SAN DIEGO — Cisco Systems Monday announced what CEO Chuck Robbins called the biggest changed to its professional certifications in more than two decades, as it added a family of certifications for software-related skills under its DevNet banner to its existing lineup of network engineering certifications.
Under the new system, the company will offer Associate, Specialist, Professional and eventually Expert tiers of software certifications, matched up roughly with its CCNA, Cisco Certified Specialist, CCNP and CCIE tiers on the engineering side.
The Associate tier will be design to “bring new learners” into the program, Specialist will add a core skills exam, and Professional will require a core exam in one of six technology verticals, and then a “concentration” or sub-specialty within that domain, plus a lab exam. Details on the expert certification are “coming soon,” the company said.
DevNet has been Cisco’s rapidly growing community and learning space for developers on the network over the last five years, having launched six years ago at Cisco Live. Since then, the idea of software development skills becoming core to the network have become key to Cisco, especially over the last two years with its intent-based networking initiative that sees everything in terms of software definition.
Susie Wee, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco DevNet, said some metering of software skills has been a top request from the company’s networking professionals and partners alike over the last few years. Particularly, she said, partners have been looking for their investments in building DevNet related skill sets to be recognized.
“They actually want to get credit for what they were investing in, because they knew it was important skills, so they could build on the strength of the certification program to get that in there,” Wee said. “We’ve talked to a number of partners, an in early feedback, we keep hearing that they see the value of software, but they’ve been struggling with how to bring software to the right teams in their practices. This gives them a framework to do so, in just the same way they know how to build up their networking skills.”
Marc Surplus, vice president of strategy, planning and programs for Cisco’s Global Partner Organization, said the new DevNet certifications would be included in partner certifications from launch. For example, to achieve Gold Partner status, partners need to have twelve individual certifications in their organizations. Four of those must be CCIEs, the other eight are “electives.” Surplus said that from launch, the DevNet certifications would count towards that elective category.
Surplus said recognizing partners’ software talents within the program would go a long way towards embedding those software-centric skill sets in partners key offerings.
“It’s an area where many partners are investing, because it’s such an investment,” Surplus said.
Also on the DevNet front, the company introduced the DevNet Automation Exchange, a site that aims to help developers automate networks. The core of the service will be a shared code repository with automation use cases. The service will launch with 50 or so Cisco-built repositories, but Wee said the goal is that it will be a “community-built, Cisco-curated” service.
As Wee puts it, it’s a way to “bring software practices to networking.”
The Automation Exchange aims to help networking professionals start out by getting visibility and insights out of their networks, then move into shaping policy across the network, and finally into proactive management to optimize the network, moving into devops workflows.