CCNP Data Center?

IristheangelIristheangel CCIEx2 (Sec + DC), CCNP RS, CCNA V/S/R/DC, CISSP, CEH, MCSE 2003, A+/L+/N+/S+, and a lot more from mPasadena, CAMod Posts: 4,133 Mod
I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I set out with the goal of getting my CCNP:Security this year which sounds like it would be something great to learn and I'm a bit on the security-centric side, but I've had some really interesting opportunities come up recently.

After I finish my ISE deployment over the course of the next month or two, my company is going to do a complete data center redesign and rebuild. This means taking out some old 6500s as the collapsed core switches and tearing out the access layer to replace everything with Nexus 7000s, 5000s, and 2000s. Designing and planning will probably take the next 8 months or so and implementation will probably happen the last quarter of 2014.

This is actually a really good opportunity for me because if I can get myself up-to-speed before the deployment, I might have a good chance to be part of the design team and a lead (or the lead) engineer in implementation.

I got my company to agree to pay for as many rack rental hours as I want in substitute for a 5 or 10 day training class in the product. Management agreed that $1000-2000 is a lot cheaper of a price tag to pay for INE credits, some books, etc than a $6000 training class. I'm really considering ditching my CCNP: Security plans until next year and devoting myself to the CCNA and CCNP Data Center for the purposes of putting myself where I need to be to be a big part of this project. I'm just a bit nervous... Usually when I'm training or studying for an exam, I've got some books that let me narrow into what I need to study in order to pass. There isn't a lot of training materials out there yet and I won't justify $3-4K per class per exam. I've heard that the INE videos are good. I've also saw that CBT Nuggets have a few videos out as well. Can anyone give me some recommendations on material or maybe guide me where Cisco kind of outlines what papers I should be reading? Any general advice I should be taking? Am I completely insane to be jumping into this before there are more training resources available to take these exams?
BS, MS, and CCIE #50931


  • aaron0011aaron0011 Member Posts: 330
    I can't offer much advice except that it's a great plan and path to head down.

    I have started a 10 Gig Data Center refresh project as well. We're keeping our 6500s (upgraded Sups/VSS, added 10 Gig line cards, etc.), replacing 4500s with 5596s (Layer 3 modules, vPC), ToR Fex design with 2000s, 1000V in VMware environment, and eventually migrating SAN fiber channel to FCoE.

    Between this project and all of the UCS/VMware experience I have with Voice projects I know for a fact I am going for Data Center next. It is a really interesting track and a lot of the basic knowledge I have already. My only drawback is I know I won't touch a 7000 for quite some time. Not sure how much that will hinder the process. OTV and VDC are the big features in the 7000 series and maybe learning the theory would be enough.

    Studying for ROUTE and having to learn OSPF is downright boring at this point. The stuff I do at work is much more interesting. I can't wait to have this exam out of the way.
  • nelnel Member Posts: 2,859 ■□□□□□□□□□

    The only thing i would say is go for it. I am currently two exams away from completing the NP DC. The DC technologies are very interesting imo. The biggest downside to the DC track is the lack of materials atm. I decided to take the track after getting involved in various flexpod installations at work. This gave me good exposure to the nexus 5k & 1K and UCS. I was lucky to have went on the Cisco UCS course at our local cisco office.

    I would recommend the following;

    1. Download the Cisco UCS emulator. You can do 90% of the tasks on here. However, there are some activities you cannot verify without equipment. Its great practice and exposure to UCS manager though. Fantastic resource.
    2. Read the configuration guides which coincide with your exam. I.e. Nexus 5k config guide, UCS manager config guide etc etc.
    3. Read the dc design documents on the Cisco CVD program for the DC zone.
    4. Read the deployment guides for the products.
    5. Get as much hands on as possible with your rack rentals. Use your time wisely. Get familiar with the UCS manager before using them. This will save alot of time. At first, UCS manager seemed all over the place but it will finally click and you realise its actually very well organised imo.
    6. If you are a Cisco partner, login with partner credentials to the Cisco PEC website. Within their lab section they have some GREAT free partner labs for the Nexus range. A great one is also the "UCS Sandbox" lab. This will allow you to build a flexpod system up from the barebones. The PEC website also has some very informative information.
    7. Buy the INE DC video track. Cant recommend these highly enough. Awesome Awesome informative videos. Dont rely on them as sole training but they are great for showing you how things are done and to give you a taste.
    8. Check out the reading list in this thread too -

    The DC track is pretty much split into two - UCS and then Nexus. I would recommend breaking them down and attacking them like that. I completed the UCS implementation and design exams first using the resources above. I then went back and completed the CCNA DC. I didnt study for the NA DC. The exams were very basic and a work colleague advised that i had more than enough experience to get through them via my work experience and UCS studies.

