The big news of the last couple of weeks in the CCIE world has been the announcement of Cisco first official training program for the Routing and Switching CCIE track, the Cisco 360 Learning Program for CCIE Routing and Switching. I’ve posted about this a couple of times (here
). Since that time more information has become available and NetMasterClass has even started selling the training
If you want to skip this rather long post, then here’s my take on the program:
It looks like a rebranded version the NetMasterClass end-to-end training which will be offered by multiple Cisco Learning Partners (once they are certified by Cisco and at varied levels). NetMasterClass has a great reputation and the training is sure to be very solid. My opinion is that the major difference between the 360 program (other than Cisco’s seal of approval) is the Learning Management System that will serve as the training portal as well as track candidates’ progress. The biggest downside is the price as well as the lack of details about the online training portions. My opinion is that this training will be popular with candidates within Cisco, working for Cisco Partners, and those who receive financial backing from their employers.
GroupStudy yielded some information on the program last week:
Basically here’s the skinny:
There was a competiton or bid of sorts between the major vendors.
It seems NMC won the bid. Maybe others but we’ll see in a few days. As of now just NMC that I am aware of.
The training program will be based on the NMC-1 Advanced CCIE 1-Week Class currently offered by NMC.
The pre-assessments are similar to NMC’s per-technology quick exams – currently less than 15Q [questions]each as I recall – correct me it’s been a while since I tried one.
The pre-assessment will be similar to the CCIE Accessor or the Day-1 Lab given by NMC on the first day of class.
The online classes will likely mimick and/or mirror the NMC Video on Demand, which consequently in some cases are quite “exactly” similar to the NMC Tech Library which is quite “exactly” similar to the NMC-1 one-week CCIE Bootcamp. This material is nearly word-for-word verbatim to the class as I recall.
The practice labs will likely be very much the CheckIT Labs with the CheckIT grading system.
Anyone from back in the day who used Mentor Technologies VLabs will recall the format and layout.
This jives somewhat with what I was told about the process of selecting a vendor(s) to participate in the program.
Who will offer the course: (here, here, and here)
These classes are ONLY offered through SKYLINE-ATS, Globalknowledge, Fast Lane and CTT and some of the SOs that are claiming that they can offer the class is incorrect, they have to go through their CLSP, and ONLY so many instructors are allowed to teach this class, and as of now there are 8 of them.
As you know, Cisco requires partners and instructors to meet very high standards in order to offer CCIE 360. To your list I would add Netmasterclass! For NMC Bruce Caslow, Val Pavlichenko, Bill Burns and myself are currently qualified by Cisco to teach CIERS1 and CIERS2.
-Bob Sinclair CCIE 10427 CCSI 30427
You are 100 percent correct, and You, Val and Bruce are certified to teach and from this group i believe Paul Borghese, Johnny Bass, Vasil and I are almost there. There was another gentleman that I forgot the name.
Thanks for the clarification.
It looks like a number of the top CCIE instructors are already getting trained to participate in this program.
CCBootcamp will be one of the vendors delivering the new training:
Wes, we’ve been doing CCIE training since 1998, but we were not really involved in the “bid” process. It looks like it will be a good program. We’ll have to see how it goes. There wont be many training companies offering the Cisco 360 program. However, it appears that CCBOOTCAMP will be one of the few companies offering the training.
CCIE#5796 (R&S / Security)
CEO / President
CCBOOTCAMP – A Cisco Sponsored Organization (SO)
CCBootcamp and NetMasterClass (no surprise since they helped develop the course) look like they will be the first (and only?) of the “core four” CCIE vendors to offer the 360 training program.
Arden Packeer posted an excellent blog entry about this new program which gives nice look inside the Cisco training hierarchy and explains what the hell is a CLSP?
Cisco delivers its official course material through its Learning Partner program. Cisco structures its Learning Partner program into three tiers. At the top we have CLSP’s (Cisco Learning Solution Partners). The middle tier is where the CLP’s (Cisco Learning Partners) sit, and the bottom is where SO’s (Sponsored Organisations) sit.
A CLSP is allowed to deliver only Cisco authorized materials using Certified Cisco System Instructors (CCSI). Having a certain number of certified staff members is a requirement. CLSP’s are allowed to customize courses but are required to report and pay royalties on all derivative works to Cisco.
