I was part of several folks chatting this week about the Certified Cisco System Instructor (CCSI) certification. This program is older than any of Cisco’s other certification programs, including the CCIE program. It also may have less published history. I pieced together this summary based on recollections from Terry Slattery, Marty Adkins, Pete Welcher, and Gordon Clogston who were involved at the early formation of the Cisco Learning Partner Program.
Early History of Cisco Training
The Cisco Training program was originally headed up by Beau Parnell, who was responsible for all Cisco training outside the US. The program was piloted in Europe, probably in late 1992 or early 1993. The pilot program was targeted on creating authorized instructors who contracted to Cisco. The first 10 or so CCSIs in the pilot program were folks from Europe, and included Eckhart Eichler and Ivan Pepelnjak.
So in early 1993, Cisco authorized training was delivered by contractors under the “Cisco” banner. Cisco then decided to develop training partners to create the delivery environments (facilities, equipment, marketing, sales, etc.). The program was launched in the US and Canada in the fall of 1993 under Gordon. Protocol Interface, PSA Ltd, Chesapeake Computer Consultants, and Ascolta joined as Training Partners in the fall of 1993. Many other organizations including NEC, Information Management Systems, American Research Group, American Research Systems, and US West became partners in 1993 and 1994.
CCSI Certification and the ICP Process
The CCSI component of the training partner program in the US was designed in the fall of 1993 by Gordon, Larry Ahner, Kip Peterson, Karen Fang, and Roger Wood (who at the time were members of the technical training group at Cisco.) In those days, there were only two classes: Router Software Configuration, and Router Hardware Configuration. CCSIs were certified for each class.
The original instructor certification program (ICP) was two weeks in length, and built on the assumption that the participants had already attended the classes as students and could pass a competency test. The first week, the participants sat in either the software or hardware ICP class with lots of discussion around ‘the why’ behind the topics and exercises. The second week the participants had to demonstrate their abilities in two areas: first, they had to create the appropriate lab environment to support the learning objectives. Given the equipment and tools, they had to design and configure a lab environment that the Cisco proctor team evaluated and either approved or not. Second, they were given 30 minutes to prep and teach a module from the course selected by the ICP monitors to the rest of the class and the proctors. If the candidate passed the ICP program, they were awarded a CCSI number.
For several years, the 5 digit CCSI numbers were based on a numbering scheme of YYxxx, with YY being the last two digits of the award year, and xxx being the order the certification was awarded. For example, Terry was CCSI #93020, or the 20th CCSI certified in 1993. Marty was CCSI #93021, or the 21st CCSI certified in 1993. At some time in the late 90s, Cisco dropped this numbering practice, and moved to another numbering scheme. I am not sure what the current numbering scheme is, but my CCSI designation of #31564 is from 2007.
Current CCSI Process
Today to become a CCSI, candidates must still participate in the ICP process and ALSO must be sponsored or employed by a Cisco authorized training partner. Candidates need to pass the CCNA exam with an instructor level score, and as well as pass the ICP exam which is administered by a CCSI proctor from a CLSP. Currently there is a two day ICP exam, which is often supported by boot camps led by the CCSI proctor that will later conduct the ICP exam. The first part of the exam focuses on presentation skills based on the ICND course, where candidates choose one module to present, and a proctor chooses another one. The second part of the exam is a day long lab involving configuring the gear used to support ICND labs.
Although a CCIE designation will stay with an individual as they switch jobs, someone who passes the ICP is a CCSI while they are sponsored by a Cisco training partner. (You can transfer your sponsorship as a CCSI to another organization without repeating the ICP process.)
In the early 2000s, there was a fee for learning partners to keep their CCSIs active, and so most CCSIs that were not actively doing training were dropped from the CCSI roles by their sponsoring organization. I don’t believe there is still a fee for having CCSIs associated to a training partner, but CCSIs must be sponsored. I think today there are around 1800 CCSIs associated with training partners.
(My thanks to Gordon, Terry, Marty, and Pete for their contributions to this blog!)