How To Become a CCIE Data Center – with Antonella Corno

by Mirek Burnejko

Antonella CornoThis is an interview with Antonella Corno from Cisco Systems.

Antonella is responsible for all Data Center certifications (including CCIE Data Center).

She is also well-known for her help to the CCIE Storage Networking community.

In this interview you will find:

  • Is the CCIE Data Center certification for you
  • How to prepare to the CCIE Data Center exams
  • What is the best starting point for the Data Center world


ICM: Hello Antonella. It is an amazing pleasure to have you here. Tell us our readers about you and your role in Cisco.

Antonella Corno: Hi. My name is Antonella Corno, and I am the Product Portfolio Manager for the Data Center/Virtualization and Cloud Training and Certification products for Cisco. My experience includes positions in both Telecommunication and Networking across multiple technologies. I joined Cisco with the start of the MDS Storage Networking product line, and I worked on the development team for various Data Center technologies during the last ten years. Subsequently, I joined [email protected], the organization within the company responsible for training and certification of partners and customers, working on the same technologies that I was developing previously.

ICM: Let’s start from your the biggest news. Finally we have CCIE Data Center. Can you tell us in few words who should start thinking about this certification?

AC: Data Center is a relatively new technology, and in many ways Cisco has been proactive in bringing Partners and Customers up to the speed regarding the evolution of our products. While other certification tracks are meant to assess and train individuals on existing skills and roles, the data center certifications ensure customers can take full advantage of the tremendous power of the virtualization and computing integrated within the Cisco portfolio.

If you are already an established professional in advanced Data Center technologies, you can prove yourself and distinguish yourself from the crowd with this new highly regarded career certification.

If you are migrating from a data center technology silo, such as a server farm, or networking, or storage you can recognize the full potential of your data center network and your skills with the knowledge attained within this certification

ICM: I see many subjects connected with FiberChannel. Why you decided to continue the CCIE Storage Networking certification?

CCIE Data CenterAC: All our certifications are job role based, not product based. The two data center related CCIE programs (Storage and Data Center) are focused on different job roles, so they really have two separate audiences. Cisco sees the future of the Data Center and Cloud as taking advantage of the virtualization and integration that the whole Cisco Data Center portfolio is capable of, so we encourage anyone that wants to enhance their career and to invest in themselves to take the Data Center certification. If you see yourself mostly focused on the storage side of the technology, then the CCIE Storage certification is what you want to pursue.

ICM: According to FryGuy’s Blog the equipment for the lab costs more that $1,100,000. What, in your opinion, is the most effective way to prepare for the lab? Gold partners, Bootcamps from Cisco or maybe we should wait for bootcamps from INE, IPX or Micronics?

AC: Cisco has a comprehensive set of courses that will prepare you for your CCIE Data Center: All our courses at the intermediate level, focus on two areas including Unified Computing and Unified Fabric. These areas provide a strong foundation for data center technologies. We encourage candidates to advantage of this highly integrated portfolio of Implementation, Design and Troubleshooting courses for Unified Fabric and Unified Computing.

In addition, we provide a full portfolio of product training if you need more help on a specific product.

All Cisco Data Center products have a corresponding continuously up-to-date product training course that provides in-depth coverage of all the features of each product. Data center courses are available at our Learning Partners network, and you can find all the related information at Cisco Learning Network, under the tab “specialist Data Center”

ICM: One technical question. The scope of the CCIE DC exam is clear, but I see Nexus 1000V in the blueprint. What level of knowledge about ESX/ESXi I should have for the CCIE DC written and lab exam?

AC: Any Cisco certification is covering Cisco products in-depth, but not third-party configuration. However, you will need to know how the Cisco equipment works with other third-party components that are relevant to the specific context.

ICM: What is the best step to start a preparation process? Books, PEC or maybe your community?

AC: As mentioned, definitively our communities, our courses, and the training and reading material that are listed on our site.

ICM: What is the best way to start a journey with the Data Center world? Which certification is good to start and move to more advanced topics?

CiscoAC: Cisco provides a number of specialist certifications in Data Center. These certifications are the best place to start you Cisco Data Center education. Keep monitoring our website, we have a number of courses and certifications that are constantly being updated and created to meet your data center training needs.

ICM: Many people with the CCIE Storage Networking certifications love your free SAN-OS cookbook and (even more) your study group (with webex sessions). Are going to launch any free materials, like the cookbook and create the second study group for CCIE Data Center?

AC: We will create a study group for the CCIE Data Center track. We encourage all those interested to sign up when it becomes available. As a community of certified network professionals we should all try and help each other as sometimes learning from other’s mistakes or victories is often the best way to learn.

ICM: There are many hungry engineers, who want to achieve the CCIE Data Center certification. What is your #1 advice for all of them?

AC: Go for it! It is an investment on your future!

ICM: Thank you so much Antonella. Good luck and we cannot wait to see the first CCIE Data Center.

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]

  • Fadi Mounayar

    Very interesting and much appreciated.