As a Cisco certification holder, you’ve probably already experienced the benefits that come with these globally recognized credentials – increased job opportunities, potential salary hikes, and an expanded network of like-minded professionals. But when it comes to the next step, the CCNP Enterprise certification, you might be asking yourself, “Which specialty exam should I take?”
The good news is, you’re not alone in this predicament. This guide will help you navigate through the different CCNP Enterprise specialty exams, examining each in detail to ensure that you make an informed decision. Please note, our aim is to provide clarity and not to promote one exam over the other. The choice ultimately depends on your interests, career goals, and expertise level.
Understanding CCNP Enterprise
Before diving into the specifics, let’s understand the CCNP Enterprise certification. As a professional-level certification in Cisco’s hierarchy, CCNP Enterprise confirms an individual’s skills in enterprise networking solutions. To obtain this certification, candidates need to pass two exams: the core exam (350-401 ENCOR) and one enterprise concentration exam of their choice.
The Core exam is a comprehensive test covering foundational and common enterprise networking topics. After successfully passing the ENCOR exam, you then choose a specialty concentration that suits your career objectives.
CCNP Enterprise Specialty Exams
The beauty of the CCNP Enterprise certification lies in its flexible structure. You can choose one from the six specialty exams available, each focusing on a different area of enterprise networking. Let’s delve into each:
1. Implementing Cisco Enterprise Advanced Routing and Services (300-410 ENARSI)
The Implementing Cisco Enterprise Advanced Routing and Services (300-410 ENARSI) is an important specialty exam for CCNP Enterprise that tests your knowledge and skills in the implementation and troubleshooting of advanced routing technologies and services.
Choosing the ENARSI specialty exam is ideal for individuals who have a deep interest in the nitty-gritty of enterprise networking, particularly with regards to advanced routing and services. If you’re the type of network professional who enjoys delving into Layer 3 technologies, VPN services, and infrastructure security, then this is the perfect track for you.
Understanding Layer 3
Layer 3 of the OSI model is the network layer, and it’s primarily responsible for data packet forwarding, including routing through different networks. The ENARSI exam will test your proficiency in implementing Layer 3 protocols and ensuring they function as expected in a complex enterprise network. This includes working with both IPv4 and IPv6, and understanding their different routing protocols such as OSPF, EIGRP, and BGP.
Grasping VPN Services
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become an integral part of modern networking because they offer a secure way to connect different networks over the internet. In the ENARSI exam, you’ll encounter different VPN technologies used in Cisco devices. This includes concepts like GRE, DMVPN, and IPsec VPNs, their implementation, and troubleshooting. Proficiency in VPN services ensures secure communication in your enterprise network infrastructure.
Delving into Infrastructure Security
Infrastructure security is paramount for any enterprise network to protect data integrity and prevent unauthorized access. The ENARSI exam covers various aspects of infrastructure security such as access control lists (ACLs), authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA), and control plane policing (CoPP). Your knowledge of these concepts and how to implement them will be tested extensively.
Enhancing Troubleshooting Skills
Besides implementation, the ENARSI specialty exam will test your troubleshooting skills. These are crucial in any enterprise environment as issues are bound to arise. You’ll be expected to use your expertise to identify and solve complex network issues promptly, minimizing downtime and maintaining network efficiency.
If you choose the ENARSI specialty, it shows potential employers that you’re well-versed in advanced routing technologies and services, and can competently implement and troubleshoot them. This is an invaluable asset in today’s increasingly digital and interconnected world.
To be successful in the ENARSI specialty exam, consider using a comprehensive study program that provides in-depth coverage of the exam topics, supplemented with plenty of hands-on lab experiences. Remember, the key to excelling in this exam is understanding the concepts and being able to apply them in a real-world setting.
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2. Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (300-420 ENSLD)
The Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (300-420 ENSLD) is a popular specialty exam within the CCNP Enterprise certification. Tailored for professionals with an inclination towards designing enterprise networks, this exam validates your ability to develop efficient, reliable, and secure network design solutions for businesses and organizations.
