Cisco Certified Technician Data Center (CCT-DC) certification focuses on the skills required for onsite support and maintenance of Cisco Unified Computing Systems and servers. Technicians in this area must be able to: identify Cisco Unified Computing System components and servers, accessories, cabling, and interfaces; understand the Cisco Unified Computing Systems and NX-OS operating modes and identify commonly found software; and be able to use the Cisco Graphical User Interface (GUI) to connect and service product components.
Indeed, it’s vastly different from other Cisco certifications. Anyone who is certified in this area focuses more on hardware components instead of theory and is opened up to more products and services compared to the principal.
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In short, CCT-DC is one of Cisco’s latest technical level certifications targeting onsite support and field engineers besides Routing and Switching and Telepresence. Launched in August two years ago, it was introduced at the same time Cisco announced their new Nexus switches (2000, 5000, 7000 Series) which are specially designed for Data Centers.
This certification was created to ensure that a certified individual has adequate knowledge of the company’s networking equipment, not only of the aforementioned products, but also of installation and maintenance of SAN switch MSD 9000, UCS, MDS, NX-OS basic configuration and simple commands such as password recovery.
Achieving CCT-DC certification requires candidates to attain CCT Routing & Switching (CCT-RS) certification first. Side note: upon having the certificate, they can go for CCT TelePresence (640-792 TPTECH) besides CCT-DC. These three badges are aimed at people with product-specific technical skills to diagnose, restore, repair, and replace critical Cisco equipment, and support incidents quickly and effectively.
Meanwhile, CCT-RS focuses on the required skills for onsite support and maintenance of Cisco routers, switches, and operating environments. Onsite technicians should be able to: identify Cisco router and switch models, accessories, cabling, and interfaces; understand IOS Software operating modes; utilize Command Line Interface (CLI) to connect and service products; as well as create TAC tickets as required. Talking a bit about CCT TelePresence, the focus is already clear enough: onsite support and maintenance of the TelePresence Systems.
Technical support engineers, operators and technicians specializing on the San Francisco-based company’s Data Center products and operating software are encouraged to take this certification as its popularity is growing every day. Therefore, in this article we will dig deeper on the certification itself including pre-requisites, exam, training, ways to study and, more importantly, the necessary skills in detail.
First of all, as some of us might already know, the required exam is DCTECH 640-893 which constitutes of 60 to 70 questions in English and should be completed in 90 minutes at our nearest PearsonVUE testing center. Please be reminded that prior to this, we have to attain CCT Routing & Switching cert (RSTECH 640-692) as prerequisite.
Prepare our ability to work effectively through the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC). Furthermore, the principal recommends us to take the Supporting Cisco Data Center System Devices v1.0 online training course available from their Learning Network Store.
Those who would like to get certified need to understand Cisco data center networking fundamentals: SAN, UTP and fiber connectors, the unified computing fabric, and server options.
They should also be able to identify Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) component models, accessories, cabling, interfaces as well as understand UCS, NX-OS operating modes and identify commonly found software programs. It doesn’t stop there. They need to know the differences between the multiple types of servers that exist in these computing systems.
Utilizing Cisco GUI to connect and service numerous product components is also necessary. It should also be mentioned that understanding effective field servicing and equipment replacement, including hot swap, with the support of Technical Assistance Center (TAC) is also a must have-skill.
Discussing this in more detail, the basic knowledge the applicant needs to master is general networking such as a high level understanding of SAN technology, IP address, subnets, default gateways, subnet masks, the difference between Layer 2 technologies, what FTP, telnet, ping, OSI and TCP/IP do, cabling, connector, and common network problems at Layer 1 and 2.
Since the certification is all about Data Center products, we are expected to identify equipment and other related hardware, such as Cisco UCS components, chassis layout and LED information, including the C-Series Rack Mount Servers. For SAN switches, we need to know Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extender components and cabling types, Nexus 5000, 7000 Series components, MDS 9000 product family components and Family Storage Networking Modules.
Such simple work, like identifying Cisco products and its serial number via logo marking and model number (including but not limited to locations on chassis, line card, module, or adapter) is also a necessity.
We also need to understand how to operate Cisco NX-OS Software through Cisco Integrated Management Controller (CIMC) with different command modes – use it, interpret it and recover the password.
Valuing UCS features and functionality including its current mode, device verification and configuration, Device File Systems, directories, and files as well as exporting technical support data is another skill the candidate should master.
Service-related knowledge is another domain they should pay attention on. We are expected to perform administrative tasks like connecting laptop to console port, perform installation process, initial setup and remedial procedures, and service restoration verification.
On top of that, using hardware tools for repair is also required, such as in upgrading BIOS on UCS Server Blade and Integrated Management Controller Firmware on a UCS Server C-Series.
Upon attaining the certificate, we then need to maintain it. How to do so? You should recertify by taking one of these exams after three years:
current CCT Data Center exam (DCTECH) or
- current ICND1 exam and the current ICND2 exam, or
- current CCNA Composite exam, or
- current CCDA exam, or
- current CCNA Concentration exam (Wireless, or Security, or Voice, or SP Ops)
- current 642-XXX professional level exam, or
- current Cisco Specialist exam (excluding Sales Specialist exams or MeetingPlace Specialist exams or Implementing Cisco TelePresence Installations [ITI] exams), or
- current CCIE Written Exam, or
- current CCDE Written Exam, or current CCDE Practical Exam, or
- Pass the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview AND the CCAr board review to extend lower certifications.
Last but not least, study hard and good luck with the exam!