Looks like the rumors have finally become true. Cisco announced official changes to its most popular CCIE track – Routing and Switching. The changes will become effective as of October 18 2009 and both written and lab exams are affected. Compared to the previous changes, this seems to be a major one. Let’s take a brief overview of the changes made to the CCIE R&S lab exam:

The changes

1) Hardware/Software:

1.1) Replacement of IOS 12.4 with recent 12.4T versions
2.1) Replacing older router models (e.g. 3725s) with 1841s and 3825s.
3.1) Only 3560s will be available in the racks (Actually, 3560-E as they say)

2) Major New Technologies:

2.1) MPLS and MPLS VPNs (PE, CE, P devices configuration).
2.2) Performance Routing (PfR) and Optimized Edge Routing (OER).
2.3) More IPv6-related topics like IPv6 EIGRP and IPv6 Multicast.
2.4) More Security: Zone Based Firewall, IOS IPS (5.x), 802.1X (IBNS).
2.5) Any other potential 12.4T features, such as HQF
2.6) IP/IOS Features: EEM (Embedded Event Manager)

3) New Lab Format

3.1) Lab split into two sections: Troubleshooting and Configuration
3.2) Troubleshooting Section is 2 hours long, Configuration is 6 hours.
3.3) Sections are independent. When you’re done with Troubleshooting, they load new initial configurations for the other part.
3.4) Open-Ended Questions (OEQ) to remain in the lab.

As for the written test. They do provide an updated blueprint at CCIE R&S Written Blueprint and it looks very familiar to the lab exam topics. Seems like Cisco is finally trying to bring both exams in sync. One new big area of interest in the new blueprint is “evaluate proposed changes to the network” meaning you should analyze the impact of changes and select the proper answer. They also promised addition of new simulation-based questions to the written test.

What should we do from now on

First of all, anyone having the exam date prior to Oct 18 may relax and continue using the older material ;) The other “not so lucky” folks don’t have any reason to panic or get depressed, as they got ample time to prepare for the new exam (plus it’s going to be more fun!). Here is how we get you covered:

1) Our current materials cover approximately 70-80% of the new blueprint already. For example, contrary to many beliefs Frame-Relay was not removed from the new blueprint. Plus, all the older technologies remain there, including all current core topics, such as OSPF, EIGRP, BGP and LAN Switching.

2) The new changes have long been rumored around, so we were planning new updates (MPLS VPNs, new IPv6 topics, 12.4T features) in ahead. And thus as soon as we’re done with BGP this month, the new updates are coming, covering OER, new IPv6 topics, MPLS VPNs and so forth.

3) For people that didn’t have much exposure to MPLS VPNs, there is no need to be awfully scared. The depth of the covered in the R&S blueprint is not going to be too big (e.g. no VPN multicasting, MPLS Traffic Engineering). And we’ll surely cover MPLS VPN foundations in a separate new VOL1 section.

4) For people using their own racks and thinking of swapping 2600XMs with the ISRs and replacing 3550s with 3560. We will try to come with a new topology that requires minimal changes to the existing one. For example, instead of swapping all 6 routers with ISRs you may only have to replace just 3 routers. We’re reviewing the new material and seeing the optimal hardware configuration to support it. A draft of the updated topology will be posted within a month or so. For those of you who cannot afford getting bunch of ISRs, a good alternative is using the Dynamips emulator, which is going to be supported by our labs too.

One special note about the 3550 switches. While Cisco is replacing those with 3560s, you can still keep a pair of 3550 and a pair of 3560s. With respect to many features this combination still works perfectly – you can simulate some complicated STP tasks and practice the new 3560 features.

5) For people worried about the new lab format (2 hours of troubleshooting + 6 hours of configuration). This is one of the major changes, and it really is a paradigm shift reflecting modern real-life requirements. To help you with that, all our VOL2 labs (20 of them total) and Mock Labs will be rewritten to include two separate sets of tasks: Troubleshooting part and Configuration part, each having its own initial configurations.

6) If you are still feeling uneasy about OEQs, our Core Knowledge simulator is constantly being updated. We will add more questions to reflect the addition of new technologies and respond to the paradigm shift in the new blueprint.

What is the timeline for the new updates?

Guess this is the first question that everyone is going to ask :) . Here is our draft timeline for the new product updates.

1) May-June: Release the updates covering new technologies that could be simulated using just software updates (no hardware changes yet). This includes OER, new Security features such as ZFW and IPS and other topics such as IPv6 multicasting. At the same time, a new rack hardware list will be posted so can start upgrading your own racks.
2) June-July: We’ll throw out some new VOL2 labs (full-scale labs) built around the new exam format. Since that moment, VOL2 labs will be updated gradually along with VOL1 technology-focused labs. Additionally, we’ll post new incremental updates to the technology CoD (IEATC-CoD) covering new topics such as OER, ZFW, HQF, IPS etc.
3) July-August: Remaining VOL1 labs will be released, most notably the MPLS VPN section. You will see our racks updated with new hardware (ISR routers). At the same time, we will finish updating IEATC-CoD to reflect the new VOL1 contents.
4) Sept-Oct: Final Phase, remaining VOL2 labs updated to match the new format. Around this time, we will launch new RS bootcamp and Mock Lab workshop based on the new blueprint and replacing the old format.

