It's rumored that the announcement for the R&S CCIE v5 update should be coming soon (November timeframe) and the switch over for the lab sometime around March 2014. Cisco Live Europe has a R&S v5 Technical Breakout scheduled for anyone attending. The update to version 5 is rumored to be a 100% virtual lab environment similar to how the troubleshooting section of the lab is done now. The major benefit of the lab going virtual is that the topics covered will be platform independent. You will not need to buy 2911's or 3750x's to prepare and can use any relatively newer router or switch to prepare or use a virtualized environment (IOL/IOU/VIRL, GNS3, CSR). The goal of the v5 appears to be to focus on the technologies themselves and less on the hardware and a specific topology. This is the best move Cisco has made for the R&S CCIE program in years as candidates will need to focus more on the technologies themselves and not worry about IOS versions, hardware platforms, physical topologies, etc.
Allegedly the R&S CCIE v5 blueprint will see legacy topics like Frame-Relay removed. Additionally it's possible some of the more lesser used features of the IOS like Zone-Based Firewall, WCCP, IPv6 multicast, and PfR could be removed from the lab. A few of the topics we could see added are IPSec, DMVPN, and Embedded Packet Capture. We may see ISIS added to the written at least if not the lab. This could be the last version of the R&S lab that isn't IOS XE based so we could see it added to the written.
Currently the lab has a 2 hour troubleshooting section and a 6 hour configuration section. The new lab may contain, in addition to the troubleshooting section, a new diagnostic section. This means the lab could have a troubleshooting, diagnostic and configuration section. I would assume the points for this new section would come from the configuration section and the troubleshooting section would remain the same or possibly even slightly higher in points.
So what does this mean for someone currently preparing for the R&S v4 blueprint? If you feel you are close to taking the lab but do not have to scheduled, you should schedule a date ASAP. Once the official v5 announcement comes out from Cisco, it will be hard to schedule a lab date. If you have a date scheduled before March 2014 then you should be fine. If your date is after February 2014 then I would recommend you move it up ASAP. The longer we go into November the more likely the new blueprint date has been pushed back by Cisco.
Additional v4 bootcamps will be added to the schedule before the March 2014 changeover. We will start transitioning the current bootcamps over to version 5 around the first of the year. For the self-paced products we will start releasing labs and videos covering the new blueprint in November. 90% of the material from the version 4 blueprint will carry over to the version 5 lab blueprint. Topics you can skip for the routers will be Frame-Relay, PfR, WCCP, Zone-Based Firewall along with technologies that are not supported in IOU L2/IOL L2. Here is a list of features we may not see for the layer 2 section since the switches will be virtual.
1) QinQ Tunneling
2) ISL trunks
3) DHCP Snooping
4) Layer 3 Port Channel
5) Private VLANs
Post any questions you have about the new blueprint changes and I'll start creating a FAQ below:
Q) I purchased the version 4 self-paced material so will I be covered for the version 5 products?
Q) Will I have to pay anything for get the new version 5 material?
Q) I attended an R&S CCIE v4 bootcamp so can I resit a v5 bootcamp for free?
Q) Will INE offer racks for the new blueprint?
A) Yes. Although the lab is virtual it is still good to spend part of your preparation using real hardware as that is what you use in your day-to-day job. Towards the end of your preparation you can hone your skills using virtualized environment. We will be using the CSR along with real switches for the virtualized environments.
Q) What about my tokens?
A) Your tokens will carry over.
Q) I'm currently schedule for the lab after the v5 update. Can I still take the v4 lab?
Q) Do you feel strongly that the announcement will come out in November?
A) I do feel confident that the announcement will be in November but it could slip since they are trying to align the Cisco 360 update to the lab release.