Having passed the CCIE Voice 10 years ago, and having taught on the technologies surrounding both Voice and Collaboration ever since, one might think that the exam would be easy to pass. I can assure you that no matter how much you know, no CCIE exam is easy to pass. Cisco doesn't allow them to be. Every CCIE track requires hard work and preparation, even if it may, at first glance, seem somewhat of a repeat of things you already know. You may ask since I had the CCIE Voice already, why I didn't simply take the Collaboration Written exam and convert my cert to a CCIE Collaboration? The answer I think is pretty straightforward - it's the challenge!! Seeing if you still have it 10 years later. Seeing if what you've been teaching your students for 10 years is still up to par and still relevant. To take you back to when I passed CCIE Voice ten years ago, the track was literally brand new that year, and Cisco was testing on CallManager version 3.3, SIP wasn't anywhere to be found, and creating a hunt group meant tweaking Attendant Console to make it do things it shouldn't ever be expected to do (like work). I'm quite happy to find that I may still have 'it' and that my content is right on par and not only relevant on all accounts, but as always goes well above and beyond the minimum of what you need to know to pass the exam, and takes you into the deep inner-workings of the technologies and answers the all of the "why" questions. Bear in mind that we never create content with the singular goal of simply getting you "past" the lab exam (the people that can only barely pass the lab can't make it past a technical interview in the real world), but rather our focus is making you a true expert whereby, as a byproduct, you do pass the lab exam and quite handily at that. Over the past 10 years I've had the pleasure of helping over 1,500 people do just this, and it's been so enriching in my life to see their professional and personal lives bettered for it. So what took me so long to getting around to sitting for this new exam? Simply put - my schedule. As some of you may know, I've been teaching a lot of 2-week CCIE Data Center courses and 2-week CCIE Collaboration courses, as well as working on building all of the Collaboration racks and self-paced learning content, and quite frankly just hadn't found time in my schedule to get around to preparing to sit for and take the actual new lab exam until just a few weeks ago. So onto more of what you need to know and what it takes to be ready.

It's quite possible that I may be one of the only people besides Frog that possesses 3 or more CCIE's, where one of them is not Routing and Switching.

Firstly, what it's not. As I mentioned in a previous post, there isn't a whole lot of Cisco's "Collaboration" portfolio in the CCIE Collaboration written or lab exam blueprint. No TelePresence or DX/EX/MX/TX/SX or Codec endpoints (which differ vastly from simple 9971 phones), no MCUs, no WebEx, VCS-C / VCS-E Expressway (now Collab Edge), TMS or TPS in the exam. (Note: VCS/TMS are present in the backbone only – and all the hard work is on the VCS & TMS and out of the control of the student - you simply need to provide interop dialing with it.) This is much more of a Voice exam with a heavy video ephasis and a little bit of Jabber (8% of total score).

What do you need to know to be ready to sit for the exam? Since the new policy is now in effect that if you fail the exam twice that you have to wait 3 months before you're allowed to sit for it again, it is more important than ever to be 100% ready before you go sit for your first attempt, and that you pass on your first or second attempt before your momentum is severely interrupted by that 3 month stint. This is only one of the reasons that Brian, Brian, Petr and I have always recommended that you be able to do all of the CLI portion of your lab (whichever track) ... in Notepad. With no internet connection, no router tab-completion or ? context-sensitive help. And while you may misspell one or two things or occasionally forget an argument, that when you go to paste what you did in notepad, into your Cisco device, that 95% of it is syntactically correct, and that your logic is flawless. And as for your UCM web page configuration - that will obviously take up most of your time. While it's impossible to know what you will need to accomplish before you arrive, you need to be able to digest what they give you for tasks and visualize the entire call flow and any features, and go execute the configuration in UCM with no hesitation. As much as you may not like it - the CCIE exam remains an exam where not only accuracy, but also speed, are key. There is a lot to accomplish in 8 hours. An awful lot.

