Passed CCDA, my two cents

BrakarificBrakarific Posts: 23Member ■□□□□□□□□□
So I went and took the exam on Friday and passed. I took this test to renew my CCNA because I ran out of time to prep for my first CCNP test. I didn't see the spelling/grammatical errors that others were seeing, however I don't know how much I really gained from the curriculum. I found the PPDIOO information kind of useful as far as big picture project organization goes, but I found the rest of the curriculum either misleading, boring, or not very helpful. I work for a network equipment OEM as an On-Site support engineer at a very large hosting company. I have also worked elsewhere as a Network Engineer in the Private sector.

From what I've experienced in the real world. I really don't think this test/curriculum really prepares someone who wants to go into network design. At most this would help someone in a sales organization understand some basic design elements when selling the customer the right solution. When it comes to the prep, design, and actual implementation of a network, this material will leave a person with a giant question mark. From what I see, to actually be able to say that you can take the lead on a network redesign or a network design from the ground up, I feel the ARCH material is where you really need to start.

The test itself wasn't bad, but I felt like it geared much more towards rote memorization rather than fundamental understanding of the material. I was often confused when you'd have SONA, SAFE, Borderless, and Enterprise Campus architecture all overlaping each other in one giant cluster [email protected]$#. The material would often have three or four different ways/definitions of explaining the SAME technology. So the answer to a question that addressed one flavor of architecture might not necessarily jive with another similar question in relation to another architecture. If that last sentence sounded confusing, than you'll understand most of the grief you hear with the CCDA material. That's my two cents, take it or leave it.

Comments

  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    congrats mate.

    The DA is not the prettiest of exams!
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  • wintermute000wintermute000 Posts: 172Banned
    The CCDA is neither fish nor fowl. It doesn't give you enough detail or skills to do anything substantial but its too technical for a lot of people

    I can see it of being some value for say a CCNA with some experience, just to give them a taste of 'this is what the bigger picture looks like'. I agree the vendor fluff is ridiculous and a waste of time (or easy marks as long as you can memorise!).

    OTOH the CCDP material (NOT the exam) is excellent in my opinion. It has definitely informed my designs and thinking since I did it.

    However as OP points out the achilles heel of both certs is the way they are tested. You never have a design scenario where you arrive at the answers via someone's multiple choice. In fact arriving at the right questions to ask is sometimes half the battle. The exams should have simply been: here is the facts of whats on the ground, requirement X needs to be fulfilled, give us the design - and the implication is that you pick the features and methods to suit the situation by working out what factors to consider yourself. Not: 'In scenario X, in order to mitigate factor Y, what is the cisco recommendation Z?'. In real life you have to work out factor Y exists by yourself... thats the key takeaway IMO
  • BrakarificBrakarific Posts: 23Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Indeed, I've never had a scenario where solving the issue at hand is as easily laid out as it is on a Test :) Again, I mostly took the CCDA because I ran out of time to restudy from my CCNA or go and take a CCNP test.
  • mp3markelmp3markel Posts: 17Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    "From what I see, to actually be able to say that you can take the lead on a network redesign or a network design from the ground up, I feel the ARCH material is where you really need to start."


    I was wondering, could you provide some more information about this ARCH material? I've recently become interested in network design and by the sounds of CCDA it wouldn't teach me much. I administer a small (maybe medium?) size network and wanted to implement dual 3750s that we having laying around. I'd like to learn more about how they should be configured with different networks and where the server block should be located. Thanks for any advice!

    Edit* I did some more research on the ARCH material and I believe that's in reference to the CCDP course. Are there any Cisco press books you'd suggest on describing the important parts of network design and not necessarily a book for CCDA or CCNP certification?
  • zrockstarzrockstar Posts: 378Member
    Markel, I think *the* network design book that is neither CCDA or CCNP has been long standing as Top-Down Network Design by Priscilla Oppenheimer. You will find great reviews on it on here, Amazon, and pretty much everywhere you look. I have not read it personally, but it is definitely on my list for this summer.
  • webgeekwebgeek Posts: 495Member
    Great post and it seems I've been hearing this a lot from people who have passed the CCDA...maybe CISCO will have some changes tomorrow regarding CCDA....or not
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  • powmiapowmia Posts: 322Users Awaiting Email Confirmation
    I completely agree that the CCDA is lacking... however, does a CCNA qualify someone to take the lead on a major implementation project? Not even close. The CCDA is exactly like the CCNA, but obviously from a design standpoint. It is there to introduce the thought process, and throw some basic technologies at you that need to be stuck in your head for when you start progressing down the cert path towards something more meaningful.

