Cisco is launching two comprehensive, role-based certifications that will address the increasing convergence of features within the company's unified communications and collaboration products.
While current certifications focus only on voice and video, the new programs will take a much broader approach, covering mobile applications and the latest collaboration tools that combine chat and instant messaging with voice and video calling.
The new certifications, called the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Collaboration and the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Collaboration, will add the skills companies need to deploy the latest unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) tools, according to Cisco.
The changes show Cisco recognizes that IT staff needs to learn how to handle the growing complexity in UC&C deployments if companies are to reap the most value out of the tools, IDC analyst Cushing Anderson said.
"Cisco is offering up its own connections between all its separate collaboration pieces for businesses," he said.
The latest certifications are available to first-time applicants, as well as professionals with CCNA or CCNP certifications in voice and video. Certification requires passing exams that cover voice, video, data and mobile application implementation, configuration and troubleshooting in on-premises and cloud-based deployments.
Cisco plans to eventually roll all its UC&C certifications into the two new ones. Study materials for a CCNA Collaboration certificate are available now, with the CCNP materials expected to become available in the third quarter. Candidates must be CCNA-certified before becoming eligible for a CCNP certificate.
The current CCNA Voice and Video certifications and the CCNP Voice credential are slated to be retired in August and in the fall, respectively, said Antonella Corno, senior manager of marketing for Cisco.
Evolving collaboration training
The changes in the certification process are more about adjusting focus than changing content, said Tejas Vashi, Cisco's director of marketing and product management. The latest certifications are more helpful to enterprise engineers implementing, configuring, deploying and troubleshooting both simple and advanced Cisco collaboration and communication infrastructures.
"We see this need for consolidation, as well as the need for an IT staff that really understands the bigger collaboration picture," Vashi said.
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