Decoding the CCNP Data Center Exams: Exam Topics and Preparation Strategies 

With technology making advances at a rocketing speed, it’s important to take advantage of data center teams to scale and secure data infrastructure. 

Thus, to capitalize on these opportunities, data center professionals need a wide range of skills, which is exactly what the CCNP Data Center certification provides.

Let’s learn more about the CCNP Data Center exams and how to prepare for them. 

What is CCNP Data Center?

The CCNP Data Center certification helps you prepare for professional-level job roles in data center technologies like Cisco. The certificate also includes programmability and automation to help scale your data center infrastructure. 

a. Definition and Overview 

Attaining the CCNP Data Center certification is a testament to your skills with data center solutions.

Candidates wishing to sit for the exam need to have a deeper focus on strategic technology areas. To acquire the certification, you need to take two exams: 

  • An exam that covers core data center technologies

  • A data center concentration of your choice 

Thus, you can customize the certification according to your technical area of focus. 

b. Importance in the industry

The CCNP Data Center exams are developed to test and explore industry-standard topics like switching and routing protocols. The exam thus proves an IT professional’s comfort level when implementing core Cisco data center technologies. 

c. Ideal candidates for the certification

The ideal candidate will have three to five years in implementing security solutions. Nonetheless, there aren’t any formal prerequisites for the CCNP data center, so any network engineer aspiring to take the exam can do so. 

Exam Components

The CCNP Data Center exams include two major components. Let’s look at them in detail. 

1. Core  Exam

The core exam tests the candidate’s knowledge of implementing core data center technologies like computing, automation, storage network, security, and network. 

DCCOR 350-601 (Implementing Cisco Data Center Core Technologies v1.1)

Implementing Cisco Data Center Core Technologies v1.1 (DCCOR 350-601) is a 120-minute long exam that candidates take as a part of the CCIE and CCNP Data Center Certifications. 

The list of topics and their relative percentages are given here:

  • Network 25%

  • Compute  25%

  • Storage network  20%

  • Automation 15% 

  • Security 15% 

2. Concentration Exams 

The concentration exams certify a candidate's knowledge. It provides engineers and other IT professionals proof that the candidate has the expertise and high-demanding skills that make them a perfect candidate. 

300-610 DCID (Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure)

The Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure is a 90-minute long exam. It is a concentration exam taken with the core exam for the CCNP Data Center Certification.

The exam focuses on the candidate's knowledge of data center infrastructure design, including network, compute, automation, and storage networks. 

Here is an overview of the focus areas in the exam. However, other related topics may also appear on the exam. 

  • Network Design 35%

  • Compute Design 25% 

  • Storage Network Design 20%

  • Automation Design 20% 

300-615 DCIT (Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Infrastructure)

The second component is also a 90-minute exam that fortifies a candidate’s knowledge of troubleshooting a data center infrastructure including computing platforms, automation, storage network, management, networks, and operations. 

The basic topic list is given below. However, also note that the question’s scope in the exams can be related to an extension of these topics. 

  • Compute platforms 25%

  • Networks 25%

  • Automation 15%

  • Storage network 15% 

  • Management and operations 20% 

300-620 DCACI (Implementing Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure)

The Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure is a component exam that is 90 minutes long. It validates the test taker’s knowledge of Cisco switches in ACI mode including how to configure, implement, and manage them. 

Here’s a broad range of topics that are included in this exam component:

  • ACI Fabric Infrastructure 20% 

  • ACI Management 20% 

  • External Network Connectivity 20%

  • Integrations 15%

  • ACI Packet Forwarding 15%

  • ACI Anywhere 10% 

300-625 DCSAN (Configuring Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches)

The Configuring Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches assesses your knowledge of implementing, managing, and troubleshooting Cisco 9000 Series Switches to help with its performance, scalability, resiliency, and enhanced operations for data centers. 

