Cisco Systems Inc. specializes in networking and communications products and services. The company is probably best known for its business routing and switching products, which direct data, voice, and video traffic across networks around the world. However, Cisco also offers storage networking, applications for unified communications, telepresence and collaboration (WebEx), and an array of services from simple product support to complete solutions for data centers and cloud management.
To ensure that IT professionals have the skills and knowledge necessary to support Cisco products and solve customers’ technology problems on many fronts, the Cisco Career Certification program is all-embracing. That is, it begins at the entry level, then advances to associate, professional, and expert levels, and (in some certification areas) caps things off at the architect level.
Each level offers one or more credentials. Obtaining a credential usually involves passing one or more certification exams. Most Cisco exams are delivered by Pearson VUE. For higher-level credentials, candidates must also prove they meet necessary prerequisites. The higher the level of certification, the more credentials and prerequisites one needs to meet those requirements.
Certifications within Cisco’s portfolio include the following credentials:
There are many certifications and paths one can take in Cisco’s career program. That said, its two main paths cover network operation and network design. A typical Cisco networking certification ladder begins with the entry-level CCENT credential, moves up to the CCNA, onto the CCNP and culminates with the CCIE. The design-oriented might instead consider starting with the CCENT, moving up to the CCDA, then the professional-level CCDP, followed by the CCDE, and finish the program with the CCAr.
The Cisco Career Certification program also includes a number of specializations. These certifications acknowledge a professional’s skills in a specific Cisco technology, such as data center application services, voicemail and messaging or rich media. Cisco specializations are organized into two primary categories: one targeting technical certified and another targeting digital transformation specialists. Between these two categories, there are currently 15 specializations among which IT pros can choose.
The Technical Specialist category includes specializations across six subcategories:
Digital Transformation certified includes credentials geared to Business Architecture and Customer Success.
Achieving a specialist credential generally requires passing one or two exams. Some credentials also impose prerequisites.
Entry-, associate- and professional-level credentials are valid for three years, CCIE and specialist certifications are valid for two years and the CCAr is valid for five years. To keep certifications current, Cisco professionals need to recertify by passing a recertification exam or advancing to a higher level in Cisco’s certification hierarchy.
Cisco has two entry-level credentials: the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) and the Cisco Certified Technician (CCT). No prerequisites are needed to obtain either the CCENT or CCT credential, and candidates must pass a single exam to earn each credential.
CCENT certified professionals install, maintain and troubleshoot small networks or a branch of an enterprise network, and implement basic network security. The CCENT credential is a prerequisite for some associate-level CCNA solution track credentials and the CCDA.
CCTs work onsite at customer locations, diagnosing issues and repairing or replacing network-related equipment. A CCT can choose one of several specialty tracks, which currently includes Data Center and Routing and Switching.
Certification Exams Number of Questions Time to Complete CCENT 100-105 ICND1 45-55 90 minutes CCT Data Center 010-151 DCTECH 65-75 90 minutes CCT Routing & Switching 640-692 RSTECH 60-70 90 minutes
Cisco’s associate-level certifications include the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA). One must pass one or two certification exams to achieve a CCNA or CCDA credential, depending on the track you choose.
The CCNA recognizes basic skills in installing, supporting, and troubleshooting wired and/or wireless networks. One can choose from several tracks, including Cloud, Collaboration, Cyber Ops, Data Center, Industrial, Routing and Switching, Security, Service Provider and Wireless. The CCNA is a prerequisite for the professional-level CCNP certification. Prerequisites for the CCNA vary depending on the solution track chosen as do the number of required exams. All solution tracks require either one or two exams.
Cisco created the CCDA to identify individuals who can design basic wired and wireless networks, and incorporate security and voice solutions. The CCDA is a prerequisite for the CCDP certification. To obtain the CCDA, candidates must possess either a valid CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching (or any CCIE certification), and pass a single additional exam.
|Certification||Exams||Number of Questions||Time to Complete|
|CCDA||200-310 DESGN||55-65||75 minutes|
|CCNA Cloud||210-451 CLDFND||55-65||90 minutes|
|210-455 CLDADM||55-65||90 minutes|
|CCNA Collaboration||210-060 CICD||55-65||75 minutes|
|210-065 CIVND||55-65||75 minutes|
|CCNA Cyber Ops||210-250 SECFND||55-60||90 minutes|
|210-255 SECOPS||60-70||90 minutes|
|CCNA Data Center||200-150 DCICN||55-65||90 minutes|
|200-155 DCICT||65-75||120 minutes|
|CCNA Industrial||200-601 IMINS2||65-75||90 minutes|
|CCNA Routing and Switching**||200-125 CCNA||60-70||90 minutes|
|100-105 ICND1||45-55||90 minutes|
|200-105 ICND2||55-65||90 minutes|
|CCNA Security||210-260 IINS||60-70||90 minutes|
|CCNA Service Provider||640-875 SPNGN1||65-75||90 minutes|
|640-878 SPNGN2||65-75||90 minutes|
|CCNA Wireless||200-355 WIFUND||60-70||90 minutes|
**Candidates for the CCNA Routing and Switching may take exam 200-125 OR exam 100-105 plus 200-105.
Cisco’s professional-level credentials include two main programs: the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP). To obtain the CCDP, one must pass three certification exams and possess both the CCDA and CCNA Routing and Switching credentials or any Cisco CCIE or CCDE certification.
