BREAKING NEWS – CCNA R/S Updated

It happens about every three years or so; Cisco updates its flagship certification, the CCNA in Routing and Switching. Today (May 17, 2016) is such a day, and current and future certification candidates are clamoring to learn, “What’s different?” That’s what we’ll uncover in this blog posting.

What Is The CCNA R/S?

First, let’s quickly review what the Cisco Certified Network Associate in Routing and Switching (CCNA R/S) is all about. Cisco tells us that if you have the CCNA R/S certification, you should be able to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot a medium-size routed and switched network.

There are two paths that can get you to your CCNA R/S:

  1. “One and Done”: You can earn your CCNA R/S certification by passing a single exam. I recommend this option for certification candidates with two or more years of real-world experience.
  2. “The Two Step”: You can pass two exams (ICND1 and ICND2) to earn your CCNA R/S. Each of these exams are less comprehensive that the composite CCNA exam. In fact, by passing the ICND1 exam, you do earn an entry-level Cisco certification. It’s the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) certification. I recommend this two exam approach for certification candidates with less than two years of real-world experience.

With each new update to a certification track comes updated exam numbers. The previous version of the CCNA R/S certification (i.e. version 2) had these exam numbers:

  • ICND 1: 100-101
  • ICND 2: 200-101
  • CCNA: 200-120

The newly updated CCNA R/S (i.e version 3) has these exam numbers:

  • ICND 1: 100-105
  • ICND 2: 200-105
  • CCNA: 200-125

Can You Still Take The Old Exams?

If you’re currently studying CCNA version 2 materials, there’s still time to take the version 2 exams. Specifically, you can still take the composite CCNA version 2 exam (200-120) through August 20, 2016.

You can also take the ICND1 version 2 exam (100-101) through August 20, 2016. Of course that only gets you part way to your CCNA certification. So, Cisco gives you through September 24, 2016 to take your ICND2 version 2 exam (200-101).

A High-Level Comparison

In this blog posting, I’ll focus on the exam blueprint of the composite CCNA exam, with the understanding that these topics are divided between the ICND1 and ICND2 exams if you take the “two step” path.

Here’s the high-level breakdown of the old 200-120 CCNA exam, showing major topic areas and the percentage of exam questions coming from those areas. The complete topic list is available HERE.

  1. Operation of IP Data Networks: 5 percent
  2. LAN Switching Technologies: 20 percent
  3. IP Addressing: 5 percent
  4. IP Routing Technologies: 20 percent
  5. IP Services: 10 percent
  6. Network Device Security: 10 percent
  7. Troubleshooting: 20 percent
  8. WAN Technologies: 10 percent

In contrast, here’s the high-level breakdown of the new 200-125 CCNA exam. The complete list of topics can be viewed HERE.

  1. Network Fundamentals: 15 percent
  2. LAN Switching Technologies: 21 percent
  3. Routing Technologies: 23 percent
  4. WAN Technologies: 10 percent
  5. Infrastructure Services: 10 percent
  6. Infrastructure Security: 11 percent
  7. Infrastructure Management: 10 percent

What Topics Were Removed?

  • Contrast bridges and hubs.
  • Describe VRRP.
  • Discuss GLBP.
  • Troubleshoot Layer 1 issues.
  • Troubleshoot Frame Relay.
  • Monitor NetFlow information.
  • Describe the following WAN technologies: VSAT, Cellular 3G/4G, T1/E1, ISDN, DSL, and Frame Relay

What Topics Were Added?