The topics in the exam don’t have a specific percentage, but here are some of the general topics:

  • Describing the Cisco MDS Platform

  • Provisioning Cisco MDS Switches

  • Automating Cisco MDS Fabric

  • Monitoring and Reporting Cisco MDS Features

  • Troubleshooting Common Cisco MDS Issues

  • Building the Fibre Channel Fabric with Cisco MDS Switches

Exam Registration Process

You can take the certification exams offered at locations throughout the world. You need to create a Cisco profile before registering for the exam and also set up your Cisco Certification candidate profile on Cisco’s tracker portal. 

a. Eligibility criteria

There aren’t any formal prerequisites for taking the CCNP Data Center Exams. However, it is recommended to have 3-5 years of relevant experience in the network. 

b. Steps to register

For registering for the CCNP Data Center Exams, you need to see which exam you want to take and note its name and number. You can access the exam names and respective codes from Cisco’s official website.

Make sure you have all the personal information you’ll need, including:

  • Cisco Certification ID (i.e. CSCO00000001) or Test ID number

  • Legal name (from government-issued ID)

  • Valid email address

  • Method of payment

  • Company name

c. Cost and payment options

The CCNP core exam, 350-601 DCCOR, costs $400. The concentration exams cost $300 each. For payment, you can use the following options: 

  • Use a credit card to pay for the exam when registering 

  • Purchase an exam voucher using your Cisco Learning credits and prepay for your exam

CCNP Data Center Study Resources

There are many online resources you can utilize to boost your learning for the CCNP. Let’s have a look:

1. Official documentation and study materials

Cisco | Implementing and Operating Cisco Data Center Core Technologies (DCCOR)

This Cisco course has everything you need to know about the core exam. It includes self-paced material that lets you prepare for the exam effectively and cover every topic. 

Cisco | Data Center Certification Training Videos

Cisco also offers official training videos that you can take. These videos are conducted by experts and cover topics like Virtualization and Automation. 

2. Platforms offering Online Courses

Koenig Solutions | Cisco CCNP Data Center Certification Courses Training

This set of courses provides you with the skills and knowledge required for both the core and concentration exams. You can tailor the course to your concentration exam. 

Udemy | Cisco ACI DCACI - (300-620) Certification Course

The course helps you prepare for the Concentration Cisco ACI DCACI exam. It walks you through every small topic so you can ace the exam. 

3. Helpful Practice Tests and Simulations

Udemy | 350-601 ~ Cisco DCCOR Data Center Technologies Practice Test  

The course stimulates two practice tests that are designed to help you assess your knowledge. It contains single-answer and multiple-answer questions so get an idea of what to expect in the exam. 

Prep away | CCNP Data Center Certification Exam Questions  

This premium bundle contains all the latest exam questions. You get access to 443 questions and answers that are set according to the CCNP Data Center certification. 

4. Easy-to-follow YouTube tutorials

YouTube | Cisco Data Center Roadmap review

This video is great to get an overview of the Cisco Data Center Professional certifications. You learn on how to prepare for the exam, the job opportunities, learning potential, and accelerated career growth. 

YouTube | CCNP Data Center Core DCCOR 350-601 Complete Video Course

This playlist by Muhammad Talebi covers the core concepts and topics of the CCNP Data Center exam. The video courses provide in-depth explanations, practical examples to mastering data center networking concepts and technologies.

5. Recommended books and Guides

Cisco Press | CCNP and CCIE Data Center Core DCCOR 350-601 Official Cert Guide

The book contains proven strategies to help you attempt the exam in a structured manner. It also contains self-study resources approved by Cisco. 

NWexam | CCNP Data Center Certification Study Guide: Crucial Preparation Tips

This guide contains great study tips and preparation strategies that help focus on both the core and concentration exams. 

Exam Preparation Tips

Let’s see what you should do when preparing to take the exam. 

a. Day Before the Exam

  • Review key concepts but avoid cramming.

  • Ensure you have all required identification and materials ready.

  • Get a good night's sleep and stay hydrated.

  • Relax and stay confident in your preparation.

  • Review any last-minute notes or flashcards.

  • Focus on weak areas identified in your practice.

  • Review Cisco documentation and whitepapers.

  • Revisit important configuration commands and concepts.

  • Manage test anxiety through relaxation techniques.

