Posts from ‘CCIE Data Center’


Now that Cisco Live US 2016 is winding down, we’re going full steam ahead with our CCIE Data Center version 2.0 Blueprint updates.  For those of you that haven’t seen it, my live blog of the CCIE DCv2 Techtorial @ Cisco Live US 2016 can help to answer some additional questions about the exam content and format changes.

Some important upcoming dates in the short term are:

For those of you that have already spent time working on the DCv1 blueprint and are transitioning to DCv2, I would highly recommend to check out the online class the week of August 1st.  I’ll mainly be focusing on the technologies that changed in the blueprint, such as Nexus 9k, ACI, BGP EVPN signaled VxLAN, etc.

Additionally, our new class and rack rental topology has been finalized.  Some of the key topology changes are as follows:

  • Nexus 9K 9336PQ ACI Spines
  • Nexus 9K 9372PX-E ACI Leafs
  • APIC-M2 ACI Controllers
  • Nexus 7K supervisors ugraded to SUP 2E’s
  • Nexus 7K linecards upgraded to F348XP-25′s
  • Nexus 5K’s upgraded to 5672UP’s
  • Nexus 2K’s upgraded to 2348UPQ’s

Visual topology diagrams for these changes can be seen below. Click the images for high-res versions.

Rack rentals are currently in beta until further notice. The scheduler shows all sessions booked, but I am taking beta testing requests directly if you email me at


This morning I’m in Las Vegas for Cisco Live 2016, and am attending TECCCIE-3644 – CCIE DC Techtorial which focuses on the new CCIE Data Center v2 updates.

I’m live blogging the session so please feel free to submit your questions for the CCIE team as a comment here and I’ll try to get an answer for you.

Slides from the session are available here.

Final Update - UCS M4308 is no longer part of the topology (device is End of Sale). The official blueprint has been updated to include the following software packages and versions:

  • UCS Software Release 3.x Fabric Interconnect
  • Cisco Data Center Manager Software v7.x
  • Application Policy Infrastructure Controller 1.x
  • UCS Central 1.x
  • Cisco Integrated Management Controller 2.x
  • UCS Director 5.x
  • ASAv 9.x

Update 8 – 14:08PDT - Access to ESXi, VCenter, and CIMC will be allowed in v2 lab exam for troubleshooting tasks such as Nexus 1000v.

Update 7 – 14:03PDT - UCS Central will be tested on in the lab.

Update 6 – 13:55PDT - UCS will be running 3.x, not 2.x as currently listed on the blueprint.

Update 5 – 11:30PDT - Starting Storage Networking now. Interested to see what the scope is going to be now with the MDSes removed and the N9K’s added.

Update 4 – 09:15PDT - One major format change for the CCIE DCv2 Lab Exam is the introduction of the Diagnostics section, similar to other tracks such as RSv5. Here are some highlights and demo questions illustrating the format of the Diag section.

  • Diag section consists of one or more independent Tasks.
  • Each Task can have one or more Questions.
  • Questions are typically 1 point apiece, but could be 2 or 3 points.
  • Each Question within a task is graded individually. It is possible to get Task 1 Question 1 wrong but still get Task 1 Question 2 correct.
  • The goal is to reach the minimum cut score, but the cut score is not published and changes between specific exam deliveries.
  • Questions have deterministic answers. There is typically only one correct answer, but it’s possible that two answers are correct (e.g. multiple choice multiple answer). You must sort through all the information and find what is relevant and what is irrelevant.
  • You CAN go back and forth between tasks and questions in diagnostics section, and you CAN change your answers.
  • All information is needed is provided at once for each task. This is not the same as the CCDE engine where you get additional information as you go on

The exam starts with a intro screen with basic instructions. Once you click Begin Lab the 60 minute timer starts counting down. If you finish early, you cannot currently add extra time to the Configuration section.

An example Task for vPC, with an example Question. “Identify which command on which device provides the most important information about the root cause of this issue?”

An example answer, “Device SW13 Command line show feature | i vpc”. This demonstrates that the question and answer are deterministic, as only one possible answer is allowed for this task. Similar for Question 2 of this task, which uses a radio button for a multiple choice single answer.

An example “Hot Spot” type question. Task 2 asks “Considering all information provided point and click on the location in the topology that is responsible for causing the reported symptoms”. Answering this question assumes that you have sorted through the relevant problem description and relevant CLI outputs from the various devices.

