CCNA Data Center Certification
CCNA Data Centre certification offers professionals job-ready training and skills. The certification lays the foundation for job roles such as a data centre network administrator. Candidates gain foundational knowledge in installing, configuring, and maintaining data centres. Cisco suggests that candidates should have some pre-existing experience with Cisco products in terms of router and switch operations, in addition to more data centre focused areas. Some candidates may find it useful to undertake CCENT prior to attempting CCNA Data Centre although this is not a prerequisite. Completing the CCNA also allows for progression to CCNP Data Centre certification.
The Certification Process
In order to obtain CCNA Data Centre certification candidates are required to pass two exams, these exams are arranged separately from any training courses offered, further information on these exams can be seen by clicking on the titles.
- 640-911 DCICN Introducing Cisco Data Centre Networking
- 640-916 DCICT Introducing Cisco Data Centre Technologies
Note that this certification requires re-certification every three years, this can be done by performing any of the following:
- Pass the current DCICN exam, or
- Pass the current DCICT exam, or
- Pass any current Associate-level exam except for ICND1 exam or
- Pass any current 642-xxx Professional-level exam, or
- Pass any current Cisco specialist exam (excluding Sales Specialist exams, Cisco MeetingPlace Specialist exams, Implementing Cisco TelePresence Installations (ITI) exams, Cisco Leading Virtual Classroom Instruction exams, or any 650 online exams), or
- Pass any current CCIE Written Exam, or
- Pass the current CCDE Written Exam OR current CCDE Practical Exam, or
- Pass the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview AND the CCAr board review to extend lower certifications
Preparing for the Exams
The DCICN exam lasts 90 minutes, containing somewhere between 65 to 75 questions. The questions are drawn in different proportions from the topics included in the exam, with a greater focus on Router operation and routing using Nexus. DCICT lasts 90 minutes with between 65 and 75 questions, these are drawn more equally from a range of topics, with a greater focus on data centre concepts and technologies. Further details can be seen on the individual exam pages. We would recommend erring on the side of over preparation so as to ensure a mark high enough to provide a pass.
For more information on Cisco exam policies in general, take a look at this page.
GBdirect offer the Cisco approved courses aimed to provide the skills and knowledge required to earn this certification. The courses offered are:
While these courses will help prepare you for the exams they may not provide you with everything you need to pass them. To ensure this we would recommend hands on experience with the products concerned, along with additional reading from Cisco certification texts. It is advisable to look up the content of the exam, while performing practice labs and taking advantage of the practice exams available on the Cisco website should also prove beneficial. We welcome any reviews of your Cisco Certification experience, if you feel that you know of an improved learning method then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Official Cisco Materials
Cisco provides a large amount of online materials, some of which is available through the certification pages themselves. An excellent starting point is to look at the exam content available on the exam page as well as a PDF that provides the exam guidelines.
Cisco offers a number of Webinars that present certification materials in the form of short videos or presentations, while the data centre section is not as large as some of the others there is still a large amount of material available for the various exam topics. There is also a webinar covering data centre certifications as a whole, available here.
Cisco provides a forum for those studying for certification to communication with one another, the relevant section is the CCNA Data Centre study group. Topics that will likely prove helpful initially are a discussion over which books can be used as learning tools, as well as a guide to setting up a practice lab.
An excellent starting point would be the CCNA's syllabus, as well as the content of each individual exam.
A comprehensive list of learning materials can be found under the exam sections of this page, along with all other information relating to this CCNA programme.
A range of texts are available for those studying for this certification, unfortunately only one exam based book has been published as of yet:
CCNA Data Center - Introducing Cisco Data Center Networking Study Guide As of yet this is the only book aimed specifically at one of the exams leading to the CCNA Data Centre certification. Reviewers are very positive about this book, praising both its detail and its accessible style. The book is also practical enough to be used as a reference guide for technical aspects, whilst providing some exam preparation materials in the form of short tests. This book is especially useful for relative beginners as it assumes little in the way of prior knowledge, whilst starting with basic concepts.
Data Centre Fundamentals While this book is now somewhat outdated it still serves as an excellent text in terms of providing both a basic overview of data centre technologies as well as more detailed information. This book is likely best used as a reference for any particular areas of weakness, or for gaining an initial overview of the content of the data centre exams.
NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching: Next-generation Data Center Architectures While reviewers tend to see this book as better suited to those already familiar with routing and switching technologies this book can still be used by those new to Cisco technologies to prepare for these exams. Reviewers praise the depth of content, meaning that this book can be used for further certifications in addition to this CCNA.
The Techexams.net forum is one of the most active covering Cisco and other certifications, there is a great deal of detailed information related to either specific technical details or the certification as a whole. For the data centre certification finding appropriate materials may take slightly longer than for other CCNAs.
CBT Nuggets offer 7 hour online instructional videos for both exams in the CCNA Data Centre certification, Exam 640-911 can be found here, while Exam 640-916 can be found here. Unfortunately Transcender exams are not included with these particular courses from CBT Nuggets.
Pluralsight also offer an introductory course to CCNA Data Centre, containing around 7 hours of instructional material.
While the CCNA Data Centre certification is now becoming more popular there is a notable lack of blogs and other such publications, as more become available links will be provided.
The CCNA Data Center Exams - My Experience Written by one of the Trainsignal/Pluralsight instructors this post provides an overview of what to expect in your CCNA exams as well as some potential preparation materials.
What if I fail?
Don't panic. You will be able to see and your test result and the areas you felt weakest in, focus on content areas where your performance was weakest and areas with a high percentage of questions. Once you feel ready you can reschedule your exam. Cisco's exam retake policy is listed below:
The policies for retaking exams are as follows:
- Candidates who fail an exam must wait a period of five (5) calendar days, beginning the day after the failed attempt, before they may retest for the same exam.
- Once passed, a candidate must wait a minimum of 180 days before taking the same exam with an identical exam number.
Candidates who violate these policies are in violation of the agreement. Such conduct is strictly prohibited as described in the Cisco Certification and Confidentiality Agreement.
Excellent, you've passed
Upon passing you will receive a score report complete with your photo; this can be used to share with employers or other third parties. This will also grant you access to the Cisco Certifications Tracking System, allowing you to see certification progress, access logos for valid certifications, allow third parties/employers to see your certifications and to sign any necessary agreements.
Obtaining CCNA Data Centre allows for progression to CCNP Data Centre, a significantly more detailed level of certification with less overlap with the regular CCNA certification path. For a more detailed view of Cisco's certification see their certification map.
CCNA, Salary and Contract Rates
A recent survey of IT jobs offered across the UK reported the following statistics on the average earning of salaried and contract workers holding CCNA certification. The UK average salary for a CCNA is £38,500, with the average salary for London being £42,500. A breakdown of this shows 90% are offered a salary of more than £27,000 while 10% are offered more than £57,500.
Contractor daily rates were also surveyed and the UK average was found to be £310 per day and £350 per day for the city of London. The further breakdown of these figures shows that 90% are offered a daily rate in excess of £189 while 10% are offered more than £450. Further details can be found on the IT Jobs Watch site.