CCIE Pursuit Blog

October 14, 2008

Cisco To Launch Its Own CCIE Training Program

NetworkWorld has announced that Cisco will soon unveil its CCIE training program for the Routing and Switching track.  It looks like it will go under the moniker of “Cisco 360 Learning Program for CCIE – Routing and Switching”.

Cisco Tuesday rolled out Cisco 360 Learning Program for CCIE – Routing and Switching, a six-month program that incorporates e-learning and hands-on practice labs to accelerate expert-level competency. The program is designed to run head-on against third-party boot camps, which Cisco says are not up to par(you’ll be able to read more about Cisco’s thoughts on this in Network World’s IT Careers & Training newsletter on Wednesday). The program will be made available through select authorized Cisco Learning Partners and consist of pre-assessments, six online classes covering topics such as IPv6, QoS, Frame Relay, Border Gateway Protocol and switching, instructor-led workshops, practice labs and mentoring. The courses start at $5,000 but can reach to double-digits for the mentorship features.

—Read The Rest Here—

I received an “Inside Baseball” report about this program and how it was put together from a reliable source.  Cisco has been working on this program for awhile now.  The line about the program being “designed to run head-on against third-party boot camps, which Cisco says are not up to par” may be NetworkWorld editorializing a bit.  It looks like we’ll need to wait until the official announcement from Cisco tomorrow (I check the CCIE news page and there was nothing there today).  I think comparing a SIX MONTH Cisco training program against a (generally) ONE WEEK third-party vendor boot-camp is a bit of apples versus oranges.  Most CCIEvendors offer end-to-end study programs which (if you complete all of the labs/classes/mock labs) probably provide somewhere in the 6 month range.  Perhaps this is what Cisco is targeting.  To say that these courses are not “up to par” is strange considering the number of candidates that pass the lab utilizing these vendors’ products.

There is a podcast available on NetworkWorld which may shed more light on this program.  I’m popping on headphones as we speak (well…as I type and you read 🙂 ) and will update this post with anything of interest from the podcast.  I love you guys so much that I’m willing to sacrifice my lunch break for your benefit.  🙂  That’s a lie, I’m still going to take my lunch break….this is “research time”.  🙂



The podcast is less than 5 minutes so I didn’t need to sacrifice lunch.  🙂  Here are the interesting bits:

Cisco wants 3 million “skilled” networking individuals (worldwide) by 2012.  There are currently about 1 million.  I assume that this means Cisco certified individuals.  Cisco recently hit the 1 million Cisco certified individuals mark so this jives with the 1 million number quoted.  So Cisco wants to TRIPLE the number of Cisco certification holders over the next four years.

It’s a 6 month very intensive program that is personalized to every individual.  It’s very heavily based on assessment. The candidate is assessed on the front end to identify what is the current base of the candidate and what are the elements to be developed or reinforced. Based on that there is a personalized menu of options cutting across e-learning, in the classrooom training, hands-on practice, mentorship directly with experts – so a catalog of options that is then personalized for the candidate.

Because the methodology is so customizable prices range from $5,000 at the web-based extreme to $20,000 at the instructor-led extreme.

The initial curriculum is about Routing and Switching but Weiller expects additional technologies and even a professional-level track will be forthcoming.

The program was officially announced on October 14th with availability starting in November.

This is really only going to be an option for candidates with a lot of money or with employers willing to foot the bill.  Since the program begins in November of this year and runs for six months, we’re not going to see any results until the beginning of summer 2009.

There is an official announcement from Cisco concerning this program.  Unfortunately one of the links is broken and the other dumps you onto the Cisco Learning Network homepage.  Hopefully something “meatier” will surface tomorrow.


NetworkWorld ends their article with this bit:

It’s great that Cisco is working to help make it easier and quicker for individuals to become CCIEs but does this mass approach cheapen the CCIE brand?

Cheapen the CCIE brand?  I doubt it.  Even with the introduction of this program the average candidate still needs to pay a lot in both money and time to even have a shot at passing this difficult exam.  The average candidate needs to make an extreme commitment of time and money and may still need to make multiple attempts at a $1400 exam (with travel costs that can be upwards of 50% – 100% of that cost).  Unfortunately I can speak of this firsthand.  😦

What MAY happen is that see some of the 3rd party vendors fold up shop (at least within the CCIE sphere).  I think that the big hitters will still be around, but there will definitely be a number of candidates that will be using Cisco’s training program.  I see two primary reasons for this: 1) The Cisco logo, and 2) The Cisco logo.  🙂  Candidates are going to assume that since Cisco creates the exams that the training from Cisco will be much closer to the actual content of the exam.  Secondly, (and this bit depends on the structure of the program) employers will be far more inclined to spend training dollars with Cisco and may even be able to use Cisco Learning Credits and other cost-saving programs with this program.

The other issue that may arise from this program that could really hurt the third-party vendors is their opportunity to train Cisco employees.  IE mentioned that the weeks that you don’t see a class scheduled on their site are usually the weeks that they are training Cisco employees on a Cisco campus.  I spoke with a Cisco employee and he told me that IPexpert holds training at Cisco as well.  If Cisco discontinues third-party training for their employees then this would adversely affect the third-party vendors.  Of course, this program is only for the Routing and Switching track right now so there are plenty of training opportunities for the vendors with the other tracks.  The vendor that I spoke to did not seem too concerned about the upcoming change.

Interesting, the Cisco press release about this lists Bangalore, India alongside San Jose, Calif., in the date line. It’s only a matter of time before CCIEs in India outnumber CCIEs in the United States.

I don’t know how to feel about this comment.  NetworkWorld has made a number of comments (one example) about countries outside of the USA (particularly India) rising in prominence in the networking world.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Cisco over the past few years.  Cisco has repeatedly stated that their biggest growth area is outside of the USA.  India is a nation of a billion people with a tradition of placing high importance on science and engineering.  The USA is a country with less than a third of India’s population and (I don’t think that I’m being very controversial with this statement) a decided non-focus on science and engineering.  Unfortunately any mention of a rise in overseas training/certification coupled withthe economic downturn is going to lead to memories of the outsourcing scare of the late-90’s and early-00s.  I won’t pretend to be able to predict the future of networking, but India (and many other countries) have had a large number of trained networking professionals for years and I haven’t seen a large-scale move to outsource networking jobs.  Again, this is anecdotal so I could be completely wrong.  I do work with a number of foreign IT professionals who would love to move back to their home countries if there were more opportunities (even at substantially lower salaries) so this could be a boon for engineers in the USA.  Again, I’m outside of my element here so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Anyhoo…the CCIE training world is going to get interesting in the near future.

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