Implementing Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies ENCOR 350-401: Everything You Need to Know to Prepare and Pass the Exam
- August 4, 2020
- Posted by: Muhammad Afaq Khan, CCIE #9070
- Category: CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure CCNP Enterprise Implementing Cisco Enterprise Advanced Routing and Services (ENARSI 300-410) Exam
In this article, I am going to cover every bit of detail that you need to get started, to prepare and pass the Cisco Enterprise Infrastructure Core Technologies or the ENCOR 350-401 exam. Enterprise Infrastructure is the new name of the old Routing and Switching track. If you are already up to speed on what this exam is all about, you can go ahead and download my 80-hour ENCOR learning plan by submitting the form shown below.
The Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Infrastructure Core Technologies or the ENCOR 350-401 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 Enterprise Core Technologies or ENCOR 350-401 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 Enterprise Lab or gearing up for your CCNP Enterprise Infrastructure certification. For CCNP, it is one of the two exams that you need to pass, the other exam can be one of the five Enterprise Infrastructure concentration exams. Last but not least, there is no CCNA R&S or the Enterprise Infrastructure exam in the newer program format, i.e. the Enterprise specializations now start at the CCNP level.
Cisco ENCOR 350-401 exam (along with the 300 series concentration) replaces the following older CCNP Enterprise exams.
Older CCNP R&S Exams
Older CCIE R&S Exam
Cisco ENCOR 350-401 exam replaces the following CCIE R&S exam. You can consider the ENCOR as the new R&S “written exam”.
- Routing and Switching Written 400-101 Exam
ENCOR Exam Topics or Objectives
The Cisco ENCOR 350-401 exam topics include five sections. Based on my analysis of the official ENCOR exam blueprint, 60% of the exam topics covered within the official ENCOR exam blueprint contain theoretical topics whereas the other 40% of the topics necessitate some level of hands-on activity.
- Network Assurance
Let’s now cover each of the exam sections as defined in the official Cisco ENCOR exam blueprint.
This section includes topics such as the enterprise network design principles for wired and wireless LANs, SD-WAN, SD-Access, QoS, and hardware and software switching mechanisms. All of the content in this section is about theory.
This section comprises of topics such as the network and data path virtualization technologies. About 66% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 33% requires hands-on.
This section consists of network core related topics such as the layer 2 and layer 3 technologies, wireless and IP services. About 50% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas the other 50% requires hands-on.
This section comprises of topics such as the network troubleshooting, device monitoring, NetFlow, SPAN, IP SLA, DNA Center and RESTCONF/NETCONF protocols. All of the content in this section requires hands-on.
This section is about topics such as device access control, infrastructure security, REST API security, wireless security and network security design such as 802.1X and TrustSec, etc. About 40% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 60% requires hands-on.
This section is about topics such as Python 101, data encoding formats such as JSON, data modeling languages, DNA Center APIs, EEM and configuration management tools. About 30% of the content in this section is about theory, whereas 70% requires hands-on.
If you compare the ENCOR exam with the older now obsolete R&S written exam, you’ll notice that it does not map nicely section to section as Cisco has moved bulk of the original “R&S” topics such as L2/L3 technologies into the ENARSI 300-410 exam.
CCNP Enterprise Concentration Exams
In the newer exam format, to get CCNP Enterprise Infrastructure certified, you need to pass ENCOR as well as one of the following six Enterprise concentration exams. All concentration exams carry 300 series, i.e. ENAUTO exam is numbered as the 300-535.
- ENSDWI (SD-WAN)
ENCOR Exam and Job Task Analysis (JTA)
JTA is about the exam alignment with the actual role that you’re required to perform as an Enterprise network engineer. So, what are the actual roles that are out there that you can work in Enterprise Infrastructure space today.
- Architecture / Design Engineer
- Operations Engineer
- Network Engineer
- Network Automation Engineer
Now, based on those four roles, we can easily see that the ENCOR exam maps nicely to the all of the Enterprise expert roles with the exception of NOC/Ops. It obviously only scratches the surface for each of those roles and mastery requires passing some of the Enterprise Infrastructure concentration exams.
ENCOR and Concentration Exam Costs or Fees
Each attempt at ENCOR 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 Enterprise Infrastructure Certification and Recertification Costs or Fees
Given that you need to pass ENCOR and one 300 series concentration exams, CCNP Enterprise Infrastructure certification would cost you $700. For CCIE, it obviously goes up as you need to pass both the ENCOR theory (or written) exam as well as the Enterprise Infrastructure 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 Enterprise Infrastructure recertification, you’ve got the following four options.
- Pass ENCOR exam again ($400)
- Pass any 2x concentration exams ($600)
- Pass any CCIE Lab exam ($1600)
- Use Cisco Learning Credits >=80
For the CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure recertification, you’ve got the following four options.
- Pass ENCOR exam and 1x Concentration exam again ($700)
- Pass any 3x concentration exams ($900)
- Pass any CCIE Lab exam ($1600)
- Use Cisco Learning Credits >=120
It is worth noting that in the newer Cisco certification program format, all certification cycles last three years.
ENCOR Exam Preparation
It is a tough exam, and your background matters a lot.
So, if you are coming from a CCNA R&S background, you will only find only the fundamental topics such as routing protocols familiar to you- my analysis shows that those topics only make up 38% of the exam topics! On the other hand, if you are coming from a CCNP R&S or a CCIE R&S background, you may find as much as 33% and 68% of the exam topics familiar to you, respectively.
ENCOR 80-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 ENCOR exam prep. Watch the video below where I cover the ENCOR learning plan in detail.
ENCOR Practice Test
ENAUTO Exam (Concentration)
ENCOR Exam Prep Bundle
Cisco Enterprise Infrastructure Sandboxes
Currently Cisco offers Cisco IOS XE, and BGP related learning labs. You can get started by checking out the Cisco’s Enterprise Infrastructure sandboxes.
Author:Muhammad Afaq Khan, CCIE #9070
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