Get New CCNA Voice Become Harder?Dave Schulz guest blogs again today about Cisco’s voice certification changes. Dave asserts that the new CCNA Voice – due to the new ICOMM exam – looks like it raises the bar a bit on getting your CCNA Voice certification. Similar to his post last week, Dave examines the new ICOMM 8.0 course to help interpret more detail about the kind of materials you might expect to see in the new ICOMM exam. Dave is a Voice instructor for Skyline ATS, author of the new CIPT2 Quick Reference from Cisco Press. Do you agree that ICOMM makes CCNA Voice more challenging? Also, it’s your last chance to toss a question out to Dave, since this is his final round of posting for his guest appearance. Thanks, Dave!
Today’s blog will be addressing the changes for CCNA voice. The changes released by Cisco in the past week affect the CCNA voice, as well as, the CCVP (now CCNP voice) certification programs. The CCNA voice certification still requires a valid CCNA certification. The old CCNA Voice then required you to pass either the IIUC (640-460) or the CVOICE (642-436) exams. If you are currently working on this path, you have until the end of February to complete the certification path.
The new CCNA voice replaces those two older exam options with the new ICOMM (640-461) exam. This exam has an associated training course, Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications (ICOMM) v8.0. Similar to last week’s post on CIPT1 and CIPT2, this post examines the new course to see what conclusions we might make about the new ICOMM exam.
The course is supposed to be introduction to Cisco Unified Communications, which covers Cisco Unified Communication Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, Cisco Unity Connection, and Cisco Unified Presence. Some of you may be saying… “Four products in a 5-day course?” Yep, you heard it right. And, since you are already having so much fun…. Even though this course has “Introducing” as the first word in the title, and sounds to be and “Administration” course, it is neither an administration-level nor an introduction-level course.
A lot of assumptions are made regarding the level of knowledge that would be a pre-requisite for this course and exam. The course itself states the learner should begin the course with a working knowledge of converged voice and data networks, knowledge of gateways, and Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Cisco Unity Connection. Oh, did I say the title of this class begins with the word, introducing? So, does there appear to be a gap in the CCNA certification and the learners’ enrollment in ICOMM? Well, you be the judge. However, do not get excited at the first view of this 5-day course, thinking…. I can take this 5-day course, pass a test and I am a CCNA Voice. Yep…. And you can go to Cisco and take the CCIE voice exam and in one-day become a CCIE! Easier said than done!
Seriously, I think there’s a gap between the topics in CCNA and what you need to start ICOMM – at least based on the course. After you complete the CCNA, you will need to get more understanding of these products and technology before you enroll in the ICOMM course, as well as, changing one’s understanding of what “introducing” and “administration” means.
Anyway, the ICOMM course and exam cover a host of information regarding these four products dealing with interfaces, users and user configuration, and some design concepts of these products. Voicemail integration, call flow, and presence server configuration and are also discussed, along with QoS concepts, dial-peer configuration, and host of features and mobility concepts. The level of maintenance and administration covered in this course is quite advanced covering not only the DRF (disaster recovery system), but reports, Call Detail Records, and the use of the Real-Time Monitoring Tool.
Bridging the gap:
Just some suggestions here, if you are beginning your pursuit of the CCNA voice, then I would suggest (after you complete the CCNA) to take one of the following routes before beginning the ICOMM course. These options can include any of the following (to cover the pre-requisite of your understanding of Cisco Unified CM and Cisco Unity Connection):
1. Gain a working knowledge by your current involvement with voice technology on the job.
2. Enroll in a basic administration class (ACUCM and AUC). These classes are TRUE introductory classes that can be understood by anyone beginning their pursuit of CCNA voice. However, these do not cover Cisco Unified CM Express or Presence, but should be you a core understanding of voice technology as it applies to these two products.
3. Study and learn the voice technologies required by purchasing Cisco Press books, Quick Reference guides, reading the Cisco documentation, and building your own home lab.
4. Get a study partner – during my pursuit of the CCIE, I had a study partner that really helped provide encouragement, dig deeper into some of the more difficult concepts, and continue on with the pursuit, even when the going got tough
(Note from Wendell: on the above, it will be interesting to see what’s in the new ICOMM Cert Guide once it’s available.)
It appears that the bar has been raised on most of the certifications paths. Some of this is due to the new products and technologies being covered, some might been due to Cisco’s attempt to minimize the gap between the CCNA voice, CCNP voice and CCIE voice. However, don’t let anything discourage you from pursuing your dream and achieving CCNA voice or any other certification. Stay the course!