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Cisco Revamps CCNP Certification, Adds Cybersecurity Specialist Designation

The company announced a major revision of its Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) career certification program this week. The instructor-led courses will focus less on Cisco firewalls, routers and switches and more on security at the edge of the network, threat control, secure access and mobility.

Cisco Systems, under pressure to respond to the adoption of cloud services and increasingly porous corporate networks, has revamped its career certification program. It will focus less on specific networking gear and instead on threat control, secure access and mobility.

The firm said its Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) career certification program has been completely redesigned to address mobile implementations, remote workers and cloud-based services. The company said the changes, which have been in the works for 18 months, will help networking professionals understand security "more holistically."

"Twenty years ago, the network was confined to one building, one location and one lab," a Cisco spokesperson told CRN in an interview. "Twenty years later, we're now looking at an environment where everyone is in the cloud and mobility is becoming huge."

[Related: Cisco: 10 Attack Trends Eroding Internet Trust ]

The program still will consist of four exams and the ability to attend instructor-led training courses, but rather than focusing on core network security products, such as firewalls, VPNs and intrusion-prevention systems, the training will be bucketed into technology areas, such as edge network security, threat control protection for monitoring, and secure access and mobility security.

In addition, the company also introduced a Cybersecurity Specialist certification, targeting network security analysts in charge of monitoring threat-prevention appliances and security information event management systems.

Cisco stressed that the certification is not an entry-level course. The company has a prerequisite for networking professionals to hold a Cisco Associate certification. The training is lab-intensive and extremely hands-on, given by Cisco's advanced services education team. It consists of event monitoring, security event alarm, traffic analysis and incident response.

Solution providers welcomed the certification changes, calling it a good way to modernize the training program. Having staff that hold certifications helps demonstrate that a partner is serious about the technology they are implementing, said Dori Spade, Eastern Region director of Concord, Mass.-based service provider and network management consultancy EveryNetwork.

"We would be very interested in new certification offerings," Spade said. "With the pervasive use of cloud platforms and SaaS-based solutions, and the well-documented data security breaches, our clients increasingly rely on us to safeguard their data, giving this more pronounced emphasis."

Four Cisco product training courses are available and cover implementing Advanced and Core Cisco ASA Security; Cisco Bring Your Own Device Solutions; and implementing and configuring Cisco Identity Services Engine for Wireless Engineers.

New exams for Cisco certifications will be available Jan. 24. Registration for CCNP training classes begin in February. The last date to test for current CCNP Security Exams is April 21, 2014.


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