As I've been advocating heavily for over the past 5 years, you must be absolutely proficient with Globalized dial plans. With the likelihood of more than one cluster, configuring them must be second nature and not even something you think much about - rather something that you simply execute quickly using muscle-memory with absolute knowledge that what you are configuring will work cold. This may take a good deal of practice for some of you that still implement more traditional dial plans on a regular basis in your day jobs. Thankfully we have loads of content to prepare you for this critical key component of the exam. Not only have I just re-recorded the complete dial plan section (videos 83-105 including globalized dial plans as well as dynamic dial plans related to ILS/GDPR and CCD/SAF and Session Management Edition), but we also have loads of labs with heavy emphasis on globalized dialing in our CCIE Voice v3.5 workbooks, with new ones specifically aimed at the Collaboration track coming out very soon. The recent SRNDs as well as a number of Cisco Live can provide a lot of guidance as well. With that very core topic covered, it's on to SIP signaling and video, the other two topics that you will need to know cold. The good news about video is that you don't have to memorize how every endpoint treats video and what CUBE needs to do to pass it, but just a few endpoints - namely the Cisco 9971 phone and the Jabber for Windows client. It's no secret that the industry has heavily gravitated toward SIP trunks over the past 5 years, and that in any production environment today, you are working heavily with SIP and therefore also with CUBE or some flavor of Session Border Controller, and both the CCIE Collaboration written and lab exam reflect those very well. You should be able to read and completely deconstruct every SIP message that you come across in very quick fashion. We prepare you well for this. Video calling and video conferencing is the other bit that you will need to know cold. This guide contains complete samples for video conferencing configurations as well as good info specifically about 9971 phones and their RTP payload type and how it differs from platform to platform (CUCM vs CME). CUBE, Cisco's SBC is something that is heavily used in real-world deployments, is on the blueprint, and should be taken seriously. There is a ton you can do with CUBE, and you should know it well. Read and know this guide inside and out. I will be hosting a live class on CUBE the week of Sept 1-5, and that content will get added to the CCIE Collaboration ATC playlist. Beyond that there are of course the usual topics: Codec Preference and Region control, CME, Unity Connection, Unity Express and Contact Center Express - all of which are important but shouldn't take you very long to think about and configure at all, with the exception of CME - that can be a bit tedious in taking a while to key in all of the CLI configuration with both SIP and SCCP phones to consider, as well as dial plan with Voice Translation Rules.

Speaking earlier of building the new Collaboration racks, I'd like to provide some guidance on a few different options for either building your own racks that will contain everything you will need to completely prepare you for your exam or else building differing stages of a partial rack coupled with supplementing your own rack practice with rental sessions from INE to give you access to the more expensive bits of the rack that you needn't bother with purchasing. Of course there is always the option to rent all of your rack time from us, however this option doesn't obviate the need for roughly $1,000 USD in hardware, as you simply cannot adequately prepare for this exam without having 3x 9971 and 3x 7962 Cisco IP phones physically in front of you (to dial/hear-audio/see-video/hear-audible-results-from-dtmf-key-presses/etc), connected by Layer 2 back to our racks (This is still far less expensive than the $20,000 price tag that it costs to build a full rack). Remotely controlling phones was something you -to some degree- could get away with on the previous version of the CCIE Voice exam, but it is simply not an option with this new version of Collaboration*.

Here is the list of what Cisco has in the actual lab exam and we have mirrored our racks around this build list. Here is a complete list of our hardware and server builds, and throughout that same guide you can find everything you need to know to connect to and use our Collaboration racks.

Option 1 - Complete Rack Rental
This option will provide you with the easiest option in terms of time to get up and running. With this option you should plan to rent roughly 700-1000 hours of rack time.

What you will need:

  • 1x Cisco router for EzVPN and L2TPv3
  • 1x Cisco switch for QinQ tunneling and L2VPN
  • 3x 9971 IP phones with CP-CAM USB backpack
  • 3x 7962 IP phones

Full details for this option in terms of hardware, software and configurations can be found beginning on this page of our Collaborations Rack Rental Guide.