All CCNP solution tracks, except Routing and Switching, require candidates to pass four exams. Only three exams are required for the CCNP: Routing and Switching credential. Prerequisites for all CCNP solution tracks include either the lower-level CCNA credential or any CCIE credential. The CCNP: Service Provider credential also accepts the Cisco Certified Internet Professional (CCIP) credential as a prerequisite (which retired in 2012).
The CCNP credential recognizes professionals who plan, deploy, and troubleshoot local networks and wide area networks. The CCNP tracks are the same as those for the CCNA, except for Industrial and Cyber Ops, which are not offered in the CCNP track. The CCNP is recommended to climb up to the next step on the cert ladder – the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert.
The CCDP identifies proficiency in designing and deploying scalable networks and multilayer-switched networks. From the CCDP, you can move on to the Cisco Certified Design Expert.
|Certification||Exams||Number of Questions||Time to Complete|
|CCDP||300-101 ROUTE||45-65||120 minutes|
|300-115 SWITCH||30-40||120 minutes|
|300-320 ARCH||60-70||75 minutes|
|CCNP Cloud||300-460 CLDINF||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-465 CLDDES||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-470 CLDAUT||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-475 CLDACI||55-65||90 minutes|
|CCNP Collaboration||300-070 CIPTV1||65-75||75 minutes|
|300-075 CIPTV2||50-60||75 minutes|
|300-080 CTCOLLAB||55-65||75 minutes|
|300-085 CAPPS||55-65||75 minutes|
|CCNP Data Center**||300-175 DCUCI||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-165 DCII||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-170 DCVAI||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-160 DCID||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-180 DCIT||70-80||90 minutes|
|CCNP Routing and Switching||300-101 ROUTE||45-65||120 minutes|
|300-115 SWITCH||30-40||120 minutes|
|300-135 TSHOOT||15-25||120 minutes|
|CCNP Security||300-208 SISAS||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-206 SENSS||65-75||90 minutes|
|300-209 SIMOS||65-75||90 minutes|
|300-210 SITCS||65-75||90 minutes|
|CCNP Service Provider||642-883 SPROUTE||65-75||90 minutes|
|642-885 SPADVROUTE||65-75||90 minutes|
|642-887 SPCORE||65-75||90 minutes|
|642-889 SPEDGE||65-75||90 minutes|
|CCNP Wireless||300-360 WIDESIGN||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-365 WIDEPLOY||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-370 WITSHOOT||55-65||90 minutes|
|300-375 WISECURE||55-65||90 minutes|
**CCNP Data Center may take either the 300-160 or 300-180 exam.
Cisco’s expert-level credentials embrace two primary certifications: the coveted Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) and the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE). Neither certification imposes prerequisites, but one must pass a written exam and a rigorous practical exam to earn either of these credentials.
Beginning in July 2016, Cisco updated its expert-level exams to include an evolving technologies domain. This new domain targets cloud, network programmability and the IoT, and it accounts for 10 percent of the total exam score. Cisco may change the courses included in this domain to reflect emerging technologies as they reach strong enough commercial interest, potential and presence to make them examworthy. The company describes this mechanism as a way to help future-proof its certifications so that employers may assume that those who hold current credentials are also up to speed on important new networking technologies.
For many network-track professionals, achieving the CCIE is the highlight of their careers. A CCIE has expert technical skills and knowledge of Cisco network products and solutions in one of the CCIE technical tracks, which currently include Collaboration, Data Center, Routing and Switching, Security, Service Provider, and Wireless.
The CCDE identifies experts who design infrastructure solutions for large enterprise environments, which include technological, operational, business and budget aspects of a project.
For persons seeking positions such as network architect or data center architect, a smart move is to acquire the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) certification. The CCAr is like the Ph.D. of the Cisco Career Certification program – it’s the highest level of certification that Cisco offers. This credential validates the skills of a senior network infrastructure architect, someone who can plan and design IT infrastructures based on business strategies. Many people consider the CCAr the most difficult tech certification to achieve.
To earn the CCDE certification, you must design a network solution to implement an assigned strategy; then, you must appear before a Cisco-appointed panel to explain and defend that solution.
