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CCNP Data Center Certification – Everything You Need to Know

CCNP Data Center Certification - Everything You Need to Know

Starting the Cisco CCNP Data Center Certification journey is crucial for network professionals looking to succeed in data center solutions. This certification shows your ability to design, implement, and manage data center solutions.

This guide is the roadmap that shows you all the important steps from starting out to earning your certification. You will learn about the certification path, understand the exam framework, and prepare effectively. This means focusing on practical lab exercises, connecting with the community, and using Cisco’s educational resources to your advantage.

We will cover prerequisites, exam core, and concentration exams and highlight the certification’s importance in advancing your career. So, let’s dive right into it.

Table of contents

Understanding the Basics of CCNP Data Center Certification

Before getting into the specifics of the CCNP Data Center certification, let’s break down the basics. CCNP stands for Cisco Certified Network Professional, and the Data Center specialization focuses on data center technologies and solutions. This certification is designed for professionals who aim to enhance their expertise in building and managing modern data centers.

Prerequisites for Pursuing CCNP Data Center Certification

Candidates for the CCNP Data Center should ideally have three to five years of experience in implementing data center solutions. They should also have a solid understanding of the exam topics before attempting the exam.

Core Exam (required)

350-601 DCCOR exam covers the foundational knowledge required for executing data center technologies. Topics include network virtualization, automation, and security.

Concentration Exams (Choose One)

The CCNP Data Center certification gives you a choice of different concentration exams to choose from. This lets you customize your certification to fit your interests and career goals. Concentration exams include:

  • Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (300-615 DCIT)
  • Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (300-610 DCID)
  • Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (300-620 DCACI)
  • Implementing Automation for Cisco Data Center Solutions (300-635 DCAUTO)
  • Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure – Advance (300-630 DCACIA)

These concentration exams offer a deeper dive into specific areas of data center technologies. It allows professionals to specialize in areas that resonate with their career objectives. After passing the CCNP Data Center, the candidates’ next step would be the CCIE Data Center.

Recertification

Your CCNP certification lasts three years. To recertify, you have to:

  • Pass any one professional concentration exam
  • Earn 80 continuing education credits

The Importance of Certification

Certification serves as a distinct label on a candidate’s profile, showcasing their expertise in a specific area of technology or domain. It stands akin to a degree but differs in its focus on preparing candidates for the dynamic challenges of technologies and exams. When venturing into diverse industries, candidates with certifications often have a distinct advantage over their non-certified counterparts.

Why Certification is Important

Before actually starting, let’s explore the importance of certification in the data center industry. According to a survey by Cisco Live Las Vegas, about 78% of technological executives and managers hire or recruit candidates based on their certification knowledge. This is compared to 99% of organizations that make decisions based on certification knowledge.

Certification is a label on a candidate’s profile that shows or illustrates their knowledge in a specific area of technology or domain. For example, a degree is a degree a candidate has taken and passed, indicating their knowledge in that area. Certifications are similar to degrees in a different way, as they prepare candidates for their technologies and exams, providing expertise. When applying for various jobs in other industries, recruiters pick candidates with more certifications than those without.

Real-Life Success Stories

Consider the story of an individual who initially trained as an English teacher but later found a passion for computing and programming. Faced with the challenge of transitioning to a technical field without prior experience, the individual decided to pursue CCNA and CCNP certifications. The impact was immediate – job offers started pouring in, and the candidate’s profile stood out among competitors.

Such success stories underline the transformative power of certifications, allowing individuals to bridge the gap between their existing skills and the requirements of a technical role. Employers value certifications as a clear indicator that candidates are dedicated to their chosen field and possess the necessary knowledge and experience.

Cisco CCNP Data Center Certification Track Overview

The certification track is divided into core and concentration exams, each crucial in validating the candidate’s knowledge and skills. Let’s explore the components of the CCNP Data Center certification track.

The CCNP data center certification track is a prominent player in data center certifications. This track involves a main exam, a DCCOR Exam, and a concentration exam. The flexibility of this certification allows individuals to tailor their certification path based on their specific job roles and interests.

CCNP Data Center Certification Track

For instance, if automation is a primary focus, one can opt for the automation concentration exam, which is part of the development family. This flexibility ensures that individuals can align their certification journey with their job responsibilities, making the certification process more relevant and beneficial. Additionally, by offering certifications for specific technologies and roles within IT, CompTIA ensures that individuals can validate their knowledge and skills in a targeted and comprehensive manner.

