The start of my CCIE Journey!

Hi All,

I thought I would pop on here and say hello as I have just commited the next 1.5 to 2 years of my life to the CCIE R&S certification!! Very excited and very focused.... so far! I fully expect to get to a low point and drink lots of beer at some point [B] but for now its very much focus focus focus!

I'm a full time emploeyee as a Senior network engineer doing R&S, Wireless, Security & Voice. My previous life existed of being a Microsoft jack of all trades so have some server background to mix in with it all! I have held the CCNP R&S certification since december 2011 and have just been building experience and trying to pick the area I like most..... which I have found to be R&S.

So far in the last few weeks, I have started collecting the reading list (had some already). This includes:

 

  • Routing TCP/IP Vol 1 and 2
  • CCIE OCG Vol1 & 2
  • MPLS Fundamentals
Planning on getting the following later on

  • QOS book....
  • IPV6 book....

The blueprint is in Excel ready to put an initial score against myself on the relevant areas. I also have a study timetable to get the sign off from the wife to make sure i dont neglect her and the kids! [;)]. I have put aside around 20-30 hours a week to see how that goes and adjust if needed.


I have purchased the All Access Pass to get access to the videos, workbooks etc. After looking around, I have found I may have been a little premature with the purchase as its heavily geared towards the Lab.... however im thinking I might study for the lab, while reading... then do the written close to the lab (not that close!). Not sure if this is a good idea but have heard & read a few people approach it this way.


I have configured my home PC as an ESX server and have 20 CSR routers configured with 4 physical 3750 switches connected to it in readiness to lab stuff up while working through the workbook. Also managed to get automatic scripts running to push the inital configs out to the CSR using serial over the network in ESX world and it works like a dream. Punted the lab kit into the warehouse unit at work and is available 24/7


Anyway, just announcing myself to the forum with a view to become a frequent participater as time goes on! Sorry for rambling! [:D]


Cheers,

Jon

 

Comments

  • Awesome! Waiting to see interesting questions from you.

     

    Best of luck,

     

    Elvin

  • im thinking I might study for the lab, while reading... then do the written close to the lab (not that close!). Not sure if this is a good idea but have heard & read a few people approach it this way.

    Hi Jon, yes even Brian McGahan recommends doing it in that order, the aim is to prep for the lab because the blueprint in the lab and written exams are not that different, have you already watched this playlist  ?

    Just a note that there will be an addition of "Evolving Technologies" in all the written exams of CCIE/CCDE this includes Cloud, SDN, IoT  last day to take the old written is July 25, 2016.


    God bless on your studies Jon!

    HTH,
    Timothy 

    Hope this helps!

    Timothy Q. Manito


  • I have purchased the All Access Pass to get access to the videos, workbooks etc. After looking around, I have found I may have been a little premature with the purchase as its heavily geared towards the Lab.... however im thinking I might study for the lab, while reading... then do the written close to the lab (not that close!). Not sure if this is a good idea but have heard & read a few people approach it this way.


    Hi Jonny,

    To me its personal preference, but if you are just starting out, I would say that the lab and the written are two different animals.  While its true that most of the material on the lab will match the written, to me they are two separate milestones to capture.  I did the same thing as you, before I took my written, I purchased the AAP and started watching Brian's excellent Advance Technologies Course.

    After talking with other CCIEs however, they suggested I spend less time watching the deep dive videos, and more time reading.  Let me be clear though, Im not saying completely abandon watching videos, just do not forget to read, and read a lot :).  Even Brian says in his ATC videos, you cant get away from reading; simply cannot.  The reading list I have includes what you have, as well as Internet Routing Architectures (Great BGP book).  RFCs are great too.  However, I would say split your day up, watch some videos for an hour or two, then hit the books for the rest.  If topics seem really confusing to you, lab them.

    The written is much more theoretical.  I havent sat my lab yet, but am prepping for it and will sit soon.  Again, from what others have taught me and the bootcamp I've been too, its all about not just knowing the tech, but being as fast and accurate as possible.  Whereas in the written you have much more time to sit and ponder the questions.  I will tell you this, after taking my written I was not preparred for the lab; I did not have the soft skills needed after assessming myself, nor the deep knowledge required that was not covered on the written.  For the written, passing was a combination of knowing the technology and knowing how to pass a written examination.

    One thing that Im personally doing, and I wish I did this before I took the written because it would have helped with both the written and it definitely will be critical for the lab, is I took INE's expanded v5 blueprint, stuck it in Excel, and graded myself on each topic and subtopic (from E = Excellent, A = Above Average, N= Needs work, and F = Clueless) just as you did.  Then, in each row, I have 3 columns; First is the Configuration or Documentation section of the DocCD I can find either a) more info about the technology, or b) the configuration example to look at.  Second column is the subsection of the main document to find it (e.g. BGP Configuration Guide > Cisco BGP4). Third section is the exact location in the document.  I am making it a personal requirement to have every single topic mapped to a location in the DocCD.

    This forces a few things; one for me to make sure I've read at least everything in the blueprint once in Cisco's documentation, two that even though I dont necessarily memorize the location, I get a feel for where stuff is and can get to it quicker during the lab if needed, and three that I grade myself honestly on each topic.  It takes a great amount of time; but if you aim to do 10-15 "rows" of the blueprint a week, it doesnt take that long in the grand scheme of things.

    Good luck man!  Hope that was helpful and not meaningless rambling lol.

  • Big up, go ahead and don't settle ...

    may the force be with us :-)

    Regards,

    Fay ONIS

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    I'll be honest: I don't understand why people plan to defer the written exam until late in the lab game. Do it early, and use it as a checkpoint. If you discover that you've learned everything "wrong", it's your easy "out" or opportunity to rethink your whole approach.

    Also, having seen the massive consternation amongst the ranks when R&S v5 exams came out, In case you missed it, Cisco announced a new version of the written and lab exams would roll out in June '14. People scrambled like mad to secure a lab seat before the exams changed, and Cisco bowed to the pressure by adding Saturday lab seats and going above and beyond to assist in some cases. Still, people were IMHO silly in how they approached this, and/or just didn't put much thought into how the system works. So, here's my take on the whole thing:

    FACT: you cannot reserve a lab seat without passing the written.

    FACT: you can only have one lab seat reserved (per track) at any given time.

    FACT: if you have a lab seat reserved >90 days in advance, you must pay for it at the 90-day mark. for lab seats booked <90 days out, you have to provide payment with booking.

    TYPICAL BEHAVIOR: Cisco will announce a new version of the lab with at least six months notice. They don't promise this, but history suggests this is how they'll approach any future updates.

    So, I suggest the following: take/pass the written, and book a lab seat as far out as the system will let you (six months out? eight?). Keep an eye on the rumor mill and official announcements pages. When your lab seat is about 3.5 months out, check the rumors and announcements page one "last" time. If you see no mention of a format change, assume there'll be sufficient seats as far out as the system will let you, drop your existing lab date, and pick a new one further out. However, if you see ANY rumbling of new stuff coming, do some research here (ask others who are booking to report on how available seats are), and come to an informed decision: am I at a point where I should commit to the date I have, or is it logical to gamble on a new date further out (knowing that you may discover seats aren't in fact available, and you may have to either pull your date back in to what you had, or possibly sooner), or should you drop the seat altogether and flow into the new format?

    As a reminder (please confirm online to make sure this is still true):

    FACT: A written 'pass' qualifies you to attempt the lab for UP TO 36 months, as explained below.

    FACT: A written 'pass' qualifies you to attempt the lab once within the first 18 months. If you do not attempt the lab within 18 months, you must re-pass the now-current written.

    FACT: Once you've made the initial lab attempt on a particular written exam, it remains valid for UP TO 12 months for your next lab attempt, unless it hits the 36-month hard expiration.

