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Cisco Fills Out Data Center Cert Offerings

In March, 2012, Cisco announced its CCIE Data Center credential, recognizing the increasing importance of data centers in delivering virtualized, cloud-based services, platforms, and applications. On November 20, 2012, the company completed its roster of data center certs by announcing CCNA Data Center and CCNP Data Center credentials as well.

With the increasing move of information storage, processing, and services to the cloud, the importance and ubiquity of data centers on the IT landscape has become a fait accompli. As a leading player in high-speed, high-performance networking and networking infrastructures, Cisco Systems plays an important role in many data centers around the globe. That probably explains why the company has added entry and intermediate level data center certifications to its line-up, to complement the senior-level CCIE Data Center credential introduced in March 2012. With these new introductions -- described in an 11/20/2012 Cisco press release -- Cisco now offers training and certification for data center professionals across its entire range of credentials.

The CCNA Data Center credential does not require first earning a base-level CCNA. The two exams required to earn this credential: DCICN (640-911) Introducing Cisco Data Center Networking and DCICT (640-916) Introducing Cisco Data Center Technologies are the only exams candidates must pass to earn CCNA Data Center certification. Successful candidates for this cert should be real to take up positions in a data center, ready to configure, install and manage data center networking, storage, and infrastructure components.

The CCNP Data Center credential aims to identify individuals who work in business services or as technology architects, often in presales, design, or implementation roles in or around a data center environment. Any CCIE or a CCNA Data Center is a pre-requisite for this certification. The CCNP Data Center program rests on a battery of six exams, of which two are mandatory. Of the remaining four, one or another pair of exams is required to complete the CCNP Data Center requirements.

Required Exam(s) Recommended Training
642-994 DCUCI v4.0
Last day to test: 2/28/2013
or
642-999 DCUCI v5.0

Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCI) v4.0
Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCI) v5.0
642-992 DCUFI v4.0
Last day to test: 5/31/2013
or
642-997 DCUFI v5.0
Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFI) v4.0
Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFI) v5.0
AND
642-993 DCUCD v4.0
Last day to test: 2/28/2013
or
642-998 DCUCD v5.0

Designing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCD) v4.0
Designing Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCD) v5.0

642-991 DCUFD v4.0
Last day to test: 5/31/2013
or
642-996 DCUFD v5.0
Designing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFD) v4.0
Designing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFD) v5.0

OR

642-035 DCUCT v5.0

Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Unified Computing (DCUCT) v5.0
642-980 DCUFT v5.0

Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFT) v5.0

The difference between the two flavors of CCNP Data Center depends on whether candidate choose the Designing or Troubleshooting exams. This lets professionals specialize on the design side, in crafting or expanding modern data centers, or on the operations and management side, in working in and maintaining those modern data centers. Cisco indicates that it expects both sides of this credential to attract considerable interest and uptake.

At the moment, all the exams for these new CCNA and CCNP credentials are already available, as are Cisco curriculum courses offered at the company's own or its affiliate partner training centers. But while it's by no means too soon to get involved in pursuing one or more of these credentials, it won't be until Q1 2013 that follow-on books, practice tests, video mentors and tutors, and other aftermarket study and training materials become available. Nevertheless, interested IT professionals who dig into the home pages for these credentials will quickly learn that Cisco has assembled extensive reading lists for all of them, so that they can get down to learning right away. Expect Cisco Press to start cranking out titles for all of these items in the very near future, too.