's say you have R&S, Voice, and Security CCIEs. That doesn't mean you know design well, it means you know how to configure a lot of stuff. Yes, a lot of CCIEs will be very good design engineers, like me. But there are 20,000 CCIEs now, and only a small portion can really do design well, that's the reason for the CCDE.
  • That being said, I would consider a dual prerequisite for the Cisco Certified Architect - CCDE and CCIE. Is that too much to ask? I think not. Let's be honest, you can design/architect the greatest network in the world, but, at the end of the day, if you can't actually make the equipment do what you designed, you've got issues.
  • Great FAQ put together by Cisco on the Cisco Certified Architect.
  • The audio in this video from Cisco about the Cisco Certified Architect is terrible. What you record that on a webcam?
  • Now the cost....$15,000 huh? Ouch! Something tells me if I ask my boss for $1,500 for another CCIE he'd say charge it! If I ask for $15,000 I'm going to need a meeting with the CIO. And, from what I can tell on the website, it's $15,000 per try (in keeping with Cisco tradition). So, $30,000 to $45,000 per architect. That's a tough ROI. News flash: the economy is not going to be booming by next January. With only 7 people eligible to take the exam, there may be no initial candidates in January. I think Cisco has overpriced it. How about $3,000-$5,000?
  • That being said, for all your conspiracy quacks out there, Cisco is not pricing this at $15,000 in a grand scheme to pad their profit margins. Let's say 100 people per year take the Cisco Certified Architect exam (100 per year is not going to happen for a long time). That's $1,500,000 in revenue. Based on fiscal year 2008 that is .0038% of all Cisco's revenue. Cisco's gain in this is marketing. They can showcase more individuals that are certified experts in networking and can provide networking solutions, probably with Cisco equipment. This is an investment for Cisco, not a product line. Oh, and by the way, 9/11 was not an inside job, FDR didn't know about Pearl Harbor, and the moon landing was not staged in a Hollywood studio.
  • It was interesting to see the application process included a report on a completed project in which the Cisco Certified Architect candidate acted as a network architect. So, not only do you need a CCDE and 10-years of experience in networking, you also have to have completed a qualified, real-life network architecture project. That is very good and will, in the long-term, help weed out candidates who cram for tests but don't actually build many networks (come on 20,000 CCIEs, you know who you are!).

So, overall, I am glad to see Cisco pushing along and rolling out the Cisco Certified Architect program. It's good for the industry and for individual engineers (ok, ok, and good for Cisco). I hope to take it some day. But, at $15,000 a test with only 7 possible candidates in a bad economy, it might be a while before we get CCA #1.....err....I mean Cisco Certified Architect #1.

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