Option 2 - Fully Virtualized Solution Augmented with Lots of Rack Time
This option will provide you with a very inexpensive way to get started in your studies and be able to practice maybe around 25% of the necessary tasks - including globalized dial plans but with all SIP trunking. You will definitely need to rent plenty of rack time to augment your studies with this solution, but this will get you started. I would estimate that you would still need to rent roughly 500-700 hours of rack time with this option.

What you will need:

Cisco uses a UCS C-Series server for their hardware, but this is not necessary as you have no access to the UCSM in the lab exam, so any server will do. A server like this can typically be found online used for around $300-$500 USD.
Access to the Cisco NFR bundle is something that only Partners have access to and only costs around $300 for everything you need, but if you are not a partner, you will not be able to purchase this software. If you have a proper service contract, you may be able to download the software from and register for the 6-month demo license, but I don't believe you will be able to get another 6-month license after the first has expired. You will then need to revert to having to rebuild all of the servers every 60 days. Without either, this will make it impossible to build your own servers without purchasing full licenses - which is an incredibly expensive option.

Option 3 - Entry Level Full Rack (no ISR-G2s) Augmented with Rack Time
This option will provide you with a semi-inexpensive way to get started in your studies and be able to practice approximately 65-70% of the necessary tasks - including all phone features except for Video conferencing. You will still need to rent a decent amount of rack time to augment your studies for video conferencing and full-lab practice sessions with this solution, but this is a great, (comparatively) inexpensive option. I would estimate that you would still need to rent roughly 200-250 hours of rack time with this option.

What you will need:

  • All of Option 2 (Server/software)
  • 4x 2811 ISR (Gen1) routers with PVDM2s and VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1s for site and PSTN PRI gateways and audio-only transcoding and conferencing
  • All of Option 1 hardware for augmented rack rental sessions

This rack should cost you somewhere close to $5,000 USD to build.

Option 4 - Near Complete Full Rack (1 ISR-G2) Augmented with Rack Time
This option will provide you with a way to practice approximately 95-99% of the necessary tasks - including Video conferencing and the latest CUBE features. You may still wish to rent some rack time simply to have a few full-lab practice sessions with all routers running 15.2(4)M code and the possibility of having multiple video conference bridges and/or video transcoding devices, but you also may find this unnecessary as you can just move around your tasks to accommodate everything on your single ISR-G2.

What you will need:

  • All of Option 2 (Server/software)
  • 1x 2911 ISR-G2 router with 1x PVDM3-32 (or 2x PVDM3-16) and 1x VWIC3-1MFT-T1/E1s for HQ
  • 3x 2811 ISR (Gen1) routers with PVDM2s and VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1s for Site B/C and PSTN PRI gateways and audio-only transcoding and conferencing
  • SRE-710 for Unity Express

This rack may cost you somewhere close to $12,000 USD to build. There is an embedded demo license with Cisco Unity Express on the SRE module that simply needs to be activated, however it should be noted that it will only last you 60 days, at which time you will need to re-install the software completely to get any sort of extension to this demo period.

Of course you can also always build an entire rack with everything we have listed (all 2911s) in our Rack Rental Guide, but this will cost you probably around $20,000 in hardware alone, before any licensing costs.

*As a side note from above, we do provide a single 7961 phone at each site physically connected to our racks that renters may remotely control, but we do this as a mere courtesy for those that cannot afford to purchase their own right away and simply need to test a few basic dial plan and softkey functions, and we do not intend for this to be a complete replacement to having your own phones connected to us via L2VPN. If you chooe this option initially, just know that at some point during your studies you will in fact need to have them in front of you connected to us with our L2VPN option. Also, we don’t provide 9971 because the remote control is next to impossible (it is impossible to predict a reliable response, and many times the phone simply won’t respond at all). Also, while on our racks, you can practice 2-way and 3-way video with the Jabber for Windows clients we provide at the HQ, Site B and PSTN/Backbone sites. They all have cameras attached and will allow you to practice point-to-point video as well as video conferencing with the PVDM3 video conference bridge that you can build at any of the sites.

