Networking giant Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) has launched the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Service Provider certification, aimed at developing the skills and knowledge of IT professionals to deploy and optimize next-generation networks. The certification, coupled with the recent release of the CCNA Service Provider and current CCIE Service Provider certification, provides networking engineers with a training and certification portfolio in IP next-generation networks (IP NGN).

The training enables candidates to gain hands-on experience in configuring and troubleshooting Cisco networking devices using native Cisco IOS and IOS XR operating systems. To achieve the CCNP Service Provider certification, IT professionals must pass four proctored exams, which cost $200 per exam administered.

Cisco also recommends four training courses, delivered by the Cisco authorized Learning Partner community, to help prepare candidates for certification.

Additionally, the CCNP Service Provider certification is a requirement in the Advanced IP NGN Architecture Specialization program from Cisco Worldwide Channels, for which the partner is required to have a field engineer on staff to obtain the certification. This specialization is currently piloting for inclusion into Gold Certification in Cisco's channel partner program, said Errol Hayward, product marketing manager at Cisco.

“Resellers that have CCNP Service Provider certified staff will have validated knowledge and skills in the Network Engineering job role area to configure, implement, validate, analyze end-to-end, troubleshoot and optimize carrier routing, network engineering designs, and core-transport-edge network services for carrier-grade IP next-generation network infrastructures,” he said. “Hence, the CCNP Service Provider certification provides a credential that can aid in bringing credibility to partner resellers selling into service providers.”