Nowadays we have networks everywhere. We each have at least a home network, that connects to the internet, an office/work network that connects to the internet, the internet itself as a network, our mobile phone network, and many other public networks that we connect to either in public parks or bars. Everything is connected nowadays, so networking, as a business has flourished.
Among those companies that flourished in networking numbers CISCO. CISCO has, since its foundation, been producing high-quality network hardware devices, and has provided certification to professional network engineers that use said products. The company provides certification at the associate (CCNA), the professional (CCNP) and the expert level (CCIE).
Why is this exam required?
Now, going back to networks, while installing a personal home network is easy, and can be done even by unqualified personnel, large scale networks, that provide security and functionality to a whole corporation require a lot of experience and technical skill to actually create. First off, someone must be knowledgeable enough to design such an intricate web of connections, while both providing sufficient access and ensuring security. To that end, CISCO is providing certification for individuals that have a knack for designing network systems. The Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) was conceived for those working as:
- expert-level network design engineers;
- expert-level network leads of IT infrastructure teams;
- network designers/architects;
- expert-level network leads of architecture teams;
that are working in job roles which require them to convey business needs, budget, and operational constraints into the design of a converged solution.
As mentioned in the lines above, the CISCO 352-001 CCDE is associated with the CISCO Certified Design Expert certification, which validates that the individual is capable of designing a network infrastructure to fit the specific needs of a company. In order to take this certification, the candidate must pass two exams, the written part and the practical part. The 352-001 is the written exam needed to take the certification. The two hour exam is needed in order to progress to the practical exam, which is significantly more costly and lasts for about 8 hours. You cannot take the practical lab-based exam without taking the written one first. After doing so, you must run an initial attempt at the lab-based exam within 18 months, and must pass it within 3 years.
There are no formal prerequisites required to take either the 352-001 exam or the certification itself, in the sense of required exams or training. However, the CCDE exam is quite difficult and near-impossible to achieve without a healthy dose of job experience, at the range of 5+ years beforehand, in a networking-related job post.
Objectives of the exam
As mentioned above, the objectives of the exam revolve around the translation of business needs and requirements into a design solution for networking infrastructure. There are four main topics in the exam, each with its own sub-topics. Relevant questions to the job that are not specified in the topics may also appear, albeit in a more reduced quantity. The 4 topics of the exam that are made public as of now are:
Layer 2 Control Plane (26%)
In this topic you will have to describe the various features and technologies of the Layer 2 Control Plane. You will have to be familiar with multicast concepts, convergence techniques, mitigation protocols, and so on.
Layer 3 Control Plane (37%)
Alike the previous one, but this time on the Layer 3. You must know about route aggregation, theoretical concepts about network topology layering, fault isolation and prevention, metric-based traffic, IPv6, and so on.
Network Virtualization (17%)
This topic focuses on tunneling between Layer 2 and Layer 3, its implementation, features and limitations.
Design Considerations (20%)
This topic revolves around QoS performance, techniques, practices, and strategy, as well as network requirements and managing the tools required for the protection of the network.
Besides increased recognition and a considerable salary boost, you will also benefit from increased credibility, a trait that you will bring your firm also. Obviously, certified professionals are more valuable than uncertified ones, and a CISCO certified professional is more valuable among the certified ones.
Nowadays nobody will believe you can do anything without a certification, but the CCDE is far from just a simple old certification, it is more like a gem to any professional. It verifies that you are really good at thinking a network from the base upward.
CCDE holders can go up to getting the highest certification that CISCO offers, the CCAr, standing at the pinnacle of the career pyramid.