Also, for connecting back to our racks via L2VPN, I recommend the Cisco 1841 router and the Catalyst WS-C3560-8PC wwitch since it's an 8-port PoE that is fanless (read quiet), however if you're on a super-tight budget, you can get away with 2611XM (must be XM) router and a Catalyst 3550 switch with PWR-CUBE-4 (note the 3550 Inline Power won't adequately power the 9971 phones). Again guidance for all of this can be found in our Rack Rental Guide.

I hope this has provided some good insight and help for those that are working toward accomplishing the CCIE Collaboration, and please comment below on anything you can think that might be useful to add to this article for yourself or others studying, and I will be happy to update it.


Update 1: CCIE Collaboration Racks are now available for rent. Sign in to your members account and click on Rack Rentals in the left navigation. Please note that these racks are currently in general beta release, meaning they are available to everyone, but if you happen to find a bug or an issue with the scheduler, rack control page, or rack equipment, please start a support case and kindly let us know about it so that we may remediate it quickly. We've had a number of closed beta testers and their tests have all gone very well. We should be out of general beta release within a few weeks. Full instructions on how to use our racks can be found in our new Collaboration Rack Rental Guide, and I will be releasing a few follow-up videos later today with links inside the guide, to further demo things and walk you through how to use these racks, including the use our new rack control panel.

Please note that while we do certainly still support L2VPN for connecting your phones directly, as well as SSL VPN for server access, we also provide support now for 100% VPN-less connectivity with only the need of a web browser to control the rack (no telnet client, no RDP client). Support for both telnet and RDP has been built completely within the browser now, allowing you to log on to a rack and practice everything without being tied to a particular location. Of course, you will always gain more functionality by having physical 9971 and 7965 phones in front of you and we highly recommend it for longer study sessions. But for shorter ones where you simply need to get in and test a few things out quickly, you will now be able accomplish that from literally anywhere.



Update 2: We have just released over 20 new hours of videos to our CCIE Collaboration Advanced Technologies Class, bringing our total up to just shy of 50 hours of completely new recorded content (no videos reused from the old CCIE Voice track). This covers almost every major topic in the new exam, save for a few minor topics like CUCME, Unity Connection and UCCX, which are topics that quite frankly, haven't changed since CCIE Voice, and you can access in depth videos on those here in our CCIE Voice Advanced Technologies Class or CCIE Voice Deep Dives (including topics like SIP phones with CME), until I record the brand new material. One topic that does have many new updates to it that I will be covering in the next live session is CUBE or Border Element, and that session will stream live on September 1 - 5.

If you're not already an All Access Pass member then you can sign up here for a free trial here.  AAP access includes not only access to the live CCIE Collaboration ATC class I'm currently running and the streaming playlist of the Collaboration ATC, but also include streaming access to our entire video library of literally thousands of hours of content in just about every IT discipline imaginable - and constantly growing.

Another thing we have done is to break down the content into smaller modules for individual purchase so that in case you don't have an All Access Pass, and either don't need to purchase the entire ATC or need something to fit better within your budget, you can now purchase each module in small chunks. They can be found at the bottom of the Collaboration Advanced Technologies Class page.

This update brings our current complete outline of material already covered to include:

Network Infrastructure

  • VLANs/Dot1Q
  • Spanning Tree
  • DHCP
  • TFTP
  • HSRP
  • NTP
  • EIGRP/OSPF Basics
  • IGMP & PIM
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Cisco EnergyWise

CUCM: Server Administration and User Synchronization & Control

  • View system settings and network utilities
  • Set IP, Time, SMTP and System shutdown
  • Set Commands
  • Show Commands
  • File Commands
  • Utils Commands
  • DB Replication Status & Repair
  • Service Activation & Status
  • Call Home
  • Manual Backups
  • Scheduled Backups
  • Restore From Backup
  • Access Control Groups, Roles and Manual User Creation
  • Active Directory LDAP Synchronization
  • Active Directory LDAP Filtering
  • Active Directory LDAP Authentication
  • UCMUser Web Page

