CCIE in 2024


I consider myself incredibly fortunate and lucky to work alongside some of the most exceptional network engineers in the industry. As a junior engineer I was sat in between two CCIEs, driving implementations off the back of their designs. It was pretty hard to get anything wrong! These individuals were not just highly skilled; they are also deeply engaged in understanding and applying emerging technologies.

In this ever-evolving landscape, there has been a decisive shift to align traditional network engineering with DevOps principles. Gone are the days when the network was merely the underlay of a platform; now, it is an integral component. We aim to deliver high-quality networks swiftly and consistently using next generation methodologies. So, is a CCIE still worth it in 2024?


The Intersection of Network and DevOPs

Today’s engineering teams are committed to modernising the way we approach networking through methodologies like Infrastructure-as-Code. We use templating tools like Jinja2, store configurations in Version Control Systems (VCS), and deploy them using Terraform and Ansible, all through well-formed CI/CD pipelines.  This isn’t just DevOps jargon, these are an essential component of today’s workflows, ensuring rapid, consistent, and reliable network deployment.

Things have changed rapidly over the last 3 years. Vendors have pushed their proprietary automation and orchestration platforms, provided integrations with other tools, but the glue in the middle is mostly opensource, with vendors not really doing as much as they could to push engineers towards the opensource technologies.  The CCIE program has acknowledged this shifting landscape by devoting 15% of the program to understanding the foundations of these topics.


The Timeless Value of CCIE Certification

The CCIE has stood the test of time as a hallmark of excellence in the networking arena. Beyond technical acumen, it signals a person’s dedication, commitment, and problem-solving skills. As a CCIE myself, I can unequivocally state that this certification has not lost an iota of its prestige or relevance.

Since its launch in 1993 there has been a total of around 70K CCIE’s to date, these are unique CCIEs and not the current active number. Only 3% of all Cisco-certified engineers attempt the CCIE, which has an estimated 26% pass rate. It’s no easy task!


Why CCIE Continues to Hold Weight

In a world moving towards automation, the value of a certification focused predominantly on single-vendor configurations might be questioned. However, a CCIE is far more than command lines and configurations; it represents a deep understanding of network infrastructure, protocols, and the associated complexities.

From an employer’s perspective, a CCIE represents more than just technical expertise.  I believe that the CCIE certification demonstrates an individual’s aptitude for comprehending complex problems and their unwavering dedication to achieving challenging goals, arguably more so than technical acumen In my own journey, gaining my CCIE honed not just my technical skills, but also essential soft skills like communication and time management. Balancing a full-time networking job that often requires after-hours work, while also preparing for the CCIE, demands impeccable time management.

I became adept at optimising my workflow. For instance, I used a US keyboard day and night and limited myself to a single screen to simulate lab conditions. It’s about making small adjustments, a 1% change in a hundred things, that results in a 100% improvement.

A CCIE-certified engineer isn’t just technically proficient. They are passionate, dedicated, excellent at time management, can work under pressure, and communicate efficiently. Add in-depth protocol understanding to the mix and you have what can only be described as an exemplary engineer.


The Verdict: Is the CCIE Still Worth It in 2024?

In an emphatic word, Yes! The CCIE isn’t merely a certification; it’s a testament to your expertise, your dedication, and your ability to adapt and overcome. The skills you gain along the way—be it time management, organisational efficiency, or the innate ability to see the bigger picture—are immeasurable assets that transcend the confines of networking.


Closing Thoughts

The network landscape is undoubtedly evolving with the adoption of automation and software-defined networking. The CCIE program aims to adapt to these changes by maintaining a current focus and, to a significant extent, remaining vendor-agnostic. Ultimately, what distinguishes an expert network engineer from others is a profound understanding of networking protocols, which the CCIE exam provides, and the ability to tackle intricate problems. Throughout your CCIE journey, you’ll gain ample experience in addressing complex challenges. So if you’re contemplating the pursuit of a CCIE, my advice is simple: Don’t hesitate; the journey is as important and rewarding as the destination.