Understanding the Exam Blueprint

A crucial aspect of certification preparation is understanding the exam blueprint. This document provides a comprehensive overview of the questions assessing a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of various technologies. The cognitive complexity of the exam is categorized into different levels – remembering, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Each level involves other verbs and types of questions, ensuring a thorough evaluation of the candidate’s capabilities.

Understanding the Exam Blueprint

At 591lab, our certification preparation program is designed to help you ace the exam by providing all the necessary information and resources. Our brand voice is knowledgeable, confident, and supportive. We understand that preparing for a certification exam can be overwhelming, and we are here to guide you every step of the way.

Our team at 591lab has years of experience in the IT industry and extensive knowledge of various technologies. We crafted our program to cover all aspects of the exam blueprint, ensuring no topic is left unaddressed. We provide in-depth explanations, practice exercises, and mock exams to help you fully comprehend and apply your knowledge.

Adapting to the Agile Revision Model

Cisco has adopted an agile revision model, making incremental changes yearly to align with rapid technological evolution. This approach ensures that certifications remain relevant and up-to-date. The cycle of changes, spanning from May to April, allows candidates ample time to prepare for exams and stay ahead of industry developments.

Understanding this revision model is crucial for candidates, as it guides their preparation strategy and ensures they focus on the most current technologies and exam requirements. The revision model is based on three fundamental principles:

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Targeted Preparation
  3. Realistic Practice

Continuous Learning

The first principle of our revision model is continuous learning. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing tech landscape, candidates must constantly update their knowledge and skills. This helps them stay relevant and gives them a better chance of passing the exam.

We provide regular updates on new technologies and exam changes through our website and social media channels to facilitate continuous learning. We also offer online courses, webinars, and workshops where candidates can learn from industry experts and stay updated with the latest trends.

Targeted Preparation

The second principle of our revision model is targeted preparation. We understand that every candidate is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to technical skills. We offer personalized study plans based on each candidate’s needs.

Our platform uses advanced algorithms to assess a candidate’s knowledge level and tailor the study plan accordingly. This approach ensures that candidates focus on areas where they need the most improvement, maximizing their chances of success in the exam.

Realistic Simulations

The third principle of our revision model is realistic simulations. We believe practical hands-on experience is crucial for understanding complex concepts and passing technical exams. That’s why we provide realistic simulation environments for candidates to practice, mimicking the actual exam setting.

Our simulations cover various scenarios, giving candidates a comprehensive understanding of the concepts and tools they will encounter in their exams. This allows them to confidently tackle any question that comes their way, as they have already experienced it in a practical setting.

Moreover, our simulations are continuously updated to reflect changes and updates in the industry. This ensures that candidates are always up-to-date with the latest information and techniques, giving them an edge over other exam takers.

How Does the Certification Preparation Process Work?

Successfully navigating the certification preparation process is a critical step in achieving certification success. Cisco has outlined an 8-step approach to help individuals effectively prepare for certification exams. Let’s delve into each step to understand the nuances of a comprehensive preparation strategy.

Reviewing Cisco’s Learning

The first step involves thoroughly reviewing Cisco’s learning materials on exam topics, blueprints, new features, and changes. This step is foundational, providing the groundwork for subsequent stages of preparation. It includes studying, training, connecting with resources, practicing, assessing, scheduling tests, certifying, and recertifying.

Studying and Training with Cisco Digital Learning (CDL) Library

The second step focuses on researching and training with the Cisco Digital Learning (CDL) library, press books, and practice sessions. As Cisco transitions to Cisco U, there will be an increasing amount of material available. CDL offers a holistic view of digital learning, providing candidates with a structured approach to understanding exam topics.

Connecting with Groups and Communities

Connecting with various groups and communities is essential to the preparation process. Engaging in technology discussions through forums and community platforms allows candidates to clarify doubts, gain insights, and share experiences. This step fosters a collaborative learning environment and provides a platform to address questions and concerns.

Hands-on practice with Labs and Environments

Practical experience is invaluable in certification preparation. Step 4 involves hands-on practice with Packet Tracer labs, Cisco learning labs, sandboxes, and dCloud environments. Gaining expertise in implementing, configuring, and troubleshooting through practical exercises is crucial for success in certification exams.

