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Cisco Continuous Learning: how do you monitor the progress?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Cisco Continuous LearningRecently I wrote a blog post on Continuous Learning: what is it, why did Cisco introduce it and how does it work exactly? In this blog post I will expand on the monitoring of the progress.

  • How can you find out how many Cisco Continuous Learning points your organization has obtained until now?
  • Where can you find what activities generate points?
  • How can you see what has been done by which employee?

Cisco Continuous Learning: the dashboard

Cisco has built a dashboard that allows you to find all this information in a quick and easy way. This dashboard can be found in Partner Self Service under the tab ‘Program Management & Application’.

Cisco Continuous Learning: how many points did your organization obtain?

After opening the tab you will see the architecture specializations, the technology specializations and the other programs your organization is certified in. Behind those you will find the ‘Anniversary Date’: the date of expiration of an obtained certification. This date is important, because in the Cisco Continuous Learning program obtaining a certain amount of points is mandatory for every renewal after 31st October 2016.

When you click on a certain specialization you will be shown the details of that specialization. You will see the amount of points that is required to obtain the specialization ánd you will see the amount of points your organization has already obtained.

Cisco Continuous Learning: what activities provide points?

A bit below the required and obtained amounts of points you will find the option to click to the Cisco Continuous Learning Library. There you will find an overview of all activities and knowledge sessions with which you can obtain points, within that specific specialization, that will count for the Cisco Continuous Learning program.

At this moment it is not (yet) possible to click to SalesConnect to start the knowledge session immediately. Perhaps Cisco will implement this possibility in a later stage. For now the easiest way is to copy and paste the title of the knowledge session of your choice in the search box in SalesConnect. When you have found the right knowledge session you can start it by means of the ‘view’ button. The difference between ‘view’ and ‘download’ can be found in my previous blog post.

Cisco Continuous Learning: which employee has done what?

Below the tab ‘Program Management & Application’ in the menu you can find a Cisco Continuous Learning overview. When you click on this you will be shown the specializations again for which your organization is certified, with the required and obtained amounts of points. At the right side you will find the option ‘Continuous Learning Detailed Overview’. When you click on this an Excel file will be opened with an overview of all completed activities and knowledge sessions, including the name of the employee and the obtained amount of points per activity.

Other questions concerning Cisco Continuous Learning?

These are the answers to the questions that are most frequently asked of me. Do you have other questions? Please let me know. I will be glad to help!

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Continuous Learning: new for Cisco partners

Monday, August 29th, 2016

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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Changes in the CCNA Routing & Switching certification: a list of Frequently Asked Questions

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

CCNAToday, 17th May, 2016, Cisco announces that they will be making changes in the CCNA Routing & Switching certification. What will change exactly? And what does it mean for you?

What will change within the CCNA Routing & Switching certification?

The courses and exams within the CCNA Routing & Switching certification will change from version 2.0 to version 3.0. This means an introduction of 3 courses and exams. The names and abbreviations of the courses stay the same, but the exam numbers change.

v2.0 courses and examsv3.0 courses and exams
Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices Part 1 (ICND1)100-101 ICND1Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices Part 1 (ICND1)100-105 ICND1
Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices Part 2 (ICND2)200-101 ICND2Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices Part 2 (ICND2)200-105 ICND2
CCNA Bootcamp (CCNABC)200-120 CCNACCNA Bootcamp (CCNABC)200-125 CCNA

To certify for CCNA Routing & Switching you need to pass either the ICND1 and ICND2 exams ór the CCNA exam. More about the obtainment of the CCNA certification can be found in my blog post ‘CCNA: how to pass your certification

Why is the CCNA Routing & Switching certification changing?

Pim Leemans, Cisco instructor, says it as follows: “There are several reasons for Cisco to take a closer look at the CCNA courses. The most important reason is not of a technical nature: the way we learn has been changing a lot in the previous years. We see that on (primary) schools, where they expect more independence, and this trend is spreading to the business world. People want to acquire knowledge in their own time and on a location of their own choosing.

Cisco has incorporated this in the newest framework of the CCNA courses. Unlike before there will be less theory and more learning by ‘just doing it’. This is achieved by deployment of the ‘Discovery Labs’. Such labs are also being used at the CCNP courses. During the Discovery Labs part of the theory will be acquired by performing lab practices based upon scenarios from the course material.

