We are many CCIE RS candidates that have used Ruhanns RS handbook to
aid us in passing the CCIE lab. Ruhann has now released a SP handbook
as well to aid all SP candidates.
Who is Ruhann?
Ruhann du Plessis 2x CCIE #24163 (RS, SP) is an experienced engineer
that designs and works with large MPLS VPN networks, intra/inter-AS
routing, large data centers and so on.
The book was written to be used as a kind of quick reference. You
will find both theory but must important config sets that describe
how to configure the different features. Relevant show commands
and how to troubleshoot is also shown which is really good. Also links
to the DOCCD are included so that it becomes easy to find where all
features are located.
The book starts by describing a feature/protocol with some theory and
facts, often in bullet point form. On top of the page there is a
reference to the DOCCD to find the relevant feature. Then the config set
shows how to configure the feature and finally show commands and how
to troubleshoot is shown at the end of the section. There is also a
reference to relevant RFCs describing the features/protocols.
From what I’ve seen this book looks great! The RS book is a great help
in passing the RS lab and now there is an equally good book to help
in passing the SP lab as well.
I really like to use the book as a reference. It’s sometimes easier to
find the information the the handbook than going to the Cisco documentation.
The config sets are even better then what is shown in the Cisco docs.
There is a sample available of the SP handbook here.
To buy it go to Ruhanns site. It’s only 98$.
This blog has now seen 200k views since I started it. It started out slow but after a year
or so it gained some pace. The blog started out describing my journey to the CCIE which I
accomplished 6 months ago.
In the future I will try to blog more about datacenter technologies like CSR and Nexus1kv.
If you have something you want covered post in comments and I’ll have a look at it. Thanks
As most of my readers know by now I like to help people get started with their
careers and help them along with their studies. I’ve been quite active on the
Cisco Learning Network lately and also I have now started to write technical
articles to prepare students for the CCNA. These articles will be published
by Intense School which is a training company.
Most of you here might already be past CCNA level but I’ll link to my articles
anyway in case you want to read it or if you have friends studying for the CCNA.
The first one is about IP access-lists and you can find it at Intense school.
Yesterday I received a tweet from Mirek Burnejko @miroburn that he had received
information that Cisco is releasing virtualized XR platform. That certainly
peaked my interested so I started asking around my contacts.
It is already well known that Cisco uses something called IOS on Unix (IOU)
in the CCIE lab. It is a virtualized IOS running on Solaris and can run
both routing and switching. In the future I think the entire CCIE lab will
Cisco has also lately been releasing IOS-XE virtualized which is called CSR.
It is the Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR). You can now get this in a VM
and it’s called CSR1000v. This is great that Cisco is moving in this direction.
Now, not everyone may know that internally Cisco has been running virtualized
XR for a couple of years and I’ve seen it referred to as XR4U. I’m not sure if
that is the official name but now the rumour is that this XR4U might be released
to the public in a VM of some sorts. This would be very big news if true as people
have difficulties finding rack time on XR devices and would certainly be a major
deal for anyone wanting to go for their CCIE SP. I would expect this VM to have
some kind of limitations just like the CSR1000v.
If you read this PDF it is mostly talk about SDN
which may be interesting in itself but the real interesting thing to me is on page 30 and 31
where the Cisco VIRL is introduced. Seems like there should be VMs available for both
IOS XE, IOS XR, IOS and NXOS.
NXOS is available today through the Nexus1000v.
I’m trying to get some more information from Cisco. If this is true it is major news
and could help anyone wanting to learn Cisco do this in a much easier way without
using tools like GNS3 and Packet Tracer etc.
I received my CCIE plaque a while back. This is what it looks like.
Good luck to everyone pursuing the CCIE and one day you will have
one of these as well
I’m sorry for the lack of updates lately. I have been very focused
on finishing as much as possible at work as I’m going on a long leave
to take care of my kids.
Lately I’ve been dealing with some SP technologies and I find it really
interesting so in 2013 expect posts on things like MVPN, ISIS, MPLS TE
and things like that.
I wish everyone a merry christmas and a happy new year!
So I’m enjoying the time at home with my family. It’s great not having to spend
all the evenings studying.
That said I can’t just slack off and do nothing. I still want to learn. I have
a commute to work and I’ll spend that time studying for CCDP.
