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CCIE certification: Changes ahead for Cisco partners

Cisco partners can expect new written exam topics to surface in mid-2016 in light of the networking vendor's updated CCIE framework; a CCNA update is on tap as well.

The digital times are changing, and so is Cisco's Career Certification program -- specifically, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) framework, according to today's announcement from Cisco.

The evolution of the CCIE certification framework is to ensure that the certifications are aligned with evolving job roles and desired business outcomes. The certification refresh going forward will embrace the Internet of Things, cloud, business transformation and network programmability, for example. Expect to see ongoing changes, starting with today's announcement, the company said.

"We want to make sure that our certified base of individuals are the most relevant in the industry," said Tejas Vashi, director of marketing and product management for Learning@Cisco. "And to do that, we're making sure -- like we've always done -- that our certifications are aligned with job roles, in both the depth in their specific technology areas, but also the breadth across the emerging technology spectrum and that they're able to drive business outcomes."

Cisco partners, he added, are not only on the forefront helping Cisco drive digital business transformation, but the more depth they have with a particular technology area, and breadth with emerging technologies, the better they can guide their customers, offer consulting services and help businesses future-proof investments.

CCIE certification: New exam topics

Today's challenge for Cisco partners and their customers is to balance new and existing IT requirements.

That said, Cisco has changed the expert-level CCIE framework by reweighting it, according to Antonella Corno, manager of product strategy for Learning@Cisco.

"We've carved out 10% of the existing framework to allow us to address new exam topics -- written exam only," she said.

It's the formalization of a journey that's been happening in the last several years.
Antonella Cornomanager of product strategy for Learning@Cisco

According to Corno, Cisco's CCIE framework is now more holistic -- the written exam blueprint and the lab exam blueprint are not separate like in the past. "It's the formalization of a journey that's been happening in the last several years," she said.

What the CCIE changes mean to partners is that all of the written exams will be republished, with the additional new topics appearing beginning in July 2016.

The CCIE Data Center v2.0 will be the first certification in the CCIE framework to be refreshed. However, the evolving technology module will be applied to all CCIE certification tracks over time.

The change only affects new test takers or those individuals who need to recertify after July. Cisco Gold partners are mandated to have at least four CCIE's on staff.

"While we're starting with the CCIE program, this will permeate to the associate professional levels as well," Vashi said.

CCNA gets a refresh

Also announced today is a refresh of the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security certification. According to Cisco, the focus of the certification has been expanded from network security to end-to-end IT security, with emphasis on core technologies and skills needed to maintain enterprise information systems.

New area coverage includes: 802.1x, Identity Services Engine, BYOD, Cloud Web Security, cloud and virtualization, FirePower, FireSight and advanced malware protection.

Next Steps

Find out about Cisco's IoT certification upgrades

Read about the consolidation of Cisco's voice and video CCNA certification

Learn why channel training and education has grown in importance

Browse a tutorial on Cisco certification

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