When the technological and practical knowledge is acquired at the end of each module, the students are able to use those in the ‘Challenge Labs’. During these assignments the students will not be coached anymore, but expected to rely on previous acquired knowledge.

Because the assignments are performed at the Cisco Virtual Labs the students can also study the subjects in their own time áfter taking the course. Furthermore the dependencies are gone. You will never get ‘stuck’ anymore. So the purchase of hardware to prepare for an exam is ancient history!”

What will change specifically in the courses and exams? Which subjects will be added and which will be removed?

Pim: “Apart from the framework of the courses and the deployment of virtual labs Cisco has also adjusted the courses to new technologies of course. During the ICND1 course only RIP as routing protocol will be treated. Subjects on device management (upgrades, licenses and such) are removed from the ICND2 course and are now part of the ICND1 course.

The ICND2 course has changed the most. The emphasis on outdated technologies like Frame Relay has been replaced by Multi-Link PPP en PPPoE. The tougher subjects of EBGP and Quality of Service, RADIUS and Tacacs+ authentication will also be treated. Those are subjects that were previously part of the CCNP curriculum. So the stakes have been raised.”

When will the new courses and exams be available?

The new courses and exams have been made available today, on 17th May, 2016.

Until when can the ‘old’ exams be taken?

The exams 100-101 ICND1 and 200-120 CCNA can be taken until August 20, 2016, the exam 200-101 ICND2 can be taken until September 24, 2016.

Is there a problem if you take the ICND1 exam on v2.0 and the ICND2 exam on v3.0?

No. The old and the new exams can be combined. After successfully passing the old ICND1 exam and the new ICND2 exam you will obtain the CCNA Routing & Switching certification as usual.

What do you have to do if you are CCNA Routing & Switching certified at this moment?

In that case you don’t have to do anything. The CCNA Routing & Switching certification is valid for 3 years and will also stay valid for 3 years after the changes in the courses and exams.

Can’t find your question in this post?

Do you have another question you can’t find in the above? Please let me know. I will be happy to help.

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CCIE: what is it and how to become it?

Friday, April 29th, 2016

CCIE, in full: Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, is one of the showpieces of Cisco’s Career Certification Program. From time to time I am asked how the CCIE certification exactly works. In spite of the large quantity of information that can be found on the Cisco website a lot still seems unclear. Ample reason to write a blog post about it.

When you understand how the CCIE certification program works and know where you can find more information you are already halfway there.

CCIE: what is it?

CCIEThe certification CCIE is meant for senior engineers and belongs to the top of the certification program by Cisco. The image shows the structure of the certification program in the form of a pyramid. This is a well-known image.

There are CCIE certifications for several domains:

  • Routing & Switching
  • Data Center
  • Security
  • Collaboration
  • Service Provider
  • Wireless

Besides the CCIE certifications there are the CCDE and the CCAr Architect certifications. The CCDE certification is comparable to the CCIE certifications, but mainly in the design area. The CCAr Architect certification is one level up from the CCIE and CCDE certifications and is meant for architects who need to translate business strategies to solutions that support those strategies. I will not elaborate on the certification last mentioned in this blog post. You will find more information here.

But here comes the key question: how do you become a CCIE?

CCIE: 2 exams

To become a CCIE you need to pass 2 exams. Every CCIE certification has a so-called ‘written exam’ and a ‘lab exam’.

CCIE written exam

Like many other Cisco exams the written exam is an exam that will mainly asses the theoretical knowledge and that can be taken on a Pearson VUE exam location. The written exam is comparable to the CCNP level, but contains a broader domain. You can find the subjects that will be treated in an CCIE written exam on the Cisco Learning Network. The subjects in the CCIE Routing & Switching written exam, for instance.

CCIE lab exam

The lab exam is completely focused on the degree to which you are able to put the theory into practice. This is by far the most difficult exam and a stumbling block for many candidates. You are not able to pass the lab exam without years of practical experience. You can compare it to getting your driver’s license: you can pass the theoretical exam by studying hard, but for the practical exam you need to spend hours on the road during your driving lessons.