Why CCDP? I’m already a CCDA and my work involves doing designs so it won’t
hurt to go deeper in that direction. From what I’ve seen so far the CCDP seems
far more interesting than the CCDA.
I’ll try to write about things I pick up from the book. I don’t always agree 100%
with the book and in those cases I might write about it here and argue why I
don’t agree with the book.
Hope you guy guys are sticking around for my next journey
While on IRC I had a request to describe my journey and the costs associated with becoming
a CCIE. Becoming a CCIE is not cheap but I’ve worked for great companies that have covered
all of my costs.
I first started studying for the written back in the summer of 2010. All my posts from back
then are still available in the archives. My strategy for the written was to build a strong
foundation to stand on beforing moving on to labs. I did not want to fast forward through
the written just to get on to the labs. Remember that the CCIE lab is about thinking at a
CCIE level, it is not about commands. You need to read for the CCIE, a lot! If you don’t like
reading then I’m sorry but this exam is not for you. I’ve probably read close to the
amount of someone becoming a doctor if I count the pages of everything I’ve read so far.
Here are some of the books that I read for the written and the costs associated with them:
Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols
TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols
Internetworking with TCP/IP Vol.1: Principles, Protocols, and Architecture (4th Edition)
CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Guide (4th Edition)
Routing TCP/IP, Volume 1 (2nd Edition)
Routing TCP/IP, Volume II (CCIE Professional Development)
Developing IP Multicast Networks, Volume I
Sum of books for the written: 382$
In January of 2011 I went to take the written exam. The exam went good and I passed. It
was a bit different than the NP level exams but that was to be expected. The cost for
the written is 350$ Add that up with the cost of the books and you are looking at 732$
to get your ticket to the lab.
I needed to get some vendor workbooks and I decided to use INE due to their reputation and
instructors that were in place. I was able to pick up all the workbooks for something like
399$ on some deal.
I read Petr at INEs post on how to study for the CCIE lab exam
I decided to use the 12 month program because I was in no hurry and time is scarce when
you have kids. Basically you start out with doing all the core labs like the essential
features of the routing protocols which makes up the core knowledge you must have before
starting to do the full scale Vol2 labs. I was able to do most of the labs in Dynamips.
I converted the INE configs to Dynamips with a sed script that I’ve shared on my site earlier.
If you look at IEOC (INEs forum) you can find a user called relativitydrive that has already
converted all the configs for you if you want to run Dynamips.
For the switching tasks you need to either rent a rack or to buy your own switches and hook
them up to your Dynamips topology. My UK friend Darren has a nice post on how to connect
switches to your Dynamips topology.
I used rack rentals to practice the switching scenarios. I don’t know exactly how much I
spent on rentals but maybe around 500$
After I had done the Vol1 labs I started with Vol2. I was shocked, first of all the
diagrams and having to configure VLANs just from a diagram was a new experience for
me as for most. Also things like configuring OSPF which I felt pretty comfortable with
I could not even complete all those tasks. Expect to be crushed! Everything you thought
you knew will be put to test. CCIE is a whole different level than most of us are used
to so keep your head up even though you will be crushed the first couple of times you
do a Vol2 lab.
There are a few different ways you can do a Vol2 type lab. Either you do all the tasks
you think you can solve in one run and then you come back and look at the things you
could not solve. Or you do the tasks you can and then you peak at the SG for the
things that you could not solve yourself. You need to find what works best for you but
don’t be too worried about speed in the beginning. That will come in time, trust me.
What you should do straight away is abandon Google, no more Google for you my friend!
To find anything you want to reference you need to go to the DOCCD. You will eat, drink
and breathe the DOCCD until you pass the lab so get used to it Basically you will
be going to the IOS 12.4T section or to the 3560 switches. The DOCCD is located here.
INE has a free Vseminar on how to use the DOCCD.
Some people see the written and the lab as two entirely different beasts. I don’t think about
it that way because you are still working towards an end goal and that is to become a CCIE.
What you don’t want to do is stop reading just because you are labbing. You need to do
both. Don’t forget to use the RFC as sources, they are a resource you should tap into.
I can’t remember everyone that I read but these are some major ones.
RFC 791 – Internet Protocol
RFC 826 – An Ethernet Address Resolution Protocol
RFC 2328 – OSPF version 2
RFC 4271 – A Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)
RFC 3031 – Multiprotocol Label Switching Architecture
RFC 4594 – Configuration Guidelines for DiffServ Service Classes
RFC 4577 – OSPF as the Provider/Customer Edge Protocol for BGP/MPLS IP Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
This is a free resource and the RFCs are written by some of the smartest people in
the industry so don’t forget to use them.
