Cisco Unveils New Cloud and IoT Certifications
Launching new certs is an expensive proposition, and the same goes double — or more — for new certification tracks. Why, then, one might wonder is Cisco jumping into cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) tracks? The numbers tell a compelling story. By themselves, networked IoT elements are expected to outnumber all existing network nodes (and IP addresses) by a factor of 5-to-1 in 2020 or thereabouts. And surely nobody needs to be told again just how much the Cloud is remaking the IT landscape.
These days, most major new application, platform, and infrastructure deployments are either in public clouds, private clouds, or involve a mix of public and private cloud components — perhaps along with actual physical servers on customer premises somewhere. No matter what, though, the cloud has some role in those deployments. With these new certs, Cisco pushes into both areas.
You can read the official announcement on these new credentials in the Cisco Learning Certifications for Success blog, in a May 27 posting titled, Making Connections in the Cloud and IoT with New Certifications. That post's author is Tejas Vashi, Director of Product Strategy and Marketing for Cisco Services, and a key player in Cisco's emerging training and certification strategies. I caught up with Vashi by phone a week ago today (May 22) to discuss these new credentials, with a particular eye on who's most likely to be interested, and what's in it for those professionals working in IT or other disciplines who might decide to dive in. First, though, let's begin with the slate of these newly-minted Cisco certifications:
CCNA Industrial (IoT) represents Cisco's second bold stried into the IoT space, which Cisco captures under the somewhat interchangeable headings of "Industrial Networking" and "Internet of Things (IoT)." The first step was the introduction of their Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist credential which, along with the CCENT, serves as a pre-requisite step toward this new cert. (Candidates need only one credential or the other to meet this requirement, not both certs).
The CCNA Industrial goes beyond network engineers who work in manufacturing, process control, and gas and oil industries, to further embrace plant administrators and control system engineers also employed in those kinds of operations. Its goal is to make sure candidates possess the skills and knowledge needed to implement and troubleshoot common industry standard protocols in the broader context of general networking and Internet protocols, services, platforms, and best practices.
Cisco see it as the convergence of IT and operational technology, no doubt as a direct consequence of the convergence of traditional Internet-based IT networking and general industrial networking technologies. The focus on the Internet of Things expresses Cisco's intention to move tools, technologies and best practices already established in traditional networking into the various industries and processes in the manufacturing, process control, and oil and gas sectors. From there, those same pieces can merge into a growing world of networked smart devices that offer opportunities for data collection, analysis, monitoring and management that dwarfs the scale and scope of traditional networks currently under IT's aegis.
The CCNA Industrial cert requires passing a single exam: 200-601 IMINS2 (Managing Industrial Networking for Manufacturing with Cisco Technologies, course link) which includes coverage of the Common Industrial (CIP) and ProfiNET industrial protocols, along with underlying network infrastructure design, deployment, and maintenance needed to create an efficient and reliable Industrial Ethernet environment.
CCNA Cloud is Cisco's associate/entry level credential for cloud engineers and administrators, as well as network engineers. It's intended to help those professionals establish and validate cloud skills and knowledge, so as to help organizations meet changing business needs and conditions. Certificants will also be prepared to craft effective technology transitions, and make best use of important new application, platform, and infrastructure technologies and service offerings. The CCNA Cloud seeks to provide its holders with the skills needed to handle entry-level provisioning of and support for Cisco cloud solutions, including both Cisco Cloud and Intercloud components. Earning this certification requires passing two exams:
210-455 CLDADM (Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration, no course link) is not yet available, but Cisco Learning indicates that additional information will be available next month.
Apparently, it is not necessary to earn the CCENT as the first step toward the CCNA Cloud (as is the case for most other CCNA credentials), which also explains why it requires two exams as well. (Fundamentals no doubt supplants the more typical CCENT exam here.)
CCNP Cloud represents the next step up the Cisco cert ladder in the Cloud track. As such, this certification covers private, public, and hybrid cloud models, and seeks to leverage both Cisco Cloud and Intercloud solutions. This credential is a lab-based training and cert program that targets Cloud Engineers, Cloud Administrators, Cloud Designers, and architects working in data centers. The topics covered embrace skills and knowledge needed to design, provision, automate, and manage Cloud and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) deployments.
Earning this certification requires four exams (listed below) and takes either the CCNA Cloud or any CCIE certification as a pre-requisite credential. None of the four exams it includes are available just yet, but Cisco Learning indicates that more information will be available in August, 2015, at which point roll-out information will surely be made public.
300-504 CLDINF (Implementing and Troubleshooting the Cisco Cloud Infrastructure, no course link)
300-505 CLDDES (Designing the Cisco Cloud, no course link)
300-506 CLDAUT (Automating the Cisco Enterprise Cloud, no course link)
300-507 CLDDACI (Building the Cisco Cloud with Application Centric Infrastructure, no course link)
As far as cloud goes, we only have the broad outlines of the CCNP Cloud available, and only one of the six exams required for it and CCNA Cloud is currently open for registration. Cisco has announcements for both programs planned later this summer: July for the second CCNA Cloud exam, August for the entire CCNP Cloud certification.
This remains something of a work in progress in that not all of its elements are currently open for public inspection, though Cisco's intentions and planned coverage are already quite clear. As noted above, putting new certification tracks together is something of a Herculean effort, and it's obvious that Cisco is still in the throes of the Cloud track's creation and construction. It is an ambitious undertaking, to be sure, but with over 50 other cloud certifications already available, not necessarily a pioneering effort.