The next stage after completing your CCNA exam is the CCNP. This stage is where the CISCO world gets very interesting. The CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) certification validates an individual’s networking skills at the middle career level. If you want to become a CCIE in Routing and Switching or want to advance your career in internetworking, one way is to become a CCNP.

Capabilities of a CCNP

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) validates the ability to plan, implement, verify and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks and work collaboratively with specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless and video solutions. The overall CCNP curriculum is very real world based and not something to just read and study .The CCNP certification is recommended for those with at least one year of networking experience (though not a requirement) who are ready to advance their skills and work independently on complex network solutions.

A valid CCNA certification or any CCIE certification can act as a pre-requisite. Each of the three (3) exams is valid for three years.

Previously, to acquire the CCNP certification, a candidate had to sit four (4) exams. Ouch! In February 2010, Cisco reviewed it to three (3) exams. SWEET!

The required exams are:

  • * Implementing Cisco IP Routing (ROUTE)
  • * Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks (SWITCH)
  • * Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks (TSHOOT)

This exam can be taken in any particular order, but I will recommend doing ROUTE and SWITCH before TSHOOT. This is because a solid knowledge of the topics discussed in ROUTE and SWITCH is needed in the TSHOOT exams.

Implementing Cisco IP Routing (ROUTE)

The ROUTE exam is designed for network engineers with at least one year of professional work experience, who are ready to advance their skills and work independently on complex network solutions. Students will learn to plan, configure and verify the implementation of secure enterprise LAN and WAN routing solutions using a range of routing protocols. The course also covers configuration of solutions to support branch offices and mobile workers.

Course Objectives

Upon completing this course, the student will be able to meet these overall objectives:

  • * Plan and document the configuration and verification of routing protocols and their optimization in enterprise networks.
  • * Identify the technologies, components, and metrics of EIGRP used to implement and verify EIGRP routing in diverse, large-scale internetworks based on requirements.
  • * Identify, analyze, and match OSPF multiage routing functions and benefits for routing efficiencies in network operations in order to implement and verify OSPF routing in a complex enterprise network.
  • * Implement and verify a redistribution solution in a multi-protocol network that uses Cisco IOS features to control path selection and provides a loop-free topology according to a given network design and requirements.
  • * Evaluate common network performance issues and identify the tools needed to provide Layer 3 path control that uses Cisco IOS features to control the path.
  • * Implement and verify a Layer 3 solution using BGP to connect an enterprise network to a service provider.

Course Outline

  • * Planning Routing Services
  • * Implementing an EIGRP-based Solution
  • * Implementing a Scalable Multiarea Network OSPF based Solution
  • * Implement an IPv4-based Redistribution Solution
  • * Implement Path Control
  • * Connecting an Enterprise Network to ISP Networks
  • * Implement Path Control
  • * Implementing IPv6
  • * Implementing Routing Facilities for Branch Offices and Mobile Workers

Implementing Cisco Switched Networks (SWITCH)

Course Content

SWITCH is designed for network engineers with at least one year of professional work experience, who are ready to advance their skills and work independently on complex network solutions. Students will learn to plan, configure and verify the implementation of complex enterprise switching solutions using Cisco’s Campus Enterprise Architecture. The course also covers secure integration of VLANs, WLANs, voice and video traffic into campus networks.

Course Objectives

Upon completing this course, the student will be able to meet these overall objectives:

  • * Analyze campus network designs.
  • * Implement VLANs in a network campus.
  • * Implement spanning tree.
  • * Implement inter-VLAN routing in a campus network.
  • * Implement a highly available network.
  • * Implement high-availability technologies and techniques using multilayer switches.
  • * Implement security features in a switched network.
  • * Integrate WLANs into a campus network.
  • * Accommodate voice and video in campus networks.

Course Outline

  • * Analyzing Campus Network Designs
  • * Implementing VLANs in Campus Networks
  • * Implementing Spanning Tree
  • * Implementing Inter-VLAN Routing
  • * Implementing First Hop Redundancy in a Campus Environment
  • * Implementing a Highly Available Network
  • * Minimizing Service Loss and Data Theft in a Campus Network
  • * Integrating Wireless LANs into a Campus Network
  • * Accommodating Voice and Video in Campus Networks

* Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks (TSHOOT)

Course Content

TSHOOT is designed for network engineers with at least one year of professional work experience, who are ready to advance their skills and work independently on complex network solutions. Students will learn to (1) plan and perform regular maintenance on complex enterprise routed and switched networks and (2) use technology-based practices and a systematic ITIL-compliant approach to perform network troubleshooting. Extensive labs provide for hands-on learning and reinforce troubleshooting skills.

Course Objectives

Upon completing this course, the student will be able to meet these overall objectives:

  • * Plan and document the most commonly performed maintenance functions in complex enterprise networks.
  • * Develop a troubleshooting process to identify and resolve problems in complex enterprise networks.
  • * Select tools that best support specific troubleshooting and maintenance processes in large, complex enterprise networks.
  • * Practice maintenance procedures and fault resolution in switching-based environments.
  • * Practice maintenance procedures and fault resolution in routing-based environments.
  • * Practice maintenance procedures and fault resolution in a secure infrastructure.
  • * Troubleshoot and maintain integrated, complex enterprise networks.

Course Outline

  • * Planning Maintenance for Complex Networks
  • * Selecting Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools and Applications
  • * Planning Troubleshooting Processes for Complex Enterprise Networks
  • * Maintaining and Troubleshooting Campus Switching-Based Problems
  • * Maintaining and Troubleshooting Routing Based Solutions
  • * Maintaining and Troubleshooting Network Security Solutions
  • * Maintaining and Troubleshooting Integrated, Complex Enterprise Networks
  • * Troubleshooting Performance Problems on Switches
  • * Troubleshooting Wireless Connectivity
  • * Troubleshooting Voice over IP
  • * Troubleshooting Video
  • * Troubleshooting Multicast
  • * Troubleshooting NAT and PAT
  • * Troubleshooting DHCP
  • * Troubleshooting IPv6, OSPFv3, and RIPng

The CCNP exam focuses on the competencies that are needed to plan, implement, and troubleshoot the routed and switched networks of today and is designed to be more indicative of job readiness. CCNP offers a career development path for Cisco CCNA certified network engineers and a solid foundation for those who are interested in Cisco CCIE. The CCNP exam not only makes your resume look better, it also gives you a more in-depth knowledge of networking in general – a must have for any network engineer.