Technology evolves, and with it, so do certifications. That was the theme two months ago when Cisco announced v3.0 of its CCNA Routing and Switching certification. This blog stressed that CCNA R&S v3.0 is anything but an everyday refresh. Instead, the update reflects fundamental change in the knowledge and skills required increasingly of networking professionals today.

Given the significance of this particular upgrade, Learning@Cisco presented a series of three immensely popular orientation webinars last month: “The Essentials of CCNA Routing and Switching.” Did you happen to catch them yet?

Today I’d like to encourage you to watch at least the first recorded webinar (broken into five shorter modules for better digestibility) in the three-part series. “CCNA Routing and Switching: A Comprehensive Overview” features Routing and Switching Product Manager Greg Cote and Routing and Switching Content Engineer Nikita Singh as they shed light on the network architectural forces driving the need for change in the certification. Cisco Learning Network Community Manager Brett Lovins provides key information at the end about how the community here can provide resources and support to help you navigate the changes.

Digital Business and the Evolving Network

I’ll take you through some of the highlights from Greg’s portion of this first webinar. He sets the stage by stressing three interrelated principles:

  • All industries are being forced to become more digitally agile and innovative today.
  • Digitalization puts new demands on the network, requiring IT teams to grow to meet all sorts of new challenges and respond to new business models.
  • As part of this shift, networkers need expanded skills and knowledge.

 

ccna-routing-and-switching-v3.jpgWhile this might seem initially daunting, the good news, according to Greg, is that “this is a great time to be in networking, and the reason is, it’s really the network at the heart that is enabling innovations and these new business models.”

Why are businesses everywhere going digital in such a big way? They need to automate their processes in order to simplify them, speed time to market, and lower their costs, plus they want to personalize the business experience for the customer, says Greg. Customers are being won by innovation, and companies are using IT to reinvent themselves, he adds.

The network becomes a vital part of this digital transformation, sometimes in dramatic ways, as with self-driving cars. How specifically do networks need to evolve to meet digital business challenges? Greg points to Cisco’s new Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) (see our blog posts here and here to read more) to help paint the picture of a modern programmable network equipped to handle today’s demands. Cisco DNA incorporates these key elements:

  • An infrastructure that is virtualized to offer flexibility and freedom of choice to run a service anywhere
  • A network that is designed for automation so as to be easier to manage, such as from the cloud, and able to draw upon vast data and analytics
  • Enabling of application-driven policies that assist substantially with day-to-day operations

 

The network that was once manual, rigid, and device-centric is giving way to a digital-ready network that is automated, flexible, and extends programmability beyond the data center and into all segments of the network. Hardware is moving more and more to software, and individual endpoint device management is shifting to a policy-based level of automation.

Watch the Webinar!

In the next blog post, we’ll continue with this recap of Part 1 in the webinar series and discuss more fully how all this change affects you, the network administrator.

But now, with my summation fresh in your mind, I encourage you to visit our "CCNA Routing and Switching Overview and Preparation” page and listen to the five modules comprising this first webinar ("CCNA Routing and Switching: A Comprehensive Overview") that I have highlighted here for you.

 

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Gary Pfitzer is a content manager at Learning@Cisco, focused on bringing various aspects of today's IT journey to light through business papers, blogging, customer success stories, and other writing.