Cisco Systems this week unveiled a new series of partner certifications aimed at enabling solution providers to go to market with Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and a new generation of products around the Internet of Things.
The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant also updated its Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Switching and Routing certification and introduced a new certification designed to help enterprise CIOs better communicate the business value of Cisco technologies to executives and line-of-business teams.
On the SDN front, Cisco took the wraps off of four new specialist certifications focused on driving network programmability and automation with software-defined networking (SDN) technologies like Cisco ACI and Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). The four new Cisco Network Programmability Specialist certifications are Business Application Engineer, Network Application Developer, Network Programmability Design Specialist and Network Programmability Engineer.
These four new certifications are meant to reflect the evolving role of network engineers, who, given the rise of SDN and technologies like ACI, need to have a better understanding of network automation, network programmability and how business applications interact with the network, according to Tejas Vashi, director of marketing and product management at Learning@Cisco, Cisco's training and certification arm.
"Network engineers not only need to be able to scale their networks, but they need to automate to reduce the time they are spending on configuration and actually spend [more time] on innovation and design aspects," Vashi said.
In order to achieve any of these four specialist certifications, partners and network engineers must pass two exams: one on the Cisco Open Networking Environment Platform Kit (ONE PK) and one on Cisco ACI and APIC.
Launched in November, ACI is Cisco's answer to SDN, a market expected by analyst group IDC to reach $3.7 billion by 2016. Unlike the software overlay SDN model being embraced by companies like VMware, Cisco ACI involves hardware -- namely, Cisco's new line of Nexus 9000 switches -- coupled with the Cisco APIC controller, which drives the network automation piece.
John Growdon, senior director of data center sales, worldwide channels at Cisco, said last week that Cisco has already started rolling out a training program focused on ACI, with "hundreds" of partners having already participated.
Cisco started shipping the Nexus 9000 switches last year, and just this week started shipping APIC. Cisco in May said 175 customers have already adopted the Nexus 9000.
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