CCDE Practical Beta Test Cancelled

As part of the CCDE Practical (Lab) development, Cisco had planned to run a beta test beginning at Networkers in June. This beta test would actually certify an individual as a CCDE for the few (if any) who passed. Cisco would use this beta test to track its progress on the test's development and content. Just two weeks ago, Cisco sent an e-mail asking CCDE Beta Team members if they were available to take the CCDE Practical Beta at Networkers:

From: Cisco CCDE Team Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 8:52 PM To: <> Subject: CCDE Beta Availability -- Orlando? Dear CCDE Beta Participant: The CCDE program team is in the process of mapping out the logistics of the beta delivery of the CCDE practical exam. In an effort to forecast our beta deliveries, we would like your feedback regarding your availability and ability to participate in the beta process of the practical exam. Our primary beta delivery venue will be immediately prior to the Cisco Live event in Orlando, co-located in Orlando Fl. It will be an 8-hour practical exam delivered the over the weekend of June 21-22, 2008. Please indicate your availability to participate in this delivery by responding to the CCDE beta alias <>. Please indicate if you will be available and prepared to participate in the CCDE practical exam. As you know, we need a sizeable sample for the beta. We really appreciate your candid feedback. Logistics including locations are still in development. We will relay them to you as soon as we have details. Thank you, Cisco CCDE Team

I immediately replied saying I could take the test on Sunday, before Networkers gets into full swing on Monday and Tuesday. But then this week, to my astonishment, Cisco cancelled the entire practical beta test, instead going right to the practical exam later in the year:

From: Cisco CCDE Team Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 3:39 PM To: <> Subject: Orlando Beta Status Dear CCDE Beta Participants: Recently, we sent you a message inquiring on your availability to participate in a BETA delivery of the CCDE practical exam (exam 2) at the upcoming Cisco Live! Event in Orlando. We sincerely appreciate all responses to the inquiry and we appreciate your candor in communicating your availability during the June 2008 event. Due to program changes and feature enhancements, we have removed the need to deliver a large scale BETA version of the CCDE practical exam. The nature of the CCDE practical exam delivery will enable us to move forward with our first delivery in a production environment without the need to develop a “cut score” in the traditional way we do with our current exams. Also, the exclusivity and low volume of the CCDE practical exam enables us to control the delivery environment so we can offer improved security and more meaningful test results to our candidates. In effect, this enables us to better preserve the value placed on the certification, as well as ensure that integrity of the exam will remain intact for the individuals who are truly Sr. level Designers and Architects. In the next few weeks we will be communicating to you the various details of the CCDE practical exam, including the exam blueprint, our exhibits and breakout sessions at the Cisco Live event, and various ways you can preview the testing environment for the CCDE practical exam. Again, we appreciate your efforts and sacrifices to be a part of the BETA pool for the CCDE certification, and we look forward to sharing more details with you in the near future. On behalf of the CCDE team, Thank you, Cisco CCDE Team

I spoke with a CCDE team member and he indicated they are still on track to deliver the practical exam in the fall. The need for a beta test, like the one they conducted for the written exam, was unnecessary based on their analysis of the practical format and their internal progress on the test. Still, it seems awkward that the new, expert level design certification will be released to the public without a test run. Sort of like running your core routers on 12.5(99)T code.

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