There are only a handfull of CLSP’s in the world and each has a specific region (or theatre) they look after. Its like a giant pyramid scheme with CLSP’s sitting at the top. CLP’s and SO’s must purchase kits (training manuals etc) from CLSP’s and get any derivative works approved. Cisco gets a cut from these derivative works.
— Read The Rest Here —
CCIE Guru has a must read blog posting that sheds a lot of light on the new program:
Now, here’s the real crazy part. The entire list of everything being offered in the Cisco 360 program, matches up, almost identically to what Netmaster is selling [note: was selling – NMC’s site now only lists the 360 program and a written program) – once again for about half the price for the package. It would appear that Cisco is “reselling” the Netmaster training programs and offering them for a 100% mark up.
What’s so special about the Cisco 360 program? Nothing as far as I can tell. It’s just the Netmaster class program with the Cisco stamp on it. Someone must have switched Netmaster coolaid for the normal Cisco coolaid at the Raleigh, NC Cisco office.
So who is participating in the Cisco 360 program? Almost NONE of the current CCIE training vendors as far as I can tell (except Netmaster). Here is a list of companies that I called:
Unitek – not sure if they are going to join the program due to it’s “entrance fee.”
CCBootcamp – considering joining, but hasn’t formally applied or been accepted.
Netmaster – wrote the program.
IPExpert – “We have our own blended learning solution which is cheaper and more effective.”
Internetworkexpert – We are looking at it, but we don’t believe it’s the best option at this time.
I tried to find out more about the “entrance fee” and I was told it would cost a training company around $30,000 to $45,000 per instructor between missed work (up to four weeks) and program fees. I am guessing that’s the reason the two currently Cisco authorized training companies, Unitek and CCBootcamp are having a hard time justifying the costs. If these companies join the program, and it fails, they just wasted $45k per instructor.
— Read The Rest Here —
The Cisco Learning Network has a posting entitled “Top 10 questions answered about the NEW Cisco 360 Learning Program for CCIE Routing and Switching” which supports what CCIE Guru is saying.
On Thursday, 24 October the Cisco Learning Network presented a CCIE TV episode which (among other interesting topics) addressed the new 360 training (Ethan Banks has some great notes on this program here). I watched the show (a recording of which should appear on the CLN within the next couple of weeks) and here are some of the more interesting bits:
On the CCIE in general:
Overview: CCIEs Worldwide
Represent less than 3% of all Cisco certifications
Routing and Switching
Core networking certification
74% of all bookings
Labs in all regions, in all worldwide locations
Introduced in 2002
Fastest-growing certification; 13% of bookings
Labs in Beijing, Brussels, RTP, San Jose, Sydney, Dubai, Bangalore, and Tokyo
Introduced in 2003
10% of bookings
Labs in San Jose, Brussels, RTP, Sydney, and Tokyo
Introduced in 2004
Labs in Brussels and RTP
Introduced in 2002
3% of bookings
Labs in San Jose, Brussels, Beijing, Hong Kong, RTP, Sao Paulo, and Sydney
The six portions of the 360 program:
Assessment:Student takes a pre-assessment to benchmark their exposure to various networking topics.
Planning: Based on diagnostic feedback students create a learning path that utilizes the breadth of the curriculum to obtain the necessary education and exposure.
Learning: Students participate in lessons, read materials, and work with subject matter experts to gain understanding and knowledge in topics in which they need to develop competencies.
Practice: Students then take the concepts learned and utilize practice exercises to gain exposure to real-world configurations by applying these topics in actual scenarios.
Review: By utilizing the assessments students can then measure their understanding to validate their application and usage of the various approaches to solving network problems with the technologies.
Mastery: By utilizing the reference material, answer keys, and best practices, students can then review their work product and hone their skills.
Some details on the pieces of the training:
Pre-Assessment:A four-hour diagnostic exam for networking core technologies. The pre-assessment serves as a benchmark for program preparedness necessary skills development.
Workshops (classroom training): Two 5-day workshops that include instructor led lectures and feedback from instructors and peer to provide student mentoring and support.
Library (reference documentation):Over 2,000 pages of searchable text and graphics offering advanced networking technical documentation and best practices for network engineers.
