On 27 February 2020, I took and passed the Cisco Certified DevNet Associate (DEVASC) exam on my first attempt. TLDR; it was a well-structured and fair exam. I think it was my favorite Cisco exam of all time. It had clear questions, good depth, no off-blueprint curveballs, and a great measure of candidate skill. The distribution of questions was also in accordance with the blueprint topic weights.
I’m known for being a concise and high signal-to-noise blogger, so I won’t turn this into a blueprint exploration article. You can learn more about the official certification here. Instead, I’ll focus on how I prepared for this exam.
Above all else, you need to sign up for an account at Cisco DevNet. It’s 100% free and contains many excellent resources to help you learn software-related topics. This is more than just “network automation” as you’ll be exposed to software development techniques and strategies, too. While everything on DevNet is useful, I believe the following three resources are the most important for this exam. Learning the content and passing any DevNet exam would be almost impossible without them:
- Sandboxes: These are demo environments that learners can use for testing specific products and technologies. Some are “always-on”, meaning they are publicly accessible over the Internet, giving you immediate and easy access. Others require a reservation using a remote access VPN connection into DevNet. The advantage of reserved instances is complete control (write access) as the resources are dedicated to you, not publicly shared. Most DEVASC topics can be completed using “always-on” sandboxes, though.
- API documentation: Many of Cisco’s products have slightly different API nuances. Some use HTTP basic authentication while others use API keys. Some are RESTful while others are not. You’re flying blind unless you review the documentation and learn how to craft the right HTTP requests.
- Learning labs: These labs are short, focused walkthroughs that give you basic hands-on experience working with a variety of topics. You’ll want to start with these before you dive into writing custom code. It will help you understand the basics of whatever technology you are studying.
In addition to these resources, you can find video training, support forums, and code exchanges on DevNet. I imagine that the support forums will become more relevant over time as people discuss their certification experiences and study tips publicly.
Many of you know that I develop content for Pluralsight and that I’ve created a 3-course learning path that covers all topics on the blueprint. The courses are focused on teaching you technical skills based on realistic, relatable business scenarios, not exam cramming or theoretical speculation. This allows you to focus on skill improvement without exam-related trivia. After taking the exam, I can honestly say my courses answered about 95% of the specific exam questions I received (based on my score). I’ve created a comprehensive 10-week study plan to help you succeed, too. You can watch the video for context or go straight to the plan to begin your journey. As always, feel free to ping me on twitter @nickrusso42518. I’m happy to help!
By Nick Russo at http://njrusmc.net