Revisions have been made to our materials that obsolete some (but not all) of the information in this document.
Please see the latest updates here.


Many of you have been asking us for an update to our CCIE Voice to CCIE Collaboration materials transition. This document will serve to update you both on where we currently are with new materials, as well as give you a transition path and material to work on until we have everything fully transitioned over to the new Collaboration blueprint.


If you happen to be quite new to beginning to study for the CCIE Collaboration then you may not be aware of what many others already know, namely that this is not a brand new CCIE track, but rather a renaming and slight evolution of the CCIE Voice track. In fact, when we begin to talk about Collaboration, many technologies and products that are very active in your enterprise come to mind: TelePresence, MCUs, WebEx, VCS-C / VCS-E Expressway. Yeah – none of that is in the CCIE Collaboration Written Blueprint nor the CCIE Collaboration Lab Blueprint (Note: VCS is present in the backbone only – and all the hard work is on the VCS and out of the control of the student). So then you think to yourself, “… well Jabber, Jabber must be in the blueprints at least!” – and it is in the blueprint … and from looking at the written and lab blueprint we can clearly see that it’s worth a whopping 6% in the written and 8% in the lab. So then what is new to this lab from the old CCIE Voice exam? Not terribly much. New telephony dial plan features in UCM such as EMCC, CCD, Hunt Group Queuing, ILS and SIP URI dialing. Video –which we were always told in years past from the content manager at the CCIE Techtorials at Cisco Live that it was testable in the old Voice lab so you had to study it and INE covered it in our materials– there just weren’t any endpoints to test it out with, and now there finally are with the SIP 9971 IP Phone with USB camera attached. So really there are a lot of new telephony features, but little in the way of true Collaboration. So then how does this affect your studies and what new material do you really need? While there are quite a number of new features in UCM and other application platforms that we have already developed content for and will be releasing very soon, this means that there is already a vast amount of content that INE offers today that you can be studying with. What will follow is a breakdown of our existing content along with the very few sections that are no longer relevant (basically anything that relates to H.323 Gatekeeper). Everything else that we offer is 100% valid and very much worth studying. Even though this is labeled a Collaboration exam – it is still very much a Dial Plan and Troubleshooting-centric exam, with the vast amount of points going towards getting a proper dial plan functioning along with the necessary media resources to allow that dial plan to function (40%), and troubleshooting that setup (25%). Major difference is simply that now the media resources now include Video. And we have you covered in spades when it comes to dial plan, troubleshooting and all of the other ancillary product-specific topics such as UCCX, Unity Connection, CUE and CME.

Update on New Collaboration Materials


We have built completely new racks that should be released into the scheduler at the end of next week. I have included an updated rack diagram below and each rack has the following specs:

  • Cluster1:
    • VMs: 3x UCM, 1x IM&P, 1x CUC, 1x UCCX, 2x Jabber
    • Rack Phones: 3 direct attached 7961s (remotely controlled w/ variphy)
    • Remote Phones: 3 including 9971s at your physical study location via L2VPN
  • Cluster2:
    • VMs: 3x UCM, 1x IM&P, 1x CUC, 1x Jabber
    • Rack Phones: 1 direct attached 7961 (remotely controlled w/ variphy)
    • Remote Phones: 2 including 9971s at your physical study location via L2VPN
  • IP/PSTN Cluster:
    • VMs: 1x UCM, 1x IM&P, 1x VCS, 1x TMS, 1x Jabber/JabberVideo
    • Rack Phones: 1 direct attached 7961 (remotely controlled w/ variphy)
    • Remote Phones: 1 at your physical study location via L2VPN
  • Shared between Clusters:
    • Site Routers: 3x 2911 running IOS 15.2(4)M5 each with:
      • 1x HWIC-2T for Frame Relay (sigh, yes Frame Relay)
      • 1x VWIC3-1MFT-T1/E1 for ISDN PRI
      • 1x PVDM3-128/256 for Transcoding/Audio/Video Conferencing
      • 1x EHWIC-4ESG-P and PWR-2911-POE (branch sites only) for PoE switching
      • 1x SM-SRE-710 (branch 2 site only)
    • PSTN Router: 1x 2811 running IOS 15.1(4)M3 with:
      • 1x HWIC-4T for Frame Relay
      • 3x VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1 for ISDN PRI
      • 2x PVDM2-64 for TDM to VoIP
    • HQ Site Switch: 1x 3560E-V2 running IOS 15.0(2)SE5

CCIE Collaboration Rack Diagram (Right-Click and ‘Save as’ to Download Hi-Res)




I have already recorded 30 hours of videos that cover newer feature topics like Jabber, URI dialing, video phones and video conferences between 9971 and Jabber (w/video) and in depth troubleshooting on MGCP, H.323 and especially SIP, that are being edited by our video department and should be released within a few days. I will update this post with the new playlist in the next section as soon as they finish.


