At Cisco Live I was able to attend the CCIE Service Provider technical session by Vincent Zhou who is the product manager of CCIE SP. It was a very good informative session (BRKCCIE-9163) that gave a nice insights into the lab test. Below are my notes from the session, hopefully you’ll find them useful.
The CCIE certification is a very honored and respected industry certification, but it comes at a high cost of time and money. When I started studying for the certification, I couldn’t find a lot of details on its expense, so I decided to keep a running total. I wouldn’t say that these numbers are representative of all cases, but only one CCIE. Knowing these figures helps in terms of budgeting especially when comparing individual financing versus expensing it from a company training budget.
Understanding the theory of each protocol is one thing, but being able to configure it is another thing. After reading a number of books, I purchased a collection of CCIE R&S practice workbooks. The first set that I purchased was Internetwork Expert’s workbooks (Vol1, Vol2 and Vol3) to get my hands on experience with each CCIE topic. Once I was finished the majority of INE workbooks, I bought IP Expert Volume 2 and Volume 3.
Troubleshooting lab is designed for a CCIE candidate to fix an issues of a pre-configured network. Tickets are very well defined as well as the expected behavior. There are about 10 tickets presented, some are worth 2 points and some 3 points. The troubleshooting lab has an automatic cutoff time after 120 minutes. All devices are virtualized using Cisco’s IOU (IOS on Unix).
The way I approached the troubleshooting section is by reading all of the tickets first. Yes, that will eat up about 10 minutes of your allocated 120 minutes, but it is well worth it. During the initial read, I created a table which tracked:
The CCIE configuration is a 6 hour test. The main goal of this section is to test you knowledge in building a network from scratch. All devices are real physical routers and switches, no Cisco IOU.
Similarly to the troubleshooting lab, I read the whole lab from start to finish. Just as the troubleshooting section I created a table to help me track of all the tasks and its requirements (see below for a sample and explanation).
The CCIE Routing and Switching test deals with a vast number of technologies. Remembering everything is rather difficult throughout the preparation process. Each CCIE will tell you that you need to have some sort of a method of documenting all of this new knowledge. During my studies I mainly used three types of documentation: mind maps, personal wiki and flashcards. One other very important aspect of CCIE documentation is the navigation of the DocCD.
Before anyone is allowed to schedule the CCIE Lab test, they have to pass the CCIE Written exam 350-001, which is a 120 minute test consisting of 90-110 question (see the link for official blueprint). CCIE candidates usually do either one of these two: take the CCIE written test before doing any workbooks/labs or take the exam before they are ready to schedule the lab test. I did the latter. To me it made more sense to configure each topic and have hands on experience, before taking the written test. I finished the technology based labs and scheduled my written test. As my main preparation, I used Bosom Exam Environment and utilizing the CCIE written question. I think Boson has a very useful study tool to review content and fill in any new gaps for their written exam questions. I passed it on my first attempt.
Thursday July 27th was was quite a day for me, full of ups and downs at RTP Cisco building number 3. I arrived 10 minutes before 7 AM. Slowly other candidates arrived. Everyone was returning at least for the second time including me. Since the last time I attempted the lab in January, Cisco moved their testing room to a smaller room on the left side of the building. I had the same proctor as before, David Blair.
I’m extremely excited to have passed the CCIE Routing and Switching lab at RTP on July 26th 2012. Currently, I’m working on a write up on my long journey and should be able to share it with everyone soon.