Cisco maintains a comprehensive list of training and self-study resources. These resources include various forms of online learning, practice exams, learning labs, links to which appear on each certification’s web page. The Cisco Learning Network offers candidates a free basic membership that includes access to exam topics, live seminars, IT training videos, study groups, forums, study materials and much more. The subscription-based Cisco Platinum Learning Library provides professionals with on-demand learning and access to more than 400 courses, hands-on vLabs, the support library, and more. Additional training materials are also available from Cisco Press.
The need for today’s organizations to share information, along with proliferation of high-speed broadband, has driven the global unified communications (UC) market for the past decade, if not longer. UC streamlines communications so that geologically-dispersed employees can interact digitally as if they’re in the same office, even if they’re located thousands of miles apart.
Centralized administration also makes UC popular with IT managers because it reduces the time and effort needed to support and secure corporate communications of all kinds. Because of a need for specialized skills to make large-scale UC implementations run their best, top UC vendors offer certifications to buttress and boost workforce capability and quality.
Simply Hired lists $91,623 as the average salary for a UC engineer’s role, with highest salaries reported at $139,737. Glassdoor lists UC salaries as high as $166,000 for senior and UC engineer positions. UC engineer salaries declined slightly from previous years with the average down from $94,354 to $91,623 (a dip of just under three percent). While this dip could just represent normal market fluctuations, it is a trend worth watching because we also observed a slight salary decrease last year.
We dug into various job boards to see how many UC jobs are available, specifically targeting jobs that called out one or more of our top five certifications: Avaya ACSS, CCIE Collaboration, CCNP Collaboration, IBM Sametime and MCSE: Productivity.
For IT professionals supporting Avaya products, the ACSS is a must-have credential. The company updated its certification programs in late 2015 and currently offers two separate professional certification tracks:
Sales and Design – this track offers three credentials:
Services – this track is aligned with Avaya engagement solutions and products, so you’ll see two flavors for some of the certifications depending on which solution track (product or engagement solution) is targeted. Avaya currently offers the following Services credentials:
The advanced-level ACSS cert targets more experienced Avaya practitioners both in support specialist and product specialist roles, covering 19 individual credentials. Candidates should possess technical skills sufficient to configure, install and administer Avaya products. Also, they should be well-versed in Avaya product maintenance, and in testing product implementations and troubleshooting issues. Successful candidates typically possess at least two years’ direct experience supporting Avaya products and four years working with the chosen Avaya technology. Each certification is valid for two years.
Requirements to obtain the ACSS certification depend on which credential one chooses to pursue. For information on prerequisite skills, curriculum maps, required training and the number of exams for individual credentials, visit Avaya’s credential program webpage. (Click the Services Credentials tab, then click on the ACSS button to view the full Catalog. Additional program information appears in the Avaya Professional Credential Program Overview.)
|Certification Name||Avaya Certified Solution Specialist (ACSS)|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||Minimum of 4 years’ experience in the relevant technology plus 2 years’ experience supporting the Avaya product. Training is required and available in multiple formats (classroom, virtual classroom and on-demand); depending on solution track. Expect to pay between $3,500 and $4,500 per classroom course, or $1,400 per 16-hour course, and $2,100 per 24-hour course in the virtual classroom or on-demand.|
|Number of Exams||One exam per credential|
|Cost of Exam||$125
Exams administered by Pearson VUE
Cisco offers its CCIE Collaboration certification, which identifies expert skills in unified communications, video and telecom. Only the cream of the crop earns the CCIE, and CCIE Collaboration is no exception.
The expert-level CCIE Collaboration credential recognizes seasoned collaboration and UC architects, as well as voice and video network managers, who design, deploy and troubleshoot enterprise collaboration solutions that are moderately to highly complex. Although the certification requires no prerequisites or specific training, Cisco designed the CCIE Collaboration for individuals with true expertise and lots of relevant experience (three to five years, minimum) with UC solution integration, configuration and troubleshooting.
Like other CCIE certs, the certification has a written qualification exam and a hands-on lab exam, both of which are rigorous and often take multiple attempts to pass. Cisco includes emerging technologies in its assessments. A great value-add available through the Cisco 360 Learning Program for CCIE Collaboration is remote access to an online environment that contains equipment to practice hands-on for the lab exam.
CCIE credential holders must recertify every two years or it will be suspended. It’s the responsibility of the credential holder to keep track of their individual recertification deadline. You can apply for a one-year extension to complete re-cert requirements, but if you miss that deadline, your certification is lost forever.
Recertification involves passing a single exam. Currently, acceptable recertification exams include any current CCIE written or lab exam, or a current CCDE written or practical exam. Credential holders may also recertify by passing the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview and board review. Alternatively, credential holders may recertify through participation in the Cisco Continuing Education Program (CEP). To recertify through the CEP, credential holders must earn 100 continuing education credits, pay a $300 administrative fee, and agree to CEP terms and conditions.
|Certification Name||Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Collaboration|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||No course prerequisites. In-depth understanding of exam courses plus three to five years of job experience recommended.|
|Number of Exams||Two exams: Written qualification exam (Exam 400-051 version 2.0: CCIE Collaboration), 90 to 110 questions, 120 minutes.
