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How to Become a Cisco Certified Specialist – ACI Implementation

Cisco Certified Specialist

Hello there, this is your 591LAB instructor, Stephen Wong today we are going to discuss about a very special exam of Cisco Certified Specialist it is Exam# 300-620- Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure. So let’s get started but first let me give you a little bit of its background. 

If you are a network engineer, you should know by now that Software Defined Networks (SDN) are a big thing in the industry. Cisco SDN is an architecture that enables network administrators to manage network services through software abstraction, as opposed to managing the individual hardware components of the network. The goal of SDN is to simplify network management, make it more efficient, and enable network operators to respond more quickly to changing business needs.

With it, network administrators can separate the network’s control plane from the data plane, which allows them to centrally manage and automate network policies and configurations. The SDN architecture typically includes a centralized controller, which communicates with the network’s switches and routers to enforce policies and manage traffic flows.

One of the main benefits is its ability to enable network automation, which reduces the need for manual configuration and improves network agility. This makes it easier to deploy and manage complex network services, such as load balancing, firewalls, and virtual private networks.

Cisco offers a range of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) products designed to meet various networking needs. Here is a brief differentiation between some of Cisco’s popular SDN products:

  • Cisco SD-Data Center (ACI) is a software-defined networking solution designed for data centers. ACI uses a policy-based approach to automate and simplify network provisioning and management. It includes a centralized controller, the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which provides a unified view of the network and automates network configuration.
Cisco SD-Data Center (ACI)
  • Cisco SD-Access (DNA Center) is an enterprise networking solution that provides automated network segmentation and policy enforcement to enhance security and streamline operations. It uses Cisco DNA Center as its management platform and supports multiple access technologies, including wired, wireless, and VPN.
Cisco SD-Access (DNA Center)
  • Cisco SD-WAN is a cloud-based networking solution that simplifies the deployment and management of wide-area networks. SD-WAN enables organizations to connect branch offices and remote users securely and reliably to the corporate network and cloud-based applications. It uses software-defined technology to dynamically route traffic over multiple paths, including broadband, LTE, and MPLS, based on application requirements and network conditions. SD-WAN provides centralized management and policy enforcement through a single console, enabling administrators to easily monitor and optimize network performance.
Cisco SD-WAN

Cisco Certified Specialist ACI deep dive

Cisco ACI, which stands for Application Centric Infrastructure, is a software-defined networking (SDN) architecture that provides centralized automation and policy-driven application profiles to simplify network operations and improve application performance.

Cisco ACI allows network administrators to define application requirements and policies in a centralized policy repository, which can then be automatically applied to the network infrastructure. This enables network administrators to provide a consistent and reliable application experience to end-users, regardless of where the application is deployed or how it is accessed.

The key components of Cisco Certified Specialist ACI include:

  1. Cisco ACI fabric provides a highly scalable, resilient, and programmable network infrastructure for modern data centers. It is built upon a leaf-and-spine network topology, with each leaf switch connected to every spine switch and all switches interconnected in a mesh fashion.
    • Leaf Switches: The leaf switches provide connectivity to the end-hosts, servers, and storage devices in the data center. They also offer access to services such as load balancers, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.
    • Spine Switches: The spine switches provide high-speed connectivity between the leaf switches and enable efficient east-west traffic flow within the fabric. They are typically deployed in a redundant configuration to ensure high availability.
  2. Cisco APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) is the centralized SDN controller that manages and enforces policies in a Cisco ACI fabric.
    • Policy-Based Automation: The APIC automates the configuration and management of the ACI fabric, providing network administrators with a policy-based approach to network operations. This allows administrators to easily define and enforce network policies based on the specific requirements of their applications.
    • Centralized Management: The APIC provides a single point of control for managing the ACI fabric, allowing administrators to view and manage the entire network from a single console. This simplifies network operations and reduces the risk of errors.
    • Real-Time Visibility: The APIC provides real-time visibility into the health and performance of the ACI fabric, including the status of individual devices, the flow of traffic, and the performance of individual applications. This allows administrators to quickly identify and resolve issues as they arise.

