Should I Go For CCDE or VCIX-NV?

I got a lengthy email from one of my readers a while ago, essentially asking a simple question: assuming I want to go return to my studies and move further than CCIE I currently hold, should I go for CCDE or the new VMware’s VCIX-NV?

Well, it’s almost like “do you believe in scale-up or scale-out?” ;) Both approaches have their merits.

Aiming for CCDE is (oversimplifying to the extreme with sincere apologies to the CCDE community) going for more of the same, obviously replacing bit-by-bit protocol knowledge and configuration gimmicks with focus on network design and architecture.

Aiming for VCIX-NV is entering new territory – not entirely unfamiliar, it’s still routing and switching, but different.

We could discuss whether one or the other is a better career move (if you want to go down that tangent, write a comment), but if you want to pursue a certification to have a structured studying path (and force yourself to study – see also this post), you have to decide whether you love getting better at what you do (CCDE) or try something new (VCIX-NV).


  1. VCIX-NX. It shows your not a one trick pony and have expansive skills instead of honed skills. Switch it up
    1. If you are holding a CCIE, then you are no one-trick pony, that's for sure.
      Maybe it's time to stop pursuing additional pieces of paper at that point, and concentrate on both... exploring and learning and training in the lab on what's relevant and what you find that you are most passionate about.

      And maybe VMware NSX is interesting... but perhaps Open Vswitch/OpenStack or Hyper-V virtual networking are more interesting.

      Every hour spent studying something you already learned, so you can pass a test.... is time you could be playing with some other technology or doing something else you enjoy more.

      So unless you think the CCIE paper you got was the wrong thing, then the IE should be plenty, and no real bonafide need for other bits of paper.

    2. Agreed, no bone-fide need as such, but as Ivan states in his last paragraph above, for some of us it's nice to have a structured learning path with something at the end of it.
  2. I personally have CCIE R&S and DC, and going for VCP-NV myself (which will eventually lead to VCIX-NV. I personally believe that this would be the most rewarding path - for several different reason - so I would recommend this to others too. In fact, I've convinced at least 6 of my fellow CCIE friends to do the same.

    VCP/VCIX, as per above comment, shows diversity, broad understanding of different technologies, shows that you are up-to-date on latest technologies (since VCIX-NV is essentially brand new), is almost 100% certain to be in very high demand (i.e. more $), and so much more. It's also new and exciting - which makes the learning process fun and rewarding as well. No matter who wins or establishes themselves in the SDN race, VMware's solution would undoubtedly be one of the must-know solutions.
  3. CCDE. But I'm biased. :-)
  4. I am CCIE R&S and VCP; I am planning to get my VCIX-NV soon. I recently got my AWS solution architect certification. This knowledge has helped me with designing and implementing our AWS VPC cloud infrastructure and connecting back to our DC via IPsec tunnels.
    I am trying to learn all aspect networking in Data Center, virtual and cloud. In addition I am working on SDN POC with Brocade switches with vaytta controller.
    Programing with Python will be a part of my networking skill improvement process for network automation.
  5. Another R&S here, I also have VCIX-NV and have made two attempts at VCDX so far, with another one to come next month.
    I don't think either VCDX nor CCDE have the brand recognition in the job market to really pay just get, this may change as the numbers of both slowly grow. I agree with Ivan's comments on certs being a good personal learning path, even if the ROI isn't clear.
    My last recert I took the CCIE-DC written, which is certainly an interesting, if expensive to pursue path. DE is more aligned with VCDX though.
    CCIE is still the one to beat though, guaranteed interviews with Cisco partners anytime and even corporate recruiters have heard of it, numbers can be a good thing.
    1. Can you compare and contrast the VCIX-NV lab experience with the CCIE R&S lab experience? Similar difficulty / length / study time ?

      I think the reason CCIE is so desireable is because it has a (deserved) reputation of weeding out chaff and generally being a good measure of knowledge - or at least of sheer determination. If you can study for 3 months and knock out a VCIX then I think it ends up with the rest of the certification garbage.

      AFAIK CCDE has the same rigour as the CCIE program in terms of difficulty and study time.
    2. Very difficult to compare - IE took me years to be ready for & I failed a two day lab before passing an early 1 day lab (during the brief period where R&S still had MPLS / ATM / Token-ring / DLSw / VoIP). VCIX-NV I took with a weeks internal training (I'm a VMware employee) and some revision, but also with now 20 years experience including 13 as a CCIE...
      It's a real life frustrating lab, so it's not certification garbage like the low level multi-choice tests but neither is it quite CCIE, and certainly not CCDE/VCDX level.
  6. Hi guys.

    Remember that CCIE gives you direct access to the VCIX-NV. Without any prior vmware certs or bootcamps.

    I´am doing the lab in 4 weeks.

    Path 3: Valid CCIE Data Center or CCIE Routing & Switching certification. Note: This path is only available until February 28, 2015

    Just request access before th 28th of Feb and you have access.
    1. What - that's awesome! I didn't know that. I was going for my VCP-NV - planning to write it in two weeks - now I might change it to VCIX-NV! Or I might still do VCP-NV first and then VCIX-NV - as it's all very new to me.