If you decide to go for INE then don’t forget to use IEOC which is the
user community (forum) where you can ask questions about labs and most of what you
want to ask will already have been asked by someone previously. You will probably
find my face on a lot of threads in there
When you do Vol2 labs don’t be too strict about grading yourself. Your solution can be just as
valid as long as you don’t break any restrictions. Also try to get into the habit of doing
alternate solutions and throw some extra stuff in there to make you think a bit more. When
you start a lab you should not start typing immieditaly. Read through the entire lab and
look for dependencies. Do you need to run IPv6 on 3560? Might as well change the SDM
profile and reload at once. You don’t really want to reload when you have a stable
topology. While the switches are reloading you can do your VLAN config in Notepad or
something else. The CCIE lab is about being smart and effective, typing fast helps
but is not necessary to pass the lab.
Troubleshooting is a big part of the CCIE lab. You have a 2h session with just
troubleshooting and expect to at least mess something up during your config section
as well. Many people ask: How do I learn troubleshooting? The answer is: You don’t!
You can’t just practice troubleshooting like it was a separate skill. You need to
know the protocols! In some ways the troubleshooting is more difficult because you
already have a network running and you must understand what is going on in it.
You need to use the right tools and you need to know how the output looks like.
Sometimes you might have to match output to get something correct.
INE has some cool stuff coming up with their new TS racks. Other than that
I recommend that you make troubleshooting something you do regularly.
If you get stuck on something try to figure it out by yourself first and
use the proper tools before looking for a simple solution. What I did before my
2nd lab attempt was to configure a lof of different technologies like OSPF, EIGRP,
MPLS, BGP, Multicast etc etc. I made a working topology, this in itself is
good practice. If you can’t configure a topology without someone holding your hand
then your are not ready. Then I would try to break things and looked at what happened.
For MPLS, what happens if you disable CEF? What happens when you have a duplicate RID
in OSPF? Is the behaviour the same when you are running EIGRP? This worked very well
for me and for my last 2 attempts I had no issues with the TS section.
Always remember that the network was functioning and then something was altered
to make it break. You need to solve the core issue and not work around the issue.
As I mentioned earlier you don’t want to stop reading books just because you are labbing.
Here are some of the books I read for lab preparation:
OSPF: Anatomy of an Internet Routing Protocol
QOS-Enabled Networks: Tools and Foundations
Interdomain Multicast Routing: Practical Juniper Networks and Cisco Systems Solutions
MPLS-Enabled Applications: Emerging Developments and New Technologies
So that is another 268$ of books. Now I did not actually buy all these books. I got a Safari
account as well which is really nice. It costs a bit but then you have all the books you need.
Every lab attempt costs around 1800$ I need to go fly to Brussels and spend one night there.
Flying usually costs around 500$ Room for a night maybe 250$ Then you need to eat
something and maybe get a cab etc. So each attempt costs around 2600$
I passed in my 3rd attempt so that is 2600$ * 3 = 7800$
If we sum it all together:
Written exam 350$
Rack rental 500$
3x lab attempts 7800$
I did not include the bootcamp in this since I consider that
optional. But everyone needs books/workbooks and of course to take the tests. If you
live nearer a testing center you can save some on the lab attempts. Hopefully you can
pass in your first or second attempt but the average is somewhere around two to four
attempts before passing. So before starting your journey you should budget for 10-15k
to earn your CCIE. Hopefully if you are lucky as I have been your employer will fund
some/all of the costs but that is no given.
Finally, there is really no way of knowing when you are ready to go to the lab except
for going to the lab and finding out. Mock labs will give you some rough guidance
but it’s not 100% accuracte because you can never simulate the stress fully. What
I do recommend is that you try to get as comfortable as possibly by simulating the
test environment. Practice using only one monitor, use PuTTY, use a US keyboard.
Check out the lab exam demo before you go to the lab. Anything that can help
easen the stress a bit on the lab day will be good.