Update 3 – 08:57PDT - Timing of the Diagnostics and Configuration/Troubleshooting section are different from the R&S exam. Diagnostics is fixed at 60 minutes, and Config/TS is fixed at 7 hours. If you finish Diag early, you cannot add this additional time to Config/TS.

Update 2 – 08:30PDT - Grading is done manually by the proctors. Automated tools are used to gather information, but ultimately the pass/fail decision is up to the proctor. Tasks can have multiple solutions, and grading does check for this. Just because your solution works doesn’t mean it’s right. You have to meet the requirements of the question!

Update 1 – 08:29PDT - Don’t change the device passwords otherwise they can’t grade the exam.  Hopefully this is self explanatory :)

Me with CCIE DC #1 – Robert Burns

I actually came straight from our Data Center in Reno NV installing our new CCIE DCv2 equipment.

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Cisco has just announced CCIE Data Center Written and Lab Exam Content Updates.Important dates for the changes are:

  • Last day to test for the v1.0 written – July 22, 2016
  • First day to test for the v2.0 written – July 25, 2016
  • Last day to test for the v1.0 lab – July 22, 2016
  • First day to test for the v2.0 lab – July 25, 2016

Key hardware changes in the v2.0 blueprint are:

  • APIC Cluster
  • Nexus 9300
  • Nexus 7000 w/ F3 Module
  • Nexus 5600
  • Nexus 2300 Fabric Extender
  • UCS 4300 M-Series Servers

Key technical topic changes in the v2.0 blueprint are:

  • EVPN
  • LISP
  • Policy Driven Fabric (ACI)

More details to come!

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A long time student of INE, Neil Moore has done it again, last time becoming the worlds first 7x CCIE, and this time becoming the worlds first and only 8x CCIE. And no, he doesn’t work for Cisco.

As a side note, INE has been experiencing phenomenal growth, and tremendous passing rates for people that have been sitting our R&S, Data Center and Collaboration bootcamps. In fact, of just the bootcamps we’ve held this year, nearly all of our students have reported back to us a pass in the 3-4 weeks following their bootcamp experience. Now mind you, these folks come to us studied up and prepared for the bootcamp, but they all credit us as being the deciding factor in their pass.

We’re also adding new content all the time, including Python scripting, Openstack and SDN such as OVS. Check out our Black Friday deals and grab an All Access Pass or sign up for a bootcamp and check out what’s new!



INE is reducing the cost of our live, instructor-led bootcamps by $1,000 each. Our new pricing model will still include access to our workbooks and ATC video courses with the purchase , but will separate out the Lab Exam Voucher and access to our All Access Pass as optional add-ons to provide you with a more flexible options for both your learning style and your budget. If you would like the existing complete, bundled solution, you have until Aug 1 to make a bootcamp purchase.

See this advert for more details.

Look forward to seeing you in a bootcamp soon!

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Earlier this year in April, we reported to you about a major change in policy to retakes of the CCIE Written and Lab exam. Just today Cisco updated that policy with a major blow for anyone who has been preparing under the old pretenses. Namely that: “These policy changes will be applied retroactively from the date of a candidate’s first lab attempt.” The seemingly innocuous announcement can be found on their CCIE Lab Policy page, just above the table indicating how long you must wait between attempts. This means that if you already have, for instance, two attempts (and unfortunate fails) going into August 2 (when the new policy goes into effect), you would have to wait 90 days from the time of your last attempt to retry the exam. This still gives folks a chance to get another attempt (or 2, possibly) in before this Aug 2 deadline, regardless of the number of previous failed (or missed, if you simply didn’t show) attempts. But of course the real goal of Cisco here is to try to get you to study harder before even attempting your first CCIE Lab – which isn’t a bad idea for everyone.

So as always – Happy Labbing and STUDY HARD!

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In a continuing effort to protect the integrity of the CCIE program, Cisco has announced a major change regarding the retake policy of the CCIE Written and Practical Lab exams. These changes take effect on August 1, 2014. Assuming a candidate happens not to pass on their first attempt at either a written or a practical “lab” exam within a given track, the frequency with which they will be allowed to retake the exam will change dramatically from past allowances, effectively not allowing the candidate virtually ‘unlimited’ retakes within a single calendar year (more specifically, within 12 calendar months from the date of the first attempt).

