What is CCIE?

What is CCIE? Well, CCIE stands for Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, and it’s one of the most important certification from Cisco Systems. It’s probably the most prestigious certification in the networking industry, and network Engineers holding it are recognized for their “expert network engineering skills and master of Cisco products and solutions”, as it’s said on Cisco web page.

Everything started in the lates of 1992, when Stuart Biggs (CCIE #1025) came from a trip from teaching the guys at Ford Motor Company some ideas about what networking was in those days (some of those technologies may sound weird to us, such as X.25, FDDI, and stuff like that). The training was amazing for the guys at Ford, and they liked it so much that Cisco thought about creating an expertise group of engineers with the goal of teaching networking technologies to their clients.

With this idea in mind, in the earlies of 1993 the CCIE program was launched, although initially a different name was thought for the program: Cisco Top Gun. Can you imagine yourself being a CTG – Cisco Top Gun? It sounds funny. Maybe the first CTG would have been Tom Cruise ;)

The exam was based on technologies such as FDDI, Ethernet, X.25, IBM SNA, etc. and one or two routing protocols. You know, all the stuff needed in the networks of those days!! And the written exam was created in order to make a previous filter of those going to the lab. The first non-Cisco guy in passing the exam was Terry Slatery (CCIE #1026).

As you may have noticed, the first CCIE number starts at 1025. What happened with the first 1024 CCIE numbers? Well, you may remember that historically Cisco Catalyst switches had supported only up to 1024 VLANs, with this number being derived from the 10-bit VLAN ID tag used in the Cisco proprietary Inter-Switch Link (ISL) trunking protocol. So Cisco decided in a funny way to reserve the first 1024 numbers for VLANs and start the CCIE numbers at 1025.

Nowadays, people holding the CCIE certificate represents less than 3% of all certified Cisco professionals, and less than 1% of the networking professionals.

As technologies have been improved, different CCIE specializations have been released. Currently there are 7 tracks of CCIE:

  • Routing and Switching (R&S): probably the most popular certification. It gathers advanced features of routing and switching
  • Servide Provider (SP): focused in the advanced technologies that ISP networks need, such as MPLS, Traffic-Engineering, MetroEthernet networks, VPLS, etc
  • Security: Target around security products like ASA, VPN’s, IPS, control plane security, etc.
  • Voice: focused around building complex voice environments with products like Call Manager, Call Manager Express, QoS, Unity, etc.
  • Wireless: Since Wireless technology is becoming essential for the current networks, there had to be a certification for it. It’s focused on products and technologies like: WCS, autonomous APs, ACS, etc.
  • Storage Networking: This is built around storage networking and virtualization environments, with technologies like: fiber channel, fiber-channel over Ethernet, SAN management, iSCSI, etc.
  • Service Provider Operations: The newest of all the tracks, building around the monitoring and troubleshooting of service provider networks.

There isn’t too much info about how many active CCIEs there are currently, but we can get an idea if we check these unofficial statistics (from Brad Reese webpage).

To be able to get the CCIE certification, you need to pass both the CCIE Written and CCIE Lab.

So if you are planning to become one of those 26k holders of CCIE, keep tuned to our CCIE blog, and it will help you to reach the glory!! ;)