    I have a CCDP too... The only immediate gain from that would be for someone that didn't already have a CCNP or higher... you have to learn routing and switching from a CCNP level, and add some more design theory. The CCDP is still lacking, but it's great, because it's another step down the right path. Network design requires such a massive variety of skills that it's impossible to cover in a single exam. All you can do is keep going deeper and in the end, it will be a combination of CCDA, CCDP, everything in-between, and everything after that makes you a useful designer.
  • RBakRBak Posts: 9Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Great post and I totally agree. I passed the DA today with a 912/1000. I currently work in Network Design and I have to personally say that I am on the fence with this one. Honestly, I cannot say this is/was an enlightment to my current profession. Maybe once I cool down from the Test stress I may see the value I appear to be missing at the moment. Again, great post!
  • RouteMyPacketRouteMyPacket Posts: 1,104Member
    All I know is that the CCDE is utter brutality, had a colleague explain his experience and it crossed my eyes at the level of complexity.

    I might check it out as said above simply to give myself a better idea of "overall" approach to design.
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  • blueberriesblueberries Posts: 138Banned
    The ROI for CCDA if you work as a Cisco Partner is worth it, but I still don't know the value of going down the design path especially compared to voice or security as a secondary path. Any thoughts?
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  • Master Of PuppetsMaster Of Puppets Posts: 1,210Member
    Network designers/architects are one of the top people in networking. Highly rewarding, very well paid and requires a lot of in depth knowledge and experience. That is in general but if we are talking about the certification track and not the career, it may seem like that because not a lot of designer jobs require them. However, I have seen a lot of network engineer type jobs ask for a CCDP as well as CCNP or at least mention it as an advantage. That's, of course, in my experience.
    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
  • rtrefzrtrefz Posts: 26Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm working on my CCDP for 2 reasons:

    1: It's interesting

    2: I have my CCNP already. Might was well take 2 more exams and have my CCDP.

    I am curious about how many people take the design exams on their own, instead of an add in to CCNP.
  • srgsrg Posts: 140Member
    rtrefz wrote: »
    I am curious about how many people take the design exams on their own, instead of an add in to CCNP.
    Very few I would say.
  • malcyboodmalcybood Posts: 900Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I done the CCDA in 2008 and passed the CCDP ARCH this year and my experience was I found both helpful.

    The CCDA does teach some solid principles such as PPDIOO which started making sense when I moved into an detailed design engineering role.

    I think there is a load of negativity around the DA which comes from hearsay but there is definitely some value add within the material. It is a theory based curriculum but it should really be pursued by someone who has a background in basic design as opposed to just to renew the CCNA etc.

    The ARCH course book is great. I had worked hands on from a design and implementation perspective with many of the technologies within the book I.e. Nexus, multi context firewalls etc from a design and implementation perspective and felt the ARCH book explained these topics well, but to be honest only skimmed the surface on some areas.

    To be a good Network Designer at architect level you need to have a strong background in implementing multiple technologies along with having been in situations that solutions have to be "made to fit" because of technical or commercial constraints such as legacy kit, budget, security policies etc but you also have to be able to design strategic "blank canvas" solutions to budget.

    In the real world it is a very rare scenario that a customer will say we don't care what it costs.

    Design is about juggling many factors which you can't learn from any book, but there are principles that should be constant throughout your career.

    Finally the exams were both a washout in my opinion and passing either the CCDP or CCDA will not solely prepare someone to design an enterprise network.

    The courses are supplemental to real world experience.

    Finally on the comments around the material being sales orientated, if someone is moving into design then to me that says they may want to work in a presales or architect type role. Something to consider is if you work for a cisco gold partner and design different solutions for customers on a daily basis where you are competing against Juniper, HP or Brocade partners for example you won't win business unless you are familiar with Cisco's sales messages for the solution that you've designed.

    Think outside purely technical when it comes to design as a designer role is more than being technical and knowing what bill of materials is required.
  • DAVIS NGUYENDAVIS NGUYEN Posts: 1,472Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congrats on the pass icon_thumright.gif
  • razarrazar Posts: 65Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    rtrefz wrote: »
    I'm working on my CCDP for 2 reasons:

    1: It's interesting

    2: I have my CCNP already. Might was well take 2 more exams and have my CCDP.

    I am curious about how many people take the design exams on their own, instead of an add in to CCNP.

    Don't you need to have a CCDA as well?
  • rtrefzrtrefz Posts: 26Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Yes you do. The CCDA is considered one of the 2 exams I mentioned (CCDP requires CCDA, ROUTE, SWITCH, and ARCH).