When preparing for the ENSLD, you can expect to delve into a comprehensive set of topics which form the bedrock of enterprise network design. These topics include designing routed and switched network infrastructures, LAN and WAN services, wireless and broadband access, among others.
Designing Routed and Switched Network Infrastructures
The backbone of any network, be it small or large, is its underlying infrastructure. Here, you will delve into the intricacies of developing scalable, flexible, and highly available routed and switched network infrastructures. This involves an in-depth understanding of routing protocols (OSPF, BGP, EIGRP), MPLS, IPv6 design considerations, and network services.
LAN and WAN Services
You will also explore the design of local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) services. In the LAN, focus areas will include VLAN, STP, and Layer 2 and Layer 3 EtherChannel, while on the WAN side, you will explore the design principles of WAN connectivity such as Metro Ethernet, MPLS, broadband, and VPN.
Wireless and Broadband Access
As wireless technologies become increasingly prevalent, the ENSLD exam ensures that you are well-equipped to design wireless solutions for the enterprise. This includes understanding the design of WLAN deployments, site surveys, and the integration of the WLAN into a wired network. Broadband access covers aspects like DSL, satellite, cable, and 4G/5G connectivity.
Further topics include designing network services such as Quality of Service (QoS) for optimizing the network performance and multicast services for efficient data distribution. You will also explore software-defined access (SDA) and how to design network management solutions.
In sum, the ENSLD is not just about the knowledge of various network design concepts; it’s about how you apply this knowledge to real-world scenarios. You’ll be tested on your ability to create network designs that can support business objectives, comply with operational constraints, and conform to the principles of redundancy, scalability, and security.
The ENSLD exam essentially certifies that you have the skills necessary to design a robust, scalable, and secure enterprise network. As an ENSLD certified professional, you’ll be a valuable asset to any organization looking to leverage their network infrastructure for business growth and continuity.
Preparing for this exam requires in-depth study and a significant amount of practical experience. Utilizing a detailed study guide that encompasses all exam topics and includes hands-on exercises can provide the expertise and confidence you need to pass the exam and excel in your network design career.
3. Designing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (300-425 ENWLSD)
In the age of smart devices and IoT, wireless networks have become a critical part of business operations, making the Designing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (300-425 ENWLSD) exam an invaluable addition to your certification portfolio.
The ENWLSD specialty exam is perfect for those interested in wireless technologies and focuses on the principles of designing wireless networks for enterprise environments. Key areas covered in this exam include site surveys, wired and wireless infrastructure, mobility, and WLAN high availability.
A comprehensive wireless network design begins with a site survey. The site survey involves understanding the business requirements, the physical and RF environment, and the client characteristics that will determine the wireless network’s design. With the ENWLSD exam, you’ll delve into both predictive and post-deployment site surveys, focusing on aspects like signal strength, noise, interference, and coverage holes.
Wired and Wireless Infrastructure
Designing an enterprise wireless network isn’t just about the wireless part. The exam explores the integration of wired and wireless infrastructure in detail. You’ll need to understand how to design an infrastructure that can effectively support wireless capabilities, including WLAN controllers, access points, and making considerations for PoE (Power over Ethernet). It also covers designing high-density wireless networks, which are becoming increasingly common in environments like stadiums, conference centers, and universities.
The ENWLSD exam addresses the essential aspects of mobility in a wireless network. This includes designing for seamless roaming, ensuring that devices can move between different access points without losing connection. Topics such as Layer 2 and Layer 3 roaming, inter-controller mobility, and mobility anchor are also included.
WLAN High Availability
High availability is vital in any network design, and wireless networks are no exception. The exam tests your knowledge on designing WLAN for high availability. This includes understanding the concepts of redundancy and failover, load balancing, and how to ensure the continuity of services in case of a component failure. You’ll delve into the principles of designing for WLAN high availability, focusing on aspects like controller redundancy, AP failover, and client SSO (Single Sign-on).
The ENWLSD exam certifies your ability to design Cisco wireless networks. The skills you acquire will be highly sought after as more businesses turn to wireless networks to support their operations. By passing this exam, you demonstrate to potential employers that you can design wireless networks that are robust, efficient, and can support the high demands of modern enterprise environments.
