Implementing and Operating Cisco Service Provider Core Technologies SPCOR 350-501: Everything You Need to Know to Prepare and Pass the Exam
- August 4, 2020
- Posted by: Muhammad Afaq Khan, CCIE #9070
- Category: CCIE Service Provider CCNP Service Provider Implementing Cisco SP Core Technologies (350-501 V1.0)
In this article, I am going to cover every bit of detail that you need to get started, to prepare and pass the Cisco Service Provider Core Technologies or the SPCOR 350-501 exam. If you are already up to speed on what this exam is all about, you can go ahead and download my 120-hour SPCOR learning plan by submitting the form shown below.
The Implementing and Operating Cisco Service Provider Core Technologies or the SPCOR 350-501 exam is one of the many new exams that Cisco announced in June 2019 as part of their most sweeping career certification program update since inception (all the way back to 1993!). Not only did Cisco announce newer exams, they also revised rules for recertification as well as introduced the brand new Cisco DevNet certification. All exam and rule changes went into effect on February 24 2020.
The Cisco SP Core Technologies or SPCOR 350-501 is both a CCIE and a CCNP level exam, this is the exam that you need to pass if you are planning to sit for the Cisco SP Lab or gearing up for your CCNP Service Provider certification. For CCNP, it is one of the two exams that you need to pass, the other exam can be one of the five Service Provider concentration exams. Last but not least, there is no CCNA Service Provider exam in the newer exam format, i.e. the SP specializations now start at the CCNP level.
Cisco SPCOR 350-501 exam (along with the 300 series concentration) replaces the following older CCNP SP exams.
Older CCNP Exams
Older CCIE Exam
Cisco SPCOR 350-501 exam replaces the following CCIE exam. You can consider the SPCOR as the new Service Provider “written exam”.
- Service Provider Written 400-201 Exam
SPCOR Exam Topics or Objectives
The Cisco SPCOR 350-501 exam topics include five sections. Based on my analysis of the official SPCOR exam blueprint, 50% of the exam topics covered within the official SPCOR exam blueprint contain theoretical topics whereas the other 50% of the topics necessitate some level of hands-on activity.
- MPLS and Segment Routing
- Automation and Assurance
Let’s now cover each of the exam sections as defined in the official Cisco SPCOR exam blueprint.
This section includes topics such as the service provider and software architecture, NFV/VNF, QoS, CoPP and management and data plane security. 72% of the content in this section is about theory, and about 28% that require hands-on.
This section comprises of topics such as the IS-IS, BGP, OSPFv2, policy routing, troubleshooting routing protocols, IPv6 transition technologies and the HA. About 25% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 75% requires hands-on.
MPLS and Segment Routing
This section consists of network core related topics such as the MPLS, TE, and SR. About 33% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 67% requires hands-on.
This section comprises of topics such as the L2VPN, L3VPN, QoS and multicast services. About 20% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 80% requires hands-on.
Automation and Assurance
This section is about topics such as programmable APIs, NSO, YANG, configuration management tools such as Ansible, telemetry, NETCONF/RESTCONF, NetFlow/IPFIX and SNMPv2/v3, etc. About 40% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 60% requires hands-on.
If you compare the SPCOR exam with the older now obsolete Service Provider written exam, you’ll notice that it does not map nicely section to section including the evolving technologies.
CCNP SP Concentration Exams
In the newer exam format, to get CCNP Service Provider certified, you need to pass SPCOR as well as one of the following three SP concentration exams. All concentration exams carry 300 series, i.e. SPAUTO exam is numbered as the 300-535.
- Automation (SPAUTO)
SPCOR Exam and Job Task Analysis (JTA)
JTA is about the exam alignment with the actual role that you’re required to perform as an SP network engineer. So, what are the actual roles that are out there that you can work in service provider space today.
- Architecture/Design Engineer
- NOC/Ops Engineer
- SP Network Engineer (Services, Infra, etc.)
- SP/Network Automation Engineer
Now, based on those four roles, we can easily see that the SPCOR exam maps nicely to the all of the SP expert roles with the exception of NOC/Ops.
SPCOR and Concentration Exam Costs or Fees
Each attempt at SPCOR exam costs $400, like it does for all 350 series exams. Likewise, fee for each attempt at the concentration exams happens to be $300, again like it is for all 300 (and 200) series exams.
CCNP and CCIE Service Provider Certification and Recertification Costs or Fees
Given that you need to pass SPCOR and one 300 series concentration exams, CCNP Service Provider certification would cost you $700. For CCIE, it obviously goes up as you need to pass both the SPCOR theory (or written) exam as well as the Service Provider Lab or the hands-on exam, so we’re talking about $400 + $1600 or $2000 total.
For recertification, things get more interesting, since you’ve multiple options. For CCNP Service Provider recertification, you’ve got the following four options.
- Pass SPCOR exam again ($400)
- Pass any 2x concentration exams ($600)
- Pass any CCIE Lab exam ($1600)
- Use Cisco Learning Credits >=80
For the CCIE Service Provider recertification, you’ve got the following four options.
- Pass SPCOR exam and 1x Concentration exam again ($700)
- Pass any 3x concentration exams ($900)
- Pass any CCIE Lab exam ($1600)
- Use Cisco Learning Credits >=120
SPCOR Exam Preparation
It is a tough exam, and your background matters a lot.
So, if you are coming from a CCNA SP background, you will only find only the fundamental topics such as MPLS or multicast related exam content familiar to you! On the other hand, if you are coming from a CCNP SP or a CCIE SP background, you will find as much as 50% of the exam topics familiar to you.
SPCOR 120-Hour Learning and Study Plan
Now, to help you get started, I have put together a comprehensive 120-hour learning plan that you can follow to guide your SPCOR exam prep. Watch the video below where I cover the SPCOR learning plan in detail.
SPCOR Practice Tests
SPAUTO Exam (Concentration)
Cisco Service Provider Sandboxes
Currently Cisco offers Cisco IOS-XR, IOS XE, and BGP related learning labs. You can get started by checking out the Cisco’s Service Provider sandboxes.
Author:Muhammad Afaq Khan, CCIE #9070
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