St. Valentine’s day may not be the first thing on the mind of CCIE Voice holders this season, as February 14, 2014, will be the day when their certification, CCIE Voice, retires leaving the stage to the new CCIE Collaboration. If you are a CCIE Voice holder, what should be your next steps? And (in case you missed it) what has all the fuss been about?
In May 2013, Cisco announced the new CCIE Collaboration track, based on the CCIE Voice certification. This appeared to be a natural evolution of CCIE Voice, which was now up to its version 4 and a decade old. The update has been long due, and it was about time to give this path a broader angle. Yet, the Cisco community was slammed with disappointment when it turned out that CCIE Voice certification was being retired, and not renamed. And for those holding CCIE Voice, getting CCIE Collaboration certified would mean going through the entire certification process, with tedious labs, related equipment investments and all this pain many of you can certainly relate to.
Cisco community, especially CCIE Voice holders, turned to blogs, Social Media and petitions to state what they believed was unfair: making them go through the whole recertification process. As the blueprints of the two certifications are 80-85% identical, the evolution didn’t seem that crucial to retire the Voice without leaving any migration paths to the Collaboration.
A week after the launch (and the week has been filled with petitions and all kinds of Social Media complaints), Cisco have made a statement saying:
We are listening to the feedback from our valued CCIE community, and will be adjusting the CCIE Collaboration requirements. As a quick preview of the evolution of the CCIE Collaboration certification, a current holder of the CCIE Voice designation will now be able to migrate to a CCIE Collaboration credential by taking the CCIE Collaboration written exam only. We appreciate all of the great feedback and patience of the community while we update our webpages to reflect this change. We will be communicating further details about this modification as soon as possible.
Well, this is a great example of an A-list company backing off and actually listening to their customers (especially given that the customers make sense!)
So how does this work? There has been some confusion before Cisco announced the actual mechanics of the migration. As part of a CCIE Voice to CCIE Collaboration certification conversion program, Cisco offers 3 migration options requiring a CCIE Voice certification – active or suspended – as of February 13, 2014. The options are:
- Keeping existing CCIE Voice certification AND getting CCIE Collaboration by following the standard CCIE recertification path.
- Attaining both a CCIE Voice certification and a CCIE Collaboration certification by passing both the CCIE Collaboration Written Exam and the CCIE Collaboration Lab Exam and then receiving a CCIE Collaboration certification in addition to the previously earned CCIE Voice certification. CCIE Voice holders who have passed the CCIE Collaboration written and lab exams will be granted both the CCIE Voice and CCIE Collaboration certifications. CCIE Voice holders with a valid CCIE Voice Written Exam or CCIE Collaboration Written Exam are eligible to register for the CCIE Collaboration Lab Exam (available starting February 14, 2014).
- Passing the CCIE Collaboration Written Exam and then permanently converting/migrating your CCIE Voice certification to a CCIE Collaboration certification between November 21, 2013 and February 13, 2016.
For those of you interested in the last option, which is passing the written exam (400-051) to convert the CCIE Voice into CCIE Collaboration, here’s what you’ll need to do:
After you take and pass the CCIE Collaboration Written Exam 400-051, you should request a permanent CCIE Voice to CCIE Collaboration certification conversion by submitting an online Cisco certification support case at http://ciscocert.force.com/english and include the following information:
- Candidate ID
- CCIE number
- Description: CCIE Voice to CCIE Collaboration Conversion Program
- Date (mm/dd/yyyy) of the CCIE Collaboration Written Exam pass
It’s worth keeping in mind that CCIE Voice to CCIE Collaboration conversion program is a permanent and final certification conversion. Once you change your certification to CCIE Collaboration, you won’t be able to use the CCIE Voice title any longer and won’t be eligible to regain it in the future (although with CCIE Voice being retired in February, it’s not like there’s enough time left for that anyway). This process will remain in place until February 13, 2016.
The Written Exam
CCIE Collaboration Written Exam 400-051 will be available starting tomorrow, November 21, 2013. The topics covered supposedly include:
- Cisco Collaboration Infrastructure
- Telephony Standards and Protocols
- Cisco Unified Communications Manager
- Cisco IOS UC Applications and Features
- Quality of Service and Security in Cisco Collaboration Solutions
- Cisco Unity Connection
- Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (UCCX)
- Cisco Unified IM Presence
Another natural query is how this conversion will be reflected on your online certification history. According to Cisco, once you have completed the conversion to the CCIE Collaboration program, the verification tool will display only a single title of CCIE Collaboration under “Certification Type.” However, the “Certification Date” will show the date on which you passed the CCIE Voice lab. So, if the date shown is before February 14, 2014, your date will be “converted” to CCIE Collaboration; if the date is on or after February 14, 2014, the individual actually passed the CCIE Collaboration lab exam.
As we hear many voices stating that marketing had a lot to do with the introduction of CCIE Collaboration to replace CCIE Voice, the change makes sense on every level, including perception-wise. ‘Voice’ has long become too narrow of a concept to cover all modern collaboration aspects, so the update is definitely welcome. Moreover, Cisco deserved every credit for handling this situation gracefully and coming up with the acceptable migration option. So, good changes are always good. Hope it’s not going to be too much pain for you.