Dutch and Belgium CCIE candidates can take the lab exam on the Cisco location in Brussels. Entrance to the lab exam is only possible after approximately two weeks after you have passed the written exam. Keep a considerable waiting time in mind when you make the reservation. You can register for a CCIE lab exam at the Cisco Learning Network.

CCIE: how do you prepare optimally for the exams?

I can only answer this question by presenting the challenge again. To obtain the CCIE certification:

  • you need to possess profound knowledge of a broad technology segment.
  • you need to be able to practice this knowledge in a lab environment, where there will be no room for mistakes, long deliberation or consulting books due to the time constraints.

In preparation for the exams Cisco has developed an extensive self study package with courses, lab practices and the so-called graded labs that closely resemble the lab exam. The package offers all additional subjects for the CCNP exams in several study modules and can therefore also be used in preparation of the written exam.

CCIE: when are you ready to start with the preparation?

To obtain a CCIE certification you need a lot of practice experience. Only then you will be able to complete the lab exam in the available time. You can only obtain that experience by years of working with Cisco in various environments.

Are there specific advantages to having a CCIE certificate?

There are several advantages:

  • The CCIE certificate extends the validity of all underlying certificates, like CCNA, CCNP and CCDP.
  • In case of service calls CCIE holders will receive a preferential treatment in the TAC.
  • During Cisco Live CCIE holders will get a private lounge/working space with all facilities available. They will furthermore be invited for a CCIE lunch by the CEO of Cisco.
  • CCIE holders with a 10 year possession of their certificate can apply for the CCIE Emeritus status. This ‘sleeping’ status will exempt you from having to re-certificate every two years. Your CCIE status will no longer be active, but can be reactivated immediately by taking a written exam.
  • CCIE holders are important for the Gold partnership of a Cisco channel partner.

In conclusion: the most important recommendation and relevant links

Don’t take it lightly. A CCIE lab exam is a difficult exam that is frequently and repeatedly failed by candidates, even though they have prepared themselves thoroughly. Without approximately five years of practical experience in the center of your work area and the iron discipline to study after working hours and during the weekends you probably won’t make it.

Finally a number of relevant links:

Do you have any questions about the obtaining of a CCIE certification? Let me know. I will be glad to help you with them.

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CCNP Wireless certification: a list of Frequently Asked Questions

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

CCNP WirelessToday, on March 22, 2016, Cisco announces some changes in the CCNP Wireless certification. What will change exactly? And what does it mean for you?

In this blog post I will explain what you need to do to obtain the CCNP Wireless certification and what options are available to anyone who (almost) possesses the CCNP Wireless certification.

What will change in the CCNP Wireless certification?

The CCNP Wireless certification will still consist of 4 courses and 4 exams. The current courses and exams will however be substituted by completely new courses and exams.

Why will the CCNP Wireless certification be changed?

The use of wireless applications increases and therefore the importance of wireless technologies will increase too. Those technologies are also developing rapidly. This means growing pressure on the engineers responsible for the wireless networks within an organization.

The new CCNP Wireless certification responds to these developments. The certification is based on the software versions Cisco AireOS 8.x, Cisco IOS XE 3.6, Cisco Prime Infrastructure 2.2 and Cisco ISE Version Release 1.3, and thus completely up-to-date again.

The courses and exams will focus specifically on the design, implementation, security and troubleshooting of wireless networks. With the addition of a troubleshooting training and exam to the certification Cisco will follow the course it has taken with the other CCNP certifications.

Which courses and exams are part of the new CCNP Wireless certification?

The CCNP Wireless certification consists of the following courses and exams:

CoursesExams
Designing Cisco Wireless Enterprise Networks (WIDESIGN)300-360 WIDESIGN
Deploying Cisco Wireless Enterprise Networks (WIDEPLOY)300-365 WIDEPLOY
Troubleshooting Cisco Wireless Enterprise Networks (WITSHOOT)300-370 WITSHOOT
Securing Cisco Wireless Enterprise Networks (WISECURE)300-375 WISECURE

To obtain the CCNP Wireless certification all above mentioned exams need to be passed.