    FYI- I passed my CCDA last fall. Failed my CCDP exam last Friday, and am trying again on the 9th. The syntax Cisco uses always mucks with me.
  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAPosts: 4,012Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Congrats on pass!! icon_thumright.gif
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  • SilverFishSilverFish Posts: 5Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    So many conflicting opinions :)

    What worries me most is not whether the certs will help - its the level of expectation from future employers. A brief read of CCDA FLG tells me its not going to be much use and will perhaps provide me some basic fundamental ... dare I say it..... design knowledge which I mostly know. Employers may see it differently.

    Not read ARCH but from comments on here it sounds more relevant to someone working in a global organisation with multiple data centres, good switching topologies and a vast server/network infrastructure etc (which is what I do). So that could be beneficial but I may not get round to doing it before Ive begun CCNP Security.

    I fear I may be sitting CCDA for the hell of it without the intention of sitting CCDP for a long time (maybe as much as two years) due to a desire to sit CCNP security. Thus it will at this stage be a waste of time and who knows if Cisco will change the exam in that time and would no longer act as a pre requisite to sit CCDP.
  • powmiapowmia Posts: 322Users Awaiting Email Confirmation
    Nothing is 'for the hell of it.' If you only learn one useful thing, it was worth it. It just takes integrity to decide what you do or don't claim you are capable of (current and future jobs). As far as career decisions and how relevant specific certs are in general... each one should merely be a building block. If you take the CCDA, use it as a building block... apply any gained knowledge to not just a CCDP, apply that to the CCNP Security. Guess what, security solutions need designing too :) Just keep in mind that as with any certification, there is a difference between knowing what some designs look like and how to actually design. Always take these things as a means to an end, not an optional end in itself.
  • fuz1onfuz1on Posts: 961Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats and thanks for the great info!
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  • SilverFishSilverFish Posts: 5Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    powmia wrote: »
    Nothing is 'for the hell of it.' If you only learn one useful thing, it was worth it. It just takes integrity to decide what you do or don't claim you are capable of (current and future jobs). As far as career decisions and how relevant specific certs are in general... each one should merely be a building block. If you take the CCDA, use it as a building block... apply any gained knowledge to not just a CCDP, apply that to the CCNP Security. Guess what, security solutions need designing too :) Just keep in mind that as with any certification, there is a difference between knowing what some designs look like and how to actually design. Always take these things as a means to an end, not an optional end in itself.

    Thanks powmia

    Youre right, I guess CCDA is something i would need to do if I wanted to complete ARCH anyway (which looks as though its both useful and relevant to me) so may as well fill some time now until the CCNP Security study guides are released later this year. I just hope lack of wireless and VOIP knowledge isnt a problem.

    Still on the bench as to how difficult the exam will be with the comments on here. Guess I can go find out by sitting it!
  • Gallager00Gallager00 Posts: 29Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Grats on the passing and thanks for that insight. :)
    2016 Goals: CCNA Security, CCNA Data Center, VCP6-NV. Mostly focusing on skills rather than certs.
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    Currently reading: CCNA Security, programming books
  • instant000instant000 Posts: 1,745Member
    SilverFish wrote: »
    Still on the bench as to how difficult the exam will be with the comments on here. Guess I can go find out by sitting it!

    The questions are somewhat horrible on the CCDA, as others have noted. That's nothing to worry about, though, as you can't change that. You can change how you prepare for it. If you note only one thing, note this: the OCG alone may not be enough.

    Here's the feedback that I have from when I took it last fall (not that long ago).

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/ccda-ccdp/106749-what-takes-pass-ccda-flying-colors-my-experience.html
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  • SilverFishSilverFish Posts: 5Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    So 4 weeks in and I wish Id never started.

    Id say 50% of this would have been useful if i was just finishing uni or beginning my job in a global multi site network. The rest is a mix of what people have called Cisco marketing (biased...) and I read some stuff that I believe is CCIE level stuff (Like DMVPN or VPLS - which I know from reading CCIE blogs - although they are only brief explanations).

    I feel really negative about this cert so far due to the BS propaganda thats in there page in page out (Edge Modules ffs....icon_rolleyes.gif ) and the way the questions are described by people on here - I'm sure I read that there's a question about Spanning Tree somewhere that recommends PVST+ above all else for example. They're saying its very a very biased exam basically.

    Im really not enjoying this. Which in itself is also frustrating as I know how valuable this cert is to have and also how useful it would be to my current and future jobs.

    I read your post Instant000.... I think Ill have a look at ARCH and the design zone as you suggested. Thats if I've still got the heart to do it.
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