Cisco Adds Another Step to IP Telephony Specialization

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Cisco Systems on Tuesday unveiled a new certification program that will be part of the requirements for obtaining the IP telephony specialization.

The IP telephony support specialist, part of Cisco's career certifications program, requires competency in key areas of IP telephony such as voice over frame relay and ATM technology, deploying and designing quality of service, and identifying the characteristics of network traffic.

To qualify for the certification, an individual must take three exams in a proctored environment, according to a Cisco official. Partners can find lists on Cisco's website of thousands of locations worldwide where the certification exams are offered. The exams cost about $125 each in the United States.

Obtaining the certification fulfills requirements for Cisco's IP telephony technology and services specializations, says Don Field, Cisco's senior manager of certifications. The specializations require channel partners to have qualified employees in certain roles. By obtaining the certification, a channel partner will fulfill the field-engineering role required for both IP telephony specializations.

"The purpose of this certification is to assure that the channel partners have people on staff that know how to effectively implement and operate IP solutions," Field says.

Cisco offers many certifications in various technologies. Channel partners must have employees certified at various levels of technology to earn a standing as a premier, silver or gold partner.

Previously, channel members could take tests online to qualify for the role of field engineer in the IP telephony specialization. The certification--since it will be required for channel partners seeking the IP telephony specialization--does raise the bar to qualify for those specializations. But Field says the certification is just another step in Cisco's efforts to have partners distinguish themselves based on skill and value.

"Though it is an extra step, we think it's a minor inconvenience to ensure the quality of the program," Field says. "Those partners willing to invest in what it takes to be specialized are those that are the most committed to what it is we are doing."

In the future, Cisco may require that channel members obtain a certification to fulfill other key roles in the IP telephony specialization, he says. But the certification requirement will not be a requirement to fulfill every role.

"We're not necessarily going to do this in every area, but the field engineer is a likely candidate because it's an area that is particularly important" Field says.

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