You follow the courses at a Cisco Learning Partner, like Fast Lane, and you take the exams at Cisco’s exam institute Pearson VUE.

In what order do you best follow the CCNP Wireless courses?

There is no special order in which to follow the courses.

When will the new courses and exams be available?

The new courses and exams will be available today, on March 22, 2016.

What prior knowledge is required for the CCNP Wireless certification?

To obtain the CCNP Wireless certification you need to pass the 4 exams ánd you require at least a valid CCENT certification and a valid CCNA Wireless certification.

You are preparing for obtaining the CCNP Wireless certification at this moment. What are your options?

You have 2 options:

1. You pass the exams 642-732 CUWSS, 642-742 IUWVN, 642-747 IUWMS and 642-737 IAUWS and obtain the CCNP Wireless certification this way. Please note: these exams can be taken until September 21, 2016.

2. You combine the CCNP Wireless exams you have already passed with the new CCNP Wireless exams. The ‘old’ exams provide exemption from the new exams.

CCNP Wireless

What do you need to do when you are already CCNP Wireless certified at this time?

You don’t have to do anything. The CCNP Wireless certification is valid for 3 years and will also stay valid for 3 years now the courses and exams have been changed.

Will the CCNA Wireless certification also change?

No, the CCNA Wireless certification will not change. This certification has already been changed in September 2015 with the introduction of the course Implementing Cisco Wireless Network Fundamentals (WIFUND) and the exam 200-355 WIFUND.

Can’t find your question in this post?

Do you have another question you can’t find in the above? Please let me know. I will be happy to help!

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Cisco Data Center: changes in the partner specializations

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Cisco Data CenterCisco has made some changes in the Advanced Data Center specializations in the partner program recently. What will change exactly and what is the impact of those changes on the current status of your organization and the plans in the pipeline?

Cisco partner program in a nutshell

The partner program aims to clarify the knowledge that is necessary for being successful as a Cisco partner. The program ties in with the 5 most important solutions within an organization:

  • Routing & Switching
  • Collaboration
  • Security
  • Data Center
  • Service Provider

Every solution has its own specializations and every specialization has different roles:

  • Account Manager
  • Systems Engineer
  • Field Engineer

There are individual certifications, exams and courses attached to a role.

Obtaining specializations leads to obtaining Cisco partner certifications, like Premier or Gold. It also leads to a discount on the acquisition of Cisco products, both on the purchase as in the form of back-end rebates. Thus developing knowledge that is necessary for passing exams often pays itself off within half a year.

Specializations for Cisco Data Center

For those partners that focus on Data Center there are 3 different specializations:

The Unified Fabric Specialization is aimed on the deployment of Nexus switching in the data center. The Unified Computing Specialization focuses on the UCS solution. The Data Center Architecture combines both technology specializations.

An organization that meets the conditions of a specialization shows that it has the in-house know-how to sell, design, implement and manage Cisco Date Center solutions.

Specializations for Cisco Data Center: what has changed?

Account Manager
The follow-up exams 650-987 and 646-985 that were obligated earlier are not part of the program anymore. The exam Cisco Selling Business Outcomes (810-403) is now sufficient for all three the Data Center specializations.

Systems Engineer
Similar to the account manager the exam 650-987 will also be abolished for the systems engineer. Obtaining the exams 642-996 (Designing Cisco Unified Fabric) and 642-998 (Designing Cisco UCS) suffices.

Field Engineer
There are no changes for the field engineer. However, it became clear recently that the required specialization for this role cannot be renewed by obtaining a CCIE Written exam. So this means that field engineers need to make sure that the exams 642-999 (UCS implementation), 642-035 (UCS-troubleshooting), 642-997 (Unified Fabric implementation) and 642-980 (Unified Fabric-troubleshooting) stay valid.

What is the impact of these changes?

Is your organization compliant of this moment? In other words: does your organization possess the required Cisco Data Center specializations? In that case these changes will not have any impact.

If your organization is on its way to obtaining one of the Cisco Data Center specializations it is recommended to make sure whether the account managers or system engineers have planned one of the above mentioned abolished exams. In that case those exams no longer need to be taken of course.

