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Exam Details

  • Exam Number: 640-911
  • 65-75 Questions
  • Question types: Multiple choice (single and multiple answer), drag-and-drop, Sim, Simlet, and Testlet (see an exam tutorial here)
  • Passing score varies, but it is around 800-850 out of 1000
  • 90 minutes
  • Multiple languages
  • Register at vue.com

Preparation Hints and Trouble Spots

DCICN may well be your first Cisco certification exam. Beyond learning the technology for the exam, you need to learn about the Cisco testing environment and the types of questions. Cisco provides an exam tutorial that reviews those question types—just go to www.cisco.com/go/ccna, navigate to the DCICN exam (or any other exam for that matter), and find the link for the exam tutorial.

Those who have already gotten their CCENT or CCNA Routing and Switching certification have a much smaller effort to pass the DCICN exam. Almost all the conceptual topics in DCICN overlap with CCNA R&S, and many of the NX-OS commands mirror the router IOS and Catalyst IOS commands you learned for CCNA R&S.

IPv4 subnetting has long been a feared and important topic for the CCENT and CCNA Routing and Switching exams. The DCICN exam covers those same topics, so you need to work hard and master IP addressing math. Knowing IPv4 addressing math well may be a little less vital in the Data Center certification track, but it is still important, and Cisco wants you to build a good foundation here in this first exam.

DCICN moves into details of Ethernet layer 2: Ethernet basics, VLANs, and STP. Interestingly, these topics include most of the LAN-specific topics in both the exams (ICND1 and ICND2) in the CCNA R&S track. Ethernet topics play an important role in all the exams in the Data Center track, through CCIE, so learn these topics well.

By percentage, the topics related to implementing IP routing on Nexus hardware take up 52% of the focus of the test. The topics include all the IP routing theory that overlaps with CCENT: IPv4 addressing, encapsulation, matching routes, and routing protocols. It includes Nexus specifics: how to boot a Nexus switch, how to configure IP routing, what the IP routing table looks like, and how routing (also called layer 3 switching because the device is both a switch and a router) works inside a Nexus switch. DCICN is both a switching and a routing exam, and by percentage in the exam topics list, may well be more of a routing exam than a switching exam.

Getting hands-on experience is a challenge with the Data Center track. Even used Nexus switches are more expensive than most self-study candidates choose to afford. However, some options exist. A Cisco offering, Cisco CloudLab, gives free access to some hosted Nexus labs in which you can get some experience. Look at the CCNA Data Center community at the Cisco Learning Network for more information.

The Cisco Nexus 1000v software switch can be installed on your own server and used for testing some functions, and for learning the NX-OS user interface. Plus, Cisco has begun to roll out virtual lab products during 2014, with names that include the phrase "VIRL" and "CML", which include NX-OS support on the roadmap. Watch for those product announcements because they may provide the best long-term solution for lab preparation for the Data Center track.

Finally, connect with the best Cisco exam preparation community: The Cisco Learning Network (CLN) http://learningnetwork.cisco.com. The Cisco Learning Network provides forums for each certification, allowing good discussions and answers to your questions.

Recommended Study Resources

At the time this exam profile was posted, Cisco Press was rolling out a Certification Guide (book) and a Live Lesson (video) product for the DCICN exam, to be followed later by a book and video products for the DCICT 640-916 exam.

The printed DCICN 640-911 Official Cert Guide focuses on the technology included in the DCICN exam, while providing a variety of exam preparation tools. Each chapter and major part of the book ends with review activities. The book notes the most important topics to study for the exam (key topics). It also includes a DVD question bank with exam software.

You may also want to use the Premium edition of the book, either in addition to the print book or instead of the print book. CCNA Data Center DCICN 640-911 Official Cert Guide Premium Edition eBook and Practice Test is the typical Cisco Press Premium eBook product. With this product, you get the book in many eBook formats, appropriate for Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, PDF, and other formats. Additionally, the premium edition comes with all the DVD content that comes with the printed book, but in downloadable format.

Finally, the premium edition comes with additional practice questions not found with the print book. With the substantial discount offered in the back of the print book, many people use this product in addition to the printed book, to get access to the extra questions, and for the convenience of the eBooks.

Cisco CCNA Data Center DCICN 640-911 LiveLessons is a unique video product that provides a solid understanding of the key areas of knowledge required to pass the 640-911 DCICN exam. The 5+ hours of video instruction presented in this product walk through each topic of the exam blueprint so you can gain knowledge of networking concepts for the Data Center environment based on Nexus-OS. These videos will also provide fundamental information on understanding how a Data Center network works. The course will also detail virtualization configuration in the network, addressing schemes; configuration skills, and troubleshooting methods. The videos consist of live video training, video screencasts, and demos. Video instruction throughout offers detailed explanations, tips, and design recommendations.

Major topics include these:

  • Basic Networking Concepts
  • Layer 2 Switching Using Nexus
  • IP Addressing
  • Layer 3 Routing Using Nexus
  • Security
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