Exam pass: 640-911 DCICN


Over the last few months, in between a busy work schedule, I have been covering off the CCIE Written blueprint topics, the aim being to pass the written exam to renew my Professional level exams but more importantly, to refresh my routing and switching knowledge.

Progress has been slower than I would have liked, having only really covered off the layer 2 topics, but I’m not discouraged as I’ve been spending more time on other topics, including Python and Nexus.

Learning curve

It has only been in the last few months that I’ve had more exposure to the Cisco Nexus line of switches. My company’s new data centre that will be opening in Aberdeen, UK later this year will have a healthy Nexus footprint and we are bringing more customers on-line who utilise Nexus switching. With that in mind, I arranged for all members of my team to attend a suitable course and we all agreed that getting certified on that track makes sense.

Guinea pig

The CCNA Data Centre certification is made up of two exams:

The links above take you to the relevant Cisco page. I’m a little disappointed with the exam topics, which look like they’ve been typed up by somebody who has never sat an exam in their life.

The 640-911 exam is portrayed as a subset of the CCNA R&S and so I volunteered to be the team guinea pig and sit it first, without any studying to see if my current knowledge was sufficient.

The exam

This is the first time I’ve done an IT exam with no studying whatsoever, having only decided to do it the day before I sat it. It was more of a challenge just to see exactly where this exam sat. I was pleasantly surprised, but not with Cisco’s exam topic list, which is inaccurate and misleading.

Firstly, the number of questions and the time limit was quite challenging. I swear they add more questions and knock minutes off with each iteration. Another thing that quickly became apparent in the first few questions was that my Nexus knowledge needed to be better than the exam topic list suggested. Thankfully, Cisco were asking some silly Nexus based questions in this exam that I had asked the trainer in my Nexus course only a couple of weeks ago and so I’m happy to say I got a good pass mark. Looking at the Cisco website, you might be forgiven for thinking that a CCNA R&S will allow you to fly through this exam and that Nexus knowledge is only required for the 640-916 exam. My advice would be to be more prudent and ensure your basic Nexus knowledge is in place for 640-911 too.

I have already pre-ordered the Cisco Press book for the 640-916 exam and will be going through the INE Nexus video course before booking myself in for that one to ensure my knowledge is sound. At that point, I will also have had more hands on experience, my preferred method for increasing knowledge.


I had decided quite some time ago that certification for the sake of it was not something I was interested in but with me having more and more exposure to Cisco’s data centre product line, including Nexus, MDS and UCS, I think using the CCNA DC and maybe eventually the CCNP DC certification tracks to help me focus my learning makes perfect sense.

Till the next time.

New Year’s resolutions 2012

Just before the end of January hits us, I thought it would be a good idea to put my 2012 study wish list down in writing in the form of New Year’s resolutions. This will not only be a valuable checklist for me, but will provide motivation as the year moves on and putting it on my website will drive me on further.

I want to do the numbered items in that order. I’m being sensible this year as I want to make sure my CCNP reflects a good knowledge and not just good exam skills, especially with me only moving over to networking officially last year.

2013 should be even more exciting, but I’ll not be setting those goals in stone until nearer the time. I already have a good idea of what I want to do next year but I’ll be more focused if I keep that open and get my head down for the list below.

  1. CCNP ROUTE – having already passed the SWITCH exam at the tail end of 2011, I’ve already started studying for the ROUTE exam and have just about got EIGRP and OSPF out of the way. I’m hoping an IPv6 class I’m taking at Cisco Live London next week will help me in that area and that leaves BGP and route redistribution for when I return. However, I’m not in any rush and have a date for the exam of May time pencilled in
  2. CCNP TSHOOT – I want to give myself three months from passing ROUTE to have a go at this exam. Again, that’s plenty of time but I really want to make sure my CCNP is solid. After all, it’s just another step on the journey…one that never ends
  3. CCDA – no set time for this one other than just wanting it by the end of the year. I think design skills are critical for any IT engineer, but in particular in the field of networking. As well as giving you an understanding of why the pieces of the puzzle do, or perhaps do not work together when troubleshooting existing networks, it is a skill required of network architects
  4. CCNA specialism – not sure which one. I like the idea of doing the Wireless and I love the whole topic of IT security. Either way, I intend on getting both of them, but only have my sights set on one for 2012. With a new wireless deployment coming up at one of our offices, I think I may let that sway my decision for now

Till the next time.