CCIE RS v5 – My Thoughts

When is the Update Coming

Finally the announcement is here, CCIE RS v5 is going live on June 4, 2014. That means
that the last day to take both the written and the lab for v4 is June 3, 2014.
As expected Cisco gives a 6 month heads up for candidates to prepare themselves for
the new version.

Which Version Should I Prepare for

When I started studying for the CCIE, my goal was to become a networking expert and
by that also pass the CCIE certification. That meant that I sometimes studied things
in excess of what was needed for the lab but that would help with my overall career.
I don’t understand why people get stressed out by a few extra topics added, passing
the lab should verify you as an expert, the goal should not be to just squeak by a PASS.

If you have a lab date coming up in the next months or think you can get ready by then,
give v4 a shot but realize that lab dates are probably hard to get by now that many people
are in panic mode. The new topics for v5 are things you could definitely use in your dayjob
so don’t be afraid to learn those.

Changes to CCIE Written

There are some major changes. This document from CLN shows how the different technologies
are weighted.


With Layer 3 Technologies at 40% that is the majority of the exam. What’s interesting is
that VPN Technologies and Infrastructure Security adds up to 30% which shows that security
is becoming an important part of the RS exam as well.

Cisco has done a great job of making the blueprint more detailed. If we expand the blueprint
we can see that it’s very detailed:


I get the feeling that Cisco has tried to make the new blueprint more relevant to
what people use in production and run into on those networks. I draw this conclusion
from added items like Asymmetric routing and Impact of micro burst. These are things
that can commonly cause issues in real networks.

As expected IPv6 is getting more important as well. There is a section dedicated to
migrating to v6.


There is also a section added for troubleshooting. This section contains items like
Embedded Packet Capture (EPC) and the use of Wireshark. These are great additions as well.


The Layer 2 section is basically the same as before. There is a section about VSS
and Stackwise. That might be some new topics.


The Layer 3 section hasn’t changed that much either. More focus on v6:


The addition of 4 byte ASNs is good since the 16 bit ones have pretty much run out:


It’s interesting to see that ISIS is back on the written. ISIS is not only useful in
itself. It is used by other protocols like TRILL so that might be why Cisco added it back.


The VPN Technologies is completely new and IPSEC is now included as well as DMVPN.
Although these are security topics they are important to know if you work with
routing/switching as well.


The Infrastructure Security section has mostly familiar topics with some additional
added for v6:


The Infrastructure Services has mostly familiar topics as well. Some additional v6 topics
have been added:


Some people at Twitter were disappointed to see v6 NAT and I agree that I don’t like
to see NAT for v6 unless it is used to migrate between v4 and v6.

Overall I think Cisco has done a great job. Topics are relevant and seem to be more
geared to what people work on at our daily jobs.

Some topics have been removed as well. The two major ones being Frame Relay and
Catalyst QoS. This makes sense as well, Fram Relay is rarely used now and Catalyst QoS
is very platform dependant.

Changes to CCIE Lab

There are some updates regarding the lab as well. The entire CCIE lab is now virtualized
including the configuration section. Expect to see larger topologies in the configuration
section now as the topology is virtualized. There has also been added a section called
DIAG. So the new format looks like this:


First out is the TS section. What’s interesting here is that 120 minutes is alotted to it
as before. However there is the possibility of using 30 minutes extra at the cost of having
less time for the configuration section. This should be good for people that feel stressed
for time on the TS. Be aware though that usually how fast you can solve the TS tickets is
a good indication of how prepared you are for the lab.

The DIAG section is completely new and is alotted 30 minutes. It seems to use a similar
content delivery like the CCDE practical. There are no devices to diagnose, instead the
candidate will read e-mails, look at diagrams, packet captures and logs. I am carefully
optimistic about this section. I think Cisco added it to both make sure that CCIEs have
qualities as expected by them and to make it more difficult to pass by cheating.

The configuration section is the same, it is alotted 330 minutes but if you used the 30
minutes for the TS then this section is 300 minutes. I’m not sure yet if the 30 minutes
is fixed or if it is dynamic so if you use 135 minutes for the TS, do you get 315 minutes
for the config? The configuration section is now virtualized. Expect to see larger topologies.
This is good news in my opinion, this should make it more difficult for people to memorize labs.
It will also be easier to create larger topologies where we can see networks that have
routers for all roles, P, PE, CE and so on. That was difficult to do with only 5 routers

Note that to pass the CCIE lab you must pass each section, TS, DIAG and Config. Each
section will have a minimum passing score which I could not find a reference to but
the passing score has been 80% before.

Summary of All Changes

This document describes all the updates from v4 to v5.


The big things being added are once again DMVPN and IPSEC. There is also a focus on IPv6
and on making the blueprint more realistic.

These things have been moved/removed:


Frame Relay is gone and Catalyst QoS has been moved to the written. To the joy of many
v4 candidates, PfR has been moved to the written as well.

The CCIE RS v5 lab blueprint is here.

Also this page at CLN is a portal for all documents relevant for the CCIE RS v5.

Good Work Cisco!

Overall I’m very happy with this announcement. Cisco has done a great job of making the
blueprint more relevant and have added topics that people should be seeing in todays
networks. They have also taken steps to increase the integrity of the lab.
Virtualizing the entire lab is interesting and should help to create good topologies
and to provide more integrity of the CCIE.

The CCIE has never been more relevant than now.

8 thoughts on “CCIE RS v5 – My Thoughts”

  1. So is frame really gone completely? Or are they just removing the frame-relay QoS components LFI and Traffic Shaping?

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