Let’s assume that you’re the manager of the internetworking team for a large enterprise network. You’ve just decided to migrate less-critical sites in your network from traditional (expensive) WAN offerings to IPSec running over the public Internet. Your internetworking architect has worked with the vendors to select the best technology and chose dynamic multipoint VPN (DMVPN) with a CA server running on a router. The proof-of-concept lab has been built and now you’re ready to order the new boxes and start the deployment. But there’s a major roadblock in this otherwise rosy scenario. Your engineers have to be trained on the new technology before the rollout; otherwise, you can expect interesting fallouts when the first problems inevitably start to appear.
Cisco offers a wide range of security training, so your job seems easy. But the topics you need (OSPF, DMVPN, CA, IOS-based firewall) are covered to various degrees in three courses: »Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks« (BSCI), »Implementing Cisco IOS Network Security« (IINS) and »Securing Networks with Cisco Routers and Switches« (SNRS). These courses also cover numerous other topics that your engineers might find interesting in their career-enhancement process, but those other topics are not relevant for your organization. It could be hard to justify paying for three weeks of training in today’s cost-sensitive environment just to get the three or four days of information you need. Some topics are covered in more than one course (VPNs in IINS and SNRS), so you might wonder how much overlap there is, and the CA server running on a router isn’t covered in any widely available certification course.
So what can you do? Find a training provider that can offer the course customized to the actual requirements of your network rollout. Find someone who can work with you to identify the topics that various groups of technicians and engineers would need to understand, and create a whole training curriculum covering all the expertise levels in your organization, from help-desk technicians to experts. The delivery of this curriculum obviously depends on the size of your team: classroom training is ideal for larger groups; e-learning and virtual labs for individual, more sophisticated engineers.
A good training provider will also be able to address the needs of your top experts by preparing a comprehensive set of self-study guides for them; developing network-specific scenarios that they can design, configure and troubleshoot in the pilot lab; even helping them to grasp all the nuances of new technologies through interactive mentoring sessions. As you can see, certification training doesn’t have to be hit-or-miss.