Self-Assessment with Mock Exams

Self-assessment is a pivotal step in gauging one’s learning and practical knowledge. Taking mock exams allows candidates to evaluate their preparedness and identify areas for improvement. After thorough preparation, scheduling the exam becomes the next logical step, with the flexibility to choose between Pearson Vue Centres or home environments based on the internet and quiet conditions.

Certification – Tracking and Accumulating Points

Certification is not just about passing exams; it involves tracking certifications, points, and point accumulation. This step highlights the ongoing process of gaining more credits and certifications, contributing to a candidate’s professional development.

Using Training Resources

Cisco offers a range of training environments, including guided study, self-study, and virtual environments. Virtual environments, such as sandboxes and dCloud, can be rented or purchased through CE credits. Guided study options include e-learning classes and private group training. Cisco U provides guided lessons with a blueprint structure for each topic.

Using Cisco Resources for Success

Cisco resources are invaluable throughout the certification preparation process. Events, training videos, the Cisco Live Library, and certification communities provide information on exam strategies, relevant resources, and direct interactions with subject matter experts. These resources are often free, making them accessible to a wide audience.

At Cisco Live events, attendees can attend sessions explicitly focused on exam preparation. These sessions are led by experienced Cisco-certified professionals and provide valuable insights into what to expect on the exams and how to approach each topic. In addition, there are hands-on labs where participants can practice their skills and get expert feedback.

For those unable to attend in-person events, Cisco offers a variety of training videos through its online learning platform, Cisco Learning Network (CLN). These videos cover a wide range of topics and provide detailed explanations of exam objectives and tips and tricks for test-taking. CLN also offers study groups where individuals can connect with others studying for the same certification and share resources and study strategies.

Training Resources for Hands-On Learning in Data Center Certifications

In the realm of data center certifications, hands-on learning is indispensable. Cisco provides various training resources to offer practical, real-world experience in various technologies. Let’s explore the hands-on study resources available for individuals preparing for data center certifications.

Virtual Environments: Sandboxes and dCloud

Virtual environments, including sandboxes and dCloud, are essential for hands-on practice. These environments allow students to deploy topologies, make API calls, and interact with devices in a simulated setting. Virtual environments can be rented or purchased through CE credits, providing flexibility and accessibility.

Guided Study Options: E-learning Classes and Private Group Training

Guided study options are available for those seeking a more structured learning path. This includes purchasing e-learning classes and engaging in private group training. These options offer a more personalized approach, catering to the specific needs and pace of the learner.

Cisco U: Guided Lessons and Digital Learning Library

In its transition, Cisco U provides guided lessons that offer valuable insights into exam topics. The Cisco Digital Learning Library (CDL) is a comprehensive resource with a blueprint structure for each topic. It covers exam content and facilitates a deeper understanding of technologies through hands-on lab experiences.

Cisco Live Library: Resources and Talks

The Cisco Live Library is a treasure trove of resources and talks that aid in exam preparation. It provides in-depth insights into specific topics and use cases, allowing candidates to dive deep into technology implementations. Accessible to a wide audience, the Cisco Live Library is an excellent resource for those looking to enhance their understanding of data center technologies.

Cisco Learning and Certification Communities

Interacting with subject matter experts is a valuable aspect of hands-on learning. Cisco learning and certification communities offer opportunities to engage with experts, ask questions, and participate in discussions. This collaborative environment fosters a sense of community among certification aspirants.

Cisco’s Hands-On Study Resources for CCNP Data Center Certification

Cisco offers a range of hands-on study resources tailored explicitly for CCNP Data Center certification aspirants. These resources aim to provide practical experience in deploying topologies, making API calls, and interacting with devices. Let’s explore the hands-on study resources available for individuals preparing for CCNP Data Center certification.

Cisco Modeling Labs: Practical Experience in Various Technologies

Cisco Modeling Labs offers a practical and immersive experience in various technologies. It allows candidates to simulate real-world scenarios, deploy topologies, and gain hands-on expertise. This resource is particularly valuable for those looking to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

DevNet Learning Labs: Virtualized Labs for Specific Technologies

DevNet Learning Labs provides a variety of virtualized labs, allowing candidates to practice specific technologies. These labs are designed to offer a hands-on approach to learning, which focuses on practical skills and application. Accessible and flexible, DevNet Learning Labs cater to diverse learning preferences.

