Tuesday, June 18, 2019

CCDE Thoughts After Cisco Live 2019

My CCDE Thoughts After Cisco Live 2019

The CCDE exam was conspicuously absent from the grand re-imagining of the CCNA/CCNP/CCIE certification programs. Here's a brief summary of the announcements (everything takes effect on February 24, 2020):

  • CCIE Routing & Switching is being renamed to CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure
  • CCIE Wireless is being renamed to CCIE Enterprise Wireless
  • All CCIE labs will be rewritten to include a three hour design module (similar in style to the CCDE Practical, focusing on lower-level design). The lab portion will be five hours.
  • CCDA and CCDP will be retired and transitioned to equivalent CCNA and CCNP designations
  • CCNA will be a single track
  • All Cisco written exams (except CCDE written) will earn candidates a certification; mostly Specialist certifications
  • Cisco is launching a suite of DevNet certifications (Cisco Certified DevNet Associate, Cisco Certified DevNet Professional, Cisco Certified DevNet Expert)

There is much more to this. Check the web for others' takes. I'm only really interested in CCDE :)  A good place to start is www.cisco.com/go/nextlevel. There are plenty of tools to help us understand the transitions to the new designations.

Now, for my CCDE-related thoughts. That is why you are reading, right?!

CCDE Recertification
Active CCDEs will have three years to recertify, rather than the current two years. The third year replaces the 'suspended' status (I think that was a thing for CCDE.. I never got into the situation to find out). If you do not recertify by the end of the three years, you go inactive and will need to re-take the written and practical exams to re-earn your CCDE certification.
Recertification can be completed by one of the following:

  • Passing the CCDE Written
  • Passing three Specialist exams
  • Earning 120 Continuing Education (CE) credits
  • Various combinations of Specialist exams and CE credits (check the Cisco Learning website for details)

One important note is that your new 3-year certification window begins on the day that complete recertification. Your recertification date is no longer tied to your original pass date. I anticipate lots of us playing a game of 'chicken' with that 3-year window.. the closer to the end of it that you pass (or submit your CE credits), then longer you can wait before doing it again. But if you wait too long, you lose and start back at the beginning. Be safe out there! :)

The Future of the CCDE (Jeremy's Speculation)

I must preface this by telling you I have no insight into the actual plans for the CCDE. What you will read below is my 'best guess' at where things will go, based on my historical knowledge of Cisco certification programs and my own personal logic.

Name Change?

The new Cisco Certified DevNet Expert program will almost surely be known as the CCDE program, based on the naming of it. I suppose it could be CCDNE, or CCDevE, but those seem clunky to me. This makes me think that the CCDE program will get a name change. Perhaps something that combines the Architect and Design names into a single designation? I've never gotten on board with the differentiation that Cisco has placed on Architecture versus Design. Given that the CCAr program is all-but-dead (no one has attempted it in 3+ years, if my knowledge is accurate), and that only a handful actually passed the exam, I don't think too many would be upset if they were combined.

Where Will the CCDE Fit?
I expect the future CCDE program will be an umbrella over the CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure (former route-switch), CCIE Enterprise Wireless (former CCIE wireless), CCIE Data Center and CCIE Service Provider exams. It may/may not have a distinct qualification exam. If the specific CCDE written is retired, qualification may be something like “Earn two or more Cisco Certified Specialist Design badges.” This would bring the CCDE roughly in line with the CCIE lab requirement of “Pass the subject Core exam.”

If this comes to pass, and I need to repeat that this is purely my speculation, the CCDE Practical exam could turn into “four scenarios, one on each of the four mentioned silos (Enterprise Infrastructure, Enterprise Wireless, Data Center, Service Provider). The successful CCDE candidate would then become interface between the business and each of these technology areas (Security and Management would be components of each scenario). CCDEs would be tested in several ways:

Upstream toward the business- Extracting business requirements from documents, asking for missing information, recognizing constraints

Downstream toward implementation- Building coherent designs, communicating the design, adapting design to additional constraints

Multi-disciplinary design- Integrating two or more technology areas as required (for example, combining a Campus and WAN design, or adding an ACI data center to an existing environment to meet business requirements)

I do fear, and even expect, that the CCDE will become less vendor-neutral in any upcoming redesign of the program. As this past Cisco Live made abundantly clear, the Enterprise will no longer be a vendor-neutral area. All of Cisco’s most talked-about technologies (SD Access, SD WAN, ACI) are proprietary. In my view, Enterprise networks will become increasingly proprietary for the next few years, before they inevitably bounce back to open standards. We’ve all seen this before; at least those of us who’ve been around as long as I have:

Whatever happens to the CCDE program, existing CCDEs will be migrated over. Current candidates will be given at least six months notice (I expect at least two Practical dates as well) to wrap up their certifications. The CCIE announcements from this CLUS gave 8.5 months notice to candidates.

My advice, if you are seeking it, is to continue pursuing the CCDE if that is a goal of yours. Plan to finish by end of 2020, just in case the program changes significantly after that time.

Good luck, and let me know how I can help!