To prepare for the ENWLSD exam, make sure you have a thorough understanding of all these areas. A well-rounded study guide, combined with plenty of hands-on practice, can give you the knowledge and confidence you need to succeed in this exam and your career.
4. Implementing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (300-430 ENWLSI)
While the Designing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (ENWLSD) exam hones your skills in creating a robust wireless network blueprint, the Implementing Cisco Enterprise Wireless Networks (300-430 ENWLSI) exam puts these designs into practice. The ENWLSI exam ensures that you can not only conceptualize an efficient wireless network but also execute it in a real-world setting.
This specialty exam dives into crucial wireless implementation topics such as FlexConnect, Quality of Service (QoS), Multicast, advanced location services, and security for client connectivity, among others.
FlexConnect, formerly known as Hybrid Remote Edge Access Point (H-REAP), is a wireless solution for branch office and remote office deployments. It allows access points to remain connected to the network if their connection to the controller is lost. Understanding the practical application and potential challenges of FlexConnect is a crucial aspect of the ENWLSI exam.
Quality of Service (QoS)
A well-implemented wireless network should provide QoS to prioritize traffic and ensure that critical network services receive the bandwidth they require. The exam tests your understanding of QoS principles and how to implement them in a Cisco Wireless LAN Controller and the surrounding network infrastructure.
Multicast plays a vital role in an enterprise network, enabling efficient data distribution to multiple destinations. Implementing multicast in a wireless network environment can be complex, and the ENWLSI exam ensures you have the skills to do so effectively.
Advanced Location Services
Advanced location services are critical for numerous business applications, from tracking assets to enhancing customer engagement. This exam dives into Cisco’s advanced location services, including the implementation of CMX and DNA Spaces.
Security for Client Connectivity
Securing client connectivity is paramount to the integrity and reliability of the wireless network. The ENWLSI exam covers various security topics, including different EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) types, web authentication, PSK, 802.1X, AAA servers, and more.
All in all, the ENWLSI exam verifies your ability to implement wireless networks effectively and efficiently. With a strong focus on the practical application of wireless concepts, the exam certifies that you’re capable of creating a secure, resilient, and high-performing wireless environment.
To tackle the ENWLSI exam successfully, ensure that you’re comfortable with all these concepts and their practical application. Employ a study guide that offers an in-depth exploration of these topics, coupled with plenty of opportunities for hands-on experience. Remember, proficiency in implementing wireless networks is gained through theory and practice alike.
5. Automating and Programming Cisco Enterprise Solutions (300-435 ENAUTO)
The Automating and Programming Cisco Enterprise Solutions (300-435 ENAUTO) exam is designed for professionals who are passionate about network automation and programmability. This specialty exam within the CCNP Enterprise certification caters to network professionals looking to automate and enhance network operations using programming concepts, Python programming, APIs, controllers, and automation tools.
Before diving into network automation, the ENAUTO exam starts with an overview of programming concepts. This includes understanding data types, variables, flow control, and error handling, which form the foundation of programming and network automation. You’re not required to be a software developer, but a basic understanding of these concepts is crucial.
Python has become the de facto language for network automation due to its simplicity and the powerful libraries available for network tasks. The ENAUTO exam dives into Python programming for network automation, with topics covering how to write, debug, and troubleshoot Python scripts, use Python data structures effectively, and leverage key Python libraries such as Netmiko, NAPALM, and others.
APIs and Controllers
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and controllers are central to network automation. APIs provide a way for applications to interact with network devices, while controllers allow centralized management of the network. In the ENAUTO exam, you’ll delve into REST and RESTCONF APIs, how to use Postman for API testing, and working with Cisco controllers like DNA Center and SD-WAN vManage.
The ENAUTO exam also explores various automation tools used in network operations. You’ll learn how to leverage Ansible for configuration management and network tasks, how to use Puppet for device management, and how to incorporate CI/CD pipelines in network operations. Knowledge and practical skills in these tools will enable you to automate routine tasks and improve network efficiency.
