The Cisco CCNP Data Center certification is aimed at proving your skills in dealing with data center solutions. Candidates opting for this designation should have at least 3 years of experience of using data center solutions and pass two exams. The first is a core exam coded as 350-601 checks how knowledgeable you are of data center infrastructure. The second exam is called concentration which you are to choose from the pool offered by the vendor and each of them is dedicated to an industry-specific topic.
The core evaluation is known as Implementing and Operating Cisco Data Center Core Technologies (DCCOR) or simply 350-601 DCCOR. It’s a 2-hour exam that validates your knowledge to apply core data technologies, which include network, storage network, compute, automation, and security. The exam is priced at $400 and is also associated with the Cisco Certified Specialist - Data Center Core certification which you gain at once and serves as qualifying exam for taking the CCIE lab evaluation and getting the CCIE Data Center designation.
Exam 350-601 falls into 5 domains each of them is focused on a definite topic and checks specific skills. So, be ready to demonstrate your skills related to network in the domain. This part requires from you to be confident in using routing protocols, switching protocols, overlay protocols, and ACI concepts. You also should be able to analyze packet flow, deployment models, and Cloud service. Your skills to describe software updates, utilize network configuration management and infrastructure monitoring will also be measured.
The second domain is about compute. In this section, you should demonstrate your skills to deal with Cisco Unified Compute System Blade Chassis and Cisco Unified Compute System Rack Servers. Thus, you should be knowledgeable of VLANs, templates, QoS, SAN connectivity, WWN pools, Server pools, SAN policies, and boot policies. In addition, you should be able to explain both HyperFlex Infrastructure concepts and benefits, describe firmware & software updates, use compute configuration management and infrastructure monitoring.
The third domain is focused on storage network. Your skills to implement all the components of the Fibre Channel will be checked, such as port channels, FCID, CFS, FCNS, VSAN, zoning, device alias, NPV and NPIV, and switch fabric initialization. Besides, you should demonstrate how proficient you are in applying FCoE Unified Fabric along with infrastructure monitoring, describing NAS and NFS concepts, as well as software updates.
The fourth section deals with automation. In this part, your skill to use scripting and automation tools, such as scheduler, REST API, JSON and XML coding, EEM, and scheduler will be checked. Your skills to assess orchestration and automation technologies, which imply Puppet, Python, POAP, Ansible, DCNM, UCSD, PowerShell will also be examined.
The fifth section is dedicated to security. This section evaluates your skills to apply network security, implement compute security, and utilize storage security. For that purpose, you should demonstrate your competence in applying AAA, RBAC, CoPP, keychain, port security and fabric binding.
The second exam one has to choose from the pool of the 6 evaluations offered. The code depends on the specific skills you need to gain. Thus, if your goal is to be able to design Cisco Data Center infrastructure, you need to opt for the 300-610 exam, to troubleshoot Cisco Data Center infrastructure – 300-615, to apply Cisco Application Centric infrastructure – 300-620, to configure Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches – 300-625, to utilize Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure – Advanced – 300-630, to implement Automation for Cisco Data Center Solutions – 300-635. Each exam will bring you a specialist-level accreditation. For example, 300-610 will bring you the Cisco Certified Specialist - Data Center Design designation, the 300-620 evaluation - Cisco Certified Specialist - Data Center ACI Implementation. As for the exams details, each of them lasts for 90 minutes and costs $300.
Being Cisco CCNP Data Center certified professional means that you possess the most relevant and solid skills in the chosen area, and can earn annually about $79,760.