      Thanks for the note! I didn't even bother looking at VCIX-NV earlier assuming it would be too much new stuff at once - but considering that they have this option, it may not prove to be overly complicated.

      Thanks again :)
    2. Interesting discussion as always, Ivan. CCDE still gets my vote.

      Thanks for the heads-up, Thomas. I also had no idea about the exam path for CCIE engineers.

      I have some good experience with the Vmware products so this might be the ideal time to branch out from the Cisco stable and get that VCIX certification.

      Kind regards
  7. For those of you who think CCIE has any value - I used to work in a team of at east 4-5 CCIEs and they could barely troubleshoot layer 2 problems. Nowadays there are underground schools who get the lab setup and questions straight from China and for the right amount of money will teach you how to pass the lab scenarios as long as you are a hardcore memorization monkey. At least from what I have seen in Toronto.
  8. Are those the only choices? If you are already CCIE qualified I would say that another Cisco cert is just that - another Cisco cert. More valuable for your career would be finance, project management and other skills which demonstrate your wider all-round capability.

    That said, if those are the only choices then I'd go for the VMware cert as it more clearly demonstrates a "multi-vendor" individual. And if you have the time, why not do both?

  9. Well I don't know the point in comparing both certifications in first place. CCDE is more of a certification focussed on in deep understanding of routing protocols and mpls applications. It's really about knowing about WHY ? behind preparing a solution and it's impact in overall network which CCIE is certainly not focussed on.

    So to me CCDE is kind of CCIE +

    VMware certifications are focussed on modern approaches to build and scale networks using virtualization, overlays and magical cloud word. So in that sense it would perhaps make more sense to compare it with something like CCIE DC and how learning more about VMware stuff help you build skillset in that area. There are still tons of things that for example you will find on CCIE DC blueprint which pure VMware guy might not have much or detailed idea about.

    so perhaps NV is better track to go after CCIE DC IMHO.
  10. Whenever there is a discussion about CCIEs, there is always at least one comment about how crappy some CCIEs are. Unfortunately, there is truth to that statement - due to cheating and braindumping, etc.

    Regardless, CCIEs have AMAZING value - the real ones that is - which I would argue are far, far greater in number than the fake CCIEs. And luckily, you can tell the fake one apart from a real CCIE in about 5 minutes or less in an interview/discussion.

    Considering that, I would continue to recommend it to others as I don't know ANY other "investment" that has better ROI than CCIEs. Work hard, earn it, and then reap the benefits! Typical CCIE takes 2000 to 3000 hours worth of effort - and more for some people. If you study properly, with rack rentals and your own lab, it typically takes multiple attempts, and will typically set you back $10,000-30,000. It's an enormous undertaking that requires a lot of dedication. However, once you have it, you never have to worry about being unemployed again. And you typically make your investment in it back in less than 2-3 months of working in a CCIE role.
    1. Agree!

      If you work/used to work with CCIE's who can't troubleshoot L2,...well, you've been working with the wrong CCIE's then.

  11. me I think you selling yourself short (nothing against the CCIE, CCDE, VCIX-NS out there), but why not push for something harp all the time on new technologies and their pitfalls....why not be in the forefront as these technologies are being developed to be the one person who stands up and says...yea, this would great , but in reality, this wont work..or it wont work in 90% of environments......with all your perspective in the different technologies this gives you an edge over others who are solely focused... you have so many good ideas yourself...why not try to push them out better...more effectively.. than simply putting them in a blog or webcasts

    With your reputation and knowledge, any extra cert just seems in YOUR case like it would be more letters after your name..
    1. Hey, thank you for all the praise - that's exactly what I'm trying to do (and occasionally getting some minimal traction ;).

      Guess you missed the nuance in the first paragraph ;)) - I don't have any intentions of pursuing another certification in the near future, I was just trying to collect more feedback to someone's question.
  12. I´m loving the NSX, had an attempt in VCIX-NV this morning actually, lets see what happens... I hold a CCIE so I could go for it directly, but even so - I recommend you go for VCP first, VCIX is not simple... takes a lot of hard work
    1. Passed :) Is there a list of current VCIX holders?
      Btw - Ivan, thanks for the blog, I´ve been reading it for years, actually saw your NSX YouTube videos which is how I got into the topic
    2. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Great job ;)
    3. Congratulations Mateja.

      As far as I know there is only a list for successful VCDX-NV candidates.

      With that said, you're one of a handful of people to pass the VCIX-NV. Well done!

      --Disclaimer - I work for VMware's NSBU.
  13. Ok , Seems the party is over and i'm a bit late.
    i hold a CCIE R&S but my daily job is more into presales . i divorced the console back in 2010 :) Anyway.. i'm so much interested in vmware as the gate to the holy SDN era and took a look on the network virtualization and it looks interesting. honestly i dont know if it is simple to go for the NSX or it needs a lot of hands on and work experince. i might give it a shot but i don't know how much time it will took me full 6 months to get the CCIE . Now i have my 4 years kid i no longer have the luxury of having the same kind of dedication again.

    Anyway,thanks for the post and the comments. i really enjoyed read it.
  14. Even i had this experience of rejecting multiple CCIE candidate during interview process. They lacked the basic knowledge of why they were using the feature and when it should be implemented. They only concentrate on passing their labs by mimicking the lab guides.
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