Choosing the ENAUTO exam signals your commitment to keeping pace with the latest trends in networking. As networks grow larger and more complex, the demand for professionals who can automate and streamline network operations continues to rise.
To prepare for the ENAUTO exam, it’s important to have a solid foundation in networking principles and a basic understanding of programming. Consider a study guide that covers all these topics in depth, with plenty of practical examples and opportunities to apply what you’ve learned. With dedication and the right resources, you can turn your interest in network automation into a valuable professional skill set.
6. Implementing Cisco SD-WAN Solutions (300-415 ENSDWI)
Software-defined networking has dramatically transformed how networks are managed, leading to increased demand for professionals skilled in SD-WAN technologies. The Implementing Cisco SD-WAN Solutions (300-415 ENSDWI) exam is an excellent choice for networking professionals looking to build or deepen their expertise in this growing field. This exam encompasses various aspects of SD-WAN implementation, including SD-WAN architecture, controller deployment, router policies, security, quality of service, and multicast.
Understanding the underlying architecture of SD-WAN is fundamental. The ENSDWI exam provides an in-depth exploration of Cisco’s SD-WAN solution architecture. This includes understanding various components like vSmart Controllers, vBond Orchestrators, vEdge Routers, and how they work together to create an SD-WAN network. You’ll also learn about zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) and different transport technologies that SD-WAN can leverage.
A key part of an SD-WAN solution is the deployment of controllers, which manage and regulate the SD-WAN overlay network. The exam covers the deployment of vSmart and vBond controllers in detail, including initial configuration, redundancy, and scalability considerations.
Router policies play a significant role in controlling the behavior of data traffic within the SD-WAN network. In the ENSDWI exam, you’ll dive into the creation and application of router policies, focusing on areas like policy definition and application, traffic engineering, and service insertion.
Security is paramount in SD-WAN networks as with any other network technology. You’ll cover SD-WAN security features such as encryption, segmentation, and securing device management. Additionally, the exam focuses on integrating security services like firewalls and intrusion prevention systems into the SD-WAN fabric.
Quality of Service and Multicast
The ENSDWI exam also covers Quality of Service (QoS) in the context of SD-WAN, ensuring you understand how to prioritize critical traffic and manage network congestion. You’ll also delve into implementing multicast over SD-WAN, a topic crucial for network environments that require efficient data distribution to multiple receivers.
In essence, the ENSDWI exam is a comprehensive exploration of Cisco’s SD-WAN solution, focusing on implementation aspects. By passing this exam, you demonstrate your capability to leverage SD-WAN technologies to improve network performance, agility, and security.
To prepare for the ENSDWI exam, a thorough understanding of networking principles is required, coupled with specific knowledge about software-defined networking. A detailed study guide and hands-on experience with Cisco’s SD-WAN solution can provide a deep understanding of the topics covered in the exam and the confidence to excel.
Which Specialty Exam is Right For You?
Deciding on the right specialty exam largely depends on your interests and career aspirations. For instance, if you’re already working in an environment that heavily utilizes wireless networks or SD-WAN, it may make sense to choose the ENWLSD, ENWLSI, or ENSDWI.
On the other hand, if you aim to become a network automation engineer, the ENAUTO is the way to go. For roles involving designing enterprise networks, you should consider taking the ENSLD.
It’s important to consider the future of networking as well. Trends like network automation and programmability are rapidly becoming important facets of the industry. Keeping these in mind when selecting a specialty can set you up for long-term success.
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Remember, the CCNP Enterprise certification is all about specialization. The specialty you choose should align with your career goals and interests, the demands of your current job (if you’re employed), and the trends in the networking industry.
Our study program can guide you through this decision-making process and prepare you for your chosen specialty exam. Whether it’s ENARSI, ENSLD, ENWLSD, ENWLSI, ENAUTO, or ENSDWI, we’ve got you covered.
Embrace the journey of mastering the CCNP Enterprise certification. It’s not just about passing exams; it’s about gaining the skills and knowledge that will define your career in the world of enterprise networking. Good luck, future CCNP Enterprise holder!
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