A while back, Cisco began consolidating all of the CCIE lab equipment used by candidates when sitting to write their practical lab exam. Most of the lab hardware now resides in San Jose, California US, with only the Storage and Wireless awaiting movement. While most of the CCIE tracks' practical lab examinations are able to be completely self-contained inside a single rack, the pesky Voice exam remains an abnormality with the need for hardware IP phones at the testing site where the candidate may sit for the exam.
Having the IP phones in a completely separate location -- and therefore seemingly an entirely different L3 IP subnet -- would seem to present a major challenge for candidates attempting to test certain configuration tasks such as Multicast Music on Hold, many QoS mechanisms, SRST, and even smaller things such as CDP discovery and DHCP. So how is Cisco able to get away with having phones at a remote location (5000 miles or more in some instances), and yet still allow candidates to configure and then properly test what they critically need to?
Layer 2 Tunneling - that's how. It's the only way to make phones "look" via CDP like they are connected to the same switch that they students are configuring on their rack - even if this couldn't be further from the truth (pun intended). This also allows everything else to function and work as perfectly as if the phone actually were on the same physical L2 wire, but alas, they most certainly are not.
Now to do this, it requires a good investment in a good number of additional routers and switches to make it all work, since after all there are a number of physical L2 LANs per candidate rack, and many more than simply one rack, not only in San Jose, but also at each remote testing site.
INE is very happy to announce that -- in both a strong desire to provide the exact same environment as the real lab, and also our response to listening to student requests from bootcamps this year -- we have put forth the necessary investment in both capital and man-hours to setup the necessary infrastructure to allow every Voice class that we run to be identical to taking a seat in the actual CCIE Voice lab exam. When you take a seat in any one of INE's Voice classes, that your 2 CorpHQ 7961 IP phones, your 1 Branch1 7961 IP phone, and your 2 Branch2 7961 IP phones will both appear to their respective site L2 switches, and function, just as if they were directly connected to your rack. It's as if we are now transporting each Voice rack of equipment with us no matter where we travel. Oh - did I mention that? This will be the standard no matter where you sit an INE Voice class - London, Seattle, Chicago, RTP, and anywhere else that we may have an on-site class requested and put together (some possibilities at the moment are Dubai, Bangalore, and Sydney).
On that note, we also just released our new training schedule with dates and expanded locations for 2011. Only dates through March are posted on the site at the moment, but the rest should be posted up either today or Monday (13 Sept).
So just to recap what you get when you train with INE for your CCIE Voice exam:
- 5 7961 Hardware IP Phones on your desk in front of you, plus 1 7960 PSTN phone
- Every 7961 IP phone functions exactly as it would as if it were physically and directly connected to its site's layer 2 switch (and just as it actually is in the real CCIE lab exam)
- An instructor who has helped hundreds of people become CCIEs and who has been developing training materials and teaching the technologies needed to pass the CCIE Voice exam for over 5 years now
- And for when you are not in class, but studying on your own: 7961 hardware IP phones attached to every INE rental rack for you to remotely control if you don't have your own (separately purchased IP phone remote control software is necessary for a reduced INE Student Edition cost)
- Of course we support you connecting your hardware IP phones to our rental racks if you have them, as well as have have a Cisco IOS router or ASA/PIX
It is also worth updating everyone that we have released a few more CCIE Voice Deep Dive modules (scroll to bottom of linked page for each module details), and next week we will be completing two additional modules (both on different forms of Mobility) to round out our complete section relating to the CUCM server. So currently we are up to modules 1-12 and we have over 70 hours of class-on-demand style training with extremely detailed walk-throughs of every configuration and debug/trace in CUCM. Once we finish up the last two modules on CUCM, we will be moving onto CME, and you can expect the same level of detail on absolutely every aspect of that platform as well!