The CCIE turns 20By Sean Wilkins
It doesn’t seem all that long ago to many people, but the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) program turned 20 this year. Today there are over 38,000 CCIEs. The program continues to be successful in producing highly qualified network individuals who are prepared for almost any network issues that are thrown at them, specifically for Cisco, but extending to all other network vendors in many cases. Let’s take a brief look at the history of the CCIE program and how it has evolved over the years.
The new and shiny CCIE
The CCIE program started in 1993 as a way of attempting to distinguish the best engineers from the rest of the existing networking professionals; attempting to do this in itself is a very challenging proposition. The real differentiator seems to have been the decision to make the exam hands-on and not simply a written exam. As most people in any IT field will know, there are a number of different certifications that have been available over the years (and exist currently as well) that can easily be achieved but not earned. This is typically done through the use of braindumps, or publically available lists of the live exam questions. The potential candidate just needs to gain access to this and study to memorize the contents of the specific exam. The CCIE program with its hands-on exam largely voids the usefulness of these braindumps. Over the years the length and coverage of the lab has changed, but overall it has kept up a high reputation only producing highly qualified network engineers who have proven they have the skills they say that have, and by weeding out those candidates who attempt to game the system.
The diversified CCIE
Over the years (especially the last decade) the CCIE program has been split into a number of different sub-categories and specialties. While initially the CCIE program was focused on individuals with high-level routing and switching skills, the networking industry and environment was changing and specialty services were being introduced to be used over networks (something most of us currently use today). This started in 2004 with the introduction of the CCIE Security, CCIE Service Provider and CCIE Voice certifications, which then progressed to the multiple current offerings including CCIE Routing and Switching (R&S), CCIE Security, CCIE Voice/CCIE Collaboration, CCIE Data Center, CCIE Service Provider, CCIE Service Provider Operations and CCIE Wireless. These different specialty offerings provide existing and potential employers the ability to know which individuals have the specific knowledge that they may need.
Cisco’s CCIE success
Some of the keys to Cisco’s CCIE success doesn’t just stem from the fact that it offers hands-on labs but also that they have traditionally (at least since the late 90s) engaged with both their existing certification community and their potential future certification candidates. This engagement ensures that it has a good pulse on the community in general, and with this know how, Cisco can potentially alter its certifications to best fit the needs of engineers in production situations. As long as Cisco is successful with this engagement their certifications will remain highly relevant to current and future engineers and retain value in the industry worldwide.
Sean Wilkins is an accomplished networking consultant for SR-W Consulting and has been in the field of IT since the mid 1990′s working with companies like Cisco, Lucent, Verizon and AT&T as well as several other private companies. Sean currently holds certifications with Cisco (CCNP/CCDP), Microsoft (MCSE) and CompTIA (A+ and Network+). He also has a Masters of Science degree in Information Technology with a focus in Network Architecture and Design, a Masters of Science degree in Operational Management, a Masters Certificate in Network Security, a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Networking and Associates of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems. In addition to working as a consultant, Sean spends a lot of his time as a technical writer and editor for various companies.
About the Author
Sean Wilkins is an accomplished networking consultant for SR-W Consulting (http://www.sr-wconsulting.com) and writer/editor for infoDispersion (http://www.idisperse.info). Sean has been in the IT field for over 15 years, working with companies like Cisco, Lucent, Verizon and AT&T as well as several other private companies. Sean holds certifications with Cisco (CCNP/CCDP), Microsoft (MCSE) and CompTIA (A+ and Network+). His educational accomplishments include: a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a focus in Network Architecture and Design, a Master’s of Science in Organizational Management, a Master’s Certificate in Network Security, a Bachelors of Science in Computer Networking, and an Associates of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems.
Author's Website: http://www.sr-wconsulting.com