Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is no longer the highest certification offered by Cisco as it announced today the Cisco Certified Architect (CCA) Certifications as the new highest level of accreditation achievable within Cisco Career Certifications.

The Cisco Certified Architect (CCA) will attempt to marry the networking engineering know-how of the CCIE with the business acumen of a MBA.

The CCA will train candidates to work with C-level line-of-business executives to translate business needs into effective IT systems.

The Cisco Certified Architect designation was developed to meet the demands of global organizations for specialists with the advanced design skills to support increasingly complex networks and effectively translate business strategies into evolutionary architectural implementations, said Jeanne Beliveau Dunn, general manager, Learning@Cisco.

This prestigious certification represents an exclusive group of architects who possess the hard skills to support complex network design and the soft skills to articulate the value of the technology to their colleagues, Dunn added.

In 2008, Gartner reported in its IT market compensation study (U.S. based) that IT organizations continue to have difficulty in finding skilled IT professionals, especially enterprise architects, network architects, project managers and Web application programmers.

The new certifications will give more architectural experience for IT professionals which will give them expertise in translating business strategies into evolutionary technical strategies.

Network Industry Experts and Executives applaud the new certification from Cisco.

Architecture is not just another name for 'design' – it's a different perspective and set of skills, said renowned author and networking expert Terry Slattery, CCIE® #1026.

Certification process is not easy, The CCIE or the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) is a prerequisite for the CCA certification.

Candidates will propose and defend an architecture solution to a set of business requirements, and the candidates will be asked to modify their proposals on the fly, based on additional requirements presented by the board.

Candidate must also have at least 10 years of industry experience. Candidates must also apply and be accepted into the program.

The Cisco Certified Architect certification will be administered as a board exam and certification cost is $15,000.

It's exciting to see Cisco raising the bar at the high end of its certification program for IT professionals, said Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president, Yankee Group. Organizations will be encouraged to view architecture as a defined job role rather than as a component of a job role.