Cisco Certified Specialist ACI certifications

Cisco offers 2 exams that test your knowledge and experience with ACI technology. These are both related to the same technology, but they have different levels of difficulty and cover different topics.

  • 300-620 DCACI: Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure

This certification validates the skills and knowledge required to implement basic ACI features and functionality with more emphasis on terminologies and concepts understanding. The exam is designed for individuals who have a basic understanding of ACI and are responsible for implementing and operating ACI in a data center environment. It covers topics such as ACI fabric architecture, policies, integration, and management.

After you pass this exam you become a Cisco Certified Specialist – ACI Implementation.

  • 300-630 DCACIA: Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure

This certification validates the skills and knowledge required to implement advanced ACI features and functionality. The exam is designed for individuals who have a more advanced understanding of ACI and are responsible for implementing and operating advanced ACI features and functionality. The exam covers topics such as ACI multi-pod and multi-site deployment, ACI security, ACI programmability, and ACI telemetry.

In terms of difficulty, the DCACIA exam is generally considered more challenging than the DCACI exam due to the advanced topics it covers.

After you pass this exam you become a Cisco Certified Specialist – ACI Advanced Implementation.

300-620 DCACI exam prerequisites

There are no formal prerequisites. However, Cisco recommends that individuals have at least three to five years of experience working with data center technologies and a good understanding of networking concepts and protocols, including TCP/IP, routing, switching, and VLANs.

It is also recommended that individuals have hands-on experience with Cisco ACI technology, either through working with it in a professional environment or through lab exercises and simulations.

300-620 DCACI exam overview

The exam can be taken at Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide or online with the OnVUE remote proctoring option.

  • Format: Multiple choices, multiple answers
  • Length: 90 minutes + 30 minutes for native speakers
  • Number of questions: 70
  • Passing score: 825/1000
  • Price: 300$

300-620 DCACI exam preparation

1. Review the exam topics

The first step in preparing for any certification exam is to review the exam topics and identify the areas where you need to focus your study efforts. Cisco provides a detailed exam outline that you can use to guide your preparation. You can check Cisco’s official website and download the Exam Topics as a PDF file using this link.

Review the exam topics

2. Take a training course

Cisco offers training courses that cover the topics and skills required for the 300-620 exam. These courses can be taken online or in-person and provide a structured learning experience that can help you understand the material more deeply. The official Cisco course for this certification is Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (DCACI).

They are usually on the expensive side, so maybe you should check the next points.

3. Use study materials

There are many study materials available for the 300-620 exam, including study guides, practice exams, and online resources. Use these materials to reinforce your understanding of the exam topics and to identify areas where you need to focus your study efforts.

CCNP Data Center Application Centric Infrastructure 300-620 DCACI Official Cert Guide

The book is written by experienced Cisco experts and provides a comprehensive and detailed guide for individuals preparing for the 300-620 DCACI exam. It covers all the exam topics in-depth, including ACI architecture, policies, integration, and management, and includes numerous real-world examples and case studies to help readers understand the material.

The book is well-organized and follows a logical sequence that makes it easy to navigate and understand. Each chapter includes review questions and practice exercises to help readers reinforce their understanding of the material. Additionally, the book includes a full practice exam at the end, which is designed to simulate the real exam environment.

One potential downside to the book is that it may be too focused on the exam itself, and may not provide as much detail on real-world implementation scenarios. However, this is a common issue with certification exam prep materials and is not unique to this book.

Cisco Certified Specialist ACI: Zero to Hero: A Comprehensive Guide to Cisco ACI Design, Implementation, Operation, and Troubleshooting

The book is written by an experienced Cisco expert and provides a comprehensive guide to designing, implementing, operating, and troubleshooting Cisco ACI. It covers all aspects of ACI, including hardware components, architecture, policies, integration, and management, and provides real-world examples and case studies to help readers understand the material.