Again, we have already created quite a number of tasks and screenshot-based solutions, and they will be coming out very shortly on our new delivery system that we announced at our INE Rewired party at Cisco Live this week.

How to Use Existing INE CCIE Voice Materials

Below is a list of our CCIE Voice products with links, along with the very few sections of content that are no longer tested and that may be skipped. Also, I offered in another blog post an 18 month plan, complete with downloadable spreadsheet to plan out your exact study dates. As our video department finishes editing more videos and releases them, I will update this post with links to that material.

CCIE Collaboration – Unified Communications on Unified Computing System (UC on UCS) Videos
All new and relevant and necessary for written.

CCIE Collaboration CCD/SAF Videos
All new and relevant and needed for both written and lab.

CCIE Voice ATC Videos
Everything relevant except the sections related to “H.323 Gatekeeper”:

  • H.323 Gatekeeper with CUBE – Concepts & Slides Part 1
  • H.323 Gatekeeper with CUBE – Concepts & Slides Part 2
  • H.323 Gatekeeper with CUBE – Demonstration Part 1
  • H.323 Gatekeeper with CUBE – Demonstration Part 2
  • H.323 Gatekeeper with CUBE – Demonstration Part 3
  • H.323 Gatekeeper with CUBE – Demonstration Part 4

CCIE Lab Preparation Videos:
Everything relevant except the sections related to “H.323 Gatekeeper”:

  • Dial Plan – H.323 Gatekeeper: Part 1
  • Dial Plan – H.323 Gatekeeper: Part 2

CCIE Deep Dive Series Videos:
Everything relevant except the sections related to “H.323 Gatekeeper” and I even cover things such as CME with both SIP and SCCP phone configurations:
Module 08 :: Expert H.323 Gatekeeper :: Runtime 7 hours 6 minutes

  • Provisioning IOS H.323 Gatekeeper
  • Registering CUCM with H.323 Gatekeeper
  • Registering CUCME with H.323 Gatekeeper
  • Routing Calls from CUCME to CUCM via Gatekeeper in Multiple Zones with Dynamic E.164 Aliases
  • Routing Calls from CUCM to CUCME via Gatekeeper in Multiple Zones with Multiple Tech Prefixes
  • Routing Calls from CUCME to CUCM via Gatekeeper in Multiple Zones with Multiple Tech Prefixes
  • Routing Calls from CUCME to CUCM via Gatekeeper in Multiple Zones with Static E.164 Aliases
  • Routing Calls from CUCM to CUCME and Back via Gatekeeper in One Zone with One Tech Prefix
  • Gatekeeper Call Admission Control
  • Routing Calls from CUCM to CUCME and Back via Alternate Gatekeeper Clustering in Multiple Zones with Multiple Tech Prefixes using GUP

CCIE Voice Volume I Workbook:
Everything relevant except the sections related to “H.323 Gatekeeper”:

  • Expert Gatekeeper
    • Provisioning IOS H.323 Gatekeeper (GK)
    • Registering CUCM with an H.323 Gatekeeper
    • Registering CUCME with an H.323 Gatekeeper
    • Routing Calls from CUCM to CUCME via Gatekeeper
    • Routing Calls from CUCME to CUCM via Gatekeeper
    • Gatekeeper – Call Admission Control (CAC)
    • Gatekeeper – One Zone w/ One Tech-Prefix
    • Alternate Gatekeeper – Clustering with Gatekeeper Update Protocol (GUP)
    • Extensive Testing
    • Troubleshooting Gatekeeper

CCIE Voice Volume II Workbook:
None of the Full Multi-Protocol “Mock Labs” in Volume II contain any H.323 Gatekeeper tasks, but do contain tasks that a CCIE Collaboration lab today would require you to accomplish, making them all great labs for a prospective student to shoot for being able to accomplish in 5-6 hours maximum, leaving you additional time for the extra tasks that would be related to new features. These are still very relevant mock labs!

