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Cisco's CCNA Routing & Switching Certification Gets A Major Update

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Cisco introduced major changes to its most popular certification: the Cisco Certified Networking Associate, which focuses on routing and switching. Catch up on the big picture and dig into the refresh to learn all about the new CCNA exams and topics.

After three years, Cisco's most popular credential is finally getting an update. In addition to updating exam numbers from version 2.0 to 3.0, the company added some new topics to the CCNA exams and swept away some old ones. 

The usual slate of exams for CCNA: Routing and Switching requires taking either two ICND (Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices) exams, or the so-called composite exam that essentially runs students through both ICND1 and ICND2 in a single sitting. Unsurprisingly, the composite exam is called CCNA.

Cisco is maintaining these exam options and the new CCNA exam numbers are as follows (links to exam pages also provided):

Here are more details on what the new CCNA exams cover.

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ICND1 Exam Changes

Exam topics moved or removed:

  • Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) topics have beem moved to ICND2, because the Routing Information Protocol (RIP) is used to acquaint CCENT candidates with IP routing protocols
  • Dual IPv4/IPv6 stack coverage has been removed owing to the plethora of transition technologies now in use
  • Cisco Express Forwarding (CEF) has been removed

Exam topics added:

  • Infrastructure components and impact of their interactions for Firewalls, Access Points, and Wireless Controllers
  • Collapsed Core architecture vs. three-tier architectures
  • How to configure and verify IPv6 Stateless Address Auto Configuration (SLAAC)
  • Anycast added to IPv6 addressing types covered
  • Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) added to complement Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP)
  • RIPv2 for IPv4 serves as primary focus for routing protocols
  • DNS and DHCP related connectivity issues
  • Syslog message logging for device monitoring
  • Backing up and restoring device configurations

ICND2 Exam Changes

Exam topics removed:

  • Frame Relay and Serial WAN technology coverage is dropped
  • VRRP and GLBP removed from First Hop Redundancy Protocols (only HSRP remains)

Exam topics added:

  • Dual- vs. single-homed Intelligent WAN topology options
  • External BGP (eBGP) as used to connect Enterprise branches
  • VPN topics now include DMVPN, Site-to-Site VPN, and Client VPN technologies in common Enterprise use
  • How cloud resources are used in enterprise network archtitectures, including how cloud services affect network traffic paths and flows, common virtualized services and how they coexist with legacy infrastructure
  • Basics of virtual network infrastructure (NFV)
  • Awareness of programmable, software-defined network (SDN) architectures, including separation of control and data planes, and how a controller functions and communicates
  • Using Path Trace application for ACLs
  • Understanding QoS concepts as they related to marking, shaping and policing mechanisms for congestion management

Of course, because CCNA v3.0 combines coverage for both ICND1 and ICND2 into a single exam, it incorporates all of these changes.

The old exams are on their way out, with the last day to test for both 200-120 CCNA v2.0 and 100-101 ICND1 v2.0 set for August 20, 2016. Those taking the ICND2 v2.0 exam have a month longer to keep studying, with its last day of testing scheduled for September 24, 2016.

The new exam topics look pretty good, especially with coverage of NFV and SDN now included in ICND2. Those who haven't yet committed to the earlier exam versions will end up coming out ahead with newer and more up-to-date skills and knowledge. But then, I have to believe that's why the refresh has been instituted in the first place!

For more information on the new CCNA check out this blog post from Karlo Bobiles entitled CCNA Routing and Switching Refresh available on the Cisco Learning Network. If this is a subject that interests you, or you're already traipsing down the CCENT/CCNA certification path, you'll want to read that post in its entirety. Gary Pfitzer also wrote a post for Talking Tech with Cisco entitled CCNA Routing and Switching Gets an Update: What's It All About?