A Cisco certification can be a powerful credential for a network engineer’s resumé. Now, Cisco is revamping its CCNA Routing and Switching certification to reflect the radical changes within networks, which are becoming more programmable and less configurable.
Specifically, Cisco is revising the criteria for its CCNA Routing and Switching certification, which designates a Cisco-certified network administrator.
There are two certification tiers above CCNA, which aren’t being revamped at this time. CCNP signifies qualifications of a network professional at the engineering level; and CCIE designates a worker with senior network engineering competence.
“Today’s news is the introduction of the next-gen CCNA certification,” says Tejas Vashi, senior director for learning and product strategy at Cisco. “The reason we’re doing it is because it has to remain aligned with the active job roles in the industry. Network administration is evolving across the industry because of digitalization.”
Networks are evolving from closed and hardware-centric to open, programmable, and software-centric. Rather than box-by-box management, network engineers must oversee network-wide, policy-based automation.
The CCNA certification is being affected in six key areas:
- Programmable network architectures
- Virtualized network functions (VNFs)
- Policy-based network management
- Network analytics
- Enterprise VPN technologies for intelligent WAN
- IPv6 address family and routing to support IoT scaling
The changes to the certification are significantly different than the current CCNA certification, says Antonella Corno, a manager for learning and product strategy at Cisco. “Instead of just learning command line interface (CLI) based commands, now you need to use SDN concepts,” she says. Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) is also evolving, and that needs to be recognized within the certification as well, she adds.
The CCNA certification must be refreshed every three years. So beginning today, the workforce with these skills will gradually be brought up to speed.
“It’s a smooth transition,” says Vashi. He adds that it typically takes about 10 days to study the curriculum when preparing for the CCNA exam, but this can vary greatly, depending on how the student approaches the training.
The changes to CCNA come as part of Cisco’s overall shift toward programmable networks throughout its certification portfolio. In November 2015, it introduced a new framework at the expert (CCIE) level to address these emerging technologies.