Hands-on lab exam (Version 2.0), 8 hours.
|Cost of Exam||Written exam: $450, exam 400-051
Lab exam: $1,600 per attempt
|Self-Study Materials||Written exam: The CCIE written exam website maintains a list of Cisco Press resources, reference and design guides, training, self-assessment tools, and more. Additional self-study resources are available from the Cisco Learning Network Store.
CCIE Lab Exam: The Cisco Learning Network maintains a list of self-study resources for the CCIE lab exam.
CCIE Practice Exam: Udemy offers a practice exam with weekly-updated mock test as the final prep for the CCIE.
The intermediate-level CCNP Collaboration recognizes network engineers who are well versed in Cisco Voice and UC devices and applications in enterprise networks.
Four exams are required to qualify for the CCNP Collaboration credential. A certified candidate designs, implements, configures, manages and troubleshoots Cisco UC applications, networks and devices. Candidates should have in-depth knowledge of all facets of unified networking, including gateways, IP phones, quality of service (QoS), voice, video and presence applications, and utilities for configuring Cisco routers and switches, in addition to one to three years’ experience with these technologies.
Training is recommended but not required. Cisco offers in-depth training courses, both in the classroom and online, for each exam. Depending on the training provider, classroom live and virtual classroom live courses cost approximately $3,795, while online self-paced courses start at about $1,100. Training courses typically last five days.
The CCNP Collaboration, like all Cisco professional-level certifications, requires recertification every three years. To recertify, you must pass one Cisco exam before your cert’s expiration date. Acceptable exams include any current 642-XXX professional-level exam, any 300-XXX professional-level exam, any CCIE written exam, any CCDE written or practical exam, or passing the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview and board review.
The intermediate-level IBM Sametime administrator credential aims at systems administrators with existing skills and hands-on experience in IBM Sametime 9.0. Candidates must understand architectural considerations when running IBM Sametime within an IBM WebSphere environment. They must also demonstrate their knowledge of Sametime deployment and audio/video configuration within Sametime, along with management, troubleshooting, performance monitoring and optimization techniques.
The certification requires candidates to pass a 78-question multiple-choice exam, to be completed in no more than 105 minutes. IBM emphasizes the need for hands-on experience before tackling this exam, stating that “direct application of the skills learned cannot be substituted” with any of the self-study materials. The exam measures a candidate’s knowledge of task performance rather than memorization of features and functions.
In addition to the Certified System Administrator credential, IBM also offers two related certifications:
The IBM Certified System Administrator – IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5 credential is still available for those working in Lotus Sametime 8.5 environments.
While IBM certifications are evergreen and don’t expire, the same cannot be said for technology. Credential holders should plan to move up and recertify on new technology as it becomes available.
|Certification Name||IBM Certified System Administrator – Sametime V9.0|
|Prerequisites||Basic IBM Sametime administration knowledge plus hands-on experience with IBM Sametime V9.0|
|Number of Exams||One exam: Exam C2040-413: IBM Sametime 9.0 Administration (78 questions, 105 minutes, 52 questions required to pass)|
|Cost of Exam||$200. Exams administered by Pearson VUE.|
|Self-Study Materials||IBM maintains a list of exam objectives, Technotes, product documentation and web resources for the exam. Also, candidates can purchase a web-based sample/practice exam (number A2040-413 Assessment: IBM Sametime 9.0 Administration) from Pearson VUE for $30.|
The MCSE: Productivity certification targets professionals supporting enterprise-grade hybrid and cloud solutions for Microsoft Office. Key technologies include Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Office, Exchange, Skype for Business and SharePoint.
To obtain the MCSE: Productivity credential, candidates must first obtain the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Office 365, MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or MCSA Windows Server 2016 certification. Then, they must pass one additional exam from an approved list. Currently, there are eight different exams to choose from. In addition, Microsoft recommends three to four years of experience.
The Microsoft Certification Program underwent extensive changes in September 2016. Once you earn one of the latest MCSE credentials, you do not have to recertify within three years as was the case in the past. However, by passing an elective exam each calendar year, you add an entry to your transcript that indicates your commitment to staying current on technologies and expanding your skillset.
|Certification Name||Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Productivity|
|Prerequisites & Required Courses||MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or MCSA Windows Server 2016 certification
Three or more years of experience recommended.
|Number of Exams||Candidates must pass one of the following exams:
Exam 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
Exam 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
Exam 70-333: Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015
Exam 70-334: Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
Exam 70-331: Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
Exam 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
Exam 70-341: Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
Exam 70-342: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
|Cost of Exam||$165 per exam. Exams administered by Pearson VUE.|
|Self-Study Materials||Microsoft provides links to training, practice exams by third-party vendors such as Mindhub and MeasureUp, case studies, exam study groups and more. Links to community support forums and other resources are listed on each exam web page. Microsoft also offers various training options through its Microsoft Official Courses On-Demand (MOC On-Demand) program.|
The UC certification landscape is not as crowded as the pool of general networking certs or the increasingly popular cloud and mobile credentials, but UC is on the rise nonetheless. In fact, traditional UC is increasingly offered through the cloud, forcing certifications to take on a new flavor to accommodate the latest technologies and techniques.
