I found the CCNA Industrial certification to be interesting because like the Cisco Network Design certifications (CCDA/CCDP/CCDE), this single certification has quite an overlap of other certifications and technologies. Basic network design, security, wireless, and troubleshooting are added to the industrial networking protocols covered (CIP over EtherNet/IP and PROFINET).
I found the exam to be fairly easy, but once again that is due to my accumulated knowledge and experience, where many of the questions and answers just seemed like common sense. The topics that were new to me were the aforementioned industrial networking protocols, IEEE 1588v2 PTP, Layer 2 NAT, the various Cisco Industrial Ethernet switch product lines, and Device-Level Ring topologies. Unlike other recent exams I’ve taken, I didn’t feel like the topic distribution aligned very well with the stated percentages in the official blueprint. On the other hand, there is so much overlap between major topic domains, it could have just been difficult to tell while I was taking the exam.
Like the CCNA Service Provider certification, the CCNA Industrial is another that I would not recommend taking unless you already have at least the knowledge contained in the CCNP SWITCH exam. There are also several topics such as multicast and VRFs covered on this exam which could seem overwhelming to somebody studying these things for the first time.
Even though most of the questions on the exam are pretty high-level (e.g. not too detailed for most of the questions, but not all), if you are brand new to the general networking topics, it is going to take a lot longer to study for and pass this particular exam. For someone just starting out, this is one of the more difficult (if not the most difficult) CCNA-level exam, in my opinion (though I think the CCNA Datacenter might be a close runner-up).
At first glance, one of the things that makes obtaining this certification more difficult is the apparent lack of study materials. There is no official Cisco Press book covering the industrial topics specifically that I am aware of, though I think a couple of the newer IoT books might have a passing mention of some of the topics. The closest thing is Cisco’s official IMINS2 course. I had access to the online course, and while it did help me out, I also learned that taking the course might not have been necessary if I had had the information that I hope to convey in this post.
The course helped me narrow down the topic scope a little bit. As I write this, Cisco offers a free trial of the course where, at the very least, you can see the table of contents for each of the sections. If you compare that against the resources listed in this post, I believe you’ll have a decent chance of passing without having to pay for the course.
I will also say that in comparing the course to the exam, the course went much deeper into nearly all of the topics than the kinds of questions that were asked on the exam. This is absolutely great from a learning perspective. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend paying for this course out of your own pocket, but if your organization will cover it, it’s a decent resource to study from, however it doesn’t completely cover all of the topics when compared to the blueprint, which is a shame considering it is the official course for this exam.
The following are some of the public resources available that I recommend taking a look at.
Selected Cisco Live Sessions (there are many more that are applicable as well, I’m sure):
- BRKCRT-1901 CCNA Industrial Overview
- BRKIOT-2108 Connected Factory Architecture Theory and Practice
- BRKIOT-2555 Connected Industry Architectures and Technologies
- BRKSPG-2170 Synchronization in Packet-Based Networks
- CCSIOT-2380 Outdoor Wireless in Harsh Environments such as Mining and Oil & Gas
- CTHIOT-1000 Remote Access Security Rules and Best Practices
Other Cisco Links:
- Cisco Design Zone for Manufacturing: This is where you will find the bulk of freely-available learning material for this certification. The most important document is the Converged Plant-Wide Ethernet Design and Implementation Guide. The links on Cisco’s site for the CPwE guide are broken as I write this. Here are the direct links to each chapter:
- Chapter 1: Converged Plantwide Ethernet Overview
- Chapter 2: Converged Plantwide Ethernet Solution
- Chapter 3: CPwE Solution Design: Cell/Area Zone
- Chapter 4: CPwE Solution Design: Manufacturing and Demilitarized Zones
- Chapter 5: Implementing and Configuring the Cell/Area Zone
- Chapter 6: IACS Network Security and the Demilitarized Zone
- Chapter 7: Testing the CPwE Solution
- Chapter 8: CIP Motion
- Chapter 9: CIP Sync Sequence of Events
- Chapter 10: DHCP Persistence in the Cell/Area Zone
- Cisco Industrial Ethernet 4000 Series Configuration Guides: Includes all of the Cisco-supported protocols such as the different flavors of STP, REP, FlexLinks, and more. I believe at least 85% of the blueprint topics are covered between the CPwE Guide and these configuration guides.
- Layer 2 NAT Configuration for Cisco Industrial Ethernet Switches
- ODVA: Common Industrial Protocol (CIP)
- ODVA: The Common Industrial Protocol and the Family of CIP Networks
- ODVA: EtherNet/IP
- PROFINET Technology
- Industrial Communication Technology Handbook, 2nd Edition
- Remington Loose: Mind Map for REP (awesome work!)
My Links (materials I have created while studying for the CCNA Industrial):
- CCNA Industrial blueprint mind map. This document is a little light in some areas (particularly security and wireless), but more detailed in other areas such as CIP and PROFINET.
- 315 Anki Flash Cards (again, light on wireless/security, heavier on CIP and PROFINET)
As I said earlier, if you’re fairly new to networking, this exam represents a LOT of material to cover. If you’re more experienced, the questions on the exam are very high-level and most of it is common sense, though you definitely do need to know the details to get the answers correct.
There’s not really a lot of organized information out there surrounding this exam, so I hope this post has been helpful to you. Thanks for reading, and good luck!