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Certifications for Cisco partners tackle approaching tech skills gap

As the transition to mobility, cloud and other emerging technologies gathers speed in the enterprise, a gap in tech skills approaches. In response, Cisco has introduced five certifications for partners and/or partners' end user IT customers.

About a year ago, Cisco introduced three new Business Transformation Certifications designed to prepare partners for imminent business opportunities in the enterprise. Today, the vendor introduced an additional five new or updated certifications for partners and/or their end user IT customers. These certifications are designed to help bridge the approaching gap in tech skills as business transitions -- i.e. mobility, cloud, Internet of Things, and big data and analytics --  accelerate in the enterprise.

Today's announcement includes the CCNP Routing and Switching v2.0 revision, four new certifications for Network Programmability Specialists, Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist certification, Cisco Enterprise IT-Business Specialist certification, and Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) Training.

According to Tejas Vashi, director of marketing and product management with Learning@Cisco, the skills gap will come from the explosive increase in network-connected devices -- from 10 to 12 billion endpoints today to 50 billion endpoints by 2020 -- and the lack of tech-savvy professionals to support a growing network infrastructure.

"Partners need to understand the changing situation they're walking into at customer sites, particularly for a consultative sale where a business conversation revolves around efficiencies and return on investment," he said.

Some of the new certifications are of greater importance to certain Cisco partners and are aimed at customer IT shops.

Of immediate importance to partners are updates to the CCNP Routing and Switching Certification. Considered a major revision, CCNP Routing and Switching v2.0 advancements include a greater emphasis on IPv6, Cisco StackWise, Virtual Switch Services (VSS), and Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN).

Cisco has also modified its curriculum and exams. Modifications include lab-based, hands-on content and configuration for IPv6. Instructor-led and e-learning options are available for the Route, Switch and Tshoot (troubling shooting) training products.

Cisco partners will have to meet the new credential requirements to maintain certification levels. New exams are available starting today. Old exams will be retired on January 30, 2015.

The four new Network Programmability Specialist certifications are Business Application Engineer, Network Application Developer, Network Programmability Design Specialist, and Network Programmability Engineer.

Partners can expect to learn how to deploy an open infrastructure, fundamental network skills, development of open environments, and design simplification with innovative automation.

Cisco is making on-demand videos available for training. The new Network Programmability Specialist certifications require each Specialist to complete two courses and two exams that address open application program interface (API) programmability and Policy Based Controllers technologies.

The new Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist certification addresses operational and IT convergence on the industrial plant floor. Certification materials include training for obtaining foundation skills for the administration and management of industrial network devices and systems in manufacturing and other industrial plants.

According to Andy Gremett, senior product marketing manager with Learning@Cisco, this is Cisco's first step towards addressing the skills-gap challenge on the horizon with the looming Internet of Things.

"These companies are going to have to go to partners to buy sensors, to figure out what they're going to do with all the data coming in from all the endpoints, and they're going to have to go to partners to secure the data and [learn how to] store it and use it," he said.

This training combines instructor-led and hands-on education.

The Cisco Enterprise IT-Business Specialist certification takes the success of the partner business transformation training and directs it to the customer. According to Gremett, Cisco partners may want to take this training to help customers drive business value for themselves or partners may want to point customers towards this specialist certification.

The Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise v10 certification includes revised courses. The three refreshed courses are Administering Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise 1 (AUCCE1) , Administering Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise 2 (AUCCE2) , and Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise(DUCCE).

Course topics cover Cisco UCCE v10x, APIs that drive cloud and mobility, the interactive voice response environment for UCCE, and  Cisco Unified Intelligence Center (CUIC) component architecture..

Training is now available.

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