More information on the Advanced Data Center Architecture Specialization, the Unified Computing Technology Specialization and the Unified Fabric Technology Specialization can be found on the Fast Lane website. Of course it is also possible to turn to your account manager or myself if you have any questions. We will be happy to advise you.

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Cisco Learning Credits: 5 Frequently Asked Questions

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Cisco Learning Credits“I would like to pay for my training with Cisco Learning Credits, but how does that work exactly?” or: “How can I find out whether my organization still has Cisco Learning Credits available?” To my colleagues and myself these are frequently asked questions when students want to subscribe for a Cisco course.

In this blog post I will deal with 5 frequently asked questions.

1. What are Cisco Learning Credits?

Cisco Learning Credits are virtual credits that can be used for payment of authorized Cisco courses, Cisco exam vouchers and special Cisco events, like Cisco Live. Indeed: a currency, created by Cisco. Cisco Learning Credits are always attached to an SO number. 1 Cisco Learning Credit represents a value of $ 100.

2. How, where and why do you order Cisco Learning Credits?

You order Cisco Learning Credits the same way, at the same organization and often on the same moment as you purchase other hardware, software or services by Cisco.

You don’t have to know yet how and for what you are going to apply the credits when you purchase Cisco Learning Credits. It is however recommendable to already think about it thoroughly. Firstly because your organization is on the verge of purchasing Cisco products. Several people within your organization will need to be able to work with it shortly. It is therefore important to have the right knowledge on board. Furthermore you want to know how many credits you have to purchase approximately to obtain this knowledge. This way you reserve a budget for education, something that is often forgotten in projects.

My advice: contact a Cisco Learning Partner, like Fast Lane, and let that Learning Partner help you with the mapping of the need for knowledge and a realistic assessment of the investment that needs to be made.

3. How many Cisco Learning Credits does your organization have?

In the Cisco Learning Credits Management Tool your organization can see how many credits are available and which transactions are already carried out. Every organization has a so-called Team Captain, someone who is responsible for the Cisco Learning Credits. This person has access to the Cisco Learning Credits Management Tool and will receive a notification with every transaction.

4. How long are Cisco Learning Credits valid for?

Cisco Learning Credits are valid for 365 days from the day that they are activated in the Cisco Learning Credits Management Tool. Cisco wants to encourage your organization this way to apply the credits in time for the purpose they are meant for: the acquisition of Cisco knowledge.

Are the Cisco Learning Credits of your organization no longer valid, but you would still like to use them? Then you can ask Cisco to reactivate the credits. Your Cisco account manager can help you with this. Reactivating is a one-time possibility and if it is successful the Cisco Learning Credits will be valid for another 6 months.A few conditions:

A few conditions:

  • The credits have been expired for no longer than a year.
  • You can explain clearly why the credits haven’t been used yet.
  • You can show a training plan that states how your organization will apply the credits.

5. How and where do you exchange your Cisco Learning Credits?

You can exchange Cisco Learning Credits at Cisco itself or at the by Cisco appointed Learning Partners, like Fast Lane. If you want to use Cisco Learning Credits for the payment of a course for instance, submit the SO number to which the credits are attached to with Fast Lane. We will subsequently write down the Cisco Learning Credits from the SO number and confirm your participation in the course. It is that simple!

Any more questions?

If you have any additional questions after reading this blog post, feel free to let me know. I will be glad to help!

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“Help! I have 2 CSCO IDs. Now what?”

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

CSCO ID“Hi Karin, I have passed my 3 CCNP Routing & Switching exams, but I cannot find any evidence anywhere that I have obtained the CCNP Routing & Switching certification. How is that possible? And can you help me?”

This is a question that comes up sometimes when we help Cisco partners with mapping, obtaining and keeping their Cisco partner certifications. An employee has passed a certain number of exams, but has not been awarded with the accompanying certification.

Not a pleasant situation.

After all, the employee has worked hard for it. Furthermore, the Cisco partner certification of his employer often depends on this certification.

Fortunately a solution is within reach.  The problem is related to the CSCO ID.

What is a CSCO ID?

A CSCO ID is a personal and unique number that will be generated automatically when you register for a Cisco exam. Whether you book an exam through the website of Pearson VUE, the exam institute for Cisco exams, or call Pearson VUE to arrange this: when you take a Cisco exam for the first time Pearson VUE will generate a CSCO ID for you. After taking the exam you can find your CSCO ID on your score form.

