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Recently Cisco officially announces the CCIE Data Center on their The Cisco Learning Network website – LINK. This certification track has been long rumored – probably for about 1-2 years now some of us have been waiting for the announcement.
A complete list of the written exam topics in PDF format can be found here – LINK. The Beta exam of the written will be available at Cisco Live San Diego this year if you are interested in taking it during the event, if not – you can take the beta beginning May 1 through June 14 at a cost of $50. If you pass the beta, you will recertify your existing CCIE (like any CCIE level written will) and you will be qualified to take the lab (same deal). My advice on this would be to not take it at Live, you get a free test – use the coupon wisely. If you want to take this test at Cisco Live, invest the $50. If you would rather wait for the go-live of the exam, that will be September 3, 2012.

To be honest, the written does not look too bad to those that already work with much of this data center technology, VLAN, NX-OS, VDC, VPC, FEX, and such are all somewhat common in today’s Nexus deployments – those are the reasons why you deploy a Nexus switch. Some of the less common things though are going to be the less common things – OTV, DCNM, and Storage items. Yes, storage is on here as well (FC, FCOE, iSCSI, FCIP), so be ready for that. The other item that is interesting with the written is that UCS is there as well. That might or might not be something that people have worked with – many companies have not embraced UCS, so I am sure there will be much study required here as well.
Iwan posted some suggested reading material on his blog – LINK – and that seems to cover it fairly well. I have included his list here as well as added a few others that I feel might be helpful as well.
Data Center Fundamentals
NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching
Cisco Unified Computing System
I/O Consolidation in the Data Center
Storage Networking Fundamentals Vol 2
Storage Networking Fundemantals Vol 2
Cloud Computing: Automating the Virtualized Data Center
Cisco ACE Page on Cisco.Com (PDF Link)
When it comes to the lab, the hardware list is very interesting – READ EXPENSIVE.

  • Cisco Catalyst Switch 3750
  • Cisco 2511 Terminal Server
  • MDS 9222i
  • Nexus7009
    (1) Sup
    (1) 32 Port 10Gb (F1 Module)
    (1) 32 Port 10Gb (M1 Module)
  • Nexus5548
  • Nexus2232
  • Nexus 1000v
  • UCS C200 Series Server
  • vic card for c-series
  • UCS-6248 Fabric Interconnects
  • UCS-5148 Blade Chassis (Note – we are assuming a type here and it should read UCS-5108)
  • B200 M2 Blade Servers
  • Palo mezzanine card
  • Emulex mezzanine card
  • Cisco Application Control Engine Appliance – ACE4710
  • Dual attached JBODs
  • NXOS v6.0(2) on Nexus 7000 Switches
  • NXOS v5.1(3) on Nexus 5000 Switches
  • NXOS v4.2(1) on Nexus 1000v
  • NXOS v5.2(2) on MDS 9222i Switches
  • UCS Software release 2.0(1x) for UCS-6248 Fabric Interconnect
  • Software Release A5(1.0) for ACE 4710
  • Cisco Data Center Manager software v5.2(2)

To be honest, the list is what I would expect on a lab of this type – except for maybe the Cisco 2511 Terminal Server. That is a bit old, but granted they are still used to this day in many places. There is also no mention of hardware quantity for the lab, but I think we can assume that we will have at least two Nexus 7009, two Nexus 5000, and a few Nexus 2232 to tie back to the N5K or the N7K.
To lab exam topics are very extensive, you can see the full list here – LINK. Again, this is what you would expect to see in a data center, but the troubleshooting section has my attention. That list includes:

  • Utilize SPAN, ERSPAN and EthAnalyzer to troubleshoot a Cisco Nexus problem
  • Utilize NetFlow to troubleshoot a Cisco Nexus problem
  • Given an OTV problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given a VDC problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given a vPC problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given an Layer 2 problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given an Layer 3 problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given a multicast problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given a FabricPath problem, identify the problem and potential fix
  • Given a Unified Fabric problem, identify the problem and potential fix

There is a lot of grey area there, that is for sure. Some of these problems could be interesting – OTV for example, that could include Multicast for communication, so you might need to troubleshoot multicast first before you can fix OTV. Regardless, these are the types of things that drive Data Center engineers, so whatever they throw at us – we will enjoy like we always do.
Cisco has posted a CCIE Data Center Suggest Training courses for this exam as well, they are:
Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Implementation (DCUCI)
Implementing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric (DCUFI)
Implementing the Cisco Nexus 1000V (DCNX1K)
Implementing the Cisco Nexus 5000 and 2000 (DCNX5K)
Implementing the Cisco Nexus 7000 (DCNX7K)
Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Troubleshooting (DCUCTS)
Implementing Cisco Storage Networking Solutions (ICSNS)
Implementing Cisco Advanced Storage Networking Solutions (IASNS)
Implementing Cisco Data Center Application Services (DCASI)
Here are a few more sites with CCIE DC Postings that you might find of interest as well:
INE – CCIE Data Center Officially Announced
Cisco – CCIE Data Center Certification
The Networking Nerd – CCIE Data Center
IWAN – The CCIE Data Center Track