Recommended Reading

It should go without saying that for any person wanting to attain a CCIE certification, that hundreds of hours go into reading alone (outside of hands-on lab hours) during your studies. Much of this will come as you work within the construct of our materials.

First up is the Unified Communications 9.x System Reference Network Design Guide (SRND) It’s around 1200 pages and worth reading every single page.

Reading some of the Midmarket Preferred Architecture guides such as this one for general Collaboration and this one for Jabber can be great entry points and ongoing reference guides.

Also, this time when Cisco wrote their written and lab blueprints, they took some time to include links at each topic level to reading material that are usually system guide references to the topic. Occasionally they want you to pay to gain access, and usually it’s really not worth it – plus you already have an INE All Access Pass to the same topics, so it’s most likely redundant. At any rate, most of the links are to very good documentation reference materials to read.
CCIE Collaboration Written blueprint breakdown topics.
CCIE Collaboration Lab blueprint breakdown topics.

This next book is incredibly written and covers WAY more than you need to know for the CCIE Collaboration lab, but is still definitely worth the read if you do any enterprise, SP or Data Center work with Quality of Service. End-to-End QoS Network Design: Quality of Service for Rich-Media & Cloud Networks, 2nd Edition

And as Brian so eloquently put it in an earlier blog post, for those of you that have never heard of Cisco Live Online On-Demand Library before, you’re welcome. This is where all the video recordings and PDFs of slide decks live from every Cisco Live convention for the past 5 years. Use the filters on the left to limit your search to presentations with video, from the past few years, and limited to Collaboration and Voice – such as this filter is already setup for.

How to Study for the CCIE Lab Exam

At the risk of ever-so-slight plagiarism (at least I work for the same company :) ), I’m going to reiterate pretty much word-for-word what Brian said during his pass of the CCIE Data Center lab, simply because many people that study for this exam probably wouldn’t have had much reason to come across and read much in the way of a data center post.

Brian Dennis and Brian McGahan teach a methodology that I have also been personally using and teaching for the past 8 years, even if I didn’t always have this very simple set of slides to define it as I found they had when I arrived at INE 5 years ago. I saw these two simple slides they created and that I now use in every class I teach.  This methodology is essentially a four step process of learning and testing incrementally.  This is also the same methodology that has helped Brian Dennis obtain five CCIEs, Brian McGahan to obtain four CCIEs and the CCDE, and myself to obtain three CCIE, so you can quite easily trust that it works.

The methodology is a basic four step process as follows:

  • Gain a basic understanding of the technologies
  • Gain basic hands-on experience to reinforce and expand your understanding
  • Gain an expert level of understanding
  • Gain an expert level of hands-on experience

It might seem self-explanatory that you need to start at the bottom and work your way up, i.e. A then B then C then D, however over the years we’ve seen so many CCIE candidates try to shortcut this process and try to go from A directly to D.  Traditionally these are the candidates that end up taking the lab exam 5, 6, 7 times before passing, essentially trying to brute force their way through the lab.  Believe it or not, INE has had customers in the past that have attempted the CCIE Lab Exam in the same track 10 or more times before passing.  Coincidentally, these are also usually the customers that don’t want to hear that they don’t know something or that their methodology is wrong. Go figure.

Pictured above, how to make a hobby out of visiting building C at Cisco’s San Jose campus


The CCIE is much more about the journey than it is the destination. You really only cheat yourself coming out of the process without truly being an expert at the technologies covered, so make sure you really take the time and be meticulous about going through absolutely everything.

Pictured above, how to astound the engineers at the technical interview for your new job after getting your CCIE



INE has tons of material that you need to make you truly an expert. Don’t wait until every last bit of new material has been released to get started now. You need an incredibly deep solid understanding of the core fundamentals, and INE already has 90% of the content you need to make you an expert, and more being released in every few weeks. Also, since INE has made the commitment to treat CCIE Collaboration as CCIE Voice v4 for our customers, and therefore ensure your investment, there is no reason you shouldn’t get started with your studies today, and add on to them as we continue to add the new feature topics!

