If you are a Cisco Certified Technology Specialist (CCT), you no doubt have noticed that Cisco Certification track changes and exams are updated every so often. Sometimes the CCNA exam is changed to coincide with a new Cisco technology. Sometimes Cisco changes the exam schedule to coincide with a new or upcoming product. It seems the company makes changes to their products on a regular basis, so why would you want to take your Cisco Certification test on one of these days?

First of all, it’s important to understand that Cisco is changing the way they deliver training and support for their technology. In fact, they are doing so rapidly that many people incorrectly think that Cisco is moving away from VoIP. The fact is that Cisco continues to support the VoIP industry and several carriers are bundling Cisco equipment into their residential plans. If you currently run a business with VoIP and you are not an expert on the newest offerings by Cisco, don’t let this get you down. You are still very well-equipped to lead a business using Cisco technology. But if you think that having the latest Cisco VoIP solution will mean less support, then you are wrong!

Cisco has recently announced two major Cisco Certification track changes: CNP Proves and CCIE Networking Virtualization. The first is pretty obvious and what most people call a change. The second is a little less obvious but is very important for network professionals. The “forgotten” series is now known as the CCIE or Cisco Certified Network Associate program. The new name implies that anyone can take the exams even if you don’t know much about networking. The major focus of the new program is to provide IT professionals with an understanding of all areas of CCIE technology, not just the most popular ones.

The most significant thing that happens with the CCIE exam is that it becomes easier to deploy, troubleshoot, and troublescotch your Cisco equipment. Cisco has removed the necessity of routers or hubs in order to have a complete voice and data solutions. With the removal of routers and hubs, you can now configure everything from the same place. You can add VoIP equipment anywhere you like and you can configure your voicemail, email, and forwarding via the same interface. This is especially good for someone who works from home because you no longer need to bring your work setup to your office to answer your phones.

Another major change is in the area of call forwarding and voicemail. With the older Cisco devices, you had to configure both devices separately, which was time-consuming. Now, when you forward a call to an ephone-dns number, you enter the IP address of the service provider, not your Cisco router. In addition, when you enter a phone number, the system will automatically dial your external IP phone into your existing dongle/router connection.

There are still some other features that are not quite complete, but they are getting there. For instance, Microsoft is working on offering SBIR score reporting and Cisco is working on SBIR+ rating for Cisco VoIP devices. Both of these features are expected to be included in the upcoming CCIE exam platform, so it looks like we might see some new features before the end of the decade. Some of these might be in the form of new hardware – like Cisco’s e350 modules – and some might be updates to existing modules.

One important thing that happened recently was the notification that the CCIE exam changed from three parts to two parts. The first part is still being written by a team in India, but they are refining it. The second part is a wider test, designed to cover different areas that were not covered in the original three parts of the exam. I hope we can look forward to more improvements like these in the coming year.

Now that you know what Cisco is planning for Cisco Certification track changes, you should have a better idea of what you will need to study to get your Cisco Certification. I recommend looking at the resources provided on the Cisco website. You can access the Resources and Study Materials page for this exam. Stay tuned!