There are a lot of rumors floating around in regards to diagrams in the R&S CCIE lab.  Cisco officially has said little in regards to this other than the following “the lab document has L1/L2 diagrams for the physical connectivity as well as an IP or topology diagram and an IP Routing diagram”.  This is similar to what we provide in our labs but I would venture to say that they don’t take the time we do to ensure that they look as nice as ours ;)   What Cisco and we do not provide is a true layer 2 “logical” diagram but Cisco and we do provide is a physical diagram of the connections in the lab.  A physical diagram is not the same as a logical layer 2 diagram.  A logical layer 2 diagram will include the VLAN assignments, trunks, EtherChannels, dot1q tunnels, VTP and possibly spanning tree information like root bridges, root ports, designated ports, etc.  The choice to draw out the spanning tree information will really come down to the lab itself.  If there are a lot of tasks that relate to spanning tree or layer 2 traffic engineering (i.e. traffic for VLAN 100 should transit SW3, etc) then adding the spanning tree information will help answer these types of tasks.

The logical layer 3 diagram will be provided BUT the diagram they provide may not have the level of detail you want or need plus you can not write on the diagram they give you.  Technically you can write on it but they will suspend you from the lab for one year ;)   We ALWAYS recommend making your own layer 3 logical diagram.  You should also draw out the diagram for every practice lab you do.  Do not wait until the real lab to draw out your first diagram.  As I have said before you never want to do anything in the CCIE lab for the first time other than get your number ;)

There are two main benefits to making your own logical layer 3 diagram.  First off you will find it is easier to remember what the network looks like when reading the tasks and secondly you will be able to draw and/or take notes on your own diagram.   Smart people fail the lab all the time because they make stupid mistakes in the lab and by drawing out the network you will hopefully lower the chances of making these stupid mistake (i.e. configuring RIPv2 on the wrong interface, applying an ACL inbound on one interface when it should have been outbound on another, configuring a feature on the wrong router, etc).  All it takes is two or three of these little mistakes and you have lost 8 or 9 points in the lab.  We all know that it is hard enough to pass the lab without adding in stupid mistakes into the mix ;)   You will also find tasks related to BGP to be easier to answer when you have a diagram that you can take notes on (i.e. who is peering with who, which exit point to use to reach another AS, etc).  It is possible that when you get into the lab that basic BGP is done for you.  It is normally easier to work on a network that you built from the ground up so working on a network that is 50% complete without first taking the time to discover and document what is already done will be harder.

I am sure someone will comment on this and say, “but I won’t have time to draw out the network in the real lab”.  If this is the case you should not be in the lab in the first place.  If it is taking you the full 8 hours to just configure the network you more than likely will not pass the lab to begin with so taking the 10 minutes to draw out the network is not going to really matter in this case.  The percentage of people who pass the lab while configuring the network for the full 8 hours is slim.  Most people who pass the lab complete the lab within 5.5 or 6.5 hours and have the extra time to do the diagram in the beginning.

About Brian Dennis, CCIE #2210:

Brian Dennis has been in the networking industry for more than 22 years, with a focus on Cisco networking for the past 16 years. Brian achieved his first CCIE in Routing & Switching in 1996, and is currently the only ten year CCIE that holds five CCIE certifications. Prior to working with INE, Brian taught and developed CCIE preparation courses for various well known training organizations. Brian not only brings his years of teaching experience to the classroom, but also years of real world enterprise and service provider experience.

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3 Responses to “R&S Lab Diagrams”

  1. David Chances says:


    Is it possilbe you could pin up somewhere an example of a layer 3 diagram that you have drawn based on on your VOL 3 workbook? One that has the requistite inforormation wihout re-inventing the wheel.

    I do beleive self made diagrams are important, we do them everyday at work in troubleshooting problems. But the problem often lies in trying to do a diagram without actually re-drawing out the infromation that a supplied diagram has already given you!! This as you know takes time and of courses, is not very economical on the brain and lab time for that matter.

  2. Hi Brian,

    I was wondering if you could maybe post examples of the different types of diagrams (L1, L2, L3) that you suggest to make here.

    Also, how do you draw out your IPv6 design, or you IP Multicast design, etc?


  3. Scott Vermillion says:

    Hey Brian,

    I am among the few, the proud who passed in spite of having pretty much chewed up the entire time alotted. Having said that, I spent probably around an hour at the start of my day drawing L2 and L3 and fully reading the workbook from cover-to-cover. Also some time was dedicated to understanding the stuff already done before I ever walked in. It’s probably also worth mentioning that I lean more towards a “build-and-verify” approach vs. a “build-move-on-verify-at-the-end-of-the-day” methodology, so I’m naturally going to be (or at least appear) slower than some.

    But my reason for posting is not to try to be the exception to the rule. My reason for posting is to say that I would not have passed without learning to draw L2 and L3 during practice/mock labs. The L2 stuff can be critical early in the day when you need to make good time with little to no mistakes and the L3 stuff can be critical towards the end of the day when you’re exhausted but still facing down significant tasks such as, oh, say BGP!

    Learn to draw and budget the time for it. Certainly I have talked to those who did not and yet passed. But also I talk to those who did not (draw or pass) and simply cannot figure out how they didn’t get 80 for the nth straight time. In these cases, I often wonder there was some subtle peering or next-hop thing they didn’t even recognize. Along this same line, learning TCL scripts (much as I dreaded doing so) and running them over and over again is another “time-consuming” technique that can make or break your day…




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