CCNA Data Center and the DCICT 640-916 Exam
The CCNA Data Center certification requires you to pass two exams, with no other prerequisites. Passing a single exam does not give you any certification at all. Although you can pass the exams in either order, most people start with the DCICN 640-911 exam, with DCICT relying on knowledge obtained in DCICN (see Figure 1).
DCICT actually begins the Cisco Data Center certification theme of including compute, storage, and networking in the same certification exam. As the first exam, DCICN 640-911 focuses solely on networking, ignoring storage and compute. DCICT 640-916 includes more networking (specific to Data Centers), as well as compute and storage.
Storage networking takes the permanent storage devices, such as disk drives, and places them onto a network. Placing storage into a SAN has many advantages for modern Data Centers, versus connecting the disks internally to a single server. DCICT acts as your first exam addressing SANs. Following are some of the more important DCICT storage topics:
- The fundamental idea of placing permanent storage devices on a network, creating a storage area network
- SAN protocols and operation
- The concept and configuration of virtual SANs (VSANs) in a Nexus switch
Cisco brands its many server products as part of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). The DCICT introduces some of the key concepts of using Cisco UCS products:
- Fundamentals of unified computing to create more functional and efficient data centers
- Fundamentals of server resources and server virtualization
- Using the Cisco UCS Manager (UCSM) to manage and allocate UCS resources to create Data Centers
- Configuring and verifying connectivity between the UCS and the rest of the network
Additionally, modern Data Centers often use server virtualization technology. Gone are the days in which one server runs one instance of an OS natively on the server hardware. Instead, virtualization software, such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, control and share the hardware among many OS instances—many virtual machines. The DCICT exam introduces these fundamentals as well:
- Server virtualization fundamentals
- Virtual switching concepts with Nexus 1000V
- Nexus 1000V configuration and operation
Finally, networking has an important role in the DCICT exam. Data Center technology requires several networking features that are not used or found as much within a campus LAN or WAN. DCICT introduces some of the networking features found most often in data centers, including these:
- Virtual PortChannels (vPCs)
- Fabric Extenders (FEX)
Always check Cisco's website to learn what is and is not on the exam. Go to http://www.cisco.com/go/ccna and navigate to the correct exam to check the latest exam topics.