About Mark Snow, CCIE #14073:

Mark Snow has been actively working with data and traditional telephony as a Network Consulting Engineer since 1995, and has been working with Cisco Call Manager and voice-over technology since 1998. Mark has been actively teaching and developing content for the CCIE Voice track since 2005, and the Security track since 2007. Mark's story with both data and voice technology started out quite young, as he began learning around the age of five from his father who was a patented inventor and a research scientist at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Mark started out on Unix System V and basic analog telephony, and went on from there to large data networking projects with technologies such as Banyan Vines, IPX and of course IP, and large phone systems such as Nortel 61c, Tadiran Coral, Avaya Definity and of course Cisco Unified Communications Manager in both enterprise and 911 PSAP environments across the US and internationally. Mark is also an accomplished pilot and punched his ticket in 2001. When Mark isn't learning, labing, consulting or teaching, he can be found either piloting or possibly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging off a rock somewhere or else skiing out west. He also might just be enjoying a quiet day at the beach with his wife and two wonderful young kids, Ryleigh and Judah.

Find all posts by Mark Snow, CCIE #14073 | Visit Website

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35 Responses to “CCIE Collaboration Study Guide and Rack & Materials Update”

  1. Dave says:

    The dropbox link for the ccie voice 18 month blog post is disabled..

  2. timaz says:

    thanks for this detailed post Mark. I’m beginner to voice and still waiting to see single post describing building a practice environment to study for CCNA, then CCNP voice (or collaboration) with maximum possible virtual solutions rather that buying hardware. thanks a lot.

    • Hi,

      You can build a very much virtualized solution for many things in these labs. For instance, with a single somewhat middle-ground beefy server (e.g. 6 core CPU with VT, 16GB RAM), you can practice many of the tasks. Certainly not all, but many. Take the VM list that I mentioned and cut out a few of the Subscriber servers if you’re on a budget, and no physical routers and no phones, and you can practice many of the tasks with SIP trunks and Jabber alone (including URI dialing with Jabber 9.6). Then as a progressive add-on – you can add in a phone or two for more tasks. And then a 2811 gateway for ISDN practice. Then a 2911 with PVDM3-64 for Video Conferencing. I’ll write up a longer blog post on a way to study fully virtualized progressing on up with incremental spending.

  3. Venkata Madhu P.R. Kambala says:

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the update, was looking for it from quite some time. I have question other question, I attended the last bootcamp for CCIE Voice v3 at Shorebreak hotel from Dec 2nd – 13th and I remember it was mentioned that retake would be free excluding the POD. Does that still hold good ?

    Thank you.

  4. Berkan says:

    Hi Mark,

    Awesome work and thank you so much for the updates. Once the new racks are available will this in some how effect my future rack rental reservations on CCIE Voice? or do I have to re-book all my reservations?

    It seems that the CCIE Collaboration racks are deployed currently and I have received an email from Webdev team about the current lab session has been removed due to the change.

    Please advice, cheers

    • Hi Berkan,

      Unfortunately, because we are building out completely new racks in our automation system (with much more advanced features than our old Voice racks had), it will require a re-booking of your sessions. They should be available to reserve in about a week.

  5. Jeff Garvas says:

    Mark – is there anything online about the new content delivery system? I kept checking after the INE party and have not found any formal announcements about what it is, how it’ll work, etc?

    Also you spelled out a lot of rack based phones. For those of us who previously provided all of our phones remotely can we continue to do that to avoid using veriphy?

    Finally – any chances to the remote vpn setup with the new rack technology? Been waiting for this!

    • I haven’t even seen our new content delivery system yet!
      Ha! No, but seriously, we will be demoing it very shortly.

      Use your own phones? Absolutely Jeff!
      In the topology above, any phones without the blue background are your phones at your study location connected over EzVPN and L2VPN.

      Changes to the new VPN?
      Slightly. VO gets renamed to CO and a few IP addressing changes. I’ll post the changes to a post here in a few days.

      Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

  6. Dave says:

    Great thanks! Looks like only difference from the lab is a bit of video. I have my own rack replicating your old ccie voice rack with 8 7961s. I also have cucm, cuc, uccx all version 9.1. Don’t really want to upgrade to isr g2s quite yet due to price. I never was a believer of studying the lab but only studying the technology.

    My question is will I get all of the voice aspects down with my rack and just rent rack time through ine to play with the video portion of the lab.

    • You’ll get most of your study without them, but you’ll need at least one with PVDM3s to study the video conference bridge. As for phones, you can get similar video conference and URI dialing with Jabber clients and a webcam, although to simulate the same homogenous VGA conference bridge and frame res/rate – you’ll need 3x 9971s.