Changes to CCIE Practical Lab Exam

Perhaps the most interest for most people will be the frequency with which one will be allowed to re-sit for a CCIE Lab exam. Assuming a candidate does not pass on their first attempt at a given lab exam, they will still be allowed to attempt to retake the exam after 30 days has elapsed. The major change comes with the possibility that the candidate does not pass on their second attempt – after this attempt they must now wait for another 90 days to make their third attempt. Unlikely, but assuming a failure on attempt three, and a need to sit for attempt four, the candidate must wait another 90 days. Same goes for attempt four to attempt five. After a very, very bad year whereby a need to appear a sixth time becomes necessary, the wait period goes up to a full six months between attempts. The changes can be seen in a screenshot from a recent webinar below (after the jump).
Continue Reading

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The Application Control Engine (ACE) 4710 has been removed from our normal CCIE Data Center rack rental topology, and is now available as a standalone rack rental.  From now until Sunday March 23rd 2014 you can book ACE rack rentals for free.  To book ACE rentals, login to your account, click the Rack Rentals option on the left, and you should see the ACE scheduler as seen below:

Click the Schedule/Cancel Session button, and the calendar window will appear.  Select your start and end date, and if it is within the beta period it will show a zero token cost for the session.  Note that during the beta period you can only reserve blocks of 4 hours at the most.

ACE rack rentals include the following:

  • ACE 4710 Appliance
  • Catalyst 3750G Switch
  • 3 x Apache Server Virtual Machines
  • 1 x Windows Client Virtual Machine

The topology for ACE rack rentals looks as follows:

Although the ACE 4710 is End-of-Life, there is still a large install base of these boxes in the field. Even if you’re not preparing for the CCIE Data Center Lab Exam it can’t hurt to see how the ACE works, as other load balancers & application switches such as Citrix NetScaler or F5 Local Traffic Manager use the same type of logic for traffic switching.

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We’ve heard you loud and clear, and we understand that gaining access to Nexus 7000s, Nexus 5000s, UCS and Storage for hands-on practice is probably one of the more difficult parts of studying for the CCNA/CCNP and CCIE Data Center certifications. That’s why we’re happy to announce that we have just added 5 new DC racks available for rental immediately.

Enjoy – and remember to lab responsibly this holiday season.

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A few changes have occurred with regards to the CCIE Data Center certification, some on Cisco’s part and a few on ours.

Cisco Makes a Change

Firstly, released a new testing rack into the system in the middle of last week, and a lot of new seats have opened up to sit for the CCIE Data Center exam. Jump online and book yours today if you’ve been waiting for one.

Next, Cisco made a seemingly inconspicuous change a few weeks back to the “Lab Equipment and Software Versions” document, not by adding anything, but rather by removing most minor version numbers from software that was previously listed. This doesn’t go against anything Cisco has done in the past or anything that they normally let the candidate know six months ahead of time – that goes for major software revisions or hardware changes only.

For instance, the software section previously looked like this:
• NXOS v6.0(2) on Nexus 7000 Switches
• NXOS v5.1(3) on Nexus 5000 Switches
• NXOS v4.2(1) on Nexus 1000v
• NXOS v5.2(2) on MDS 9222i Switches
• UCS Software release 2.0(1x) for UCS-6248 Fabric Interconnect
• Software Release A5(1.0) for ACE 4710
• Cisco Data Center Manager software v5.2(2)

And today looks simply like this:
• NXOS v6.x on Nexus 7000 Switches
• NXOS v5.x on Nexus 5000 Switches
• NXOS v4.x on Nexus 1000v
• NXOS v5.x on MDS 9222i Switches
• UCS Software release 2.x for UCS-6248 Fabric Interconnect
• Software Release A5(1.0) for ACE 4710
• Cisco Data Center Manager software v5.x
(A bit funny that ACE didn’t feel the love and remained untouched)

The implications to this are that things like a ‘true’ Admin context in Nexus 7Ks Sup1s (Sup2(e)s already have this) as well as Native FC Zoning in UCS, Single-Wire Cable Management for UCS C-Series from FIs and the biggest of all, Northbound FCoE from the UCS, can be potentially tested in the future. We’re told that for now many of these new UCS 2.1 features are not being tested, but we’ll go ahead and add content for them to prepare you.

What INE is Doing About it

We will be upgrading our code following our currently full bootcamp, which will give you the option to practice with the new features, while changing nothing from the current features that you already test with on our racks. We also will be adding scenarios to our online workbooks in the coming weeks, specifically demonstrating and testing you on these new features. Finally, beginning on November 16, you will see the amount of racks we have available for rent more than double.

We’ll continue to stay ahead of all major and minor changes that occur in the CCIE Data Center space and alert you as things progress.

Also, we’re currently completely booked full in our Data Center classes until March, and even now March and April classes are nearing capacity. If you have any intention of getting into one of these, you’d better head over here and register for one today.



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