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Cisco Learning Revamps Data Center Certifications and Adds Training

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

CCNA and CCNP exams jump from v1 to v6 status, indicating it's time to rework the entire Data Center certification path at Cisco. The company is also offering training on Big Data and Analytics with focus on how data centers, Big Data clusters, and Data V

Source: Microsoft screen lock imageOn January 17, Cisco lifted the lid on changes and additions to its training and certification offerings. First and foremost, the company's data center certifications at the CCNA, CCNP and CCIE levels all got a makeover. Second, Cisco introduced a new "portfolio" of training courses in the area of Data and Analytics. The header for the new Learning page reads "Home > Certifications > Data and Analytics." Although the page says nothing at present about certifications in this area, I have to believe the afore-cited labeling is no accident, and that it's at least possible that we'll see some certs in this subject matter sometime later on.

MORE: Best Big Data Certifications

What's New with Data Center Certification?

The press release reports that Data Center exams for CCNA, CCNP and CCIE are being "completely revised to keep IT practitioners at the forefront of the latest key skills, technologies and industry best practices for data center infrastructure." Topics on the docket include data center network management, using automation to streamline operations, and increased integration of unified computing and advanced virtualization. Tejas Vashi, senior director of product strategy and marketing told me the idea is to help Cisco-certified IT professionals take better advantage of automation and software-defined networking to ease the burden of setting up and maintaining appropriate infrastructures. At the same time, companies and service providers can also use policy to manage and control use of physical and virtual resources safely and securely.

If you visit the afore-linked cert pages you'll see announcements like this one for CCNA and CCNP, indicating a turnover in exam names and numbers, using the CCNA as an example:

It looks like older CCNA exams will retire on April 11, 2017, with the new ones taking over completely after that. The cut-off dates for CCNP are further out, at July 3, 2017. From what I can see, the CCIE exams integrate changes all the time, and already reflect the new coverage. Thus, the new versions of the exams are all available for those who want to get on the new track. See the respective certification pages for all the details.

What's the Deal with Data and Analytics at Cisco?

Cisco understands that organizations have to revamp their business practices and IT deployment strategies every bit as much as they have to keep their tool, technologies and platforms up-to-date. The two go hand in hand. These courses focus on designing scalable, reliable and intelligent data center solutions and taking best advantage of data virtualization using the Cisco Data Virtualization Platform using data driven analysis and design tools. The current curriculum includes two courses in Data Management, and three more courses in Data Virtualization. Here's a list:

Data Management

  • Cisco Big Data Analytics, Architecture and Management (ANDMB): available February 2017, this course offers hands-on training with a mix of application, storage, compute and networking topics focused on deployment of Big Data clusters.
  • Advanced Big Data Analytics, Architecture, Management and Applications (ANDMA): available March 2017, this course digs into architecture topics related to applications, data center and deployment scenarios for large-scale clusters, streaming analytics, tiered storage and more.

Data Virtualization

  • Cisco Information Server Basic (ANCISB): Engineering and administrators familiar with data integration learn hands-on how to install and develop with Cisco Information Server Application Data Services, aimed at engineers dealing with complex integrations.
  • Cisco Information Server Administration (ANCISM): Aims at administrators seeking to understand how Cisco Information Server fits their environment, with a focus on typical admin tasks and activities involved in using it.
  • Cisco Information Server Advanced (ANCISV): Aims at IT pros already familiar with Cisco Data Virtualization fundamentals who want to focus on understanding and using advanced features.

In looking over this curriculum, two things are immediately clear. First, this is emphatically NOT another Big Data curriculum. It is intensely and completely focused on Cisco platforms and technologies, specifically as they relate to Big Data clusters and Data Virtualization. Second, it's easy to see how this kind of detailed and narrow curriculum could easily spawn CCNA, CCNP and perhaps even CCIE level certifications.

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