UCM: Phone Registration, Settings, and Basic Audio & Video Calling

  • Phone Registration
  • Video Calling
  • Device Pools
  • Date/Time/NTP Groups
  • Phone-Specific Settings
  • Line/DN Basics
  • Line Directory URI dialing
  • Audio and Video Codecs with Regions
  • Codec Preference & Regions

Call Admission Control

  • Intra-Cluster EL-CAC/Locations :: Part 1
  • Intra-Cluster EL-CAC/Locations :: Part 2
  • Inter-cluster EL-CAC/Locations :: Part 1
  • Inter-cluster EL-CAC/Locations :: Part 2
  • RSVP Locations :: Part 1
  • RSVP Locations :: Part 2
  • RSVP Locations :: Part 3
  • RSVP Locations :: Part 4
  • SIP Pre-Conditions
  • IOS-based CAC

UCM: Jabber and Presence

  • BLF Speed Dials in UCM :: Part 1
  • BLF Call Lists in UCM
  • Unified IM and Presence Server Integration
  • Federations
  • Jabber Softphone Mode with Desktop Sharing
  • Jabber Deskphone Control Mode
  • Jabber Extend and Connect Mode
  • Jabber Special Configuration Files

UCM: Media Resources

  • Media Resource Groups & Lists
  • Unicast Music On Hold
  • Multicast Music On Hold
  • Alternate Music On Hold
  • Annunciator & Announcements
  • Media Termination Points
  • Audio and Video Transcoding, Transrating and Transsizing
  • Audio Conferencing
  • Video Conferencing :: Part 1
  • Video Conferencing :: Part 2

UCM: Voice Gateways and Call Signaling

  • ISDN Voice Gateways
  • Dial-Peers in IOS Voice Gateways
  • Digit Manipulation
  • Voice Translation Rules
  • Integration with CUCM
  • Toll Fraud Prevention
  • SCCP Signaling :: Part 1
  • SCCP Signaling :: Part 2
  • SIP Signaling :: Part 1
  • SIP Signaling :: Part 2
  • Troubleshooting SIP :: Part 1
  • Troubleshooting SIP :: Part 2
  • Configuring SIP
  • H.323 Signaling and Configuration
  • MGCP Signaling and Configuration

UCM: Traditional & Globalized Dial Plan and Session Management

  • Dial Plan Fundamentals
  • Elements of Dials Plans
  • Traditional Dial Plan Demonstration
  • Advanced Elements of Dial Plans
  • Advanced Elements of Dial Plans Demo
  • Traditional vs Globalized Dial Plans
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Outbound Dialing Concept
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Outbound Dialing Demo
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Outbound Dialing Phone Display
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Inbound Dialing Concept and Demo
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Inbound Dialing Returning Missed Calls
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Ancillary Benefits – AAR and CFUR
  • Globalized Dial Plan :: Ancillary Benefits – TEHO
  • Call Blocking
  • Session Managment Edition :: Part 1
  • Session Managment Edition :: Part 2
  • Dial Rules

UCM: Dynamic Dial Plan

  • Call Control Discovery Concept
  • Call Control Discovery Demo with CUCM
  • Call Control Discovery Demo with CME
  • SIP URI Dialing
  • Intercluster Lookup Service
  • Interop Dialing with VCS

Mobility and Call Coverage

  • Unified Mobility Concept
  • Unified Mobility Demo
  • Device Mobility Concept
  • Device Mobility Demo
  • Extension Mobility
  • Extension Mobility Cross Cluster Concepts :: Part 1
  • Extension Mobility Cross Cluster Concepts :: Part 2
  • Extension Mobility Cross Cluster Demo :: Part 1
  • Call Coverage Features :: Part 1
  • Call Coverage Features :: Part 2


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!


