Route to CCNP CORE Beginning

Route to CCNP CORE Beginning

It all started with an Email.

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This is a heads-up that your CCNA certification will expire on Aug 07, 2023.

Remember; an expired certification means you’ll need to restart the entire process. So recertify soon to get the most out of all the hard work you’ve done.

I certified back in 2016, but this was extended by passing CCNA: Security, again with CCNA: Cyber Ops with a little extension for the COVID period courtesy of Cisco.

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun and recertification flies back around?

My initial thought was to let it expire, I thought there was no way I'm going to be able to pass in three months. Then it niggled at the back of my mind, I worked my arse off to get 3 CCNAs. I did CCNP level study at University, my company sent me on CCNP training courses in London. I have done most of what's required it's just refreshing and practicing and getting over that line.

It's funny as I started my IT training doing computer networking at a Cisco Academy university. My dream was to achieve CCIE (one day). That dream slowly faded away as the Microsoft world took over when I started my first IT role. As far as my networking skills go I mainly work on switching with HP Aruba hardware. I've never had to use routing protocols or deal with many Cisco routers out in the wild. So slowly CCNP was put on the back burner and I took a "Do I need it?" attitude.

The sad truth is I actually enjoy this stuff and slightly miss the good old days spent learning and labbing it and I miss my roots. So I have decided sod it, I'm going to attempt to finally get over that line by starting with CCNP CORE Enterprise and thus keeping my certs "valid".

So join me in this journey, it will keep me motivated and hopefully committed to the cause and I will share what resources I use and all my revision notes and things that will help me along the way. Maybe you will learn something or it will help someone striving for the same goal.

CCNP CORE Enterprise

So to become fully CCNP qualified you need to pass two exams a CORE exam then you pick a specialty, below is the infographic from Cisco:

I have left the other tracks in for the curious-minded, but I am focusing on Enterprise. I'm not sure what specialty I'm going to go into but it may be 410 - Advanced Routing OR 420 - Design (Watch this space)

So this is for 401 - the CORE exam.

Exam Blueprint

Another life lesson to be shared. Always have the Exam Blueprint to hand, I can't stress this enough. I made the mistake in my early days, especially with CCNA Security of reading the Official Cert Guide, doing a video course and booking the Exam and failing hard.

The problem with CCNA security at the time was riddled with content that wasn't covered in the study guide. 802.1x and ISE are two good examples I remember clearly. Not to mention lots of complaints of a broken simulator if you were unlucky (but that's another story).

However, if I had reviewed the blueprint these were covered in the relevant domains. So when I finally revisited security I made sure to check off my knowledge against the blueprint for the items the guides or videos missed.

Lecture aside the exam objective Domains are as follows:

ENCOR Exam Topics (

Randomly I saw a great short video posted by "Snack Minute" explaining how to break down the exam blueprints to get a rough idea of the difficulty of the objectives asked.

Key takeaways, look for the Verbs in the objectives to define the required knowledge and effort values.



The current List of resources I have are the official Cisco certification Study Guide:

CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Core: ENCOR 350-401 (Paid Link)

Now not to sound slightly dubious, but I'm not convinced this book alone is probably good enough so I also have a copy of the old CCNP Route/Switch/Tshoot Books

CCNP Routing and Switching v2.0 Official Cert Guide Library (Paid Link)

Now this is crazy at over £100 so I do encourage either buy separately if offered or get from the second-hand market on Amazon for a better deal.

Now the current book comes in at 1000 pages and also covers new ground like Automation/virtualization. Look at the size of these three books combined! (Courtesy of my book shelf)

where has all that content gone?!? So I still recommend these to bulk out the study and certain topics. They were well-respected books when the old CCNP was live and I have used them in my studies at university.

Anatomy of an Internet routing protocol (OSPF)

I dropped on a free copy of this on someone's GitHub, go figure. But for reference here is the Amazon link: (Paid Link)

This book is awesome, it goes into great depth on how OSPF was made and works. Genuinely an interesting read. Also written by the gent who did the RFC for OSPF I believe. This will solidify your understanding of how OSPF works.

Video Courses

I have access to Pluralsight thanks to work. The course is written by "Ben Piper"

other courses I recommend are:

Chris Bryant - Bulldog advantage. His videos are from the old CCNP and I first got his courses via Udemy. He also has his own CCNP Books (Not used)

About Chris Bryant, "The Computer Certification Bulldog" - The Bryant Advantage

Lazaro Diaz - Purchased his CCNA content during University and quite liked his teaching style he does CCNP content on his website below but I haven't personally used his CCNP material.



Rene Molenar (CCIE) Runs I had a subscription to this back in 2016 and was £10 it now costs a lot more but honestly the content is top-notch and nicely laid out and easy to follow. You can sign up for a $1 1-week trial. - Networking in Plain English

He also does CCNP books (not personally used) can be found on Amazon.

He also runs the Gns3Vault which has loads of free practice labs you can use with video solutions and config files if you sign up for free.

I will be using the GNS3 network simulator for now and Packet Tracer which is free from Cisco but only suitable for CCNA and basic-level labbing.

GNS3 | The software that empowers network professionals

That's all I can think of at the top of my head. If any of this changes I will notify you in my future posts. But this should be enough to get started with.

Parting comments

Let the fun begin I guess. If you want to follow my journey hit the like. Drop me some comments on your study strategy or CCNA/CCNP journey past or present.

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