I hope this post gave you some insight to studying and that becoming a CCIE is
indeed expensive. Hopefully it is all worth it in the end
I’m interested to hear from you what you want to see from this blog in the future. As I have passed the CCIE lab it won’t be only CCIE related things. Would you like to see some troubleshooting labs? Technical articles? Posts on other certifications that I pursue? I’m probably doing the CCDP in the future but I don’t expect that to generate a lot of posts. Looking forward to hear from you.
So by now you know that I passed my lab in Brussels yesterday. Here is my story.
I arrived at monday in Brussels around 13.30. I took a walk in the beautiful
weather to the lab location. By now I have no problems finding it but it’s
just kind of a routine. I spent the day doing some final reviews and then
visited the gym at NH hotel. It’s good to clear your head and to get sleep
in the evening if your body is tired. I did not sleep that great however.
I woke up at around 03.30 and then I went back to sleep and woke up at 5 AM
again. I got around 7h sleep so it wasn’t too bad anyway. It’s normal if
you don’t sleep that well. Don’t make too much of a deal of it.
I arrived just before 8 AM to the Cisco building and checked in at the reception
as usual. I was waiting for the proctor to come get us. The proctor goes through
the guidelines for the exam and you get assigned a rack number. It was now time
for the TS section.
I put my earplugs in and went to work. I think it is good to use earplugs for
zoning out from the environment around you. I always start by trying to solve tickets
that look easier. These are usually the ones that contain only a few devices.
The reasoning behind this is to build your confidence and to get the feeling
that time is not running out on you. For TS especially time management is
everything. As engineers we have a narrow mindset when troubleshooting and
we want to solve something before moving on. This can be your pitfall in the
TS. You MUST move on after spending 10 minutes on a ticket. Usually if you
think about something else for a while your mind starts thinking more
creatively and you can find a solution to what seemed impossible earlier.
For the TS it is very important to have a good understanding of the protocols.
You are expected to know what show output looks like so that you can gather
information from that. You need to user proper tools and don’t go hunting
with sh run. Sh run interface and sh run | section are useful though. I solved
all the tickets with about 50 min to go and then spent 15 minutes verifying
that they were still all working. Pay close attention to the restrictions
and don’t skip reading the guidelines in the beginning to save time!
It was now time for the configuration. I ate a banana to refuel some energy.
You are allowed to bring snacks to your desk if you like. I started looking
through the entire lab for dependencies and to see if any devices would need
to be reloaded. Always do this at the beginning! I started with the L2 section
and things were moving on smoothly. I used the L3 diagram to see what VLANs
I needed to configure where. You need to be comfortable with this, don’t expect
to have anything served, it’s all up to you! I did a lot more verification as
I moved along compared to my earlier attempts, don’t blindly trust your config!
I then moved on to the L3 section and that went well. I just finished the L3
section before lunch.
Previously I had only done the L2 before lunch so I knew
I was in a much better position this time. I kept doing all of the tasks
and didn’t run into any major issues. I finished with a lot of time to spare
and now comes the most important part, verification! You need some time at
the end to do extra verification, account for this! You WILL do some mistakes
just due to stress or mistyping. I went through every task and every single
bullet point and made 100% sure that I was meeting the requirement. This took
a while but it was worth it. I still had an hour to go after this so I asked
the proctor if it was possible to start the grading early but he told me that
the grading is not done by them. I decided to stay the full time and did
an extra round of verification. I actually found a small mistake in this round
of verification so my advice is to stick around even if you finish early to
make sure you have done everything that you possibly can.
It was time to head home and I had a good feeling but I did not want to think
too much about it because if you get too high then you come crashing down hard
if you fail. After I landed in Gothenburg I checked my phone and saw that I had
received an e-mail. I rushed through the air port to check my mail on the computer
and to login to the portal. To access the CCIE portal you need your CSCO number, written
date and passing score. I did not know this for my first attempt and you don’t want
to be stranded not being able to login to check your score
I had received the e-mail around 19.30 and I had a good feeling that I got the score
fast but I have heard both good and bad examples of receiving a fast score. I logged
in and I saw PASS. At first I thought it might be the written so I didn’t want to
take anything for granted but then I clicked it and there it was! My number!
You all know I’ve worked hard for a long time for this and I am grateful to everyone
that has helped me on the way. I am not abandoning the blog but it might not only
be CCIE focused from now. If you have things you want me to write about make a suggestion
and if it is interesting to me I might write about it. As I don’t have to focus on
studies only now I can explore more interesting technologies and write about them.
Thanks for following on this great journey!