First, let me say that I’m not involved in the formulation of the new CCNA syllabus. I know people who are but they have signed a non-disclosure agreement, and I’ve not asked them for any information.
As you know, Cisco updates the CCNA RS syllabus every three years. They do this to comply with requests from their partner companies, to keep up-to-date with industry changes and to ensure the CCNA retains its position as the most relevant IT certification exam available. This means that we can expect a new syllabus to be announced early in 2016. This usually sparks mass panic in most students who have been procrastinating.
Having been taking and teaching Cisco exams since 1999 I’ve seen several changes over the years and have also developed a fairly accurate feel for what will be coming and going from future iterations of the CCNA exams.
The biggest changes brought into the current CCNA exam were:
- CCNP level subjects such as HSRP, EtherChannel, DTP
- Deep understanding of IPv6 required
- Advanced troubleshooting techniques
- Network design with subnetting and supernetting
The current CCIE exam has dropped Frame Relay and I expect this to be dropped next time the CCNP ROUTE is updated and in the next iteration of the CCNA exam.
Here is my educated guess at what will be added in the next CCNA RS exam.
- IOS XR and XE architecture and configuration
- Advanced IPv6 routing concepts
- Private VLANs
- Route maps
- Policy routing
- DHCP snooping
- Cloud computing
Some of these may be theory only, but most will be a combination of theory, labs, and troubleshooting. But what makes the whole job much harder is having to learn the alternative syntax required by IOS XE and IOS XR. IOS XE CLI and configuration are almost identical to IOS whereas IOS XR is based on a third-party real-time operating system (RTOS).
Learning IOS XR may prove to be a challenge for some because it offers both an entirely new range of commands as well as syntax. Even before you log into a router using IOS XR, there is a login authentication and exec authorization process. There is no concept of user mode in IOS XR for example. As well as configuration mode you can use admin mode with IOS XR:
RP/ 1/ RP1/ CPU0: IOSXR(admin)#
Configurations are applied with the commit command whereas you simply press enter at the IOS command prompt. The running configuration is replaced with the commit replace command:
RP/ 1/ RP1/ CPU0: IOSXR (config)# commit replace
This commit will replace or remove the entire running configuration. This operation can be service affecting.
Do you wish to proceed? [no]: y
This may not happen because IOS XR currently only runs on high-end Cisco routers, but it is currently in the CCNA SP exam.
The CCNA RS exam tends to dip well into CCNP RS territory but also CCNA specialization exams such as Wireless, Security, Video, Voice, etc. For this reason, you may be expected to know fundamentals and some configuration commands for any of these subjects.
This is all an educated guess by the way. I wanted to make that clear. This post is just a heads-up and a friendly warning that if you plan to pass your Cisco CCNA RS exam you might want to think about doing it sooner rather than later.
There is nothing worse than having only two months to pass the CCNA due to job or interview requirements knowing that if you don’t pass in time, you have at least an extra two months on top of that having to learn the new subjects and buy new materials.
Panic Early and Have Fun.
P.S. If you want to study for the CCNA in a hurry check out my CCNA in 60 Days plan. If you want to pass it at a slower pace, then use my howtonetwork.com CCNA training (which has access to live Cisco equipment included).