    TAKEAWAY: the written can be good for 36 months, but you'll need to visit the lab at least three times (once within the first 18 months, second within the subsequent 12 months, and third before the pass hits its third birthday) to actually make it worth 36 months.

  • Good luck!  I just purchased my tokens and the AAP. Would love to know how you did the scripting to push the configs... i have cisco VIRL and also rack rentals to utilize, but would love to set up my own lab. Best of luck! Feel free to hit me up and maybe get some study initiatives going. 

  • I'll be honest: I don't understand why people plan to defer the written exam until late in the lab game. Do it early, and use it as a checkpoint. If you discover that you've learned everything "wrong", it's your easy "out" or opportunity to rethink your whole approach.

    Also, having seen the massive consternation amongst the ranks when R&S v5 exams came out, In case you missed it, Cisco announced a new version of the written and lab exams would roll out in June '14. People scrambled like mad to secure a lab seat before the exams changed, and Cisco bowed to the pressure by adding Saturday lab seats and going above and beyond to assist in some cases. Still, people were IMHO silly in how they approached this, and/or just didn't put much thought into how the system works. So, here's my take on the whole thing:

    FACT: you cannot reserve a lab seat without passing the written.

    FACT: you can only have one lab seat reserved (per track) at any given time.

    FACT: if you have a lab seat reserved >90 days in advance, you must pay for it at the 90-day mark. for lab seats booked <90 days out, you have to provide payment with booking.

    TYPICAL BEHAVIOR: Cisco will announce a new version of the lab with at least six months notice. They don't promise this, but history suggests this is how they'll approach any future updates.

    So, I suggest the following: take/pass the written, and book a lab seat as far out as the system will let you (six months out? eight?). Keep an eye on the rumor mill and official announcements pages. When your lab seat is about 3.5 months out, check the rumors and announcements page one "last" time. If you see no mention of a format change, assume there'll be sufficient seats as far out as the system will let you, drop your existing lab date, and pick a new one further out. However, if you see ANY rumbling of new stuff coming, do some research here (ask others who are booking to report on how available seats are), and come to an informed decision: am I at a point where I should commit to the date I have, or is it logical to gamble on a new date further out (knowing that you may discover seats aren't in fact available, and you may have to either pull your date back in to what you had, or possibly sooner), or should you drop the seat altogether and flow into the new format?

    As a reminder (please confirm online to make sure this is still true):

    FACT: A written 'pass' qualifies you to attempt the lab for UP TO 36 months, as explained below.

    FACT: A written 'pass' qualifies you to attempt the lab once within the first 18 months. If you do not attempt the lab within 18 months, you must re-pass the now-current written.

    FACT: Once you've made the initial lab attempt on a particular written exam, it remains valid for UP TO 12 months for your next lab attempt, unless it hits the 36-month hard expiration.

    TAKEAWAY: the written can be good for 36 months, but you'll need to visit the lab at least three times (once within the first 18 months, second within the subsequent 12 months, and third before the pass hits its third birthday) to actually make it worth 36 months.

    Mate, thanks a lot for writing this down. You have no idea how much has helped me.

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    Mate, thanks a lot for writing this down. You have no idea how much has helped me.

    Glad to help. Not to call somebody out, but after Cisco announced the transition of R&S from v4 to v5, someone here managed to get a lab date about two months before the cutoff date. Realize that people were scrambling and begging for ways to get a lab date, proclaiming that Cisco was being unfair with "only" six months notice, etc., Meanwhile, this person who had a lab date two months before the cutoff took the lab and failed it, then wondered what they'd have to do to get another chance at the lab before the migration. DUDE, you have to wait a month before you're eligible to take it again, and there's only two months left. I promise you EVERY spot is taken worldwide. I just cannot believe the bravery of someone who got a coveted lab spot, failed it, and thought they could get another, when lots of people were desperate for ONE chance. That, of course, is part of what drove me to come up with the approach above. Some might call it gaming the system...I call it using the system as written (you're allowed to reserve a seat, you're not expected to commit to it until 90 days out, you can "always" drop into any open seats less than 90 days out as long as you're ready to pay for it NOW).

