So you want to get your CCNP Collaboration Certification. Maybe you need to get it for work, or you need the certification to earn a promotion. Regardless of the reason for wanting to attain the certification, it can be a challenge. Sure, you could probably download some “practice” tests, memorize them, and you might even pass the tests. But, can you do the work when you get the promotion or that new job?
Don’t be the person with the “paper” CCNP. Spend the time required to thoroughly learn the topics. It will take dedication and more than a couple of hours to learn all that will be tested in the two to four exams.
What is involved in getting the new CCNP Collaboration Certification?
In previous versions of the CCNP Voice and, later, CCNP Collaboration, you had to take up to seven tests. Depending on the version of the certification, you might need one of the CCNA Routing and Switching tests (ICND1), one to two CCNA Voice or Collaboration tests (most recently CIVND2 and CICD), and four CCNP tests (CIPTV1, CIPTV2, CAPPS, and CTCOLLAB). Sounds like fun, right?
The CCNA Collaboration Certification was a pre-requisite of the CCNP Collaboration. While you could take the tests in any order, you would not earn the CCNP until you passed the CCNA tests. Starting February 2020, Cisco introduced new certification tracks for all technologies. After listening to customers, employers, and prospective certificate earners, Cisco changed the entire structure of the certification process.
In the case of the CCNP Collaboration, the student only needs to pass two tests to become CCNP Collaboration certified. You have to pass a core examination and a concentration exam. The concentration exams are also sometimes referred to as electives. The routing and switching content and the CCNA Collaboration content are no longer tested. One huge caveat to that last statement is you still need to know the content of those courses/tests, but the exams are no longer required to earn a CCNP Collaboration.
The core exam, Implementing and Operating Cisco Collaboration Core Technologies (CLCOR), is focused on the “core” fundamentals required to create a functioning communications system. It covers architecture, design, Call Control, endpoints such as phones and video devices, gateways, dial plans, Quality of Service (QoS), and applications. In the past, these topics would have been part of the CIPTV1 and CIPTV2 courses.
Once you feel confident you have mastered the content, you can test yourself by paying Cisco to take the 350-801 examination. You also need to pass at least one elective or concentration exam. There are four available.
CLICA – Implementing Cisco Collaboration Applications. As the name might clue you in, this course and texam are all about the topics you can add to your core system to give you more abilities. Topics such as Single Sign-On (SSO), Cisco Unity Connection, IM and Presence, and the router-based Cisco Unity Express. The test you need to take is 300-810. If you want to understand the applications that are commonly activated with Cisco Unified Communications Manager, this course will allow you to become familiar with those products.
CLACCM – Implementing Cisco Advanced Call Control and Mobility Solutions. This course prepares you to take the 300-815 test. If your goal is to support mainly the core Cisco Unified Communications Manager, this course will teach you the advanced topics for the Cisco Unified Communications Manager. These include Globalized Dial Plan, Global Dial Plan Replication (think of this as a routing protocol for voice), Cisco Unified Mobility (aka Single Number Reach), Extension Mobility (Hoteling), and Device Mobility (updating your device’s settings if you change your physical location). Other topics include URI dialing, Call Admission Control (CAC), the router-based Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, SRST, Cisco Unified Border Element, Call Coverage, and Time of Day routing.
If that seems like a lot, you would be correct. This course and test cover all the advanced topics related to Cisco Unified Communications Manager. I would not recommend this test for someone new to Cisco Unified Communications Manager. I would highly recommend you spend some time working on the system before attempting this exam.
CLCEI – Implementing Cisco Collaboration Cloud and Edge Solutions. CLCEI is a new course that focuses on the need to communicate outside of our controlled network. That might mean someone who wants to have their phone work from their home, or you need to support a location that is not connected to your network directly.
The course and test will concentrate on the Cisco Expressways and Cisco cloud offerings, such as Webex calling. The Expressways allow you to connect a device to the Cisco Unified Communications Manager while outside the corporate firewall. You can also use the Expressway products to connect your on-site Cisco Unified Communications Manager to the cloud-based Webex Calling system. This integration would allow you to connect phones at that non-connected remote site to Webex Calling using the Internet. The cloud integration using the Expressways allows calling between the sites. After you have mastered the external capabilities, you can take the 300-820 examination.
CLAUTO – Implementing Automation for Cisco Collaboration (CLAUI). This course is all about implementing automated programming of the Collaboration applications. While working on a communications system, you will eventually hit a problem that can’t be solved using the standard programming interfaces such as the admin web pages. Many of the Cisco Collaboration applications have API or SOAP configuration abilities that can be used to solve those issues. This course teaches technicians how to use these interfaces to create custom solutions.
For the eagle-eyed among you, you may have noticed a disparity between the test and course name. Normally the two share the same name. This particular test and course have different names. The test (300-835) is called Automating and Programming Cisco Collaboration Solutions (CLAUTO). The corresponding course in the CCNP track is Implementing Cisco Collaboration Automation Solutions (CLAUI).
Feeling overwhelmed? That would be understandable. I have been working with Cisco Unified Communications Manager for 20+ years, and CLAUI was intimidating when I first started to work with it. It is important to understand that you will not learn all of this at one time.
If you came to me during a class to ask which test you should attempt next, I would ask you some questions. What are your daily duties with the system? What are you interested in learning? Has your boss given you a feeling for where your employer wants you to go? Is there a need for automation?
If you just want to learn more about Cisco Unified Communications Manager, tackle CLACCM (Implementing Cisco Advanced Call Control and Mobility Services.) It is a lot to learn, but you gain the most value in your day-to-day functions.
Perhaps you need to ramp up on voicemail or Jabber, then CLICA would be a good place to start. Think about what you want to do or need to do. That should guide you to the right course/test.
While I mention courses during this discussion, you do not have to attend a class before attempting the exam. However, a class provides you the instruction and hands-on lab time to get ready for the test. If you are like me, you don’t really learn it until you have spent the time on the gear. If you don’t have access to a lab system, a class can give you that experience.
If you are a high achiever or you have a job like mine, you might need/want to take all the examinations. You achieve the CCNP Collaboration by taking the core and one elective. If you take additional elective exams, you earn Specialist certifications such as Cisco Certified Specialist – Collaboration Applications Implementation. This certification would be the result of passing the CLICA exam after you already have your CCNP.
Credit for Previous Tests
In a former life, I wanted to be a police officer. In Minnesota, where I live, a police officer candidate must have a two-year college degree in Law Enforcement. Since I already had a young family, going to school full-time was not possible. I took night courses for 7 years before I got my degree. Yes I am a slow learner, but in this case, the law enforcement curriculum changed as I was close to finishing, and I had to take some classes a second time. Not only was that frustrating, but it was also expensive.
Perhaps you are in a similar situation with the CCNP. You passed some of the tests but didn’t get to finish before Cisco changed the tests. There is good news. The older tests still count towards the new CCNP certification. If you passed the CIPTV1 and CIPTV2 tests, congratulations, you now possess the Cisco Certified Specialist – Collaboration Core certificate. All you need to do is pass one concentration exam.
If you also passed the CAPPS or CTCOLLAB test, you are already a CCNP Collaboration, and you get a second specialist certificate as well. Unfortunately, if you only have the CIPTV1 test under your belt, you need to start over and take both the core and concentration exams.
There you have it. All you ever wanted to know about the new CCNP Collaboration Certification. In future blog posts, I will cover topics that are good to know before taking your exams.