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Fast Track to HP Certification for Cisco Certified Professionals

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on August 1, 2010 · 9 comments

in Certification

Those of you who hold valid Cisco Professional or Expert level certifications (e.g. CCNP, CCIP, CCIE) may be interested in this, especially if you deal with heterogeneous network environments.

Several months ago, HP ProCurve introduced their “Accelerated Certification Program” which is designed to teach the similarities and differences between Cisco and HP ProCurve network devices, as well as how to make the two interoperate.

In January 2009, I had the opportunity to sit through a four-day ProCurve training course. A vendor and HP Partner, Matrix Integration, offered me a free seat in a course that they organized for their own employees (thanks again, Becky!). This course was to familiarize students with HP ProCurve devices and prepare for the entry-level HP Accredited Integration Specialist certification. While I was thankful for the free seat in the course, after several years of working with ProCurve equipment, I really didn’t get much out of the course. The instructor, Betty DuBois, told me that I’d have no problem passing the certification exam, so shortly after the course I set about doing just that.

In order to register for an HP Certification exam (delivered through Prometric), one needs an “HP Learner ID”. The biggest issue I had was simply obtaining one in the first place. I didn’t post about my experience with that, but Greg Ferro did. If you’re interested in taking advantage of HP’s accelerated certification program, be sure to read the comment on Greg’s post from Jeremy Arnold at HP — obtaining an HP Learner ID is not an intuitive process at all, nor is it entirely automated. My advice: go ahead and get one now and get that out of the way.

UPDATE: It appears that the registration process may have been simplified since Greg and I attempted to do so.  Try that link instead and let me know how it works.  Thanks, IPv6Freely!

Now, back to the accelerated certification…

Requirements

The requirements are rather simple:

  • Hold a valid CCxP/CCIE certification
  • Optional (but recommended): Review the free, study materials HP provides online
  • Take an online, multiple choice examination through Prometric (HP2-Z04)
  • Earn an ASE or MASE certification from HP ProCurve
  • ???
  • PROFIT! =)

If you currently hold a CCxP certification, meeting the requirements will earn you the HP Accredited System Engineer (ASE) certification. The CCIEs among you will be awarded the HP Master Accredited System Engineer (MASE) certification. Be sure to read the “Steps to certification” in the links so that you completely understand the requirements and process, including “How to Register and Receive Credit for 3rd-Party Achievements” (PDF).

Note: The link above is no longer valid. Please see “How to receive credit for third-party achievements” (thanks to Kyle Ross!).

Preparation

On their certification web page, HP mentions:

Although not a requirement to qualify for the certification exam, it is highly recommended that you complete the training courses and their associated prerequisites.

As part of the program, HP ProCurve is also providing, for free, a 4-5 hour self-paced “HP ProCurve Campus LANs” course:

The HP ProCurve Campus LANs v9.41 course provides information on the similarities and differences between Cisco and HP ProCurve … This training will supplement your existing networking knowledge and assist you with additional information needed to pass the Building HP ProCurve Campus LANs exam.

For those of you familiar with Juniper Networks’ Fast Track Certification Program, this appears to be very similar. HP ProCurve is providing you with everything you need to pass the examination, except for the $50 (in the U.S., anyway) to pay for it.  Note to HP:  Juniper had tremendous success in increasing the number of certified professionals with their free and reduced vouchers (hint, hint).

The Exam

You are also encouraged to review the “Building HP ProCurve Campus LANs Exam Prep Guide” (PDF), which covers the topics of the exam. The Exam Prep Guide states, in detail, the content of the exam, including content from these topics:

  • Multiple Spanning Tree (802.1s)
  • Link Aggregation
  • 802.11 Wireless
  • OSPF (IPv4 only)
  • Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA)
  • WAN Technologies
  • IPv4 Multicast
  • 802.1Q (VLANs)
  • DHCP Snooping and ARP Protection
  • VRRP
  • ACLs

None of these topics should be foreign to anyone already Cisco certified at the Professional or Expert level. The ProCurve-specific implementation details, however, quite likely will be, unless one has previous hands-on experience with the ProCurve products.

Note: The “Course Datasheet” (PDF) lists a few more topics, including specifics of the HP ProCurve product line.

As I mentioned earlier, the exam itself is available online through Prometric. Note that this is not a proctored test — you do not need to travel to an authorized Prometric testing facility to take this examination. You may take it while sitting at home in your favorite chair, in your office, or anywhere you have an Internet connection. For those in the United States, the fee to take the exam is $50 (check with Prometric for exact pricing if you are outside the U.S.).

There are a total of 60 multiple choice and drag-and-drop questions on the exam. You have 75 minutes to complete the test and a passing score is 74%.

My offer of assistance

With all that said, I’d like to help out. I plan to take this exam within the next few weeks, as my schedule permits. I can’t make any promises, as I’ve been out for a week (so I have some catching up to do) and our fall semester starts soon (I work at a .edu, for those who don’t know, and this is a busy time for us).

That said, if there is interest, I will be happy to write posts covering as many of the above topics as possible in an effort to assist others in earning the ASE/MASE certifications. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you are likely aware that I deal with HP ProCurve devices on a daily basis and have for several years now. Nearly all of the technologies covered in the exam (according to the HP documents) are ones that I’ve implemented in production, thus I have at least some real world experience dealing with them.

I understand that not everyone will be interested and that is fine (I’d rather avoid any vendor “holy wars” and “certification versus experience” arguments as well). For those who are, however, please let me know which topics it would be most helpful for me to cover. You can let me know by leaving a comment below, shooting me an e-mail (jeremy@…), or directing a “tweet” my way (@jlgaddis).

If the interest is there, I’ll try to cover as many of the topics as time and equipment permit.

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