In addition to the top five certs covered in this article, many colleges and universities offer courses in unified communications or certificate programs aimed at workforce training. Note that most of those programs incorporate Cisco equipment and applications. Other programs are available, though. We conducted a simple Google search that revealed several interesting choices, including the Information Technology: Network Specialist Concentration at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Another consideration is Mitel Networks. Although the company doesn’t offer its own IT career certifications as of this writing, Gartner considers Mitel one of the leaders in the UC market, and the company name appears in job board searches for “unified communications” with great frequency. That means there’s an abundance of open positions that call for Mitel experience and/or knowledge. When evaluating UC certifications, and especially certificate programs through colleges or universities, consider if the required skills and knowledge might transfer to a job working with Mitel technology.
[Video: Cisco's Robbins Compelled To Fire Back At Nutanix]
Partners: Leaba Semiconductor Acquisition Gives Cisco Competitive Edge In R&D
Cisco is acquiring networking chip designer Leaba Semiconductor for $320 million, a move channel partners say will give Cisco a competitive advantage in research and development.
CRN Exclusive: Cisco's Wendy Bahr Talks Dell-EMC, Digitization And What To Expect At Partner Summit
Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr gives CRN an exclusive look into what channel partners should expect heading into Cisco Partner Summit 2016 in San Diego next week.
Cisco Security Exec: Vendors Like Palo Alto, FireEye Are Selling 'Legacy Technology'
Cisco plans to transform the security marketplace with a holistic approach, saying competitors can no longer effectively compete with the networking leader.
10 Moneymaking Opportunities For Cisco Partners From Its New DNA
Cisco is offering channel partners an array of professional services with the launch of its new service-centric Digital Network Architecture. Here are 10 ways to make money springing from DNA.
Cisco Launches The Next Evolution Of Its Partner Strategy
Cisco channel chief Wendy Bahr unveiled at Cisco Partner Summit 2016 the next evolution of the company's channel partner strategy with the launch of new software roles, digital marketing services and a simplification of its VIP program.
Partners Applaud Cisco's Launch Of 'Incredible' New Line Of Nexus Switches, Software
Cisco revealed a new line of 'future-proof' Nexus switches armed with its ASIC technology at Cisco Partner Summit 2016.
Cisco Snapping Up CliQr For $260 Million To Better Manage Hybrid Clouds
Cisco is acquiring cloud management vendor CliQr to bring an orchestration layer to its data center portfolio.
Cisco Giving Partners More Firepower To Win Deals, Launches UCS Promotion Against HPE Servers
Cisco is upping its game when it comes to better enabling channel partners to win competitive deals in the sales trenches, such as against HPE in the server market.
15 Scenes From Cisco Partner Summit You Need To See
Reminiscing about a rappin' CEO, a story about a shoeshine from an airline owner, sipping morning cocktails and hanging out at a hippie blowout. CRN captured some of the memorable moments and off-the-wall happenings onstage and behind the scenes at this year's Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego.
CRN Exclusive: Cisco's New CTO Explains His Technology Road Map And Why Partners Should Focus On Containers
'There's a fantastic opportunity' for Cisco and its partners, said Zorawar Biri Singh of Cisco's vision to build a container-friendly stack, among other technology goals for the networking giant.
Rick Snyder: Cisco Is Opening Account Planning Data To Channel
Cisco's Americas channel chief talked about the new Cisco Ready For Partner Account Planning tool, which will soon be released to the channel, at the Cisco Partner Summit.
Cisco CEO Robbins Talks Nutanix, InterCloud, Open Compute Project And The Biggest Partner Summit Takeaways
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins took questions at the 2016 Cisco Partner Summit and sounded off on Nutanix, the channel takeaway from Partner Summit and the difference between himself and former CEO John Chambers.
Cisco Systems CEO Fires Back At Nutanix, Defends Track Record Entering New Tech Markets
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has heard startup Nutanix's trash talk about his new hyper-converged infrastructure offering, but insists Cisco has had a good track record when making big bets on new technology.
Cisco Launches New Digital Architecture That Will 'Change The DNA Of The Channel'
Cisco is significantly changing its enterprise networking model from hardware to a software, service-centric approach with the launch of its new Digital Network Architecture (DNA) unveiled at Cisco Partner Summit 2016.
Cisco Teams With Startup Springpath, Sets Sights On Total Dominance Of The Hyper-Convergence Market
Cisco may be late to the red-hot hyper-convergence market, but now it's in the game with a new partnership with startup Springpath and an offering it says is the fastest out there.