On Demand Lessons (eLearning):Numerous hours of multiple topic-based lessons on topics such as IPv6, QoS, Frame Relay, Link Layer, and Networking Protocols. All recorded with experienced instructors with tips and tricks and indexed for convenient reference.
Practice Lab Scenarios: (hands-on exposure) Over 250 hours of expert level advanced networking scenarios that enable students to implement network configurations in simulated real-world applications.
Formative Assessments: (learning checks) a Series of timed, scenario based, mock lab performance tests that can be scored and graded to produce detailed feedback on skills and competencies.
Mentoring: (Coaching) Detailed explanations of correct networking approaches and best practices that provide directed focused feedback in diagnosing errors, omissions, and sequencing in configurations.
360 Basic Package Details
I’m a little surprised about the details of the eLearning portion of the training. There’s no mention of training for security, IP services, multicast, or system management. Maybe those topics are rolled into the training. If not, then a significant section of the blueprint is not represented. My guess (based on the observation that the announced eLearning modules match to the CODs that NMC used to offer) is that those topics are not addressed now, but (hopefully) will be once more content is developed/released.
You can add options to the basic 360 training including classroom instruction, rack rentals, and one-on-one mentoring:
360 Value-Added Options
Cisco Curriculum Standards:
Measurable expert-level networking curriculum with learning objectives
Competencies aligned to network engineer job role and responsibilities
Aligned to current networking technologies, protocols, and Cisco products
Blended basic offering, including expert instructor-led training
More than 400 hours of instruction, including 250 hours of practice
Assessments, recorded searchable lectures, and reference library developed by Cisco
24-hour online accessibility with reporting, tracking, and trending
This bulletpoint really confuses/intigues me: “More than 400 hours of instruction, including 250 hours of practice”. Reading that I can’t understand if they mean “400 hours of instruction PLUS an additional 250 hours of practice” or “150 hours of instruction and 250 hours of practice”. Also, are they talking about the base package or the mac-daddy $$$ full-meal deal? Does “instruction” include reading the reference library? Without those answers I don’t know whether to be blown away (400 (10 weeks) hours of online training!!!) or underwhelmed (150 hours which includes 2 workshops, reading 2000 pages, and some mentoring time). I asked this question during the CCIE TV presentation but it was not answered.
Finally, in order to offer the class you need be an active Cisco Learning Partner and your instructors need to be approved by Cisco to teach the course. The following slide breaks down the instructor hierarchy a bit as well as the requirements to teach the class:
360 Instructor Training
One of the big benifits of the new 360 program will be the Learning Management System (LMS) that will be used to track students’ progress. I fully expect to see IPexpert and Internetwork Expert roll out something similar. Both vendors already have proven end-to-end training that matches or exceeds what seems to be offered by the 360 program. While I can’t speak for IPexpert, I know that Internetwork Expert already has a lot of metrics that they could incorporate into an LMS in order to track and give feedback/direction on a candidate’s progress. Both companies could easily get a jump on the 360 program by implementing the LMS across all tracks (the 360 only covers Routing and Switching at this time).
Anyhoo…this is most likely the last post I’ll be making about the new program. It’s not something that is a good fit for me but it looks like a very good choice for candiates who are not paying out of pocket. Even if I could afford to purchase the 360 program, I would definitely contact the vendor offering it to get more details about the amount of training included. The content should be pretty solid as NetMasterClass has a very good reputation. I don’t think that this will affect most of the big CCIE vendors as they can compete on prices as well as past success. The only real downside to the other CCIE vendors is if this means that they cannot train Cisco employees on Cisco campuses. I have to think that this is probably going to be the case. I can’t see Cisco rolling this program out and then not using it for their employees. That will probably mean a hit to the wallets of some vendors.
For most candidates this will be a good change as it will drive vendors to improve their offerings because there’s a new offering on the market that will grab a good sized chunk of customers. I will say that I think that some of the comments about “sub standard” third-party boot camps was a little bit of over-the-top marketing by Cisco. While they didn’t specificy which vendors – this is almost worse because it creates a “poo-storm” around all vendors…except the ones offering the 360 training.
Here is a collection of blogger comments on the new training program: