R&S passed in Brussels 2015-02-15 | CCIE #47033

Hi guys,

I passed R&S in Brussels on Sunday on the first try. It was such an epic experience.

Short history: I was a programmer, went into networking field ~3 years ago because I wanted to learn something I knew little about. Passed both CCNA and CCNP in 2012 and beginning 2013 I set a goal to be CCIE. I bought 4 3560 switches from ebay. I'm a Cisco instructor on our local academy since CCNP, so I had access to our lab, but it wasn't my own dedicated rack and I think that every CCIE needs to have a rack. I went virtual, first GNS/dynamips, then IOU and now csr1000v (best stuff). I started learning with CCIE goal in my mind in early 2013, stopped and started again multiple times but each time labbing something different, so during 1,5 years I labbed basically everything but forgot 60% of it :). In August 2014 I passed written after 2 weeks of hardcore (read 10+ hours each day) labbing using INE workbooks. Then I set lab date for something in the middle of February, told it to my friends so I cannot postpone it - worked better than if I'd paid it.

Since September, labbing was my daily activity, once a week I held a technical 2-3 hours long session in the work where I explained the particular topic in detail. In December I took vacation and unpaid leave until now which started an era of no social life. Since then I labbed 8+ (sometimes 16) hours a day, 6 days a week. I went once again through almost all INE vol1 workbooks (I skipped those parts I was very confident in - like layer2 access ports :D). I did one foundation lab, all the tshoot labs and 2 full-scale INE labs, I just scanned the 3rd one because I didn't have time for it. Of course I read all relevant sections from DocCD so I was sure I don't miss anything.

Lab trip:

I scheduled Sunday mostly because it was cheaper to flight on Friday there and back on Monday and I wanted to have one day before the lab to be completely alone in the hotel room to rest. Well I planned to have Saturday to rest - that was a nogo :D. I went over my notes, labbed several isolated things, tested fun stuff like bgp inject-maps once again. After I went over all my notes, I made a list of "to open documentation pages" I went to bed, it was around 00:30, so let's say 6 hours of sleep ahead of me. I forgot to mention that I was (and still am) ill, after two years without any sickness I got sick 3 days before the exam...

Lab day:

Morning was pretty good, I woke up, did 50 pushups, watched "Why do we fall motivational video" :D and went to breakfast around 7:30. I was in Thon Airport hotel, pretty reasonable price compared to NH and only 9 minutes from Cisco. I reached Cisco around 7:50, one guy was already there for Voice I think, then another one showed up for SP. The Proctor came around 8:15, explained all the rules and assigned us the seats. Another guy came like 1 hour after the start, but he said during the lunch that there is no chance for him to pass, but he looked kind of happy, not like the rest of us.

Lab itself:

I did 70% of tickets in 50 minutes, 30% of tickets in next 90 minutes :(. Nice start but not that good ending, however I was sure that 90% of the tickets are completely correct. Note to myself: the simplest solution is 99% the right one

Diag was fun, I was kind of surprised by the scale of the inputs. One must move fast to do this successfully. Diag is very nice addition to the lab itself, it really tests how you can extract the needed information without having console access only from the documents provided.

How does the lab timing work: you have a timer in tshoot, the only restriction is maximum duration of 2:30, you also have a fixed timer in diag (not less and not more than 30 minutes). In config you don't have ANY timer on your screen, your timer is Proctor's watch. Once you're seated he'll launch 8:00 countdown and once that expires you're done (minus lunch break of course). This means two things: waiting to click Begin Test and reading the instructions on the Begin Test page before each section means you're losing time, thinking that the timer starts once you click Begin Test is an incorrect assumption, 8:00 timer starts once you're seated.

We had a pizza, not the best pizza, but it was edible.

The config was indeed interesting, without breaking NDA I can say that I expected it to be harder in terms of going into depth and let's say you have to be more than a fluent typer if you want to pass it.

I finished destroying the keyboard around 8 minutes before the Proctor's timer ran out, of course I had to do end; u all; wr mem on all the devices which took like 5 minutes... I didn't do almost any wr mem during the lab and one router hanged for about 2 minutes approx. 10 minutes before the lab ended, caused me irreparable heart damage.

My expectations after the lab were mixed, I knew I passed the tshoot and the diag, but I wasn't sure about the config, pings/traceroutes were all working, all the security and management stuff also, but I completely forgot to implement one thing (it was just traffic engineering, so no connectivity loss).

Then I started to think, how several things could've been implemented using another way, sometimes better, sometimes simpler, sometimes it was just an alternative way. I started to be unsure whether I did it like they wanted me to, I didn't break any requirements, I was sure about it, however. Realising that Bruno van de Werve explicitely told that they will accept any solution which satisfies the requirements and doesn't break any conditions or uses forbidden commands helped a lot and then, after two redbulls, pizza, chocolate, while sick and tired after arriving at hotel I just fell to the bed.

I woke up around 23:00, checked the email - no email meant that I didn't fail miserably (I still may have failed non-miserably). Of course I again started thinking about what I did wrong, how it could've been done better and so on, preventing myself to fall asleep for another 2 hours.

On the Monday morning when I woke up at 8am I immediately jumped to the laptop, opened mails, not the web page, to make the flow of pain and misery slower and more controlled. The email was there, receive time was ~4:30. At that time I already had a new learning strategy developed for the 2nd try :). I logged in into the CCIE tracker and saw "Pass".

This is now I learned new stuff:

0. I didn't study for the written and then for the lab, I studied for the lab only + things covered only in written before going to written

1. watch an intro video for the topic - I have INE's all access pass, which is great for this, or read a wikipedia and some Cisco use case, something what will allow you to understand WHY we need such a technology and high level overview what it does, or ciscolive BRKRST or others

2. read about the topic from some respectable sources - official books are best, Developing IP Multicast, MPLS/VPN Architectures, Internet Routing Architectures, TCP/IP Routing, every CCIE should read them - gems

2. lab simple things in that particular topic so you're comfortable with it

3. add to that lab until you walk over all commands which are reasonable (e.g. don't go into service-family or address-family mvpn on R&S) shown by the question mark at CLI, do your own lab, don't do INE at first. This will mean it will be slower, but probably you'll try to use the technology in some other way and maybe it won't work, but you'll learn that the hard way and that's good, moverover you'll know a lot more

4. use wireshark to understand the control-plane packets and the data-plane - this is critical and I always go down to the data-plane, because it is really good for honing troubleshooting skills, to understand what does the router need to know to forward packets

5. use Cisco DocCD if you don't understand what some command does, it's best, it's official and it's on the lab

6. lab INE technology labs

7. teach it someone and make sure the person understands it, that way you'll verify that you understand it and you'll make a colleague a better engineer - this helped me a lot

8. combine it with something you already knew

9. combine more - e.g. multicast over dmvpn (over mpls/vpn over dmvpn) :)

10. lab border cases, what-if cases, impossible cases

 

To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.

- Having a friend, who is CCIE, or in pursuit of CCIE is great thing, thanks go to Martin Hruby #43961, Peter Paluch #23527, David Altoft #22124, these people motivated me the most

- Thanks to all my friends who supported me, to my family, colleagues, teachers and students

- Thanks to INE for creating great products

#47033

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