Startup Nutanix To Cisco: Welcome To Hyper-Convergence Market, Good Luck Catching Up With Us
Hyper-convergence startup Nutanix has responded to Cisco's entry to its turf, pointing out that Cisco has a checkered past when it comes to entering new technology markets.
&#151; -- Cisco Systems wants to turn the enterprise data network into an electricity meter.
Using open standards, the company wants to get server and storage vendors to collect and share information about their equipment and send it to Cisco routers and switches. The data could include power consumption, operating temperature and more. It's becoming a critical job, and because the network touches all IT resources across the enterprise, data collection should happen there, according to Paul Marcoux, vice president of green engineering.
Marcoux joined Cisco from American Power Conversion only about six weeks ago, after Cisco created the position to overlook energy issues across all parts of the company. Networking gear itself makes up a much smaller portion of IT power consumption than do servers or storage, but Cisco plans to go beyond just making its own products more efficient.
Power is a growing issue in data centers as the cost of energy rises and concerns about global climate change increase. Being able to collect and analyze information about power usage is a big part of the battle and becoming more crucial in the age of virtualization, according to Marcoux. Distributing storage and processing cycles without regard for power issues is not just inefficient, it's dangerous, he said.
If virtualization software looks at a process that requires more computing power or storage space, then enlists servers or storage devices that are near to overheating or running out of power, it could send a rack of servers over the edge and shut it down, Marcoux said. For that reason, the virtualization system needs to know the power status of all the resources it may call upon, he said.
By the same token, consolidated data centers typically serve many departments of an enterprise and consume a lot of power, but those groups generally don't have to pay for their part of the power. In fact, the electricity bill often bypasses even the IT department, going to building management instead, Marcoux said. Collecting data about the power consumed by each device, and eventually by individual transactions, would allow enterprises to bill each department for the power it uses, he said.
Software on routers and switches would collect the information and then take actions or forward it on to separate building management, energy management or virtualization control systems, Marcoux said. Given the large amount of energy data to be processed, Cisco may introduce daughtercards for its platforms to provide extra computing power, he said. He hopes the technology will be in place and collecting information in enterprises within three years.
Because data centers contain gear from so many vendors, open standards are the only way to make such a system work, according to Cisco. Fortunately, there already are several available standards, Marcoux said. Having standards already in place will help speed up adoption, Marcoux said.
"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're just trying now to utilize the wheel," Marcoux said.
Cisco's proposal would represent a whole new role for networks beyond communications, said Burton Group analyst Dave Passmore. Server vendors might go along with the plan, but Cisco can't count on smooth sailing, he said. Centralized power regulation would play a role in overall management of the data center, an area where Cisco is attempting to make inroads with other initiatives as well.
"Who controls virtualization in the data center is going to be the new battleground," Passmore said.
As the demands and realities of hybrid work start to become more apparent, companies are beginning to face new issues. In particular, there’s growing recognition of the many challenges that organizations are going to face as they begin to integrate more combinations of in-house and remote workers. In short, things were much easier when virtually everyone was remote, but they’re about to get a lot harder.
A big part of the problem has to do with the existing installed base of videoconferencing equipment that companies have within their meeting and conference rooms. The vast majority of the equipment is dedicated and will only work with a single collaboration software package—in many cases, it’s for the quickly disappearing Skype platform.
Recognizing this challenge, Cisco and Google have come together in a major new partnership to offer interoperability for their respective conference room hardware and collaboration software tools. Specifically, as of Q4, you’ll be able to seamlessly join Cisco’s Webex meetings directly from Google Meet hardware (including some intriguing new options that were just introduced today). Conversely, you be able to join Google Meet meetings from Cisco’s line of Webex hardware.
On the one hand, it’s easy to argue that this type of collaboration for the sake of collaboration was absolutely essential, because using multiple videoconferencing tools has become the accepted norm. As the two companies pointed out in a pre-briefing on the announcement, even organizations that have picked one or the other as their corporate standard will almost certainly run into situations where customers and/or partners will be using a different platform. Having room-based hardware that only supports a single platform, therefore, is quickly becoming an untenable option.
Still, it is impressive to see Google and Cisco overcome not only the technical hurdles necessary to make their systems interoperate, but the competitive challenges that these types of co-opetition arrangements inevitably raise. Of course, what we really need is hardware that can also integrate with Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but this is a very important first step towards cross-platform interoperability that I’m sure (or, at least, strongly hope!) will be replicated many times over in the coming months.
What’s particularly noteworthy about this announcement is that the companies moved well beyond simple sharing of audio and video streams. Cisco and Google worked to incorporate many critical hardware-based capabilities, including things like automatically muting of extraneous audio, blurring backgrounds, leveraging automatic camera zooming tools to the current speaker, and much more. Even more interestingly, on the software side, they thought through details like overlaying Webex-style controls during Google Meet meetings if you join from a Cisco device and vice versa if you join from a Google hardware device into a Webex meeting. They’ve also made the ability to join meetings with a single touch work seamlessly across either platform. While these details may seem somewhat subtle, they reflect how the companies want to leverage the comfort that their existing users have with their method of operation, while still offering the ability to connect to other platforms. In my mind, that’s a very nice touch.