One of the strengths of the book is its focus on practical implementation scenarios. The author provides step-by-step instructions and detailed configuration examples that enable readers to implement ACI in a variety of scenarios. Additionally, the book includes troubleshooting tips and best practices to help readers resolve common issues and optimize their ACI deployments.

The book is well-organized and easy to navigate, with each chapter building upon the previous one to provide a comprehensive understanding of ACI. The author’s writing style is clear and concise, making it easy to understand even complex topics.

One potential downside to the book is that it may be too focused on the author’s specific implementation preferences, which may not be suitable for all environments. Additionally, the book is not focused specifically on the DCACI exam, so individuals preparing for that exam may need to supplement their study with additional materials.

Lab Minutes Cisco Certified Specialist ACI video bundles

Lab Minutes is a popular online learning platform that offers a range of video courses on networking and security technologies. Their Cisco ACI video bundles are a comprehensive set of video courses that provide in-depth coverage of Cisco ACI, from basic concepts to advanced topics.

One of the strengths of the Lab Minutes Cisco ACI video bundles is the clear and concise presentation of the material. The videos are well-organized and easy to follow, with detailed explanations and demonstrations of key concepts. The instructors are knowledgeable and experienced in ACI, and provide practical examples and use cases to help learners understand the material.

Another strength of the Lab Minutes Cisco ACI video bundles is the hands-on approach. The videos include demonstrations of ACI configuration and troubleshooting, with step-by-step instructions and real-world examples. This enables learners to gain practical experience with ACI and apply the concepts learned in the videos to their own environments.

One potential downside of the Lab Minutes Cisco ACI video bundles is that they may not provide as comprehensive coverage of ACI as some other resources. The videos focus primarily on configuration and troubleshooting and may not provide as much detail on ACI architecture and design considerations.

4. Set up a lab

One of the best ways to learn ACI is to set up a lab environment and practice configuring and managing the ACI fabric. You can use Cisco’s DevNet sandbox or build your own lab using Cisco hardware or virtualization software. The best choice though is to simply install the Cisco ACI Simulator.

Review the exam topics

Here’s a guide on how to do it.

5. Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice configuring and managing the ACI fabric, the more confident you will be when taking the exam. Use practice exams to simulate the exam environment and identify areas where you need to improve.

300-620 DCACI exam review

The exam itself is fairly though and you need to cover all topics as you will receive questions from everything. You should be prepared to:

  • describe every ACI object like EPG, BD, VRF, Tenant, L2Out/L3Out
  • compare Multi-Pod to Multi-Site solutions and understand the difference in requirements for each of them
  • know what kind of endpoint information Leafs learn when receiving an unicast/broadcast/ARP packet either from a local endpoint or from a remote one
  • understand all BD configuration knobs (unicast routing, L2 unknown unicast, ARP flooding and so on)
  • understand the implications when interacting with MSTP
  • know all the details of implementing Cisco ACI with VMware vCenter
  • have a good understanding of all the steps of configuring Service Graphs with and without Policy Based Redirect
  • know how to configure all services like syslog, SNMP, NTP, TACACS

Opportunities

Achieving the Cisco Certified Specialist ACI certification can demonstrate an individual’s expertise in designing, deploying, configuring, and managing Cisco ACI solutions in data center environments. This can lead to career opportunities in various industries, including telecommunications, finance, healthcare, and more.

Conclusions

The DCACI 300-620 exam is a challenging test that requires a strong understanding of Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) technology and data center concepts. Individuals who successfully pass the exam can demonstrate their expertise in designing, deploying, configuring, and managing Cisco ACI solutions in data center environments.

To complete the journey, it’s strongly suggested to complement the 300-620 DCACI: Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure with the 350-601 DCCOR: Implementing and Operating Cisco Data Center Core Technologies and become CCNP Data Center certified.

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