We've been putting a lot of time into development for quite a while now on the new CCIE Collaboration blueprint and wanted to share with you a few updates. If you've taken a look at the blueprint anytime recently, you know that there is quite a lot of material to be covered, and that a simple 5-day class would never suffice. So we've put together a new class that is extremely thorough, spanning a 10-day period, and we wanted to share with you the updated outline for the class structure as well as a sample class topology and list of equipment that we will be using, since many of you have been emailing and asking in our forums about what to buy in order to host your own rack.

CCIE Collaboration 10-Day Bootcamp Dates, Locations and Outline

Sample Classroom Diagram

Sample Equipment List

Keep watching for more updates as we get closer to releasing new material.

UPDATE: Current customers that have the All Access Pass can already view two 4-hour classes that will assist with a few of the subjects. The first related to a (now outdated by GDPR, but still on the exam) technology known as CCD over SAF and also a CAC mechanism known as SIP Preconditions. The second - while not tested on the lab per-se (students have no access to UCS C-Series CIMC), but certainly covered in-depth on the written exam - is UC on UCS.


Cisco hasn't exactly changed their minds, but has made some - ahem - slight adjustments for those current CCIE Voice holders and how they may transition to the new CCIE Collaboration. Three options are laid out quite clearly here on Cisco's Learning Network page. Note that option 2 (what most previously thought was the only designated path) does expire on Feb 13, although that's Feb 13, 2016, so there is plenty of time to make your decision.


Just as every year, I will be attending the additional 8-hour CCIE Voice/Collaboration Techtorial at Cisco Live, this Sunday June 23 2013, and will be tweeting live all of the additional nuanced details that I find out about changes to the CCIE Collaboration exam as it transitions from Voice. I've already downloaded the slide deck, and there are plenty of mentions about the new Collab track, but nothing that we don't yet already know. You can be sure that many questions will be asked and those will yield the information worth tuning in for. You can follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information, and then as I do every year, I'll create a summary post here that includes all the details that were discussed.


After a huge outcry by many on Twitter, Facebook and even a petition with currently almost 1,200 signatures gathered in less than a week, Cisco seems to have recanted their position, and will be allowing current CCIE Voice certified individuals, as well as those that certify before the February 14, 2014 switchover date, to migrate to the new CCIE Collaboration, simply by taking and passing the new CCIE Collaboration Written exam, which will debut on November 21, 2013.

Here is the official statement from Cisco.

To all of our CCIE Voice professionals. Here is a statement from Fred Weiller, Director of Marketing at Learning@Cisco:

"We are listening to the feedback from our valued CCIE community, and will be adjusting the CCIE Collaboration requirements. As a quick preview of the evolution of the CCIE Collaboration certification, a current holder of the CCIE Voice designation will now be able to migrate to a CCIE Collaboration credential by taking the CCIE Collaboration written exam only. We appreciate all of the great feedback and patience of the community while we update our webpages to reflect this change. We will be communicating further details about this modification as soon as possible."


I put together a new playlist on our All Access Pass geared toward helping those that have decided to study primarily with the new CCIE Collaboration in mind. What will be included in this playlist is primarily new technologies, specifically those that haven't yet been covered elsewhere in our CCIE Voice v3 products. As the weeks go on, I will continue to update this list with more and more videos covering new technologies in UC v9.1. Keep in mind that until I have this list complete with everything that is newer than UCM 7.x, that you can and should still study all of our CCIE Voice v3 products, as everything except for H.323 RAS/Gatekeeper will still be completely relevant and a very much needed base for your understanding. Once I complete this list, I will probably leave it up for those only wanting to learn the new stuff, like those of you that are already CCIE Voice v3 certified (if you certified on CCIE Voice v2 or v1, and haven't really used it in a while, you're going to want to watch all the material over again as quite a LOT changed from v2 to v3). Also, once I complete this playlist with all the new technologies, I will be recording a completely new top-to-bottom CCIE Collaboration Advanced Technologies Class, that will include everything. And of course, the workbook is being completely re-written as well in our new online format, which you can see a sample of here and here. This video playlist is meant to not only hold you over until then, but also to be able to release material to you in a timely, incremental fashion.

