Network pros react to new Cisco certification curriculum

Software skills are set to play a more prominent role in Cisco’s network engineering curriculum. The company is launching a new coding-focused certification track, as well as giving its existing certifications a major revamp to address software-defined networking (SDN), automation, the Internet of Things, and other emerging technologies that are changing the requirements of today’s network professionals. 

“They’re not trying to turn network folks into developers, but they are certainly trying to make it easier for us to do our job,” says Dan Groscost, solutions architect at Computer Design & Integration, an IT services firm based in New York, N.Y. Groscost holds a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification, and he’s in the final stages of his Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Route/Switch certification.  

Groscost says his company would appreciate him obtaining a Cisco DevNet certification, especially as customers have been bringing up automation more frequently. Ahead of the release of the new certifications (set for February 24, 2020), Groscost has been “getting his hands dirty” by watching training videos and content on scripting and other relevant skill sets. “I’m by no means an automation specialist, but when I talk to a customer, I like to understand what I can do to help them,” he says.  

Overall, Groscost thinks Cisco’s new and revamped designations will help the industry by validating networking and developer skill sets, providing professionals credit for those skills, and potentially yielding salary increases for people who obtain the certifications. “It’s also going to help weed out the candidate selection for DevOps,” because companies will have a benchmark to measure skills, Groscost says. 

New Cisco certifications, fewer exams

The new DevNet certification track focuses on coding, automation, application development on Cisco platforms, and what developers need to know about network fundamentals. DevNet Associate, for example, covers the understanding and use of APIs, software development and design, application deployment and security, infrastructure and automation, and network fundamentals.  

Along with adding the new DevNet track, Cisco has built more programmability and automation training into its traditional engineering curriculum. It’s also streamlined the way the tracks work within its four main certification levels: associate, specialist, professional, and expert levels.

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