If you are thinking about doing the Cisco Wireless track then the CCNP Wireless is not one to take lightly. Announced in March 2016, CCNP Wireless still consists of four exams but have been revised to meet real world skills and demands.
The expiring exams start with 640-XXX. The new CCNP Wireless exams are:
The prerequisite still stands, you must have CCNA Routing and Switching for your CCNP Wireless to be valid. You will also need a CCNA Wireless.
New Exam Name and Content
With the 2016 revisions comes new content. The exams focus on the following products.
- AireOS v8.0
- IOS-XE v3.6
- ISE v1.3
- Prime Infrastructure v2.2
At a glance, here’s how the existing exams map to the new ones.
642-732 -> 300-360
642-742 -> 300-365
652-747 -> 300-370
642-737 -> 300-375
Taking a look at the 300-360 WIDESIGN (Wireless Design) exam shows they have added two more objectives, from five to seven.
While 642-732 focused mostly on site surveys, it looks like the new 300-360 encompasses site surveys and WLAN design. What is also interesting is the inclusion of two third party tools, which I personally use, Ekahau Site Survey and Metageek Chanalyzer.
The objectives for 300-360 are fairly evenly spread out averaging 14% per objective for the exam.
I am happy to see focus on requirements gathering, predictive design and pre- and post-deployment surveys.
1.0 Obtaining Customer Requirements as Related to the WLAN Installation
2.0 Determine Facility Type and Constraints Related to WLAN Deployments
3.0 WLAN Predictive Design
4.0 Pre-Deployment Site Survey
5.0 Post-Deployment Site Survey
6.0 Design the Infrastructure of the Wireless Network
7.0 Describe and Design Wireless Architecture for Real Time Applications
Overall, 300-360 looks like a good exam.
WIDEPLOY (Wireless Deployment) changes the original five objectives to eight objectives. Additionally, Cisco specifically mentions more lab time has been added to this exam.
What’s apparent with this exam is the need for access to a lab. Practice both CLI and GUI as you will see many Implement keywords in the objectives.
1.0 Implement QoS for Wireless Applications
2.0 Implement Multicast over Wireless
3.0 Implement High Density
4.0 Design and Deploy WLAN Infrastructure for Mobility
5.0 Implement Cisco MSE Architecture
6.0 Design and Implement FlexConnect Architecture
7.0 Implement Controller and AP High Availability
8.0 Wireless Bridging (MESH)
What I believe will be difficult with 300-365 are the objectives for knowing controller-based functions such as high availability and FlexConnect. This would require equipment to practice these objectives. Additionally, you’ll need knowledge in working with MSE, IOS-XE and Prime.
Another exam where the objectives changed from five to seven objectives. WITSHOOT is actually a new exam in CCNP Wireless. Previously there was no dedicated troubleshooting exam.
I think this is actually a good thing because out in the field, troubleshooting is a primary function of managing a wireless network. The focus of this exam is in troubleshooting methodologies, techniques, and tools.
1.0 Troubleshooting Methodology
2.0 Troubleshoot AP Joining Issues
3.0 Troubleshoot Client Connectivity Issues
4.0 Identify and Locate RF Interferences
5.0 Troubleshoot Client Performance Issues
6.0 Identify Common Wired Infrastructure Issues Based on the Output From Common Troubleshooting Tools
7.0 Troubleshoot WLC and AP High Availability Issues
Be prepared to analyze debug messages, know your show commands, troubleshoot configuration issues, know about RF interferences and even infrastructure issues. Although CCNP Wireless is in fact a wireless exam, there are objectives targeted towards issues on the infrastructure side.
Wireless wouldn’t be complete without security. A topic that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But this is the only exam that went from seven objectives to five.
So this exam is a double-edged sword. They remove NAC, WCS, and ACS (WOO HOO!) but wait a second, they added ISE. Yep.
Again, Cisco mentions they added significantly more lab time.
1.0 Integrate Client Device Security
2.0 Implement Secure Distribution System Connectivity Services on the Wireless Infrastructure
3.0 Implement Secure Client Connectivity Services on the Wireless Infrastructure
4.0 Implement Secure Management Access on the WLAN Infrastructure
5.0 Monitoring Security on the WLAN Infrastructure
This is an in-depth security exam as they list objectives dealing with EAP, 802.11w, policies, 802.1X, AAA, you name it.
The new CCNP Wireless certification beginning in 2016 looks like a great certification to go for. I think they’ve added several objectives that target real world skills and scenarios.
I like the addition of a consolidated troubleshooting exam. I’ve spent a lot of time troubleshooting wireless with regards to interference, capacity, and even application issues that would mask as a wireless issue.
In comparison to the CWNP exams, you can’t really do it. It’s apples and oranges. CWNP is vendor neutral and you won’t really dive into some of the Cisco-centric technologies in any CWNP exam.
So I’ll say it here, I highly recommend at least taking CWNA before diving into a vendor specific certification for the knowledge of wireless in general. It will come in handy for real world and in the exams for design and troubleshooting.
Check out Cisco’s full documentation on all the changes to the new revision.