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.
– CCIE SP blueprint version 3 was first introduced in April 18th 2011. When I asked Vincent about upcoming changes to the blueprint, he assured me that there won’t be any change for another year.
– All devices are preconfigured. The preconfiguration has basic IPv4/IPv6 addressing, VTP, VLANs, basic routing, basic MPLS..etc. anything that is preconfigured can’t be changed unless explicitly states in the task.
– The GUI and questions are all electronic, there are no printer workbooks, similar to the CCIE R&S lab test. All rack equipment is accessed thought remote access. San Jose and RTP don’t have any local equipment. Most of the IOS devices are running IOU, IOS-XR and Catalyst are using physical devices.
– Passing rate for SP is a lot higher than CCIE R&S. With the addition of IOS-XR there was a significant drop of CCIE SP candidates. The main issue is accessibility to the required equipment, mainly the IOS-XR devices. With the introduction of VIRL with its virtual IOS-XR, that will change. VIRL is a Virtual Internet Routing Laboratory Cisco demonstrated at Cisco Live. For more see my post on VIRL- Why you need to know about it! CCIE SP test versions will change due to the accessibility of virtual IOS-XR. The complexity will increase to make it more challenging. These are not blueprint changes but specific test version.
– Each lab has about 10 troubleshooting tasks (30 points) that are preconfigured in the lab. There is no separate troubleshooting session like in CCIE R&S. All the troubleshooting faults are preconfigured. I imagine not being able to solve these would make the rest of the lab rather difficult.
– Layer 3 tasks are about 25% of the lab. Main emphasis is on technologies like IPv6, MPLS, Traffic Engineering, L3 VPN, Multicast VPN, CSC, SP Security and SP QoS.
– Layer 2 tasks consist about 15% of the lab. Layer 2 features aren’t as rich as some of the Layer 3 features. Main emphasis is on L2 VPNs, Carrier Ethernet etc. Weaker topics include traditional access technologies like ATM, Frame-relay, DSL, Cable, etc.
– There are about 25 to 27 routers with 3 Metro Ethernet switches. Anything that is running IOS is using IOU. It is a good ideas to checkout the topology samples provided in the section’s PDF (BRKCCIE-9163).
– Grading is mostly done on the outputs. Proctors have grading scripts to help them grade labs, but scripts are not solely used for grading. There might be multiple ways to configure a task so it is lot easier for the grading engine to check using outputs of show commands. There might be few instances where they actually look at the configuration, but that is rare. Extra configuration should not be an issue as long as it doesn’t effect the output they are looking for. Grading script will not check for things that were not asked in the tasks.
That’s all I have from the technical session. For more details check out the PDF BRKCCIE-9163.