Does CCNA require training

The new CCNA training

03/06/2020 Cisco

New Cisco certifications since February 2020

On February 24, 2020, Cisco completely turned the entire system of courses and certifications upside down. There has never been a comparable change at Cisco Career Certifications with such great effects and changes.
What has remained are the basic designations for the career levels Entry, Associate, Professional and Expert. The well-known personal certifications are still called CCNA, CCNP and CCIE. However, the path to these labels in the various disciplines is completely different than before.
With the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), there is no longer any professional specialization at the associate level. In the past, a distinction was made between CCNA Routing & Switching, CCNA Security, CCNA Collaboration, CCNA Cloud, CCNA Data Center, CCNA Service Provider and CCNA Wireless. There was also the CCDA for the network design specialty. In contrast, there is only one CCNA certification today. This serves as the basis for further development in the fields of enterprise, service provider, data center, security and collaboration.
The new CCNA also only requires a five-day course. There used to be two courses for each CCNA. With the old ICND1 entry-level course, only CCENT status (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician) could be acquired, which was not particularly in demand in the market.
In addition to the new general CCNA, there are now only the special cases DevNet Associate (new) and Cyber ​​Ops Associate.
In February 2020 we held the first courses "CCNA - Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions" according to the new standard. We would like to report on the experiences of these trainings and derive some recommendations from them.

The range of topics is wide

Anyone who is at home in the Cisco world and listens to CCNA usually thinks of the earlier CCNA Routing & Switching. In order to acquire this status, the two courses ICND1 and ICND2 should be attended. Over the years, these had developed into real classics in the field of IT training.
Thus, the former CCNA Routing & Switching still serves as a benchmark for many participants in order to better classify the new course and the associated examination requirements.
Both the course participants and the trainers unanimously report that the new training “CCNA - Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions” covers a wide range of topics. There are now significantly more topics than was the case with the previous combination of ICND1 and ICND2.

The content is down to business

The new CCNA training initially focuses on the basics of network communication. Networking technologies, LANs, switching, routing, the IP protocol, IP addressing in the variants IPv4 and IPv6 as well as subnetting are explained.
The participant gets to know the Cisco IOS and configures Cisco routers and switches. The packet delivery process is conveyed end-to-end. This shows how an IP packet z. B. is transported from a client to a server and what role the routers and switches involved play. A first introduction to troubleshooting the systems is also included in the course.
It continues with the configuration of static routes, VLANs and trunks, routing between VLANs, OSPF, EtherChannel, ACL Basics and the Internet connectivity (DHCP and relay agent or IP helper address).
Up to this point, old Cisco hands will say - nothing new in the West. All of the topics mentioned are known from previous ICND courses. However, it should be noted that this content is presented in a fairly compact form. The courses ICND1 and ICND2 together lasted ten days - the most important topics are taught in the new course in around four and a half days.
Compared to the previous courses, the content that takes up the second half of the last day of the course has been expanded considerably. This is about software-defined networking (SDN) and network programming, the REST API, Netconf and Yang. An outlook is provided in network automation tools such as Ansible, Puppet and Chef. There is also some information about device management and simple device hardening.
This content is certainly a special challenge for the classic old-school networker. The paradigms of network architecture are changing and such developments are already reflected in the new Cisco basic course. It's nice that this part is covered in great detail in the course materials! A lot of new content was created here in Course Development by Cisco. Incidentally, as is usual with all Cisco courses, the documents are made available in digital form in English.

Homework - self-study after the course

How do you get the content of ten course days in just five days? And then pack a new topic?
On the one hand, some of the content of the old ICND courses has been outsourced. For example, EIGRP is no longer handled at the CCNA level. This topic is now in the advanced course ENCOR - Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies included, which is part of the CCNP certification.
On the other hand, there are special chapters on the topics of wireless, security and data center (virtualization). These are not included in the official course schedule and are therefore not dealt with - this is not possible due to time constraints. Rather, these chapters are intended as a self-study by Cisco. This means that after attending the course, the participants should acquire this content on their own. Three days are scheduled for this - in practice it could also take a little longer, depending on the individual's previous knowledge.

Discovery Labs and FastLabs

Each participant receives a virtual lab from Cisco. The labs include routers, switches, servers and PCs. The topology is based on a small company network with an Internet connection. The network topology varies from task to task in order to convey the respective topic as clearly as possible.
There are two types of labs, Discovery Labs and FastLabs. The latter were formerly known as the Challenge Lab. At a Discovery Lab, the participant follows detailed instructions. As in a cooking recipe, each step is described in detail. These are followed meticulously and this is how the functional result is achieved at the end of an exercise.
A FastLab, on the other hand, already relies on more independence. The task is only described in principle. The participant has to find out and implement the necessary individual steps himself. In addition to the exercise option itself, the FastLab also integrates quiz questions to check your level of knowledge.
The labs can be accessed for 90 days or a maximum of 60 hours. Incidentally, only a small part of this contingent is required in the course, so that you can still practice extensively afterwards. For example, this lab time can be used to practice the content of the self-study chapters or to prepare for the CCNA exam.
The labs are largely proven exercises that were already included in the earlier courses ICND1 and ICND2.

Who is the new CCNA course suitable for?

The new CCNA training is positioned in the introductory area, but is filled with a whole lot of material from a wide variety of topics. It will therefore not be easy for beginners with little previous knowledge to follow the course in all aspects.
Our recommendation is therefore: If you do not have a good basic knowledge of the network environment, you should acquire it beforehand. For this target group we have developed the course Cisco Routing & Switching in the Enterprise - The compact entry into the IOS-XE. Much more time is allocated in this event to convey the essential basics of building networks. In this way, the necessary background knowledge can be built up. This enables the participants to understand the results of the practical exercises and to process them in such a way that they can also apply them in practice.

What does the new CCNA exam look like?

Of course, there is also a new exam for the new CCNA training. This exam has to be taken in a VUE test center and has the number 200-301.
It is very gratifying that Cisco indicates which subject areas are included in the examination and with what proportion.
  • Network Fundamentals 20%
  • Network Access 20%
  • IP Connectivity 25%
  • IP Services 10%
  • Security Fundamentals 15%
  • Automation and Programmability 10%
This is a great help when preparing for the CCNA Certification. This makes it clear that the most extensive part of the course material (Automation and Programmability) is by no means the most important part of the exam questions.
Those who have passed the exam can adorn themselves with the CCNA status for three years!

Our conclusion

The new training "CCNA - Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions" offers a comprehensive overview of the current technologies in networks. It has what it takes to become a classic in IT training in a short time. However, without any prior knowledge, it will be difficult to follow in all aspects and to pass the subsequent exam. We therefore recommend that all interested parties check their own prior knowledge. If these are not available, the basic knowledge should first be built up so that the subsequent visit to the CCNA training will also be a success!

CCNA online training

By the way, we don't just offer the CCNA courses as face-to-face training. You can also take part in a CCNA online training course. As a rule, we offer hybrid courses in which online participants can take part in a face-to-face course.

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