Cisco Certified Network Professional Enhancements
The knowledge and skills required for IT professionals to design and operate a network environment have radically changed during the past five years. During the same period, the complexity of applications deployed in large enterprises and service providers’ IT environments has expanded dramatically. Networks are evolving from closed infrastructures to integrated systems that enable organizations to work more closely with users worldwide. Bringing applications and services such as security, voice and wireless to the Internet has had a dramatic impact on the network and how it is used, and how productivity and profitability are maximized.
As clients plan, design, implement and operate converged networks where security is a critical concern, they’ve seen a growing need for professionals who have the skills to optimize the productivity of fully integrated networked infrastructure services, interactive services and applications across the enterprise.
To meet the need for skilled professionals, Cisco Systems refreshed its premier professional certification, CCNP, integrating next-generation Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs), which are engineered to provide wire-speed delivery of concurrent data, voice, video and wireless services with optimized security. Cisco embedded these advanced technologies into a single routing system, enabling fast, scalable delivery of mission-critical business applications.
The new CCNP program goes beyond core routing and switching to applications deployed on the edge of the network, such as wireless, security and voice. At the same time, the new CCNP program maintains its focus on the foundational skills required to manage the routers and switches that form the network core. CCNP certified networking professionals will be more capable of integrating advanced technology functionality into networks and better able to collaborate with advanced technology specialists for large-enterprise or service-provider networks.
The Evolution of Network Architecture
The Cisco Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) is an architectural framework that guides the evolution of the Intelligent Information Network (IIN) to accelerate applications, business processes and profitability. This comprehensive framework provides guidelines to help businesses evolve their IT infrastructure and transform business processes with network investments that increase business growth, agility, efficiency and productivity.
In today’s business environment, strategic applications and services are being integrated into the core, increasing the demands placed on the network. There are increased requirements for security and flexibility, in addition to the typical issues of bandwidth and performance. Clearly, hardware capable of handling the new demands is an important factor and a constant technology challenge. In addition to faster CPUs and more memory, offloading CPU and memory-intensive functions such as security processes, VPN, encryption/decryption and voice processing to Advanced Integration Modules (AIMs) enables the device to better perform its typical duties and other demands.
This allows the network to be used for services historically provided by applications on external devices and servers, bringing the process closer to where it is actually performed: within the network. This is a key reason why it is important that today’s network administrators and engineers are equipped with the foundational knowledge of both the hardware aspects of the network and the architectural background to implement highly functional and optimized networks. This is where SONA and IIN, along with the increased functionality of the Cisco ISR, come into play. The newly updated CCNP program incorporates these requirements and provides training to ensure that each student is capable of implementing the most secure and efficient solution.
The Network as a Platform
The network has become the platform for many of today’s business applications. Although traditional forms of communication such as Web surfing and standard file transfer are still requirements, running network-enabled applications is now commonplace as well. Database transactions are handled at multiple tiers throughout the network, and newer technologies such as voice are being implemented at an increasing rate. This places more demand on network resources and requires reconsideration of network design and implementation.
Securing networks from today’s threats requires all aspects of the network, both internal and external, be secured. This places a higher burden on the integrity of equipment and strategies used to implement networks. Many of these challenges are managed by offloading functions to the network, which is made possible through proper network management and design.
In the new CCNP program, students will be introduced to the network as a platform rather than just an interconnected communications mechanism. Discussions of architectures and services that enable business applications and processes will enable students to gain a more solutions-based understanding of the value proposition of the network. This, along with hours of hands-on lab training, will ensure that CCNP holders can make an immediate impact on their networks.
The Program: A Systems Approach
The goal of the new CCNP program is to ensure the candidate is at an advanced or journeyman level of knowledge related to networks. After earning a CCNP, a network professional can install, configure and troubleshoot local- and wide-area networks for enterprise organizations, from 100 to more than 500 nodes. In addition to topics such as converged networks, quality of service (QoS), virtual private networks (VPNs) and broadband technologies, the new CCNP program integrates high-growth areas of security, voice and wireless technologies into the four existing week-long courses.
Although a number of security issues were covered in the former CCNP curriculum, there is an increased focus on security-related factors and capabilities that are important to address. The addition of VPNs and the enhanced capabilities of the ISR routers are two examples. Additionally, because security is a crucial topic for businesses today, the CCNP curriculum has been updated to address the implementation of security throughout the network.
With wireless becoming commonplace and used as an access method in most networks today, this topic has been added to the CCNP curriculum. The fundamental knowledge required to enable, secure and manage wireless networks is covered. Topics included in the new CCNP curriculum are those the majority of organizations employ today.
Understanding what is involved in enabling a network for voice communications is an essential skill for any networking professional at the CCNP level. Understanding the impact that voice solutions have on the network and knowing how to properly position a network to handle voice traffic is addressed throughout the new CCNP curriculum. Additional QoS topics have been added to the CCNP curriculum to prepare candidates to incorporate voice integration and business applications into the network.
Cisco offers a wide range of additional curriculum and certifications in the areas of security, wireless and voice technologies that support a greater level of skills.
CCNP consists of the following courses and exams:
- BCMSN v3.0 – Campus Switch Networks Wireless LAN
- BSCI v3.0 – Routing Protocols at Campus Edge
- ISCW v1.0 – Implementing Secure Converged WANs
- ONT v1.0 – Optimized Converged Cisco Networks
The CCNP Value
The primary goal of the updated CCNP curriculum is simple: to bring the curriculum up to date to align with demands of the evolving network environment. By expanding and updating the foundational routing and switching training found in the previous