CCIE Program Refresh, My thoughts.

The world of technology as we know is changing fast, faster than many predicted. This is certainly true in the data center. In the “Old days” (more than 3 years ago) most of my time was spent evangelising a particular product or adjudicating a bake off between two or more vendor platforms.

These days the infrastructure conversations tend to be far shorter, the fact is infrastructure these days is a given, and the true differentiator is how easy that infrastructure is to consume, automate and orchestrate in a cloud stack or converged solution.

Gone are the days of product led engagements (and rightfully so) these days it’s all about solution led engagements. Taking a business requirement and translating that into a technical solution which truly drives business outcomes.

This solutions led approach, inevitably leads to a closer collaboration between teams across all elements of the cloud stack, portal developers, applications developers, automation/orchestration, backup, infrastructure, storage etc.

The Human API

Just like all the above elements use various API’s to hook seamlessly into the other components of the solution, the true modern day Consultant needs “Human API’s” in their skill set to design deliver and integrate their elements into the overall business solution.

It is unrealistic to expect a networking consultant to be an expert in all the various solutions into which the network could integrate for example OpenStack, the automation/orchestration and Cloud Management Platforms like Cisco UCS Director, or to fully understand a culture like DevOps.

What the modern day networker does need to know however, is how all these various elements interact and consume the network. They need the “Human API” into each of these technologies, which means knowing enough about the other teams, to talk a common language in order to design and implement a truly holistic and optimised solution.

With this in mind Cisco have revamped the CCIE program to address this shift in skill set and the need to align certifications much closer to these evolving job roles. Cisco have done this by adding in these “Human API’s” across all CCIE Tracks. No longer can you afford to be isolated into a particular technology track with no consideration to the bigger picture, sure you still need to be an expert in your chosen technology but there is a framework common to all tracks which are essential skills in the modern day consultant or engineer.

So what’s changing?

Cisco is adding in a common framework around these evolving technologies (E.T’s) across all CCIE Tracks, this framework will make up 10% of the CCIE Written Exams with the other 90% focused on the specific track. The Lab exams will not however include these E.T’s and remain 100% focused on the particular track.


As Cisco always give at least 6 months notice of any blueprint changes, this additional common Evolving Technologies section will come into effect in the written exams in July 2016


CCIE Cloud?

I’m sure like me, when you see the Certification road map below, you cannot help but notice the missing box in the top right hand corner.


This has led to the speculation of an imminent CCIE Cloud track, incorporating Nexus 9000 and Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). I for one was certainly hoping for one, in order to pursue adding a 3rd CCIE to my resume. This however is not the case, but I’m sure this news will come as a great relief to my wife.

However Nexus 9K and Cisco ACI will be added to the CCIE Data Center track in the CCIE DC 2.0 Refresh due July 2016, which make sense, and updates the DC Lab blueprint in-line with the skills required to design, implement and integrate a Cloud ready data center.

UCS Director, UCS Central, REST API, and Python are all now listed in the ‘Data Center Automation and Orchestration’ section of the Written and Lab Blueprints. Which up until now have never been covered in the CCIE DC program but do form a huge part of almost every discussion I have with my clients, so great to see they are now included, thus aligning the certification much closer to the actual modern day job role.

The Data Center Lab 2.0 exam will also add a 60min “Diagnostic” section in which no console access is given but you need to ascertain likely causes of issues from various evidence trails like E-mails, diagrams and screenshots. This will be followed by the 7hr Troubleshooting and Configuration section. You need at least a minimum score in both sections to pass the overall exam.

Security Everywhere

Scarcely a day goes by without the press reporting a hacking attempt or a compromise in security of house hold named companies.

The fact is, as we embrace the innovation that cloud brings along with the borderless network and IoT, security can no longer be thought of as a set of products but instead it needs to be a mind set and be holistically integrated throughout the entire solution.

The threat landscape is ever changing, cyber criminals along with deploying very advanced techniques now have widely distributed attack surfaces.

This coupled with the fact that there is a huge industry shortage of trained security professionals has led Cisco to also revamp the CCNA Security certification to include all these modern security concerns, by expanding the scope of the certification to cover topics like Cloud, Web and Virtualisation Security, BYOD, ISE, Advanced malware protection as well as including the FirePOWER and FireSIGHT product portfolio.

All this begins at the associate level and rightly so as Security needs to be woven into everything that we do, security needs to be everywhere.

Final Thought

I for one welcome this announcement from Cisco, as there are an awful lot of traditional networkers out there wondering what skills they will need to stay relevant in the new world order of software defined networking and Cloud.  And it’s great to see Cisco addressing the needs of its core advocates and bringing them on this new and exciting journey with them. Once again Cisco raises the bar for industry talent at every level.



About ucsguru

Principal Consultant and Data Center Subject Matter Expert. I do not work or speak for Cisco or any other vendor.
This entry was posted in CCIE DC, Cisco Champion, SDN and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to CCIE Program Refresh, My thoughts.

  1. This is a fantastic write up on this Colin, really appreciate your insights.

  2. Saj says:

    Absolutely, security should be woven into everything promoting security conscious designs at each perimeter.
    I always thought there was an overlap between the DC and Cloud tracks, now I know why!

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