On top of that, the companies were also able to integrate some of the native capabilities of one platform into another. For example, the voice-based assistants that each platform offers natively, such as Webex Voice Assistant and Hey Google, can be used while connecting to meetings on the other platform. To be sure, there’s more work to be done, especially in areas like leveraging add-on whiteboarding and other collaboration software tools that extend the capabilities of these platforms. Still, it’s clear that the two companies are dedicated to addressing issues over time.
Another interesting implication of this collaboration has to do with the overall philosophy and approach that will be needed to certain interoperability in the future. For a while, many in the industry have discussed the need to coordinate or federate communications across platforms at the server or cloud level. With this announcement, however, the focus is shifting towards an endpoint-based solution that can interoperate with existing server and cloud-based tools. How this ultimately works out remains to be seen, but it certainly does appear to be a significant step in a new direction.
As mentioned earlier, alongside this announcement, Google also debuted some new Google Meet hardware devices. The Google Series One Desk 27 is Google’s standalone hardware solution, incorporating a 27” high-resolution QVGA (2,560 x 1,440) touch-capable display, along with a 2,560 x 1,920 resolution webcam with a 100° field of view, built-in soundbar and adjustable stand. Priced at $1,999, the Desk 27 also features multiple USB-C ports, allowing it to also be utilized as a second monitor for a laptop or other PC. The company’s new integrated display room solution is the $6,999 Series One Board 65, which incorporates a 4K resolution 65” touch-capable display, a 4K, 12 MegaPixel camera, a stereo sound bar and similar USB-C connectivity. Both devices come with styli for easier whiteboarding support with the integrated JamBoard software, and include autoframing of the video, voice-based operation with Hey Google, and automatic noise removal, among other capabilities. All told, it’s an impressive set of offerings that puts Google on par with some of the best videoconferencing hardware from Cisco and Microsoft.
Leveraging multiple videoconferencing tools on PCs has become second nature for virtually everyone that has worked remotely, but as more employees start to return to the office, the need to make the room-based tools equally simple to interoperate across platforms is quickly going to become critical. As a result, it’s great to see Cisco and Google come together to take this important first step in improving hybrid work collaboration. While there are more companies that need to be involved and more work that needs to be done, this looks to be a great first effort.
Disclosure: TECHnalysis Research is a tech industry market research and consulting firm and, like all companies in that field, works with many technology vendors as clients, some of whom may be listed in this article.
Ahead of the end of the tech giant’s fiscal 2023, Cisco has issued more layoff notices to employees as part of its effort to ‘rebalance’ its investment priorities, the company tells CRN. Reports from Cisco employees say the layoffs span several business units, including collaboration, security and data center.
Cisco Systems reportedly began cutting jobs across some of its biggest business segments this week, according to a flurry of posts on TheLayoff.com and Blind, a tech career-focused message board.
The number of employees being let go is unclear and the layoffs began Monday, Blind said in an email to CRN, citing reports from Verified former and current Cisco employees.
Cisco in November said that it would lay off approximately 4,000 employees, or about 5 percent of its workforce, and reduce some of its real estate in an effort to right-size some of its business units, including the collaboration segment. The tech giant told CRN that the latest layoff notifications are part of the November rebalancing effort.
“As we announced then, this is not about cost savings as we have roughly the same number of employees as we did before the process began. This rebalancing is about prioritizing investments in our transformation to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations in the changing technology landscape. We will continue to do everything we can to help place affected employees in open roles and offer extensive support including generous severance packages,” a Cisco spokesperson told CRN in an email.
[Related: Cohesity Expands Cloud Services Reach Through Cisco, HPE Partnerships ]
The reported job cuts are across a variety of business segments, including collaboration; security; data center services and solutions; servers, or the company’s Unified Computing System (UCS) division; and Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) group, Blind told CRN.
Cisco, for its part, did not confirm to CRN which business units were being impacted..
Cisco’s last round of layoffs occured in January when the company revealed that it was cutting 673 jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of its plan to maximize cost savings announced in 2022. The company at the time eliminated 371 jobs at its San Jose location, 222 jobs in Milpitas and 80 in San Francisco, with the majority of the layoffs impacting software engineers, technical engineers, hardware engineers, product managers and supervisors, according to Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications filed with the state of California in January.
Cisco is expected to report its full fiscal year 2023 earnings on Aug. 16.
NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / July 26, 2023 / Cisco Systems Inc.
As a global tech leader with more than 83,000 employees across 95 countries, it is critical for Cisco to operate in a way that protects human rights; facilitates diversity, inclusion, and equitable opportunity; empowers vulnerable communities; and protects the planet.