DevNet Sandboxes: Free Labs for Hands-On Practice

DevNet Sandboxes offer free-to-use labs, providing an opportunity for hands-on practice without financial constraints. These labs cover a range of technologies and allow candidates to explore and experiment in a risk-free environment. DevNet Sandboxes democratize access to practical learning experiences.

dCloud: Physical Apps for Hands-On Experience

dCloud provides physical apps booked for up to a week or more. This resource offers a unique hands-on experience. It allows candidates to interact with physical devices and gain practical insights. dCloud’s structured approach provides a detailed description of each app, guiding candidates through hands-on activities.

Cisco CCNP Data Center Resources: E-Learning and Exam Bundles

Cisco’s CCNP Data Center resources include e-learning and exam bundles, providing a comprehensive package for certification preparation. These paid resources offer structured learning paths and discounted exam access. They make them an attractive option for candidates seeking a guided approach.

Data Center Videos on Demand and Webinars

For visual learners, data center videos on demand and webinars are valuable resources. These platforms offer dynamic content covering various topics related to data center technologies. Video-based learning enhances understanding and retention, catering to diverse learning preferences.

Exam Scheduling and Online Proctoring

After thorough preparation using hands-on study resources, candidates can schedule their CCNP Data Center exam online or at a Cisco Center. The process is straightforward, involving subscription, room inspection through pictures, and online proctoring. This flexibility ensures accessibility and convenience for certification aspirants.

Continuing Education Portals for Cisco CCNP Data Center Certification

Continuing Education (CE) is an integral aspect of professional development, and Cisco provides opportunities for CCNP Data Center certification holders to earn CE credits. These portals offer avenues for ongoing learning and engagement, contributing to the continuous growth of certified professionals.

Earning CE Credits After Recertification

Continuing Education Portals allow CCNP Data Center certification holders to earn CE credits after recertification. These credits can be earned by actively participating in a given track, showcasing a commitment to staying updated with the latest advancements in data center technologies.

Test Option After Three Years

After three years of holding the CCNP Data Center certification, individuals can retake the test or contribute to an exam advisory group. This flexibility caters to varying preferences and allows certified professionals to choose the path that aligns with their career goals and interests.

Contributing to Exam Advisory Groups

Active participation in exam advisory groups is valuable for earning CE credits. By contributing insights, writing questions for Cisco certifications, and engaging in discussions, certified professionals actively shape the future of certification exams. This collaborative approach benefits both individuals and the certification community as a whole.

Attending Cisco Live Sessions for CE Credits

Cisco Live sessions offer a platform for earning CE credits. These sessions expose certified professionals to the latest trends, technologies, and industry insights. The diverse range of topics covered in Cisco Live sessions ensures that participants can customize their learning experiences to their specific areas of interest.

Alternative Paths for CE Credits

Alternative paths for earning CE credits are available for those who prefer not to take exams but still want to certify. Attending Cisco sessions, contributing to exam advisory groups, and actively participating in community events are viable alternatives to traditional exam-based recertification.

Conclusion

Getting a Cisco CCNP data center certification needs a strategic and thorough approach. It starts with knowing why certifications matter in this field. Then, it moves to learning the certification track, keeping up with updates, and using hands-on study resources. Every step helps a candidate do well.

Cisco offers many training options like online classes, study guides, and hands-on labs. These training resources help people get ready in the best way. The focus on ongoing learning through CE credits shows how important it is to keep growing and learning data centers.

Combining theoretical learning with practical experience is essential as you start your CCNP Data Center certification journey. This approach will lead to a rewarding career in data centers.

FAQs

What is CCNP data center?

CCNP Data Center is a professional-level certification offered by Cisco. It focuses on designing, implementing, and managing data center solutions. It validates the skills required to work with complex data center infrastructure.

Is CCNP still in demand?

Yes, CCNP certifications, including CCNP Data Center, remain in high demand within the networking industry. Companies value professionals with the skills and knowledge validated by CCNP certifications to manage and optimize their network infrastructure effectively.

Is CCIE better than CCNP?

CCIE is generally considered more advanced and prestigious compared to CCNP. CCIE requires higher expertise and typically leads to more specialized roles.

What is the cost of the CCIE Data Center lab exam?

The cost for the CCIE Data Center lab exam is $1600.

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