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
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.
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!
I found a link to an interesting video with Kevin Wallace 2x CCIE. He did an interview with a CCIE proctor anonymously and some of the answers really surprised me.
- The proctor chooses the lab you get
- 80% of all candidates fail on any given day on average
- Sometimes the proctors “grow a heart” and relax on the grading
So what surprised me the most is that the proctor chooses the lab, I thought this was a randomized process. Generally you should get a different lab than your previous attempt but there are no guarantees. So if you go back several times you should get a new lab every time until you exhaust the pool of labs.
It was also a bit surprising that some of the proctors could relax a bit on grading if you have been there multiple times (hoping for that ;)). They will definately don’t help you pass if you don’t deserve it but if you were very close on something you might get credit for it which you wouldn’t on your first attempt.
So I’m hoping for some proctor love the next time What is good to know is that a script does most of the grading and it is results based. So when doing configuration in the lab think how could a script verify this. This could actually help in choosing the most appropiate solution for a task.
I’m back for Brussels but unfortunately I didn’t pass this time either. I got a little bit closer as I passed the TS section this time. I was able to breeze through that.
I can’t seem to catch a break with the config section. I had an advanced lab but I knew most of the topics. Unfortunately I spent much time on the L2 section which was very advanced. When I had done all tasks I only had 1h left for verification and that was not enough.
Even though I answered almost every task it was not enough. My pitfall was lack of time and that I did not verify enough. I have accounted for 9p afterwards were I had everything correct except for some tiny detail, guess what, that means 0p in the CCIE lab. Even mistyping one single character can mean the grading script will fail. You have to have 100% attention for all the details in the lab.
Unfortunately I did not have a good proctor either. I felt he didn’t know the content of the exam well enough and was unable to answer my queries even when I showed the technical knowledge that I was not fishing for answers.
I have a lot going on right now as we are expecting a baby within weeks. I will try to go back in the fall if I find the time for studying.