A CSCO ID is also known as a ‘Cisco ID’.

Attention: a CSCO ID is not the same as a CCO ID. A CCO ID is the username that will allow you to log in on the Cisco website.

What is a Pearson VUE account?

You can book a Cisco exam in 2 separate ways: by telephone or online. When you want to book an exam online, you will first need to create an account on the website of Pearson VUE. This is called a Pearson VUE account. When you subsequently book a Cisco exam – I said it before – Pearson VUE will generate a CSCO ID for you.

What is the connection between a Pearson VUE account and a CSCO ID?

A CSCO ID is always connected to a Pearson VUE account. You cannot take Cisco exams without a CSCO ID. Therefore Pearson VUE will generate a CSCO ID for you when you book a Cisco exam for the first time.

Is it a problem when you have 2 Pearson VUE accounts?

It is not convenient to have 2 Pearson VUE accounts. Having 2 accounts means  2 CSCO IDs when you have booked Cisco exams with both accounts. One exam will be connected to one CSCO ID and the other exam will be connected to the other CSCO ID. This way Cisco cannot see that you might have passed all exams for a certain certification and will therefore not award you that certification. Even though you deserve it.

How do you fix this?

It is essential that the 2 Pearson VUE accounts and the 2 CSCO IDs are merged together so that all passed Cisco exams are put into 1 account and are connected to 1 CSCO ID. You submit a case to Pearson VUE and explain the problem to them. Subsequently you will receive a form whereon you can fill in the information that belongs to the 2 CSCO IDs. Pearson VUE will process the information and will contact you.

Attention: you have to submit this case yourself. No one else can do it for you.

How can you avoid having 2 CSCO IDs?

CSCO IDFirstly it is of course best not to forget the log-in information of your Pearson VUE account. In case this happens anyway, click on ‘Forgot my username’ or ‘Forgot my password’. Don’t create a new account!

Attention: even if you change employers you don’t need to create a new Pearson VUE account.  You can easily change the information in your account.

Good luck with your Cisco exam!

Do you have any questions about your CSCO ID, about your Pearson VUE account or about booking your exam? Feel free to contact me. I will be glad to help!

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CCNP Data Center: how does it work with those 2 options?

Monday, September 7th, 2015

In 2012 Cisco introduced the CCNP Data Center Certification. At this time, 3 years later, there is still confusion about the 2 options for obtaining the Data Center Certification. The result? IT professionals take the wrong exams and attend courses that aren’t necessary for them. With this blog I hope to end all that confusion.

CCNP Data Center and CCNA Data Center

CCNP Data Center is a so called ‘professional certification’ from Cisco’s Career Certifications program[.pdf]. Like all other CCNP certifications the CCNP Data Center certification is based upon a CCNA certification. You can already guess: it is based on CCNA Data Center.

CCNA Data Center is rather straight and narrow: to obtain the certification you have to complete 2 exams successfully. The certification stands on its own: you don’t need a CCNA Routing & Switching certification. That is actually rather logical if you look at the content of the preparatory course.

The DCICN course addresses the base of routing and switching, therefore it has a lot of overlap with CCNA Routing & Switching. The DCICT course addresses Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) and the switch products within the data center, also known as the Nexus products. You can compare the set-up of the DCICT course with the set-up of the CCNA Routing & Switching course: it addresses the basic skills, but more advanced knowledge and applications require the step towards CCNP.

CCNP Data Center: the 2 options

So far so good. You are CCNA Data Center certified and now you are able to concentrate on CCNP Data Center. This is the moment of choice. For CCNP Data Center has 2 options. I always call option 1 the implementation & design option and option 2 the implementation & troubleshooting option. What do I mean with that?

Cisco indicates: a good designer of Cisco data center solutions needs to know the products well and has to have practical experience. You can compare it to a driving instructor who first has to obtain his own driver license.

So everyone starts with 2 implementation exams and courses:

ExamsCoursesSubjects
642-997 DCUFIImplementing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFI)Implementation Unified Fabric and Nexus, especially Nexus 5000, Nexus 2000 and Nexus 7000.
642-999 DCUCIImplementing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCI)Implementation Cisco UCS, including amongst others Fabric Interconnect and Nexus 1000V, and both the Blades and the standalone C series.