    I hope that helps. Ping me a message with anything else i can help with.
    Xbox Live: Bring It On

    Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
    WIP: Msc advanced networking
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    For those of you who are taking anything DC related - are you lucky enough to get hands on with actual equipment?

    We have got complete environments built on all sorts of Nexus goodies - I was even lucky enough to replace a line card once - Man those things are HUGE! I don't get to play around on the command line of those beauties much though. I believe we are supposed to be having a sandbox environment to play in but I haven't seen any sign of it yet.

    Anyway, on topic - I would say that if you are able to get the CCNP:DC done then go for it - great opportunity. I have thought once or twice about CCIE:DC because it combines all the technologies I love most - VMWare, networking and storage. Amazing qualification and I'd love to go do it. Not like I can go buy me some kit to play with though, so will have to get some rack rental time for that one :)

    But yes, go for it.
  • instant000instant000 Member Posts: 1,745
    nel said what I was going to say, check Zartanasaurus's thread.

    Also, nel said a lot more other useful things. Where's that +1 button?
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  • nelnel Member Posts: 2,859 ■□□□□□□□□□
    instant000 wrote: »
    nel said what I was going to say, check Zartanasaurus's thread.

    Also, nel said a lot more other useful things. Where's that +1 button?

    No worries.

    If it were me, i would go over the sandbox/pec/UCS simulator labs. Then you could use the rack tokens for your nexus studies to fill the gaps where the free resources dont cover very well.
    Xbox Live: Bring It On

    Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
    WIP: Msc advanced networking
  • IristheangelIristheangel CCIEx2 (Sec + DC), CCNP RS, CCNA V/S/R/DC, CISSP, CEH, MCSE 2003, A+/L+/N+/S+, and a lot more from m Pasadena, CAMod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    Thanks for the advice, Nel! I definitely copied it all down.

    Well, I guess I'm going to go for the CCNP Data Center this year instead of the Security track. I heard the same feedback about the CCNA DC exams so I'm not going to bother with them for now. I was looking through the Lammle 640-911 guide and it seemed like pretty simple stuff. I think I'll just work my way through the CCNP DC track and circle back when I'm done to wipe out the NA-level exams.

    I'm definitely a little nervous going into it without any real roadmap beyond the vague objectives and no official study guides as I won't know when I'm really "ready" to take any of the exams as opposed to others but I'll take everyone's advice. I already owned the NX-OS Second edition guide but I made sure to order the UCS Complete Reference Guide, I/O Consolidation in the Data Center, and Data Center Fundamentals.
    I downloaded a few design guides and the UCS simulator.

    I'm putting everything aside for now. In a month, I'm going to pick it all up and dig deep into it. I'll probably work on Nexus first since that's more relevant to my near-future and then swing back to get into UCS.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
  • nelnel Member Posts: 2,859 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Let me know how you get on and attack the nexus side. I am intrigued as that section is up next for me.

    One thing i should mention is remember to read things like datasheets etc too for the design exams. Dont rely solely on the CVDs. This plus a large amount of experience got me through the DCUCD exam. Also, the DC exams are still in their infancy, so dont let their lack of development defer you from continuing with the DC technologies. The technologies rock, the exams definitely do not! ha.
    Xbox Live: Bring It On

    Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
    WIP: Msc advanced networking
  • darkerzdarkerz Member Posts: 431 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Hey Iristheangel,

    I am working with 1000's of Nexus 2000, 3000, 5000 & 7000 devices in a design (CAPX/OPEX, CLOS or Traditional, etc. decisions facing VP level Directors and Engineers), implementations and operations role. If you need any base documentation, advice or visio's and breakdowns of "Why NX-OS" and best-use designs, feel free to PM me.

    Keep in touch,

  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Member Posts: 879
    Am I completely insane to be jumping into this before there are more training resources available to take these exams?

    Of course not. You are smart enough to learn this stuff directly from the documentation, plus, INE has training resources.
  • TBickleTBickle Member Posts: 110
    Coincidentally I was looking up similar info on DC last night. From what I've found, I'd say go with the CBT Nuggets CCNP DC Videos. I watched some free ones on his website, and was impressed. He doesn't joke around too much or go off on tangents like Jeremy, yet he keeps his enthusiasm for the material high. Also, there are a few free CCNP DC INE YouTube playlists floating around. I saw them in a thread yesterday but forgot to bookmark them. I'll update if I find them again.

    I'm at the tail end of studying for Route and had planned on taking it in a month until the company I work for bought our team at work a 1 week Nexus Boot camp. I looked at the syllabus yesterday and it says CCNP DC, so I figured why not take this opportunity to study hard for CCNA DC and CCNP DC while the bootcamp material is still fresh. We take the bootcamp in two weeks, so I'm using this time to go over all CCNA DC videos.

    Will you be taking CCNA DC first? It's two tests and the first test looks like it's all CCNA Topics, so that should be easy but the second test looks like it's all Data Center Fundamentals.
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