By now, you’ve probably read the posts from Jeff Fry and Tony Bourke letting the cat out of the CCIE bag for the oft-rumored CCIE Data Center (DC) certification. As was the case last year, a PDF posted to the Cisco Live Virtual website spoiled all the speculation. Contained within the slide deck for BRKCRT-1612 Evolution of Data Centre Certification and Training is a wealth of confirmation starting around slide 18. It spells out in bold letters the CCIE DC 1.0 program. It seems to be focused around three major technology pillars: Unified Computing, Unified Fabric, and Unified Network Services. As people who have read my blog since last year have probably surmised, this wasn’t really a surprise to me after Cisco Live 2011.
As I surmised eight months ago, it encompasses the Nexus product line top to bottom, with the 7009, 5548, 2232, and 1000v switches all being represented. Also included just for you storage folks is a 9222i MDS SAN switch. There’s even a Catalyst 3750 thrown in for good measure. Maybe they’re using it to fill an air gap in the rack or something. From the UCS server side of the house, you’ll likely get to see a UCS 6248 fabric interconnect and a 5148 blade chassis. And because no CCIE lab would exist without a head scratcher on the blueprint there is also an ACE 4710 module. I’m sure that this has to do with the requirement that almost every data center needs some kind of load balancer or application delivery controller. As I mentioned before and Tony mentioned in his blog post, don’t be surprised to see an ACE GSS module in there as well. Might be worth a two point question.
Is the CCIE SAN Dead?
If you’re currently studying for your SAN CCIE, don’t give up just yet. While there hasn’t been any official announcement just yet, that also doesn’t mean the SAN program is being retired any time soon. There will be more than enough time for you SAN jockeys to finish up this CCIE just in time to start studying for a new one. If you figure that the announcement will be made by Cisco Live Melbourne near the end of March, it will likely be three months for the written beta. That puts the wide release of the written exam at Cisco Live San Diego in June. The lab will be in beta from that point forward, so it will be the tail end of the year before the first non-guinea pigs are sitting the CCIE DC lab. Since you SAN folks are buried in your own track right now, keep heading down that path. I’m sure that all the SAN-OS configs and FCoE experience will serve you well on the new exam, as UCS relies heavily on storage networking. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of bridge program run concurrently with the CCIE SAN / CCIE DC candidates for the first 6-8 months where SAN CCIEs can sit the DC lab as an opportunity and incentive to upgrade. After all, the first DC CCIEs are likely to be SAN folks anyway. Why not try to certify all you can?
Expect the formal announcement of the program to happen sometime between March 6th and March 20th. It will likely come with a few new additions to the UCS line and be promoted as a way to prove to the world that Cisco is very serious about servers now. Shortly after that, expect an announcement for signups for the beta written exam. I’d bank on 150-200 questions of all kinds, from FCoE to UCS Manager. It’ll take some time to get all those graded, so while you’re waiting to see if you’ve hit the cut score, head over to the Data Center Supplemental Learning page and start refreshing things. Maybe you’ll have a chance to head to San Jose and sit in my favorite building on Tasman Drive to try and break a brand new lab. Then, you’ll just be waiting for your score report. That’s the hardest part.