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Continuous Learning: new for Cisco partners

29th August 2016
by Herman Goedman

Last year Cisco announced ‘Continuous Learning’ as a new component of the Cisco partner program. What is it? And more important: what does it actually mean for your organization and for you as employee?

Why Continuous Learning?

With Continuous Learning Cisco wants to achieve that partners keep on developing themselves all the time. The developments in the IT world succeed one another rapidly and partners will have to keep up with their knowledge constantly.

What is Continuous Learning?

But what is it exactly? Continuous Learning is a rating system wherein numerous knowledge-related activities (so-called knowledge sessions) are awarded with points. E-learning modules, video’s, instructor-led training or workshops for instance. Everything that is aimed at the broadening and deepening of the knowledge of the partners, for both the account managers and the engineers. The knowledge sessions are connected to one or more Architectural Specializations.

A partner collects points by letting its employees partake in the knowledge sessions. Those points are necessary for the partner to extend its specialization(s), the so-called ‘renewal’. Every specialization has a minimal amount of points that need to be collected in the 12 months previous to the renewal. The collected points will be set back to zero after the renewal.

How will Continuous Learning influence the existing Cisco partner program?

Continuous Learning is an addition to the existing Cisco partner program that stays the same in all other aspects. The conditions required of account managers, system engineers and field engineers for obtaining a Technology or Architecture Specialization and the conditions surrounding Hybrid IT will continue to exist. But on the other hand, the introduction of the no-retest strategy by Cisco will also ensure that the partners save time.

What does Continuous Learning have to do with the no-retest strategy?

Cisco accounced Continuous Learning at the same time as the no-retest strategy. The no-retest strategy entails that employees of Cisco partners will not need to retake exams that have not or hardly changed. (attention: this does not apply to career and specialists certifications!) Instead of retaking the same exam once more Continuous Learning will ensure that partners are able to obtain new knowledge. So yes, Continuous Learning is an addition to the existing Cisco partner program, but with the no-retest strategy on the other hand Cisco ensures that partners will save time and money.

Continuous Learning: how does it work exactly?

There are 5 Architecture Specializations within the Cisco partner program:

  • Collaboration
  • Enterprise Networks
  • Security
  • Data Center
  • Service Provider

Every architecture has focus areas. For instance: the architecture Security has the following focus areas:

  • Next Generation Firewall & IPS
  • Policy & Access
  • Web & Email Security
  • Advanced Threats

Within every focus area knowledge sessions are defined that will be awarded with 1, 5, 10 or 20 points, depending on the duration. All training courses (and accompanying focus areas and architectures) are located in SalesConnect, the successor of the Partner Education Connection (PEC).

In SalesConnect you can select and start (‘view’) or download (‘download’) a knowledge session. Attention: the start of a knowledge session will be registered in the system, but not the download. The download option is meant for attending sessions that prepare for an online assessment. After successfully taking the online assessment the points will be registered after all.

How many points will your organization need to collect in 1 year?

A partner that wants to obtain or renew an Architecture Specialization will need to collect 100 points per specialization. Technology Specializations require 80 points per specialization and Express Specializations require 40 points per specialization. This goes for every specialization that needs to be extended after October 31, 2016. However, as a transitional measure half of those points will suffice for renewals between October 31, 2016 and January 28, 2017.

SpecializationRequired points at renewalRequired points during the transitional period (October 31, 2016 till January 28, 2017)
Architecture Specialization10050
Technology Specialization8040
Express Specialization4020

What measures will your organization need to take now?

  1. Determine when your specializations will need to be renewed.
  2. Is this in the near future? (November 2016 till January 2017) In that case, draw up a plan at short notice that contains the relevant focus areas and which employees will be given a role, and determine how you will keep track of the progress.
  3. Is this in the long term? In that case the same measures apply, but you will have more time to conduct them.

My advice: don’t miscalculate the time demand. 1 point will readily equal 1 hour.

Soon I will write a blog post about progress monitoring, as it is available in Partner Self Service.

Do you have questions about Continuous Learning in the meantime? Let me know. I will be happy to advise you!

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2 Responses to “Continuous Learning: new for Cisco partners”

  1. avatar Aby says:

    My company is currently undergoing the re-certification process.
    We still do not understand how the points can be earned, from your post I have some clarity.
    We currently have a 15/20, I believe it increases with any new certification acquired by an employee.

    Please I am interested in knowing how to attend training, live labs to earn points?
    and what the NO-RETEST strategy is?

    Thank you

  2. Dear Aby

    I just saw your question regarding Contunous Learning. If you still have this qiestion I surely can help you explaining what to do.

    15/20 means that you have 15 outof 20 required points

    The activities delivering points can be found on this website:

    Depending on the architecture/specialization you need to choose one of the options: Collab DC EN …

    You can then download a list of activities providing points.

    If you have a question, do not hesitate to send me a email at



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