In the last couple of weeks, Cisco has changed its cert program to retire some credentials primarily aimed at individuals who work (or want to work) for service providers, while introducing new credentials to round out this part of their program and to take their place. Thus on April 18, the company announced the retirement of the Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP), while at the same time announcing the launch of Service Provider and Service Provider Operations versions of its primary credentials, including CCNA SP, CCNP SP, and CCIE SP, plus CCNA SP Ops, CCNP SP Ops, and CCIE SP Operations.
The CCIP will no longer be available as of October 29, 2012, so individuals who wish to earn this credential had best get a move on to get the exams taken and passed in the 6 months that remain as I post this blog. For those already in pursuit of CCIP who’d like to switch over to CCNA SP, there’s a Migration Tool that explains what exams you can count toward the new credential, and what other exams you’ll need to take to qualify as well.
As far as I can tell, the primary distinction between plain-vanilla “Service Provider” and “Service Provider Operations” (aka “SP Ops”) credentials in the three major Cisco certs (CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE) deals with designing, implementing, installing, and optimizing carrier-grade IP next-generation networks (plain vanilla) versus day-to-day operations issues on such networks, including isolating network performance issues, implementing proactive fault measures using ops management techniques, and working with network management and monitoring on service provider networks (service provider operations).
Should be interesting to see how all this pans out. There must be a lot of work available to help run service provider networks and backbones, because Cisco’s going all in on these new credentials!