To start with, here is 4.5 hours of material on Call Control Discovery over Service Advertisement Framework (CCDoSAF). At a most basic description, this is dynamic routing of DNs over an enhanced, named instance of EIGRP. It is currently much more detailed and complex than ILS (a newer and much more scalable dynamic routing protocol built-in natively to UCM), but it is also currently far more powerful and allows for things like SRST integration for failover usage with PSTN Aliases, as well as cluster-to-cluster PSTN failover, should the primary SIP/H.323 trunk route go down. Cisco pushes ILS much more in production and it is getting much more support with UCM 10.x, but since the new lab tests on 9.x, and the fact that no CCIE Lab exam has ever been that much interested in real-world design --favoring complexity over ease of configuration and good design-- and the fact that it is very much on the new blueprint, I'd say you best get used to it now, even if it is going away. Also, I recorded these videos on a UCM v8.5 cluster, but that shouldn't matter as this feature hasn't changed since then.

The link for CCDoSAF on the UCM 9.1 Features and Services Guide can be found here.

The link for the playlist is here.

I start off with a general overview including a few slides just for concept, and then I move into hands-on demonstration of the following topic areas:

  • CUCM Inter-Cluster Call Routing
  • CUCM Call Routing with PSTN Failover
  • CUCM Call Routing during SRST Fallback
  • CUCM to CME Call Routing
  • Inter-Cluster RSVP via SIP Preconditions



We recognize that there is new content in the new CCIE Collaboration blueprint. We also recognize that a change to the name of CCIE Voice is long overdue. Furthermore, we recognize that there is about an 80% overlap in content, and only about 20% worth of new material. To this end, we will not be requiring our CCIE Voice v3 customers to re-purchase any CCIE Voice track materials when follow Cisco in rebranding it to CCIE Collaboration.

What this means is that if you have purchased any CCIE Voice v3 product such as a workbook or video course download, you will get all of the upgrades to that product, even when we rebrand the title of our products to CCIE Collaboration to stay in keeping with Cisco's new title. This goes for bootcamps as well, if you paid for and sat one our CCIE Voice v3 bootcamps, you are welcome to come back and re-sit for one of our CCIE Collaboration bootcamps just the same - in keeping with our Bootcamp Reseat Policy.


9 Months and counting to get your CCIE Voice v3 finished before CCIE Voice v4 --err, I mean before CCIE Collaboration-- debuts.


See this newer blog entry before reading anything in this current post. Some of what's below is accurate, but anything in this newer post usurps what may have been said here.


Overwhelmingly, the question I have been asked over and over again in the short time since this was announced is: "If I get the CCIE Voice certification, will I lose it come February when the new CCIE Collaboration debuts?". In short, No, you will not lose your CCIE Voice. Once you obtain the CCIE Voice certification, then provided that you maintain any CCIE Written exam every two years, you will still be called a CCIE Voice. If you take and pass both, then you will in fact be a double CCIE.


So we finally have our answer. Those of us who are already CCIE Voice - we are not grandfathered in as CCIE Collaboration. CCIE Collaboration is a completely new CCIE track. Voice had a good 10 year run. Now it's time to get busy and move on with the new CCIE that's in town. At least that is what Cisco is telling us. It actually makes very little sense why they have done this. The hardware blueprint is almost identical, with a few slight enhancements. Testing days don't overlap. Cisco even calls it CCIE Voice v4 on a few docs. Why the full retirement vs. a simple name change is beyond me. CCIE R&S has gone through massive changes over the 20 years it's been out (next year) -it clearly looks nothing like it did in 1994- and it's still called the CCIE R&S. Security as well. CCIE Communications and Services looks nothing like the CCIE Service Provider of today, but a simple name change sufficed in that case. At any rate, let's take a look as to what has changed.

