Step up my skills in Cisco voice to design level.

Not sure if this is the best forum to ask but i'll ask anyway...
I am not sure how best to step up my skills in my current field. i.e. Cisco VOIP technologies. So I have a very good understanding (I think) of different technologies like Call Manager, Unity Connection, Contact centers, etc ... ..but now I want to step up from a hands-on engineer to more of a design/architect level .... So instead of configuring or troubleshooting a call manager, I want to be able to design solutions based on Cisco VOIP technologies .... What should I be concentrating on to evolve into that space ? I think experts in Cisco field will probably be best able to answer that question ... I was going through the SRND's of different products and that certainly had valuable info... but whats the best way to go about it  ? any recommendations, etc.
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For some reason I've always learned the most when pursuing a certification. The CCDP/CCDE should help you prepare plenty for what cisco recommends and put your skills to the test.
Bill1982Author Commented:
Thanks for the comment. Certs are also geared towards technical knowledge. What I want to move into is more of Design space ... I mean yes it does involve technical knowledge but its not all about how to configure system A to make it work with System B - it's more around capacity planning, solution architecture, ensuring stuff runs smoothly once operational ...
The CCDP and CCDE are design certifications. They concentrate on design versus the CCNP/CCIE which concentrate on configuration and implementation.
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José MéndezCommented:
In my opinion, you probably want to digest Cisco's Design documents around the Voice/Collaboration areas, for example, look for the publications under the Unified Communications sections:

In all honesty, the page is outdated in the sense that it does not point to the latest versions of the products available currently, but I can assure you that the following have up to date versions you can look for:

    Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise 8.0 Solution Reference Network Design (SRND)
    Cisco Unified Contact Center Express 8.0 Solution Reference Network Design (SRND)
    Cisco Unified Communications SRND Based on Cisco Unified Communications Manager 7.x
    Cisco Unified Communications SRND Based on Cisco Unified Communications Manager 6.x
    Cisco Unified Contact Center Express 7.0 Solution Reference Network Design (SRND)
    Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal (CVP) 7.x Solution Reference Network Design (SRND)

I would also throw in the following

    Enterprise QoS Solution Reference Network Design Guide

So, once you find in those updated versions, you should be good to go. I believe the CCDP/CCDE certifications will help you obtain greater knowledge of the products available, while not necessarily going into detail about how to plan a network for 2000 telephony users, but I may be wrong on that last statement.

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Bill1982Author Commented:
great info willlywilburwonka, thanks...

I also think that researching through Cisco SRNDs of the relevant UC technologies is the way to go ... plus I was just checking out that Cisco has really posted great info on Wiki ... stuff like Cisco Collaboration sizing tool, virtual machine placement tool (stuff that typically NCE from Cisco would use with client) that really helps with design/architecture of collaboration stuff ...

I know a couple of years ago Cisco had this cert called 'IP Tel Design specialist' but noticed it's not there anymore ... Don't know why they retired as it would've been useful for their business too .... do you know if there is a replacement cert on this ?

Thanks again for the info posted above.
José MéndezCommented:
Cisco has evolved mightily on these regards. It started with IP Telephony, then became AVVID, then into Unified Communications, and now Collaboration. I guess IP Tel Design specialist is not enough these days.

Now, my question to you would be, why get certified?
Bill1982Author Commented:
ah well i'm already certified ... thought if there was some cert out there that's offering design level stuff, then might check out the curriculum for that for knowledge purposes and not necessarily exam
Bill1982Author Commented:
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