  • Right.....About 1 month after my original post I ended up finding out my father had terminal cancer and unfortunately passed in January 2017; Now after a year and a half of change and reflection on whats important in life, i have decided to get back on it..... Just to be clear, the CCIE is not 'important' in my life as such but has been a personal goal to achieve for some time now and i 100% want to achieve that. I know it will take some time but ultimately it will also enable me to enjoy some more quality time with my family; which has been highlighted as extremely important to me!

    Even though i did start the studying process and INE videos back in 2016, i have opted to start from scratch now and will be studying for the written first to get that done and then that sets the clock ticking on the Lab for me. This approach matches my home life as i should have a little more time outside of studying.

    I ill be using the following resources....
    Safari online for all / most books
    Some existing Cisco books i have collected
    INE AAP
    Cisco VIRL

    I have the INE configs loaded into VIRL all ready to go and have this weekend, cleared my old desk of rubbish and re-build a study area with everything i need around me!

    I struggle to work with forums if I'm honest as i have spats of writing, reading and replying but then ill go quiet for a time but i will also be making a conscious effort to participate on this one and the Learning network moving forward!

    Im not sure if anyone else has done this sort of approach but I also came up with a distant plan for the Lab which is to take it in Orlando if i can (im based in the UK) and then to take the wife and kids on holiday at the same time / let them fly out a day later..... not sure on logistics etc etc but going to try and make this happen!

    Cheers,
    Jon

  • Hi Jon,

    Firstly condolences on the passing away of your father. Some things are much more important in life than the job/career. Its great that you have decided to come back to your CCIE journey - all the best to you!

    I am starting out too, after going through the CCNP mill (again -sigh). Only differences that I can see so far in my approach to yours is that I am still researching using VIRL on a Packet cloud server, (CCIE Lab Builder just too expensive). I also have the CCIE OCG Vol1 & 2, but think that it is a starting block, not enough to cover every topic in the detail needed. BTW the same author has brought out "CCIE R&S v5.1 Foundations: Bridging the Gap between CCNP and CCIE". You should be able to find it on Safari.

    I personally will be leaving my family at home when Lab time comes - enough stress already. But yes, maybe if they arrive a few days later.

  • Soooooo….. worked pushed me in a different direction! I spent about 1 month studying for the CCIE when my work decided that some specialisations were still required and that they would make them personal objectives to achieve a bonus.....

    So I have been busy doing the following....
    Exam: 500-325 Cisco Collaboration Servers and Appliances
    Exam: 500-301 Cisco Cloud Collaboration Solutions
    Exam: 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions (Failed once..... persevered for second attempt to pass!)

    Now I'm ready to start again with the colder nights coming (UK)..... so I spent today sorting my notes from the start of the year, refreshing topics list to grade myself once again! I have also built VIRL 1.5 and imported all of the INE labs. I also have OpenVPN to my work where the VIRL Server is running so can get access it remotely as long as I have internet access which should help!

    I have tweaked my spreadsheet to include a random lab generator so each day I study I have five labs to do on that day! I think this will help me to keep fresh on the topics which is normally a real struggle. It just picks random lab from the INE list using this formula !

    table1 has a list of the INE Workbook labs
    =INDEX(Table1[[#Data],[Lab]],RANDBETWEEN(1,ROWS(Table1[[#Data],[Lab]])),1)

    I have put my study schedule into my work/phone calendar ready! It totals around 26 hours a week.

    The exam is booked for 26th October which is way too early but I may go have an early attempt at the exam to gauge where I am at.

    I have just put a recurring calendar entry in to spend some time on forums to ensure I actively participate from now on!!

    Jon

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