UPDATE: Despite what I was told before, my CCDE plaque arrived today! Here it is –
Oh boy, here we go… More speculation on the state of Cisco? No. More WAAS team rumors? Negative. SDN strategy? Nope… So what news could be bigger than all of that? Nothing that you’ll read in this post, but apparently you no longer receive a plaque when you achieve CCDE. What has long been the icing on the cake for candidates that pass any CCIE track, and more recently its expert level counterpart for design, is something that new CCDEs will not receive.
Let me start by saying that I am still absolutely thrilled about passing the CCDE, and I’m ok with just receiving a number and certificate, but… What!? No plaque? When did this happen and why? I contacted Cisco Certification Support to confirm, and sure enough, they said that “only CCIE certifications provide plaques.” I also checked ‘Certification Fulfillment’ in the tracking system, and it basically indicates that plaques are just for CCIE. Sure, not a big deal and I’ll get over it, but I’m just trying to figure out the logic here.
I do know that CCDEs did receive plaques at one point in time, but I’m not exactly sure at what point that changed. CCDE is equivalent to CCIE “in terms of difficulty and expertise,” and both are expert level certifications on Cisco’s certification pyramid, but plaques are now only for CCIEs? There are ~70 CCDEs in the world since 2007, so you can’t really make the argument that it was done to save costs. I’m at a loss… Say it ain’t so, Cisco! <–they said it ain't so!
Anyway, I also wanted to take the opportunity to once again say to go out there and take v2 of the Practical Exam. I'm glad that I don't have to take it again, but I thought that it was very well written, and (in a sick way) I enjoyed taking it. I've posted about how I prepared, but you basically just have to go and take it. Practice scenarios would be a useful tool to prepare, but other than that, you just need to register and go take a shot at the “brain game.”
I know that there are a lot of concerns about ROI, but I can confirm that there is value to obtaining the cert. It was motivation for me all along to be recognized worldwide as one of the few certified network infrastructure design experts. My employer recognized how big of an accomplishment it was, and that’s always nice. I know people want to see jobs requiring CCDE, and maybe even new channel requirements, and I think we’ll see that as people get certified and CCDE becomes more widely recognized and respected.
Cisco has gone to great lengths to protect the cert as well. The practical is only offered 3-4 times a year, and only in Pearson Professional Centers. Content is continuously being developed for the exam, although I don’t see how it would even be possible to “dump” the practical. It devalues a cert when people are able to cheat their way to achieving it, so I applaud Cisco for their efforts there.
I also love the fact that the cert is vendor neutral, which will also be important as we enter into this new and exciting age of networking. It doesn’t matter if you work with Cisco products or not. The exam tests design and analytical skills, so there are no products or command lines to master. There is not even a mention of any Cisco product on the exam. The exam was designed to be “timeless.” Design skills are and will continue to be very important as networks continue to evolve.