  7. Leonardo Espinel says:

    Hi Mark, I wanted to know if you need to have cisco 9971 phone or is remotely possible that these administered as 7961., They are very expensive and not get my copies so easy

    • We will not have any attached directly to the racks because their built in web server performance is SO bad that you cannot ever reliably control them (e.g. there is absolutely no telling if they will respond to you one moment or the next from our remote control software). The 9971 phones are there for 2 primary reasons: Video calling and URI Dialing. We can accomplish both of those with the Jabber client we provide you on three RDP desktops, and therefore do not need to have any 9971s attached directly to the racks. It would still be good for you to get some practice on them at some point, and we allow that with our L2VPN, but you would have to provide them.

  8. Leonardo Espinel says:

    Hi Mark, I forgot to ask how many phones 9971 are required

  9. ali says:

    Hi sir. i am new in voice . Will this rack work for NP Voice also?

  10. Steve Snodgrass says:


    Any reason not to use an 8945 phone instead of a 9971?

    Also, I understand that the vast majority of the v3.5 workbook is relevant to Collab as you mention above, but just curious what the timing might be for the release of the v4 workbooks?


  11. Salman says:

    Thank you very much Mark. Great post.

  12. Scott Glenn says:


    in leu of using 9971, using a 8945 with SIP fw and DX650 should suffice for SIP URI dialing correct?

  13. Binh Chu says:

    Hi Mark,
    Needs your help on some consideration of investment for my own lab.
    – If I have two 3800 routers with NM-CUE module and two 3900 routers, then do I need to invest on another ISR G2 with SM-SRE-710 or I can leverage the existing 3800? Of course I will have PVDM3 for the two 3900s but dont know if it’s a must for three 3900 with PVDM3 and SM-SRE-710 instead of NM-CUE
    – if I use L2VPN for all phones, then do I need to invest on EHWIC-4ESG-P module?

    Thanks a lot for your advices,

    • Hi Binh,

      You can use your NM-CUE and practice everything you need for CUE.
      Use one of your 3800s as the PSTN / Backbone CUBE, and the other as a gateway in your rack. Use your 2 3900s as gateways for UCM/CME with PVDM3.
      Not sure what you mean by L2VPN or EHWIC-4ESG … It sounds like you are building your own rack in which case you would not need L2VPN. If you are renting one of our racks, then you would most probably not need the rest of your routers – unless you are studying more in a hybrid-type mode.

      • Binh Chu says:

        Thanks Mark,
        For the L2VPN in my case, I’m building my own rack but the servers and routers need to be put in the server room while the IP Phones need to be outside. I cannot access the server room physically anytime I want so I want to setup the phones at my desk with one router and one switch and do the L2VPN to the server room. So my question is that if I have that setup, do I still need to have the switch module (EHWIC-4ESG-P) on the gateway routers like in most of the diagram?

  14. Jason Cruz says:

    When will the new lab be available?

  15. Tom Golan says:

    Hi Mark,
    Does the CCIE Collaboration ATC replaces the CCIE Voice ATC ? or both are part of the study plan ?

    You recommended in the study plan to combine watching Deep-Dive videos and workbook questions while at this moment the workbooks are ccie voice related and there is no access to the old CCIE voice rack.

    How do you suggest me to start learing to the CCIE Lab exam ?

    Thanks a lot for all you’re doing.

    Tom Golan.

    • CCIE Collaboration ATC replaces the CCIE Voice ATC. Only thing to note is as of the date of this comment, I haven’t finished the last two weeks with CME, Unity/Express and Contact Center, so you should still refer to the CCIE Voice ATC for those topics until they are recorded during the weeks of 9/22 and 9/29.

  16. Karthikeyan says:

    Dear Mark,

    Thanks for the article and information on CCIE.

    I am a software Engg by profession and working in Digital Video Domain (dvs)and have 8 years of experience in NMS and DVS. I am new to CCIE and preparing for CCNA in VOICE and planning for CCIE-VOICE Certification.

    I have a question. is it good to switch from DVS to CCIE – VOICE Domain? … Please clarify…
    (Typically, DVS and VOICE has similar concepts of Networking)

    How to prepare for CCIE Lab Examination?


    Best Regards,
    Karthikeyan L.C


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