Thoughts on CCNA-DC 640-916 ExamPosted: November 19, 2013
Introducing Cisco Data Center Technologies
I’m happy to report that I just passed the second CCNA Data Center exam. I’d like to take a moment and record my thoughts on it.
As many know, the exams went public less than a year ago in December of 2012. I’ve followed those interested in the entire Cisco Data Center program like Tony Bourke (@tbourke) of DataCenterOverlords.com, Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl) of the WahlNetwork.com, Andy Schmid (@andytschmid) and the PacketPushers.net dudes to get an idea of what to expect. I was also up against a timeline to get CCNA-DC certified in order re-up my CCNA for another three years.
Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with the difficulty of the 916 exam. Compared to the regular CCNA that had a lot of simulations, mini-sims, testlets, and whatever else Cisco calls them, this DC exam didn’t come close to testing knowledge in the same way. That’s not to say there weren’t such sims, but the difficulty wasn’t what I’d come to expect. At the same time, I’ve had exposure to almost all the hardware tested such as UCS, both generations of Nexus 5ks and 2ks, and MDS switches, which helped greatly. This exposure included implementing the technology in production as well as in lab environments. I haven’t touched a 7k, though, which did trip me up a bit on this exam, but falling back on my 5k knowledge got me through. I also haven’t had exposure to ACE or WAAS and had to rely on Google and the Cisco forums for these.
As we know, the DC exam is definitely not only networking. The exam blue print makes this clear with topics on Unified Computing, virtualization and storage. Overall, though, you can read the blue print and get an excellent clue as to what you’re largely expected to know for the exam. I’ll spell it out for you: you’ll need to be able to identify, describe, and define many technologies. This should not be difficult for those that have been working in the data center space for some amount of time.
As always, it’s hard to share a lot of information on the test due to non-disclosure agreements. I think both exams are fair for the technical level they’re expected to test, though. If you’re looking to take either of the exams, I suggest having at least CCNA-level knowledge, hands-on experience with as much of the hardware as you can, along with a good amount of experience. Without these, I think passing the exams would be more difficult. For example, going through the setup process for a piece of equipment only once will likely let you easily forget what that setup process entailed. Similarly, if you only configure a vPC once, you may find it hard to answer questions about it. So I suggest repetition for many of the tasks outlined in the blue print.
Best of luck sitting this exam. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to answer.