All About the Cisco Certified Network Professional and Design Professional Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) certifications are the second level of Cisco certifications and are becoming popular as more incentives become available to both certification holders and their employers. Cisco has designed both the CCNP and CCDP certifications as evidence that an individual has completed a rigorous path of testing in the network arena.

The CCNP and CCDP tracks require the candidate to be comfortable in advanced routing techniques, switching techniques, and dialup or RAS technology. In addition to those subjects, the CCNP must be able to, without a book, configure and troubleshoot a routed and switched network. The CCDP must demonstrate the skill to digest a vast quantity of user requirements and prepare a scalable design that fits the customer needs and requirements.

The CCNP is a more "hands on" certification that involves testing for a variety of routing and switching skills. Both configuration and troubleshooting are covered. Short of the CCIE, this certification is currently one of the most sought after.

The CCDP track focuses on designing scalable networks using routing and switching technologies. Testing involves the same battery of exams and subject matter as the CCNP track, with the exception of the Support exam. Instead, the CCDP track ends with the Cisco Internetwork Design exam. Because this certification focuses on the design aspects of internetworking, it is more suited for the pre-sales engineer or the network architect.

Because both the CCNP and CCDP maintain the same base set of requirements (except the final exam in the series), it is not suprising to find that a CCNP can produce a solid, scalable network design, while a CCDP can configure a router in a multiprotocol, routing, and switching environment. The key issue is the focus of the candidate in the business world.

Neither CCNP nor CCDP certification is a "one test and you pass" type of exam. Instead, each requires a series of either two or four exams. The exams are individually difficult because of the depth of understanding needed for each area of concentration. As well, each certification requires the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification as a prerequisite.

The focus of this book is the preparation and passing of the Cisco CCNP Switching Exam because this exam (or its content) is required for either CCNP or CCDP.

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