Please keep in mind is that above timeline is only a rough draft yet. We’ll keep you posted about our progress by means of this blog and our website. And last, but not least – anyone buying our existing products automatically becomes eligible new products updates FREE OF CHARGE !

Further Reading

CCIE R&S v4.0 Lab Exam Topics
CCIE R&S v4.0 Written Exam Topics
CCIE R&S v4.0 Announcement
Maurilio Gorito on the new CCIE R&S v4.0

Oh, and just to keep you posted: we just released new labs under IEWB-RS VOL1 BGP section. It’s about 50 pages of new content and more updates are coming soon. Have fun!

About Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE:

Petr Lapukhov's career in IT begain in 1988 with a focus on computer programming, and progressed into networking with his first exposure to Novell NetWare in 1991. Initially involved with Kazan State University's campus network support and UNIX system administration, he went through the path of becoming a networking consultant, taking part in many network deployment projects. Petr currently has over 12 years of experience working in the Cisco networking field, and is the only person in the world to have obtained four CCIEs in under two years, passing each on his first attempt. Petr is an exceptional case in that he has been working with all of the technologies covered in his four CCIE tracks (R&S, Security, SP, and Voice) on a daily basis for many years. When not actively teaching classes, developing self-paced products, studying for the CCDE Practical & the CCIE Storage Lab Exam, and completing his PhD in Applied Mathematics.

Find all posts by Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE | Visit Website

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50 Responses to “New CCIE R&S: Reload”

  1. shank says:

    Petr You people Rock…
    New exam will be lot fun in preparing and it really adds value to CCIE certification.

    Kudos to IE team for expecting/preparing for changes much before…

  2. Razvan says:

    What about the security track? Please do not postpone this track in favor of the RS one. I know that RS is the most popular track, but you guys already have a large number of RS CCIEs that may want to try the security or voice next.

  3. John Spaulding says:

    Thanks for the update….I have my LAB scheduled for JUL 20th so depending on how that goes I have a couple more tried before this change.

  4. Steven says:

    I think this new blueprint is now closer to what we have in real world. Troubleshooting is one of the key aspects which was missing in v3 – you had to troubleshoot what you’ve fucked up…
    MPLS is also great. I’m wondering if SP is also to be changed soon ,-)

    Sounds great what IE posted here ,-) Thanks a lot.


  5. [...] Internetwork Expert blog has a good overview of the changes and also has a breakdown of how their materials will change to [...]

  6. To: Razvan,

    like i mentioned, we were anticipating the upcoming R&S updates, and planned them in ahead. Thus, working on new R&S stuff will not affect the release dates for the SC products.

  7. Rodney says:

    Hi Petr,

    I have been studying for R&S written version 3.0, What is going to happen with R&S written bootcamp as Anthony has just started with version 3.0 course material. I plan on taking the 3.0 wriiten before OCT 18, so at that point do I have to study for 4.0 lab exam and not 3.0 lab.

    • To: Rodney

      No need to worry, the new exam blueprint is based on the old contents with the addition of a few new topics such as MPLS, OER and proposed-changes scenarios. Those will be covered in additional sections to the bootcamp. I’m sure Anthony will announce the changes soon, as well as anticipated release dates.

  8. Khaled says:


    You are the best. You have your game plan ready to go.

    Thank you.


  9. Jon says:

    I’m doing the written exam tomorrow. Can anyone tell me how long the lead time is to get a lab exam booked in San Jose? Just wondering if I will be able to get it booked in time to stay on the 3.0 track or if I will need to push out my lab date a month or two. I was hoping to do the lab in late sept. early oct.

  10. Antonio says:

    Hi Petr,
    Is it really necessary to get the 3845? Will I be able to substitute the 3845 with the 2811 or 2821 and still gain all the features. I know that all of the ISR support PFR and OER, and based on the blueprint for the lab it’s hard to figure out if advanced technologies regarding MPLS such as VPLS will be covered. Base on what I know which is not much VPLS is a layer 2 VPN solution/feature. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    • To: Antonio

      I believe you could safely use 1841s and 2811s, as there are no major feature differences (28xx do support voice DSPs, but hey it’s R&S after all :) . As for MPLS technologies, it seems that Cisco only tests the basic stuff, such as VPNs, and not any advanced topics such as VPLS or MPLS TE FRR.

  11. Jon says:

    Would the 2801s be suitable?

  12. Patrick says:

    btw OER is a subset of PfR and as such you could just say that PfR is going to be part of the lab :)

  13. Jun Prieto says:

    this is big news, i always thought it would be a 6-month leeway for changes to take effect.

  14. Mike says:

    Is there anything specific about ISR routers that we will need for the new lab exam, or will 7200s in dynamips work for everything? Also for switches, now that 3550s are off the equipment list, do you think we can get by with 2x 3650s + a couple cheaper switches (maybe 2950s?)

    • Sure, you can use 7200s if you’re fancy :) Just make sure they can run latest 12.4T code. As for the switches: one reason to use L3 switches is because they could do IP/Multicast routing. We use that feature extensively in our labs, as this allows for 2-3 additional routers in the topology.

  15. Mike says:

    Oops, meant 2x 3560s not 3650s

  16. soeperman says:

    I’m still pretty excited about the change.. it’ll be fun :) It’s nice to see you guys are updating the labs so quickly. I’ll try my best to see if I can go at the 4.0 this year :)

  17. sypl says:

    If possible, Please design the new labs that can allow us use 3560-8 instead of 3560-24.

  18. Dellboy says:

    How about the updated vol 2 labs for the current exam blueprint ? Right now there are only 8 labs out and the rest are long overdue.

  19. Albert says:

    Are the proposed updates to Vol2 in point #5 that are planned e.g. included separate troubleshooting section also planned for the Dynamips workbook? How will this be supported? Will you provide configuration files for a topology with faults?
    If so, will this also be available in Sep-Oct??

  20. federic0 says:

    just in time for scheduling the last September’s seat in bruxelles! so i got only one shot before V4 :(

  21. Chris G says:

    So they’re basically adding quite a lot of new stuff and taking nothing out. I’m taking the written on Saturday but maybe places for the lab will have gone around the time when I’m hoping to take the it.

  22. Rack009 says:

    Please tell Cisco to undo the annoucement, we are in a recession and new hardware costs too much money these days.


  23. frank says:

    I had planned to do my written in about 1 month and be ready to take the lab in early 2010. Is there any point in doing the ‘old written now before it changes’ ?

  24. AJN says:

    Excellent news,
    I’m so excited about the new topics, namely troubleshooting & evaluating…
    Generally acquiring these skills is more a matter of “experience” and still of course, but now it’s more and more available to us as a starting point!
    I am wondering if there is already some resources (Cisco/IE) from which we can study them.
    Good job Petr as always “molodets” P:)

  25. Giorgio P. says:

    Brussels is full with available seats in the next 2 months or so.You can book and pay if you take the exam earlier that 90 days.

  26. federic0 says:

    unfortunately i won’t be ready for the next two months!so i booked for the end of september, there it was one seat only for that day.

  27. zipphreak says:

    The 2600XMs with Max’d memory and flash, can support the latest 12.4(15)T9, would these work with some of the newer features like Pfr?

    This would be nice instead of having to replace all the 2600XM’s with 1841s or 3825s ?

  28. Tae Hun Kim(#16131) says:

    You have to do one’s best.

  29. Mohammad Paracha says:

    I would like to know whether new material can be implemented using Dynamip.


    Mohammad Paracha

  30. Arwin Erasga says:

    Thanks Petr, I just passed the RS writter v3.0, any advise? It would be hard for me to take the exam before Oct.18, I need more time to prepare.
    Any suggestions would be great! Thanks in advanced!

  31. HUdson says:

    MPLS forms the major topic behind SP lab exams. With MPLS (at least MPLS VPNS) being added to the core exams, I think doing the Service Provider exam is redundant…That’s my thought. What do you guys think?

  32. [...] happened last week. I found out that the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Exam  is in for a huge change on October 18th. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Sr. Network Engineer at [...]

  33. Suwandy says:


    Will IE release the new products including the Videos?

  34. [...] The 360 Program fit of course the new changes, how about other vendors? Seem that IE are already taking care and make vseminare on mpls! Guess IPExpert guys are still busy to blog about [...]

  35. Mahmoud Khan says:

    which will be easier to pass , V3 or V4 ?

  36. tom says:

    nice update, but I am not happy to this at all, and I really don`t understand what`s so fun with these changes ?? for the first I hear that cisco will implement “zone firewall” and what the “firewall” category is doing on CCIE R&S ?? so this is the first thing I don`t like, another if they implement MPLS why keep Frame Relay which is so old and on its way out for the time… And the last thing we had enough to do with lab it self, and now they are coming with “core questions” why use these questions in “practic lab” ? they should keep the “theory” questions on written exam… This is my mean about Cisco…..

  37. tom says:

    thank You for updates, You people Rock… keeping us updated all the time that`s very well job done! I was just irritated in my last post about these changes Cisco made….does not make any sense to me… still let old technology stay there and implement the “zone firewall” … MPLS is great to implement, but this is “service provider” I think about a year or so there will be new names for CCIE`s…

  38. [...] From now on, we will focus on the new blueprint topics for CCIE R&S track, as outlined in New CCIE R&S Reload. The updates for VOL1 and VOL2 will go in parallel. Anyone preparing to the new lab according to [...]

  39. Greg says:

    Hopefully we’ll see the new hardware list soon so I can integrate some changes into my rack and figure out if there’s anything (other than the switching) I can’t do with dynamips.

  40. Horacio says:

    Hi Guys, the new material is ready to get?


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