Our holistic approach to environmental sustainability includes how we operate our business, how we engage with suppliers, and how we help customers and communities reduce their environmental impacts and adapt to a changing world.
Today, the world is more connected than ever before, but we're suffering from new forms of disconnection: from each other, from our health, and from the health of the planet.
As a company, we're committed to leveraging our unique strengths to power an inclusive future for all. But we can't have any kind of future if we don't have a healthy planet. That's why we're focusing on not just a sustainable future, but a regenerative one. Regeneration means moving beyond a "doing no harm" mindset to one in which we build the capacity of our social and environmental systems to heal and thrive.
Earth just had its hottest June on record. If we don't limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5° Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, we will face dramatic consequences, as natural disasters such as floods, more severe and frequent weather events, longer and more severe droughts, and food shortages can be exacerbated by a changing climate.
How do we limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C? In short, the world must reach zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. If that sounds hard, it's because it will be. But the science says we can get there if we act now and act with urgency.
We must build a sustainable future: one in which we can phase out our reliance on fossil fuels, address a century's worth of pollution, provide economic opportunity to communities around the world, and align our activities with the physical boundaries of our Earth.
We believe that future is possible, and Cisco can help get us there. We have a plan:
It is possible to power the world with affordable clean energy, so we are helping to digitize smart grids and smart buildings.
It is possible to design out waste, so we are re-building products from used ones.
It is possible to strengthen nature with technology, so we are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to protect the world's biodiversity.
This is The Plan for Possible, Cisco's next generation environmental sustainability strategy.
The progress we make in this decade will be critical for future generations. We're aligning our environmental strategy to rise to this challenge.
Priority 1: Transition to clean energy
To power the world with renewables, the grid requires updated digital infrastructure to connect diverse, decentralized sources of clean energy. But even as the world electrifies, we must simultaneously reduce the amount of energy used by a connected economy. As a part of this priority, we've also set a goal to reach Net Zero across our value chain by 2040, which includes both our supplier and our customer use of energy.
How we'll do it:
Lead in energy efficiency innovation
Connect clean energy and digitize the grid
Collaborate with our customers, partners, and suppliers to accelerate the energy transition
Examples of where we've already made an impact:
Priority 2: Evolve the business to circular
Now is the time to transition from an economy that extracts resources and eventually wastes them, to a circular one which finds new uses for products and their inputs. We aim to transform our business to extend the useful life of our products and provide ongoing services.
How we'll do it:
Adopt and scale business models to extend the value of our products and reduce environmental impacts
Invest in technology incubation to be at pace with environmental science
Champion a digital, nature-positive value chain leveraging our role as one of the largest telecom device companies in the world
Examples of where we've already made an impact:
Incorporating circular design principles into 100 percent of new products and packaging by 2025
Offering the Cisco Takeback and Reuse Program, which lets customers return hardware that has reached end-of-use, at no cost.
Creating the Green Pay circular IT payment solution, increasing value for our customers and our resale business
Remanufacturing devices through Cisco Refresh to give them a new life for our business and planet
Priority 3: Invest in resilient ecosystems
Thriving economies depend on stable environments and inclusive societies. Our value chains benefit from resilient ecosystems, both financial and ecological. It is in our shared interest to help humans and nature navigate a changing climate by investing in regenerative technologies, workforces, and nature itself.
How we'll do it:
Enable communities to adapt to climate realities
Cultivate skills and talent for the regenerative economy
Deploy Cisco technology to protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity
Harness artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, and blockchain to advance regenerative models, powered by energy-efficient infrastructure
Examples of where we've already made an impact:
Powering Vibrant Planet's Data Commons platform to better manage local land use and plan for risks like wildfires**
Enhancing London's Canary Wharf with a connected landscape to optimize the space for engaging with nature
Providing analysis capabilities for Vesta to optimize placement of its low-energy carbon sequestration**
Supporting Kara Solar in training Indigenous peoples in the Amazon to build and operate solar-powered boats**
Powering possible with enhanced governance
We are embedding sustainability into the way we operate. We intend to stay aligned with the pace of science while ensuring support from the entire organization. The holistic pursuit of equity and sustainability is the only path forward that allows us to maintain the public's trust in our values.
By pursuing what's possible, we can accelerate the transition into the digital age while maintaining the health of the planet - and a climate future we all need and desire for future generations to come.
Visit our ESG Reporting Hub for more details on our environmental initiatives.
* We have a goal that 80% of Cisco component, manufacturing, and logistics suppliers by spend have a public, absolute GHG emissions reduction target by FY25. We are at 78% as of FY22.
**Cisco Foundation initiative
View original content here.
View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Cisco Systems Inc. on 3blmedia.com.
Spokesperson: Cisco Systems Inc.
SOURCE: Cisco Systems Inc.
View source version on accesswire.com: