Cisco is going to completely overhaul their certification infrastructure and replace it with a new system starting in February 2020. Most notedly, the CCNA and CCNP R&S tracks are going to be replaced with "Enterprise" tracks that contain bits of Security, Wireless, as well as the more traditional Routing and Switching Elements. CCENT is going away. CCIE is now going to be merely a lab extension of the CCNP Enterprise exam, and the CCNP exam path is going to be become substantially more difficult. CEUs can now be used to renew most certification paths, similar to CompTIA and CEH.
More details can be found on Cisco's official releases:
Change Was Needed, Sure, But...
A lot of people complained. I personally complained to Cisco on multiple occasions, even after passing exams. For those familiar with my nine-book and nine-month lab approach to pass only the CCNP Route exam, you've seen the hardship that an engineer could go through for purely and simply wanting to honestly play by the rules.
Was this the right direction to move it? In my opinion, it is an improvement, but to be completely frank (and Cisco's simply going to have to take this comment on the chin), anything would have been an improvement at this point.
I think removing CCENT actually wasn't a bad step - less than 1% of employers actually held the certification as having any real value, and I'd argue that Network+ has more real-world worth than CCENT ever did.
Equalizing the knowledge fields for CCNA and CCNP into the Enterprise track is a mixed bag of emotions for me. While I can understand the thought process behind it, and agree that network engineering as a job field has become so broad in recent years that having a more rounded expertise set is very welcome, not all organizations will benefit from this. Speaking for my current job function, most of our engineers here are specialized enough in their job function that they rarely bridge the gap into other Cisco fields (switch engineers never deal with wireless, routing engineers never interact with voice, etc.).
My thought is that industry knowledge needs to be counter-balanced versus actual daily job use. If an engineer believes that 50% of what he's having to learn in order to pass a test is information he's never going to use in his career, he'll have far less incentive to learn the material and may be highly tempted to resort to cheating. It also makes it very difficult to afford a lab environment to get hands-on experience with all these platforms - owning a couple older routers and switches wasn't too bad, but having to own at least one ASA and a wireless controller with some WAPs? Really?
The CCIE decision may embitter some engineers, but embolden others. Personally, I think this was the best decision out of the announcement.
What I'm about to offer is purely a personal opinion that's not intended to belittle or offend anymore, so please take this with a very real grain of salt. CCIE is an incredible personal achievement, and it's very noteworthy to ascend to that level of technical expertise. That being said, the exams in recent years had become so "nitpicky" and so "granular" that my conviction was that to achieve CCIE, you'd have to "believe in Cisco for the forgiveness of your sins" and forsake almost the entirety of your sanity in the process. I previously didn't want to pursue CCIE because I felt that it was needlessly difficult.
My opinion on that subject has now changed, and I'm adjusting my five-year personal goals to include at least one attempt at CCIE Enterprise.
Adding in CEU options for renewal of everything except CCIE is also a step in the right direction - diving in to books simply wasn't worthwhile enough to detract from daily operations for many engineers who needed to re-up their certs. While my personal case would differ from that perspective, it's still the thought process that many engineers have adopted - so I offer it up in mention.
What This Means For You
If you're currently pursuing CCNA, you now have a little over seven months to complete your exams. Same case for CCNP.
For me, this announcement has effectively put my certification plans with Cisco on hold, as it makes no sense for me to pursue CCDP as that exam is going to be retired with the announcement.
I'm very curious to see what the new content will entail, as well as see what the industry's reaction as a whole will be to them.