  • Use positive affirmations to boost confidence.

b. Exam Day Strategies

  • Arrive at the test center early to allow for check-in procedures.

  • Stay calm and composed during the exam and take a break when needed.

  • Eliminate obviously incorrect answers.

  • Consider the "best fit" option when unsure.

  • Double-check your answers before moving on.

  • Allocate a specific amount of time per question.

  • Don't spend too much time on any single question.

c. After the Exam

After you attempt your examination, there are two things to do: 

1. Passing Score and Certification

  • Passing scores are determined through statistical analysis.

  • These scores are not static and may change over time.

  • Candidates receive a score report after completing an exam.

  • The score report includes a breakdown of scores for each exam section.

  • The passing score for a specific exam is provided in the score report.

  • Cisco does not publicly disclose exam passing scores.

  • Both exam questions and passing scores can change without prior notice.

2. In Case of Failure

  • CCNP exams require a five-calendar-day waiting period for retesting.

  • After passing an exam, a 180-day wait is necessary before retaking the same exam with the same number.

  • Take a look at your score report and see the areas where you lacked.

  • Focus on those weak points to improve your score in the next attempt. 

Career Opportunities For CCNP Certified Professionnals

Some of the job roles you qualify for after passing the exam include:

  • Network Designers: 

    Network designers are responsible for planning and creating the overall structure of computer networks. They design the architecture that enables data communication between devices and locations, ensuring efficiency and reliability.

  • Network Engineers: 

    Network engineers implement and maintain network infrastructure. They configure routers, switches, and other network components, troubleshoot connectivity issues, and optimize network performance.

  • Network Administrators: 

    Network administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of a network. They manage user accounts, security settings, and network resources, ensuring that the network operates securely and efficiently.

  • Consulting Systems Engineers: 

    Consulting systems engineers work for consulting firms and provide expert advice and solutions to clients on complex technical challenges. They assess client needs and recommend customized system designs.

  • Technical Solutions Architects: 

    Technical solutions architects design comprehensive solutions for IT projects. They collaborate with clients to understand requirements and create detailed plans for systems, applications, or infrastructure.

  • Field Engineers: 

    Field engineers work on-site to install, maintain, and repair hardware and software systems. They may travel to different locations to troubleshoot issues or install new equipment.

  • Data Center Engineers: 

    Data center engineers manage and maintain data center facilities. They ensure that servers, storage, and networking equipment run efficiently, implementing best practices for data storage and security.

  • Systems Engineers: 

    Systems engineers design and manage complex IT systems. They integrate hardware and software components to create cohesive systems that meet organizational needs, from servers to software applications.

Salary Range To Expect as a CCNP Certified Expert

JOB Role

Average Salary (USD)

Network Designers

$68,000 - $148,000

Network Engineers

$65,000 - $140,000

Network Administrators

$52,000 - $127,000

Consulting Systems Engineers

$80,000 - $160,000

Technical Solutions Architects

$90,000 - $170,000

Field Engineers

$55,000 - $125,000

Data Center Engineers

$70,000 - $150,000

Systems Engineers

$65,000 - $140,000


The CCNP Data Center exams consist of two parts, both of which require regular and consistent effort. Utilizing online resources, official study material, training videos, practice exams, and other materials can help you prepare fully for the exam and ace it. 


Is the CCNP Data Center exam difficult?

The difficulty of the CCNP Data Center exam varies depending on your preparation and experience.

How long does it take to prepare for the exams?

Preparation time for the exams varies but typically ranges from a few months to a year.

What is the validity of the certification?

The certification is valid for three years.

Can I take the exams online?

Yes, you can take the exams online.

How many times can I retake the exam?

You can retake the exam as many times as needed, but there is a waiting period after two consecutive attempts.

How deep do I need to go into each exam topic?

A comprehensive understanding of each exam topic is essential.

What is the typical pass rate for CCNP Data Center exams?

The typical pass rate for CCNP Data Center exams is around 70% to 80%.

Are practice exams similar to the actual exams?

Practice exams are designed to simulate the actual exams in terms of content and format.

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of

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