It’s been said that achieving the CCIE is one of the more painful processes in networking and certification. There’s a lot of time and effort that must be expended to obtain those singular digits that identify you as an internetworking expert in the eyes of Cisco. However, the pain doesn’t always end after you get your CCIE.
All the information accrued by a CCIE candidate lives in a database somewhere at Cisco. The access method for this database is somewhat archaic. When you attempt to access any information from the http://www.cisco.com/go/ccie landing page, you must first log in using your Cisco Connection Online (CCO) login. This is a pretty standard login for anything on the Cisco website, from software downloads to partner page access. Once you input the information to log into your CCO account, you aren’t automatically granted access to the CCIE portal. Instead, you are redirected to https://tools.cisco.com/CCIE/Schedule_Lab/CCIEOnline/jsp/UpdateProfile_Form.jsp. For those that might not otherwise be familiar with this page, here’s what it looks like:
Anyone that has taken the CCIE written, tried to schedule the CCIE lab, or has passed the lab knows the pain of this page. In order to access your score report or CCIE logos or even schedule a lab exam, you must first provide the laundry list of random information. The candidate ID is easy enough to find since it’s the CSCO number that tracks you through the Cisco certification program. The rest of the info is the pain point.
Why is it that almost twenty years after the inception of the program that I still need to provide my written score report information? I could understand providing all this information the first time I log into the system. PearsonVUE and Prometric require similar information from your first testing score report in order to tie your database record to a test and begin to track you in their system. If I had to provide the score report for the first time to tie the CCIE written exam to my CSCO number, I would totally understand. However, I need to provide my written score EVERY. TIME. I. LOG. IN. Even after I pass the CCIE lab, I still need to remember that score to access my certification record. If you’re someone that has taken several recertification exams it can be painful. If you’re been a CCIE as long as Terry Slattery, it’s downright excruciating. If you’re considering a multiple CCIE, the process is even worse. You have to log into the system with your specific track score report in order to schedule a lab. Don’t have your CCIE Voice score report handy? Better not log in with your CCIE R&S information. You won’t have access to schedule the lab for Voice. It’s almost like the CCIE database is a series of separate databases running on someone’s desktop in RTP.
EDIT: Marko Milivojevic (@icemarkom) pointed out to me that the database is consistent if you are a multiple CCIE holder. Using any one of your written exams allows you to log in and see all of your records. You still need to use a track-specific written test to schedule the associated lab exam, however.
Cisco has a certification tracking database located at http://www.cisco.com/go/certifications/login. It holds all the information related to non-CCIE certifications. It also happens to be integrated with the CCO login completely. I used to have to login to the Cisco Cert Tracker with my CSCO ID, but now I just have to login with my regular CCO login and I’m passed right on through to the pertinent information. There’s even a field in the Cert Tracker for my CCIE number. However, there is no information to be found related to the CCIE itself. I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with the historical separation between the CCIE team and the rest of the certification organization. The CCIE was always held apart from everything else, both due to its grandfatherly status in the certification industry and the lack of any prerequisites to take the written exam. It has only been recently that the CCIE team has been folded into the greater Cisco Certifications team. If they truly are a part of the greater whole, it’s high time to start bring the CCIE portal over to the Cert Tracker.
I can’t see any reason to continue to require CCIEs in good standing to remember a decade-old score report in order to access a logo or look up a lab exam date. I can see logging in with the score report information the first time to tie everything together to a candidate record. But after that, you should only need to login with your CCO login or your CSCO number. That information should be a unique enough value to guarantee non-overlapping logins. You already require the CCIE candidate to have a valid CSCO number in order to take the written at a PearsonVUE testing center. Why not use it as the sole login credential?
I’ve known too many CCIE candidates that have frantically tried to recall their written test information when the dreaded lab score report email comes. I had my info saved in Chrome so it would auto-fill when I got to that page. It worked until I changed laptops and didn’t import my Chrome info. I had to dig through a filing cabinet to track down the information I needed to login. Think about the CCIEs that have been certified for more than a decade. Why should they be forced to produce information that has been lost to time? My written score has been displaced by RSTP timers and EIGRP admin distance numbers. Sure, I could keep that info somewhere safe (like a 1Password entry), but I think the better fix would be to bring the CCIE database into the 21st century and integrate it with all the other tools that Cisco provides. You can stage the migration over the course of a few months. Even just allowing your CCO login to access the CCIE portal would be a huge step forward. I know this is a delicate process that has been going on for many years. But the process is broken and silly and it’s time that someone fixed it.