What Is CCNA?
The growth of Cisco Systems since its inception has been phenomenal and consistent. This growth has occurred in part due to market dominance in their core product lines, as well as through adding breadth of products through acquisition of other companies. The stock price has grown to the point that many Cisco employees who get stock options as part of theircompensation packages cannot afford to leave Cisco and leave such a large sum of money behind! The Cisco Certiﬁed Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certiﬁcation program was introduced in 1994 as the only Cisco certiﬁcation. The entire breadth of the then-current product line was allowed to be covered on the exam, and it was intended to be a truly difﬁcult certiﬁcation to obtain. Certiﬁcation required an exam(computer-based) and then a hands-on, two-day lab. The failure rate on each portion was high.
Cisco does not publish the success rate for passing the CCIE exam or lab. I did some informal surveys, none of which I am allowed to quote. Consistently, the feedback was more than a 50 percent failure rate on CCIE lab candidates, with about an 80 percent failure rate for ﬁrst-time candidates!The breadth of Cisco’s product line has been growing and will continue to grow. Inside the Cisco sales arena, Systems Engineers and Account Managers sometimes long for the days of a one-volume, thin product manual. In those days, the entire product line could be memorized. Today, the product line is too broad for any one person to remember and to understand how all the products work. So twoproblems evolved for Cisco relating to certiﬁcation: one relating to the breadth of topics, the other to the depth of knowledge required. The CCIE exam could no longer cover the breadth of products. One solution was to create types of CCIE certiﬁcations, of which there are now three:
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CCIE—Routing/Switching CCIE—ISP CCIE—WAN
This helped address the problems that the breadth of productline created for the CCIE program.
Chapter 1: What Is CCNA?
The other solution was to create certiﬁcations in addition to the CCIE that did not require the same depth of skills and knowledge. The Cisco Certiﬁed Networking Associate (CCNA) certiﬁcation is the ﬁrst and most basic of these certiﬁcations. (The rest of these new certiﬁcations are described in the Introduction to this book.)The CCNA exam is basic, but not necessarily easy. The purpose of the exam could be best summarized as follows: To prove the candidate has mastered the topics covered on the CCNA exam, to the technical depth required for basic networks. Of course, that objective is open to considerable interpretation. What is a basic network? What breadth of topics are covered? Does basic mean small? This chapterprovides a complete interpretation of what the CCNA exam actually covers and the depth of knowledge needed. It also compares these objectives with the typical training you would have taken before attempting the exam. Cisco publishes a detailed list of CCNA objectives; each will be described. Finally, a “game plan” of how to complete your preparations with this study guide is included.
This book deﬁnes the objective of the CCNA exam as “proving mastery of the basics.” Mastery, in this case, means recalling all the facts and concepts relating to the subject. The only two questions that remain are as follows:
What are the subjects? How deeply do I need to know each subject?
We begin by examining all that Cisco has published about the exam.
What Cisco Saysabout CCNA
After sifting through the materials currently available from Cisco, the following is what we know about the exam:
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There are 60 published exam objectives that can be covered on the exam. A basic network (the exam covers “basic” networks) has two or three routers, LAN switches, leased lines or Frame Relay for WAN access, and ISDN for dial backup. Cisco’s certiﬁcation Web...