Friday, December 21, 2012

cisco CCIE R/S 2nd attempt ( views from the seat )

My 2nd attempt at the CCIE R/S,  is less than  30days away. I plan to have my  number in Jan 2013, &  if all goes as plan. I can't  speak about the CCIE lab specifics, but here's some tips that I seen from my 1st attempt.


  • they have  all sorts of tickets & covering all sorts of topics. One should practice breaking things, in order to  learn how to fix them

During my studies, I crafted numerous numerous lab scenarios, covering a wide range of topics, and in this process of building my studies scenarios,  "I broke a lot things". This was great, cause it indirectly help me learn how to fix them.

So use GNS3 or your practice lab switches and routers, &  think of some scenario on how to  configure technology XYZ , and then learn how to fix them.

  • read all of the tickets fully!

Each ticket is written with the clear objective stated in the text of the ticket. Cisco tells you want's the problem, and what's the suspected outcome. Make sure you meet the suggested outcome. They will even tell you what and how to test the problem or show the suggested output in some cases. Make sure you follow this 100%.

  • the network layout, is broad and wide, so build a ideal of where you want to target , when reading the ticket and the problems, look at the  layout; left 2 right and then right 2 left. Make sure you  understand it.

The advice here is;

" when you look a ticket over, try to build a methodology on how you will tackle the problem".

Don't go in with guns a blazing and open up session to all devices, with the intention of looking at all switches and routers. Target what/where you think the problem is located at based on the symptoms and the layout, and then slowly work outwards.

  • use debug if you have to, but disable it when your done
Every experienced net-eng I've have work with in the last 16+ years,  have used debug at least more than once. Learn how to to use it , but that really means; "learn how to read the output"

Some times the output is clear, and will lead you straight to the problem. Other times you need to review the output and the console messages, and than proceed in the direct the error is pointing at.  Use debug, term mon and show log, there's no shame in enabling either one of these diagnostic monitors.

The Practical-Lab

  • Study the questions, the layout and  the wiring schematics.  If they are not clear, ask for guidance or better yet clarity from the proctor. The Proctor WILL NOT PROVIDE YOU any technical guidance.

My 1st attempt was horrible with regards to the above. The lab is written very poorly, and specially when you think about it , and that cisco is a technology company. I give it a grade of C- in how well it was written.

READ the schematics, and READ them again. Items aren't very clear, but sometimes it might require you to read it 2, 3, 4 times to fully understand.

  • Work in order of the lab areas, as listed in the lab phamplet, follow objects in the order present, don't skip around
What that means, don't jump around. You have plenty of times to start from page 1 to page X.  You have to follow the main objectives &  before moving off to any laterals.

  • Freshen up on technologies that you don't use or ocassionaly use

What the above means; if your strong with BGP & use it everyday, and hardly use  EIGRP. Spend some time studying EIGRP. Get prepared!

  • get a good night sleep and eat well before your lab

The lab it's self is comfortable, and every second your in the lab, you ARE busy!

Time actually went by fast for me. I had a great  night sleep, and ate a small breakfast before exiting the hotel.  Try to  relax your body and mind, so you are not tense or nervous. When I went to RTP campus , and they let me bring in a few cans of RedBull  that I didn't even drink. I was literally busy from  07:00 to 16:00, with no breaks outside of lunch. Yes that's how busy you will be.

There's nothing to be nervous about in this practical lab. If your prepared, conduct some studies, and  review  the objectives you should be fine.

Well, wish me luck, cuz 2013 I'm getting my CCIE #.

Ken Felix
Freelance Network/Security Engineer
kfelix at hyperfeed dot com

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