Posts Tagged ‘strategy’
This past Monday I passed the CCIE Data Center Lab Exam in San Jose CA, making me four time Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) #8593 in Routing & Switching, Service Provider, Security, and Data Center, as well as Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) #20130013. This was my first – and thankfully last – attempt at the DC lab exam, and also my first experience in the San Jose CCIE Lab location. In this post I’m going to outline my preparation process for CCIE Data Center, as well as to talk about my experience with the actual day of the lab.
Brian Dennis and I attended Cisco Live! – Networkers this week, and both enjoyed the privilege of sitting down to talk privately with Yusuf Bhaiji (Program Manager over the entire CCIE program) and Ben Ng (Program Manager over the CCIE Voice track) for roughly 45 minutes. It was quite an enjoyable and spirited talk, and I believe it benefited both sides – our side to gain a better understanding of why some of the choices have been made, and theirs possibly to see things a bit more ‘through the eyes of the typical hard-studying student’. I would like to take a moment to jot down some of the highlights from our conversation, and then unpack them in a bit more detail, so that you may benefit from the open conversation.
I’ll jot down some very simple, high-level topics that were discussed during our conversation, and then unpack them in more detail in the following section.
- Upcoming changes to every CCIE Lab Exam
- Protecting the integrity of the CCIE certification
- Robust, matured results-based grading engine
- Heuristic logic embedded into task wording
- Accuracy and detail of lab score reports
- Cisco’s CCIE Lab Delivery System and virtualization for mobile labs
- No re-reads
- CCIE Voice
- Next blueprint version expectation
- Topics for current and next blueprint versions
- CCIE Data Center
- CCIE Storage grows up
- Reason behind Cisco.com CCIE Statistics web page being removed
So many students that pass on a first, or subsequent, attempt of the lab exam emerge to profess the importance of a complete “mastery” of the documentation that is available during the lab exam.
I wanted to bring together in one place here on the blog, three blog links that are designed to assist you in this regard. Enjoy these free training resources!
First, watch this hour-long, complimentary session from the Open Lecture Series on Mastering the DOC-CD:
Second, it is time to practice what you learned in this interactive DOC-CD exercise:
Finally, this blog post points out some very useful DOC-CD locations that students have really enjoyed:
CCIE instructors see the question time and time again – are we penalized for “over-configuration” in the CCIE lab exam? The answer – “not typically”. Let us walk through some examples to see exactly what we are talking about here.
First of all, I encourage students to ask two questions when they are about to “over-configure” something. Question 1 – can this additional configuration I am about to make actually gain me points (might Cisco be grading for it)? Question 2 – can this additional configuration I am about to make actually hurt me (cause point loss)? If the answers are a resounding YES and NO, then it is definitely a configuration you should consider making.
Hang around our CCIE Forums in the IEOC for any amount of time and you will inevitably see students discussing Core Versus Non-Core tasks in their practice CCIE lab exams.
I wanted to spend a moment here with you on the blog in order to provide exactly what these terms mean to me for my lab strategy.
Folks, for me, it is this simple. If a task has other tasks that might depend on it, I consider this a core task. If the task cannot impact other points in the lab exam, it is a non-core task. It is that simple.
Let us take a look at an example of each now:
I am sure many of you would love to know more about Ray – here it is:
Ray Aragon is an SE in the Networking World and after 10 Plus years working with State/Local government and Major Carriers around the world he decided to get his CCIE using INE products as his primary study aide. Here were some facts Ray shared with me:
• I think I try to be helpful to others, and identify “pitfalls” and my “ahhh-haa” moments
• I like it when I run into a stumbling block and there is already a good discussion on IEOC
As a CCIE instructor, this type of question is one that I see (in IEOC) or hear (in class) often. To help directly address this question, I have maintained a document I call the Expanded Blueprint for many years now. I was quite flattered to see the CCIE team at Cisco publish their own version and name it the Expansion Blueprint.
I made sure to correlate their’s against my own and ensure that I did not miss anything. In fact, what I learned quickly was the fact that they had some very glaring omissions of topic areas that were on the original Lab Blueprint. I would hope they have since corrected that.
But what I want to discuss in this blog post is the fact that regardless of which blueprint document you are relying upon in your studies, Cisco does make it very clear that it is their Certification-given right to test anything they deem appropriate from the 12.4T IOS code (in the case of the routers in the exam). Hmmmm, wait a minute! So they can test anything that the routers or switches can do!?!?!? This will certainly go a long way in dashing the hopes of many feint of heart candidates.
Before you start either section of your lab exam (Troubleshooting or Configuration), your proctor is going to remind you to save your configurations often. You might even see this written several times in the lab instructions contained in the new GUI. Why are you being asked to do this?
Well, at the very least, you might have a device that hits a snag and just decides to reboot on you. How rude! It is never fun to lose any amount of configuration when you are pressed for time, as you will be in the certification lab exam. But in the worst case scenario, your entire rack of equipment might power cycle due to a catastrophic failure in the Cisco facility that houses your equipment (real and emulated equipment). This could amount to you failing the exam for sure if you were not consistently saving configurations as you go along.
Here was the habit I developed for saving my configurations as I went along. After making a configuration on a local device and performing whatever necessary verifications, I would then type wr or do wrdepending on the configuration mode. Then, while the device is performing its save, I would leave for my next device in the configuration. Using this method, I was completely confident that everything was always tucked away nicely in the startup configuration and did not fear the unplanned reboot.
Whatever your method of saving configurations will be – be sure you practice, practice, practice it prior to sitting your actual lab.
P.S. The only issue I ever had with my approach was that in production networks, I would often find myself compulsively saving configurations, even when I did not want to.
The following video from Cisco provides us with a tour of the new, “paperless” format of the CCIE R&S Version 4 Lab Exam.
Update: Link corrected, thanks.
If you have spent any time in the R&S forums in the IEOC, you have seen the username ndiayemalick. Malick has achieved Elite status in the forum and is always challenging and helping his peers with his excellent posts.
Thank you so much Malick, and we look forward to celebrating your number soon. We are placing 100 GradedLabs rack rental tokens in your account as a small gesture of our appreciation.
I am sure many are interested in Malick’s story…here it is:
My name is Malick Ndiaye as you already know. I was born in Senegal, West Africa. When I was 15, I moved with my family to the US, precisely Columbus, Ohio. Two and half years later, in 2001, I got my High School Diploma. Since I finished high school early (January 2001 instead of June 2001) and got all the credits I need to graduate, I started preparing my MCSE. At that time, it was a very hot certification to have, but I never finished it.