Perhaps the most sought after link as to "What if I take the ABC Written Exam, but the XZY Lab Exam - what will I be called?", can be found here. One of the things it tells us is this:

"A candidate can use either the CCIE Voice or CCIE Collaboration written exam as part of a CCIE Collaboration certification. If a candidate passes either the CCIE Voice written exam or the CCIE Collaboration written exam, combined with the CCIE Collaboration lab exam, they will attain a CCIE Collaboration certification." However, this does clearly tell us that you must actually pass the CCIE Collaboration lab exam to obtain the title of "CCIE Collaboration".

Last days to test

CCIE Voice
The last day to take the CCIE Voice Written exam is November 20, 2013.
The last day to take the CCIE Voice Lab exam is February 13, 2014.

CCIE Collaboration
The CCIE Collaboration Written exam availability begins November 21, 2013.
The CCIE Collaboration Lab exam availability begins February 14, 2014.


Frequently Asked Questions regarding this new certification and any possible upgrade path can be found here.


Syllabus and some general info can be found here.

Written Exam Topics

Written Exam topics can be found here.

Lab Exam Topics

Lab Exam topics are extensive but not very revolutionary from CCIE v3, and can be found here.

What's New?

As expected, Video. 9971 phones with USB-cam sled. Telepresence Movi, albeit in the cloud (candidate doesn't have to configure). URI Dialing and ILS as expected. SAF via CCD (dynamic DN routing via EIGRP), something that is incredibly useful even if not often deployed. Cross-Cluster Extension Mobility presents an obvious need for at least two full UCM clusters. No word on SME, but that doesn't mean they can't test you on it - as it's just another UCM cluster (and nothing to be afraid of). SIP pre-conditions such as for RSVP which falls right in line with SAF/CCD and which INE has plenty of content on already. Clearly Presence will have Inter-Federation - probably with WebEx, although they could have a Microsoft Lync cluster in the cloud/backbone that you would simply have to interface with. We know that there is no more H.323 Gatekeeper, and no more possibility of T1/E1 CAS, as we see in this Cisco document.

Lab Hardware and Software

Hardware hasn't changed too, too much from CCIE Voice. In fact, from looking at it, you'd wonder if it isn't mostly the same. Still has Frame Relay interfaces, which is crazy. Video phones such as 9971. Telepresence with Movi (ehem, Cisco Jabber Video for Cisco Telepresence) in the backbone. UC on UCS as expected.

CCIE Collaboration Lab Equipment and Software List
Lab Equipment:
Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) C460 Rack Server
Cisco 3925 Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2)
Cisco 2921 Integrated Services Routers Generation 2 (ISR G2)
ISR G2 Modules and Interface Cards
- 1-Port 3rd Gen Multiflex Trunk Voice/WAN Int. Cards - T1/E1
- Cisco High-Density Packet Voice Digital Signal Processor Modules (PVDM3)
- Cisco Service Ready Module 710 Service Module with Cisco Unity Express
- 4-port Cisco Gigabit EtherSwitch 10/100/1000BASE-TX autosensing EHWIC with POE
Cisco Catalyst 3750-X Series Switch
Cisco Unified IP Phones 7965 and 9971
Cisco Jabber for Windows
Cisco Jabber Video for Cisco Telepresence*
*In backbone, no candidate configuration required

Software Versions:
Any major software release which has been generally available for six months is eligible for testing in the CCIE Voice Lab Exam.
Cisco Unified Communications Manager 9.1
Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express 9.1
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express 9.0
Cisco Unified Communications Manager IM and Presence 9.1
Cisco Unity Connection 9.1
Cisco Unity Express 8.6
All routers use IOS version 15.2(4) M Train
Cisco Catalyst 3750 Series Switches uses 15.0(2) Main Train

Network Interfaces:
Fast Ethernet
Frame Relay

Telephony Interfaces:

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