Cisco's updated CCNP program emphasizes security and wireless

* Cisco revamps its Cisco Certified Network Professional certification program

Cisco Tuesday updated its Cisco Certified Network Professional certification program to give more emphasis on security, wireless, troubleshooting and QoS issues.

On Aug. 15, Cisco updated the four courses and their associated exams that make up the CCNP program. The updated courseware and exams are available now from Cisco training partners.

"The program has been on the market for seven or eight years and it was based on old Cisco strategies of routing and switching - it was very data-centric," says Ray Garra, a manager at Cisco's Learning and Development Group. CCNP now emphasizes integrating advanced technologies using new protocols, Garra says.

The two foundation-level courses and exams: Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI), which carried the exam number 642-801, and Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) (exam 642-812), are now known as BSCI (642-901) Routing Protocols at Campus Edge Campus Switch Networks Wireless LAN, and BCMSN (642-812) Campus Switch Networks Wireless LAN, respectively. Both have received a 20% to 25% change to the courseware content and exams, says Ray Garra, a manager at Cisco's Learning and Development Group.

BSCI is also now included in the Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP) and Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) programs. "Network Professionals pursuing CCIP and CCDP certifications will benefit from these curriculum updates, that provide and validate the up-to-date knowledge required to install, support, and optimize ISR routers, using Cisco IOS 12.4 routing protocol, routing authentication security, multicast routing, and IPv6," says Cisco.

The biggest change affects Cisco's two higher-level courseware and exams. The 642-821 Building Cisco Remote Access Networks (BCRAN) exam has been replaced by ISCW (642-825) Implementing Secure Converged WANs, and the 642-831 Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting (CIT) exam is replaced by ONT (642-845) Optimized Converged Cisco Networks.

ISCW students will learn how to configure Cisco IOS 12.4 firewall features, how to implement and verify MPLS, and how to configure site-to-site IPSec VPNs, according to Cisco. ONT students will learn about WANs, wireless security, QoS, troubleshooting, VoIP and security.

The revamped CCNP program also gives more emphasis to Cisco's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA), the networking giant's grand plan - as outlined last December - to provide services and applications management.

Despite the updates, the length of the courses hasn't changed, says Garra as some material has been eliminated. Practical simulations are now standard in all exams with the ratio of lab work vs. lectures in courses being 40:60, says Cisco.

Network execs in the midst of the CCNP program will be able to count their old exams towards the certification, says Cisco.

Also this week, Cisco updated its re-certification policy for the CCNP, CCDP, CCIP (Internetwork Professional), CCSP (Security Professional), or CCVP (Voice Professional). According to a Cisco press release: "Individuals who hold an active Cisco certification will recertify their professional-level certifications when they pass any other Cisco professional-level certification exam. Certification holders will continue to re-certify their professional level certifications when they pass any CCIE written exam." The statement adds that all professional-level certifications are to be re-certified every three years. 

Previously, to recertify CCNP, those who held an active CCNP were required to take two exams from the CCNP curriculum (BSCI and BCMSN) in order to re-certify. Successfully passing the BSCI and BCMSN will re-certify the individual's CCNP certification, Cisco explains.

The new policy requires professionals holding an active CCNP to take any exam from the CCNP, CCDP, CCIP, CCVP, or CCSP curriculums. Successfully passing the BSCI and BCMSN will re-certify the individual's CCNP certification and any other professional level certification they hold, Cisco continues.

The new policy acknowledges the value that network professionals receive from diversifying their technical acumen in technical areas outside those in which the original certification was achieved, Cisco says.

See here for Cisco's re-certification policy.

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