Last year, Cisco made some important modifications to its Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification program, and the changes took effect Jan. 1, 2007. If you’re thinking about pursuing CCNP certification, it’s important that you know about these changes.
What is the CCNP?
The CCNP is so popular that most members are more than likely familiar with it. But just in case, here’s a brief overview.
The CCNP program is an intermediate-level certification for networking professionals. According to Cisco, this certification “validates a network professional’s ability to install, configure, and troubleshoot converged local and wide area networks with 100 to 500 or more nodes.”
The CCNP falls between the Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) and the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certifications in Cisco’s Routing and Switching track. The CCNP is the most popular intermediate-level certification that Cisco offers.
To earn CCNP certification, you can take one of two tracks to certification. One track offers four individual exams; the other offers one consolidated exam and two individual exams. Prior to taking CCNP exams, you must already have CCNA status. If you don’t have your CCNA yet, start by learning more about the certification at the Cisco CCNA Prep Center.
Changes to the CCNP exam requirements
In the old CCNP program, you needed to pass these exams:
* 642-821 BCRAN: Building Cisco Remote Access Networks
* 642-831 CIT: Internet Troubleshooting Support
* 642-801 BSCI: Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks
* 642-811 BCMSN: Building Cisco Multilayer Switched
Under the new program, you need to pass these exams instead:
* 642-825 ISCW: Implementing Secure Converged Wide Area Networks
* 642-845 ONT: Optimized Converged Cisco Networks
* 642-901 BSCI: Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks
* 642-812 BCMSN: Building Converged Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks
Cisco has added important subject material to each of these exams. The ISCW and ONT exams are completely different tests that replace the BCRAN and CIT exams.
In these changes, you can see how Cisco’s focus has changed. In the ISCW, the emphasis has shifted from the concept of remote access (usually dial-up) to security (usually VPNs for remote access and Internet security).
In the ONT, the focus has changed from merely troubleshooting networks to actually making the network more efficient. In addition, note the addition of converged to each exam’s name. Organizations are moving more and more toward converged networks—one network for voice, data, and video.
The remaining two exams, BSCI and BCMSN, don’t appear to have changed at all. But don’t let the names fool you. The test numbers have changed—and so has the test content.
The BSCI now includes more material on services that a router can offer at the edge of the network (such as DHCP) and multicast (because of its use in a converged network). The BCMSN now contains more information on voice and wireless.
It’s obvious that Cisco has updated these exams to keep current with networking today. That’s very important for the certification in general because it keeps the CCNP certification valuable.
Preparation material for the CCNP
No one takes a Cisco certification exam without using some kind of preparation material. This could be an instructor-led class, information from the Internet, test simulation software, books, study guides, or computer-based training (CBT).
When preparing for this certification, keep in mind that many materials you may find are outdated. As of Jan 1, 2007, you can only take the new CCNP exams. And newly updated exams means there’s not a lot of preparation materials available yet. In fact, there isn’t a lot available even from Cisco Press.
Currently, Cisco Press offers two books for the CCNP.
* Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI) (Authorized Self-Study Guide), 3rd Edition
* CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide, 4th Edition
A third will publish this month: Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) (Authorized Self-Study Guide), 4th Edition. In addition, two more are on the publishing schedule for May 2007. Besides the TechRepublic Web site, Cisco’s CCNP Prep Center is another good source for information for the new CCNP changes.
Do you have any Cisco certifications, or are you currently pursuing one? What do you think about the changes to the CCNP exams? Do you have any preparation materials to recommend. Share your thoughts in this article’s discussion.