Cisco Sets Up HK Certification Center

HONG KONG (01/28/2000) - In order to raise the level of networking expertise related to its products in Hong Kong, Cisco Systems Inc. has opened a hands-on laboratory for its sales partners in the company's Wanchai office.

The lab, equipped with a host of Cisco switches and routers, simulates enterprise LAN and WAN environments to help systems integrators prepare for the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) examination.

"In the networking world, [sitting for] the CCIE exam is like getting a doctorate degree. It's among the toughest in the industry and is very difficult to pass," said Alec Yu, district manager for channels at Cisco Hong Kong. The average failure rate worldwide is about 30 percent, Yu said.

At Cisco's newly established exam center in Bangalore, India, the failure rate is as high as 90 percent, because candidates are not yet familiar with the exam format and requirements, Yu said. Although Cisco Asia-Pacific has also established exam centers in Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney, failure rates in these centers are not available, he added.

"Many candidates failed by just a very small margin. We hope that the setting up of this lab in Hong Kong will help close that gap (locally) and meet the growing demand in the market," he said. At present, there are approximately 43 CCIEs in the SAR, among which six are Cisco Hong Kong employees.

Sunny Chan, the channel development support manager at Cisco Hong Kong, who recently become a CCIE, explained that the exam's difficulty lies in the fact that candidates do not only need to sit for a two-hour, written examination, they also have to pass a two-day, hands-on lab test.

"When you're at a client site, people can tell you what the symptoms are. But the real challenge is to figure out where exactly the problems are and then find a viable solution," Chan said. "This unique lab test pits candidates against difficult network "build, break and restore" scenarios. It helps assess our partners' real hands-on capability."

Chan said that so far there is only one candidate in Asia who passed the exam in one shot, reflecting how demanding the program is.

The total number of CCIEs worldwide amounts to more than 4,000, one-tenth of whom are located in China. Yu attributed this fact to traditional Chinese beliefs that emphasize the importance of certification and accreditation.

The CCIE program allows candidates to achieve certification in areas including routing and switching, WAN switching, ISP-Dial and SNA/IP integration. On average, it takes about one year and costs HK$100,000 (US$12,854) to complete the CCIE program run by third-party IT education institutions. Cisco will not charge candidates for using its lab.

Cisco, in San Jose, California, and can be reached at http://www.cisco.com.

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