CCNP Journey: My Why

I may not do a whole journey but I have always been inspired by AJ and Tim on their CCNP journeys so I thought I’d start documenting mine so far along with some technical bits into it. Their journeys were an exciting “nail-biter” when spectating on Twitter and/or the AONE Discord. Let’s begin why I want the CCNP to begin with:

The CCNP naturally is the next step for those of us CCNA-certified professionals to further expand our knowledge and skillset. Previously it was known as the CCNP Routing & Switching to which now it is called the CCNP Enterprise. Combined with real-world experience, it is a lovely compliment to my career. Here are some of the reasons why I chose to begin my CCNP journey:

  • Expansion and/or introduction of additional topics
    • Expands a bit more on BGP
    • Deeper understanding of routing protocols
    • Introduction to other products in Cisco’s portfolio I previously had no experience in such as ISE, DNA Center, and SD-Access and SD-WAN/Viptela
    • Expansion of IPv6 learning
    • VPN technologies such as GRE, IPSec, and DMVPN
    • Troubleshooting routing protocols and deployments
    • Additional security topics such as AAA, ACLs, Route Maps, Network Access Control (802.1x, MAB, WebAuth), TrustSec and MacSec, etc
  • Inline with job descriptions of what is desired of today’s Network Engineer
  • Naturally this does influence more pay if we’re talking about a raise
  • Gives management assurance that I know what I’m doing yet remaining impressed I’m proactively learning vs. being told to play catch up with tomorrow’s implementations
  • Finally, I just want to be a CCNP-certified network engineer before moving up in the ladder haha

The CCNP is another mountain that I wish to explore and finish conquering. It pushes the envelope of the foundation the CCNA established and builds upon that. I’ve started this journey back in 2018 after I got my CCNA and had stopped when Cisco refreshed their certification portfolio. I was working in the Public Sector when I began this CCNP journey where our network infrastructure was all HPE/Aruba Networks. My leader, Tom C. and my team admired that I was actively learning and pursuing the next level on my own despite the fact that there was financial or work incentive or that the job didn’t require it. That’s another reason I mentioned the bit about management. My leader would mention it to others as a badge of honor and pride, “Look at Manny, he’s always learning and staying sharp. Balancing his workload and his studies!” He would even tell me directly, “Manny, I am so proud you’re learning and growing. I don’t mind if you study on the clock as long as you can balance your daily responsibilities. Take all the time you need. I want to foster your growth!”

The thing I have always loved about the Cisco Certifications is that they hold up pretty well and translate over pretty nicely to any network vendor. Be it Aruba Networks or Juniper Networks. OSPF is still OSPF. BGP is still BGP. The difference? The hardware and syntax but even then it’s not a huge leap. When reading the exam topics of the CCNP Enterprise, Juniper JNCIP-Junos, or Aruba ACSP, you’ll see that they line up pretty nicely with network engineer roles with some gaps that you clearly have to learn more beyond the CCNP. I view it as a prerequisite to being a Network Engineer. This journey I pray prepares me to some degree for the future CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure as I plan on filling all the other gaps along the way!

For those reading, don’t get wrapped up in the title or certification itself. That’s not part of my why. It’s a beautiful thing to have on your resume and LinkedIn but it isn’t some magical superpower. It’s about what you learn from it and put it to practice in your day to day or as you enter new network roles. I mentioned earlier that I really want to earn my CCNP Enterprise certification. Whether I go the ENCOR + ENARSI route or the ENCOR + “EN-SALAD” route. I have even told my two mentors: David and Peter that I may study both ENARSI and ENCOR and just sit for one of them to complete the requirements. I also want to echo something my Senior Network Security Engineer, Ben B. told me when we were talking about learning and still sits with me till this day:

“Hey man, the CCNP or any certification at the end of the day is just a piece of paper. What truly matters is the content and theory you’re learning behind that CCNP or any cert you sit for. What truly matters when ish hits the fan on how you put all that knowledge to action. Or if you can deploy a solution efficiently and know why you’re doing so.”

Ben B.

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