After the implementation courses and exams the moment of choice arrives: do you choose the implementation & design option or the implementation & troubleshooting option? Whatever you select, there are still 2 exams left to take. For as a whole the CCNP Data Center certification contains 4 exams, no matter which option you choose. However, the selection of an option is very important.

In the image below I have visualized the 2 options:

CCNP Data Center

As you can see it is your choice either to specialize in the design in both UCS and Nexus Unified Fabric ór in the troubleshooting of both UCS and Nexus Unified Fabric. So you don’t specialize in a technology or solution, as many people think. You base your choice on the role you have or are about to take on.

Which option do you choose?

I wish you good luck with obtaining your CCNP Data Center certification. Making the wrong choice should no longer be a problem. Do you still have questions? Feel free to contact me.

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VersaStack by Cisco and IBM: what does it mean for the data center and the administrators in your organization?

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

VersaStackBeing successful in 2015 means being able to make fast shifts. In these times organizations need to adapt rapidly to changing priorities. This requires a fast and reliable implementation of new IT applications. Organizations are in need of an IT infrastructure that is simple, efficient and versatile.

The solution lies in VersaStack by Cisco and IBM. It does however require a different approach by the IT department. What is VersaStack and what does it mean for the data center and administrators in your organization? In this blog I will be answering those questions.

VersaStack: what is it?

VersaStack is a scalable data center solution with server, storage and network components. IBM Storwize V7000 storage has been combined with Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus, Cisco MDS 9000 and Cisco UCS Director. This offers a complete IT infrastructure.

Physically VersaStack is supplied as a unit. One rack contains all components. This reduces the wiring to a minimum, which will lower the spent energy and heat development. More information on VersaStack can be found in this brochure [.pdf].

VersaStack: what does it mean for the data center in your organization?

VersaStack enables you to implement the infrastructure of the data center faster, to administrate data and resources more efficient, and makes adaptation to changes easier.

VersaStack is supported by Cisco Validated Design. Systems are built in a validated design, that is based upon existing techniques and common user applications. The design consists of a set of technologies, solutions and applications that have been tested and documented beforehand. This enables specialists to make more reliable and predictable solutions, that will reduce company risks and shorten implementation time.

VersaStack is ready for Cisco ACI. That possibility, combined with Cisco Intercloud Fabric, opens the door to the creation of open and safe hybrid cloud-ready solutions that will make IT more flexible, and will lead to improvements in the area of implementation, operational efficiency and simplicity.

Whether it is administrating the infrastructure from a central point, making easy changes while applications are still running, adding new applications in a fast and effortless way, or detecting and solving flaws quickly: the use of VersaStack will make the life of data center employees a lot less difficult. But it also has consequences for the way the administration is organized. For administrating a VersaStack is vastly different from administrating traditional systems.

How does administrating VersaStack work? And what does an organization have to do to make sure that administrators are ready for this new way of working?

VersaStack and administration

I already said it: the administration of a VersaStack is significantly different from the administration of, for instance, traditional systems. In traditional systems server, network and storage are more or less administrated separately. A VersaStack administrator will have to deal with the central control of the three lower layers of the stack: storage, network and server. Besides that the administrator will be using Unified Management, like UCS Director, which enables the management of the complete environment. This requires another mind set of the administrator.

What does an organization have to do to get ready for this change?

The transfer of an organization from an administration with separate management of storage, network and server to a fully integrated administration is important. This requires new knowledge and a new mind set of the administrators. Not only do they require proficiency of the management branch that was their first responsibility, they also need to inform themselves about storage, network and server.

Fast Lane has composed a VersaStack educational program for these administrators. These training sessions are concentrated on the complete management of VersaStack. Naturally it is possible for an administrator to specialize further in one of the components storage, network and server. The administrator develops an T-profile: a broad base in storage, network and server, with a specialization in one of these components.

This is the only way for an organization to manage VersaStack successfully. Is your organization ready for it?

Do want to know more about the VersaStack training sessions? In that case you can always contact me!

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