The Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) recently transitioned to the CCDE v3 certification blueprint. CCDE v2, its former version, had been around for… a while. A long while (especially when compared to the typical tech lifecycle), but that doesn’t mean it had stagnated. Part of the reason for that is that the focus of CCDE has long been on training network design professionals to think critically about network design and business practices, rather than focusing on the technology of the moment. When we expand how our CCDE certification holders think about network design, we enable them to integrate new methods and ideas into their work.

Want to know the secret behind this Expert-level Cisco certification’s long and prosperous life? What changed in the CCDE certification blueprint, and what’s staying the same from CCDE v2? Read on!

The CCDE certification has, from its conception until now, taught aspiring network designers how to think. That isn’t changing anytime soon, despite a new CCDE v3 blueprint.

CCDE v3 continues to focus on validating a CCDE candidate’s ability to:

  • Analyze the existing network.
  • Define business and technical requirements and constraints.
  • Create network design options that meet the business and technical requirements.
  • Devise implementation plans for chosen designs.
  • Verify and optimize the network design after deployment.

And the use cases are still timeless.

So, how did the CCDE v2 blueprint survive this long without an update?

The answer to this question is multifaceted.

The proactive nature of network design is timeless.

When done right, network design is much more than a few interconnected boxes drawn on a napkin in a bar on a Friday night (okay, I know stories of multimillion-dollar networks that started as a drawing on a napkin, but those are the exception and not the norm). When you look at a network topology, you can identify the security aspects, the technology choices, and the complexity. These things don’t happen by chance. They are planned for — and they have a purpose!

The science and art of defining requirements are timeless.

Customers have the requirements for their networks inside their heads. Good network designers are able to define and clarify these requirements by asking meaningful questions. They must work with their customers to uncover their business objectives, desired characteristics and capabilities, pain points, constraints, policies, applications, automation capabilities, and the “untold rules” the customer may not even realize they have.

Network design principles are timeless.

Technologies come and go, but the principles of strong network design remain the same. Network design is a mixture of universal challenges and acute goals coming together to accomplish the needs of the user.

When a network designer sets out on a new project, they are constantly building against the challenges before them. Cost is perhaps the most ubiquitous of business challenges and often sits at the forefront of design considerations. Reaching a place where the Total Cost of Ownership aligns with customer expectations and network needs is the job and the art of the competent network designer.

In addition to designing for the total cost of ownership, designers also need to consider things like the network’s scalability, flexibility, and simplicity. Designs should be able to grow and withstand both present and future challenges. Networks need to be designed for speed and be highly available. And, very importantly, their design must prioritize security at the forefront.

So, how does the CCDE v3 blueprint differ from the CCDE v2?

Like I said before, CCDE v2 had been around for a while. And while it’s the intention of the certification to teach network designers how to think and interact with both tech needs and business needs, some things do need to be updated.

In addition to an increased focus on business strategies and impact, the CCDE certification blueprint has changed to update the core technologies that all CCDE candidates should know. These are common enterprise networking technologies that are defining the world of networking. In addition, the CCDE v3 update allows candidates to choose an area of expertise for the CCDE practical exam. That means you can now choose the area of expertise that best aligns with your experience, career choices, or aspirations.

When you sign up for the CCDE v3 Practical exam, you will choose from three distinct options:

  • Large Scale Networks: Focused on the design of large-scale networks, such as service provider networks or large enterprise networks and their associated technologies.
  • On-Prem and Cloud Services: Centered around the design and integration of business-critical services on an on-premises data center, in the cloud or hybrid, applications and their requirements, and related networking technologies.
  • Workforce Mobility: Focused on the solutions that benefit users in their daily job and routines, allowing them to roam freely across campuses and buildings without losing access to the services they depend on.

CCDE v3 has also changed the way the CCDE Practical exam is delivered. The CCDE is now aligned with our CCIE lab delivery, in that CCDE practical exams can now be delivered in the same CCIE lab locations (both stationary and mobile). This change, along with an increased number of annual administrations of the CCDE practical exam means more options for CCDE candidates. Additionally, scheduling, rescheduling, pricing, and payments now share the same policies as for CCIE lab exams, using the same tool: the CCIE/CCDE Tracker.

Did you know that Cisco Expert-level practical exams offer a BYOD testing delivery option? Read “CCIE Labs Take a Big Step Forward as BYOD Expands Mobile Lab Footprint” by Yusuf Bhaiji, Director of Learning & Certifications, to learn more.

We’ve also made some quality-of-life improvements, including the release of exam results within 48 hours, introducing a minimum score on a per-scenario basis, and the cut score for the complete exam.

Are you ready to earn your CCDE certification?

Please leave a comment here and start a discussion!

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Elaine Lopes

Business Operations Manager

Customer Experience