Certifications are an excellent way to achieve self-improvement, greater technical knowledge, and higher career goals. They’ve always been personal and individual—until now. 

Advanced Unibyte GmbH (AU), based in Metzingen, Germany, has taken the drive for excellence and career growth to new levels with a team approach to certification. They’ve studied, practiced, and tested as a team for multiple CCIE certifications to contribute to the company’s success and their own team achievements. This team effort paid off, winning the company Cisco Gold Partner status. And now that Cisco is celebrating 30 years of the CCIE certification program, it’s a great time to tell AU’s story.

CCIE certification makes sense with AU’s networking expertise 

AU provides IT infrastructure and data center solutions, as well as cloud and managed services. With expertise in data protection and availability, they develop new, customized solutions to drive customers’ digital transformation. The company’s expertise lies in storage, network, computing, and virtualization solutions, as well as the technical IT integration of worldwide subsidiaries. As for the team of engineers and solution architects that maintain the infrastructure in their cloud data center, it’s crucial for their technical knowledge to stay updated.

When team leaders considered the certifications the company needed, they reviewed all of the Cisco architectures. They decided to certify the team in Data Center, Enterprise Networks, and Security specializations, as well as Service Provider — which would be a great investment in their own cloud infrastructure and services. But they didn’t stop there. The team also decided to specialize in Customer Experiences to meet Cisco’s regulations for Gold Partners, which was the perfect fit for their philosophy of customer relationship and lifecycle management. 

But why CCIE certification? With 30 years under its belt, the CCIE certification has reached quite the status level, as tech certifications go. While the time it takes to earn this cert depends on skill level, dedication, and study hours per week, preparing for the CCIE lab exam typically takes one to two years

What’s more, CCIE certification is required for Cisco Gold Partner status. In fact, customers in Germany value the CCIE so much that most companies cannot work with public customers unless they have Gold Partner status. CCNP and CCIE certification just made sense — not only for the good of individuals’ careers but also for the AU’s business opportunities. That’s dedication! 

We’ve come a long way since the CCIE of 1993

Since its inception on Sept. 27, 1993, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification has evolved from a two-day test in which candidates set up hardware and initialize a pod with basic configurations on the first day and then return on the second day to perform more advanced configurations and troubleshoot scenarios.

Today, the CCIE lab exam is a 1-day test that focuses more on network strategy, architecture, and the network lifecycle, with specific regard to planning and designing for customer requirements. The exam targets the end-to-end network lifecycle, which includes Day 0 (planning and designing), Day 1 (implementing and deploying), and Day 2 (operating and maintaining). The process tests comprehensive skills across the entire spectrum of network solutions.

Today’s CCIE certification is accepted worldwide as the most prestigious networking certification in the industry. And now, you can stay ahead of the latest exam technology changes with Cisco Certification Roadmaps. This program aims to communicate exam updates on a frequent and incremental cadence-based model, giving you time to assess and plan your prep strategies.

Team achievement leads to Gold Partner status

To meet the Cisco Gold qualifications, CTO Stephan Körner wanted the group to achieve a minimum of four CCIEs. So, in typical AU team fashion, nearly 30 technical guys chose different paths in the Cisco certification program — from CCNA to CCIE and started to prep together, from studying the certification exam blueprints to building their own labs, both for certification exam prep as well as practice, it was a team effort. 

The team built labs for installing cert products and then tested on the products they sold.

“In the lab, we thought about different layouts, tasks, and challenges. One of us was creating the challenge for the others so they could train on that,” Körner said. For the section on fiber channel zoning on the CCNP Data Center technology core exam, the team considered different challenges and created their own zones.  

“Doing it together was easier because if one of us was disappointed that he didn’t pass or understand something, we always had three guys around us to help out and to talk to about solutions,” Johannes Neu, Alliance Manager at AU said. “I talked to other CCIE guys who did this on their own, and it’s quite hard. You have to work after hours and on weekends. You don’t have anyone to talk to who is in the same situation. It’s just not the same because you don’t achieve together.”

In fact, Neu believes the group certification process was only achievable because the whole company was involved. “We were just four guys [going for the] CCIE. But for the whole process, we had about 30 guys, which was a great group dynamic and, for our purposes, the only realistic way to achieve our goals.”

It’s clear that Körner agrees. “Having a trained team has made all the difference in our success in achieving Cisco Gold Partner,” he said. “Plus, our great group dynamic helped us build our collaborative process. It linked us more strongly than before the certification because we all had the same goal.”

When all was said and done, the group would celebrate four of their teammates earning the CCIE Data Center certification. As for AU, going for the gold paid off. Since earning Cisco Gold Partner status, the company has seen a 40 percent increase in revenue, with another 20 percent growth expected in the next two years.

Read the case study: Cisco Gold Partner Advanced UniByte Unites for CCIE


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Daniela Heubeck

Partner Account Manager

Partner Sales