  • Describe how cloud resources impact an enterprise architecture. This topic includes a discussion of traffic paths to internal (e.g. enterprise) and external (e.g. cloud) resources, virtual services, and basic virtual network architecture.
  • Configure and verify LLDP (Link Layer Discover Protocol). LLDP is an industry-standard protocol that performs similar features to CDP (Cisco Discovery Protocol).
  • Configure, verify, and troubleshoot multi-area OSPFv2 for IPv4 networks. The previous CCNA version only required that you be able to configure and verify single area OSPFv2. However, this configuration is basic, and does not include authentication, filtering, manual summarization, route redistribution, stub areas, virtual links, or LSAs.
  • Configure, verify, and troubleshoot VLAN Trunking Protocol (VTP) version 1 and 2.
  • Configure, verify, and troubleshoot multi-area OSPFv3 for IPv6 networks. The previous CCNA version only required that you be able to configure and verify single area OSPFv3. However, this configuration is basic, and does not include authentication, filtering, manual summarization, route redistribution, or stub areas.
  • Configure, verify, and troubleshoot EIGRP for IPv6 networks.The previous CCNA version only required that you be able to configure and verify EIGRP for IPv4 networks. However, this configuration is basic, and does not include authentication, filtering, manual summarization, route redistribution, or the stub feature.
  • Configure, verify, and troubleshoot RIPv2 for IPv4. The previous CCNA version did not include any version of RIP. However, this configuration is basic, and does not include authentication, filtering, manual summarization, or route redistribution.
  • Configure and verify Multilink PPP (MLPPP). This feature allows multiple physical interfaces to be logically bundled into a single virtual interface, which can improve WAN throughput.
  • Describe Internet VPN options, including Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN), site-to-site VPN, and client VPN.
  • Configure and verify a single-homed eBGP (External Border Gateway Protocol) IPv4 connection. Personally, this is the biggest surprise on the new CCNA blueprint, because BGP topics have traditionally been considered too advanced for the CCNA certification. However, the BGP configuration is a basic one, limited to peering and route advertisement using only the network command.
  • Describe Quality of Service (QoS) concepts. This topic includes the theory of marking traffic, trusting certain devices (e.g. Cisco IP Phones), prioritizing some traffic types over others (e.g. preferring voice traffic over network gaming traffic), setting a speed limit on traffic using policing and shaping, and congestion management (i.e. using queuing technologies to allocate bandwidth amounts for different traffic classes).
  • Describe how to secure network access using 802.1x.
  • Explain how to use DHCP snooping to prevent a malicious user from adding their own DHCP server to a network, for the purpose of sending inaccurate IP addressing information to DHCP clients.
  • Verify IPv6 Access Control Lists (ACLs). The previous version of the exam only tested on IPv4 ACLs.
  • Verify Access Control Lists (ACLs) using the APIC-EM Path Trace ACL Analysis tool, where APIC-EM stand for Application Policy Infrastructure Controller – Enterprise Module.
  • Discuss how to secure devices using AAA (i.e. Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) with either the TACACS+ or RADIUS protocols.
  • Using ICMP echo-based IP SLA to troubleshoot connectivity. Instead of using a basic Ping command to test for connectivity, the IP SLA features allows you to specify the characteristics of traffic sent to a destination network device.
  • Be able to use the Local Switched Port Analyzer (SPAN) features to troubleshoot network issues. SPAN allows you to connect a network monitor to a switch port. That port can then receive a copy of traffic seen on another of the switch’s ports or VLANs, allowing the network monitor to analyze that traffic.
  • Discuss network programmability in an enterprise network architecture. This discussions covers the function of a controller, the separation of the control plane and the data plane, and northbound vs. southbound APIs.

How Should You Prepare?

If you’re a visual learner (or perhaps you enjoy video training in addition to reading a book) the CCNA R/S Complete Video Course I created three years ago continues to hold its position as the number one title (including both books and videos) on Safari Books Online, and it’s still incredibly valuable for your CCNA preparation.

Of course, with the introduction of the updated CCNA, I’m getting to work today on an updated CCNA R/S Complete Video Course. If you’d like me to keep you up-to-date with my progress and for me to let you know when it’s available, just click HERE to add your e-mail to my notification list.

I hope you found this exam delta posting helpful, and again if you want to review the exact CCNA R/S blueprints (old and new), here are the links:

CCNA R/S version 2

CCNA R/S version 3

Kevin Wallace, CCIEx2 (R/S and Collaboration) #7945, CCSI 20061

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