(Note: This is the second installment of a two-part blog that looks at specific certifications that qualify IT professionals to operate and manage today’s next-generation data center. The first part of the blog series may be read here.)

It’s not easy to master the wide range of skills that IT professionals need for the ASAP data center. These skills involve the implementation, optimization, and management of servers, as well as storage, network, hardware, software, cloud, and advanced virtualization skills.

In addition, running today’s enterprise-class data center needs a whole new set of skills. An example is automating IT tasks to shorten the time needed to get applications running and to streamline routine IT tasks.

Data center IT professionals can utilize new technologies and skills involving policy-driven infrastructure that take into account business needs across physical and virtual resources in the network. Another key responsibility includes ensuring a secure data center, along with protection of data assets.

Cisco Rolls Out Updates to Data Center Certification Portfolio

To deliver the skills needed to manage today’s next-generation data center, Cisco announced today that it is upgrading its Data Center certification portfolio.

Last November, we completely updated the CCIE Data Center certification, the most advanced of its kind in the industry.

Today, we are rolling out the totally revised CCNA and CCNP Data Center certification programs to deliver next-generation skills.

Here’s an overview of the changes:                                                                                                 

  • The CCNA Data Center certification has added new content and extensive hands-on learning that covers data center infrastructure, data center networking concepts and technologies, data center storage networking, unified computing, network virtualization, data center automation and orchestration, and Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).
  • The CCNP Data Center program offers comprehensive certification and Professional-level skills focused on the in-depth data center solutions and technologies needed to design, implement, and manage a complex, modern data center infrastructure. This includes the latest industry best practices and know-how in data center networking, unified computing, virtualization, Cisco ACI, and data center automation and orchestration. The curriculum offers extensive hands-on learning.
  • These updates are designed to dovetail with the revisions Cisco recently made to the CCIE Data Center certification. CCIE Data Center certifies Expert-level skills that are focused both on in-depth data center solutions and the emerging technologies needed to design, implement, and manage complex, modern data center infrastructure. The updated CCIE certification includes policy-driven infrastructure, automation and orchestration, storage networking and computing, and evolving technologies—including IoT, SDN, and cloud—and their impact on the architectural framework, deployment models, implementation, and operations.


The Era of Next-Generation Data Center Technologists

These changes are designed to support those who manage the ASAP data center. As the job responsibilities for IT professionals focused on data center have expanded, it becomes challenging—yet rewarding—to continuously hone new skills and become proficient in new technologies. To assist, the Data Center certifications you can obtain show that you have knowledge and skills specific to data center.

AU95954.jpgThe CCNA Data Center certification is for learners with one to three years on the job or if you’re seeking to expand your career from another IT focus area. CCNA Data Center holders work in associate- to experienced-level roles such as network administrator or systems engineer. They set up and deploy network management systems, and monitor, tune, and troubleshoot the performance of data center components.

The CCNA Data Center certification provides IT professionals with foundational training to build skills at installing and configuring ASAP data centers. If you are seeking a competitive advantage when early in your IT career, it’s a great certification to have. It is one of the industry's most preferred certifications, giving holders a competitive advantage for jobs with good salaries.

Moving On Up

The next certification step is CCNP Data Center. CCNP Data Center holders have five to eight years of data center experience in roles such as senior network engineer, presales engineer, design engineer, or data center administrator.

These individuals are focused on larger-scale and more complex data center infrastructure. Typical responsibilities include planning, designing, and implementing major data center topologies that involve unified computing, advanced virtualization, converged infrastructure, and the application of knowledge in such diverse areas as service optimization, load balancing, data center security, troubleshooting, traffic management, and close work with cloud and application services teams—just to name a few!

The challenge is one of balancing day-to-day implementation, troubleshooting, and maintenance responsibilities with the time needed to participate in new IT infrastructure initiatives. IT professionals may be working on a big project and want to improve skills that require integration with cloud initiatives, managing converged infrastructure, or implementing policy-driven infrastructure.

The CCNP Data Center certification is a great choice. According to a recent article in EdTech, the CCNP Data Center certification is one of the most desirable certifications available on the market today. It helps you develop the set of skills needed for today’s data center-focused professional.

Reaching the Top

CCIE certification holders are a rarefied group of IT professionals with applied knowledge and skills across a wide range of technologies and solutions with design and architecture and solution skills. Very often, these individuals are data center architects, senior systems engineers, or senior IT consultants.

These senior data center professionals hold positions that are critical to achieving business success.

CCIE Data Center validates Expert-level skills and the latest industry best practices focused on in-depth data center solutions and emerging technologies. It also gives you a hiring edge because it is recognized by peers and hiring managers as conferring a distinguished level of expertise.

Looking Ahead

As I said in the first installment of this series, data centers are evolving. Now is a great time to evaluate how you want to increase your professional know-how.

Employers and organizations in every industry need data center professionals with next-generation skills. These certifications will help get you there.

Please leave any feedback or questions in the comments.

For more information on the revised Data Center certification portfolio, please visit the following pages here on the Cisco Learning Network:


Also, for a great wrap-up of the nitty-gritties of exam changes occurring with the Data Center announcements, Karlo Bobiles has written a couple posts in the "Learning News" blog. Click here for the CCNA Data Center exam changes. Click here for the CCNP Data Center changes.


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Karen Louie is a product marketing manager at Learning@Cisco focusing on data center training and certification. Her charter is to help ensure that CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE Data Center professionals gain the skills necessary to operate data centers efficiently. To this role she brings IT services expertise in the areas of enterprise management and operating environments, the cloud, systems integration, and enterprise software services.