I’m regularly asked the question: What privileges or special access does Cisco give to people when they pass the CCIE™exam ?
Short answer: None. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero.
If you work hard to pass your Cisco CCIE™exam, Cisco will allocate you a number and validate that you are certified. After that, Cisco provides very little support, privileges or access. Today, the CCIE™program is maintained by the wider Cisco Learning team and certified CCIE’s are treated the same as any other certified person. CCIE’s are a minority community in the Cisco Learning environment and get very few resources allocated (because Cisco Learning focuses on numbers not quality).
In the past, Cisco offered accelerated TAC access by inserting TAC cases directly to L3 resources but this was stopped some years ago.
All access to Cisco resources is determined by your employer. Thus, if you work for a Cisco reseller, then you personal access to special resources is determined by your partner status as Gold, Silver or Premium partner.
Cisco partners have access to additional information on products, practical labs, and some limited competitive information.
If you work for a customer, then your access to technical resources is determined by the size of the your account spend, your Cisco account manager, and whether you are purchasing support directly from Cisco or a Third Party. Since most customers purchase their support from Third Parties to reduce costs, many people have no direct access to support from Cisco.
If you can afford to attend Cisco Live, a current CCIE™can get a small discount on sign up. It’s about USD$300 (whoa there!). At each Cisco Live there is a CCIE™appreciation event – basically a building, some cheap food and cheap booze (which I no longer bother to attend).
Shoe on the Other Foot
But let me ask you another question: What does Cisco ask from CCIE’s ?
Cisco Sales Reps are taught to target CCIE’s within customer account. People who are CCIE-certified are expected to be loyal and aligned to Cisco. And many people will be – after all they spent a lot of time and effort to become skilled in Cisco IOS and networking technology. It’s also human nature to prefer to buy what they are familiar and comfortable with using. That’s human nature.
It’s also true that the person with extensive skills will be able to match products to business requirements. For example, explaing the difference between Cisco ACS and ISE takes a fair amount of fundamental knowledge at a product level plus an understanding of how the business operates. Therefore, making sure that a person with strong technology skills is part of the sales targeting plan will reduce the pre-sales cost for Cisco.
Of course, there are always some people will also be one-eyed and bigoted but that’s likely a personality trait than the result of training & discipline.
Are CCIEs, as a whole, happy with that ?
A few years back the CCIE™ program was much more focussed on building strong bonds with CCIE candidates and certified individuals. That was before the CCIE program administration team was absorbed into the Cisco Learning Team. From this time forward, there has been no support, outreach, or partnership with successful exam candidates. All previous privileges have been lost and nothing has replaced them.
It’s a common topic at Cisco Live events – I’ve been to “CCIE Appreciation” events in the last five years and this was a common topic – “what happened to our privileges ? ”
The only outreach that occurs today is a specific event at Cisco Live where John Chambers meets with NetVets and CCIEs and listens to the them talk. And then absolutely nothing gets done about any of the issues raised there.
The EtherealMind View
So if you ask whether I get support and special access to Cisco services, the answer is no. As a reward for the commitment that I have demonstrated to Cisco for studying, learning and mastering their technology and products, and being the target for their sales calls and becoming a gateway/influencers to many millions of dollars sales every single year I get absolutely nothing from Cisco.
That’s why I no longer put my CCIE status/number in emails – why promote a product that does nothing for me ?
I point the blame for this problem at the Cisco Learning Team for not standing up and fighting for resources (money & people) to support this key business resource for Cisco.
I also think that company executives really need to do something about the Cisco Learning team – few people like them, or the leadership of that business unit. The overall attitude is domineering and much like a Hollywood B-grade movie High School Headmaster – bumbling, fascist tosspots and with all kinds of dumbass educational ideas (don’t get me started). They need to learn business skills and the real world isn’t how they like it.
But then, there are lots of other vendors to buy from, so it’s not really a big deal. Use your CCIE study program to learn technology, don’t get caught up in loyalty to Cisco, they simply don’t repay it.