As we reported last April, Cisco changed the CCIE Lab Exam retake policy to an exponential backoff, meaning that the more attempts you took at the lab the more time you had to wait between attempts.

In a sudden change of heart, today Cisco announced that they are reversing their policy change until at least December 31st 2015. Per Cisco:

"For a limited time, we will waive the current lab retake policy so that all lab candidates will be able to retest for their lab exam with only a 30-day wait period." "If you register for any CCIE lab exam between now and December 31, 2015, you will have the option of retaking the exam with only a 30-day wait regardless of the number of attempts you may have already made."

Frequently Asked Questions about the policy changes:

Q: Does this mean that between now and December 31, I can take the lab every 30 days?
A: Yes.

Q: Is the original policy back in place after December 31?
A: What happens after December 31 is dependent on the results of our research from now until that date.

Q: What does this mean if my current wait period is 90 days and I’m in the middle of the waiting period? Can I sign up now or do I have to continue to wait?
A: Yes, you can sign up now. You do not have to wait. The policy that is active at the time you schedule your lab will determine the time you have to wait. If you are beyond the 30-day wait period, you can book the earliest available seat you find.

Q: What if I’m already scheduled for a lab that I had to schedule out 90 days because of the original policy?
A: You will have the option to reschedule your lab attempt to an earlier date through the system.


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!



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).

Changes to CCIE Written Lab Exam

Next up are the changes to the CCIE Written exam. These changes are a bit more straightforward - wait time between failures increases from 5 days to 15 days, and you simply may not attempt the written exam more than 4 times in a single calendar year. Again, the changes can be seen in a screenshot from the same webinar.


The webinar discussed above can be found here, and it goes on to discuss a large number of other very interesting topics such as the new role of the Network Programability Engineer (SDN, OnePK, ACI/APIC) and the dedicated DevNet lounge that Cisco will have coming up in a few weeks at Cisco Live in San Francisco. Some other smaller changes are also announced in the webinar, such as the new re-scoring policy. The major changes announced above start around the 35 minute mark into the webinar. The re-scoring policy change pertains mainly to the new fact that a candidate may now pay $400USD to have any relevant output (show, debug, etc) obtained by scripts or by proctors during the grading of your CCIE lab exam (any CCIE lab) reviewed again to decide if they may possibly reverse your previous 'Fail' to a 'Pass'. This is different than the reread (which is still only available for the R&S and SP tracks at the cost of $600USD), whereby your full lab configurations are reloaded onto the relevant devices and the entire grading performed a second time. Also of interest and discussed in the webinar are the current policies of rescheduling labs both outside of the 90 days for free and also within the 90 day window for a small fee (if your credit card or wire transfer has already been processed).


The changes Cisco is making are done with one purpose in mind - namely to protect the integrity of the CCIE Program while maintaining that candidates apply themselves aptly in a rigorous manner leading up to their attempt at an examination. Anyone properly prepared, with a thorough understanding of every possible permutation of every technology listed in the blueprint for the track they are studying for, still has only to go and apply the technologies they've studied hard to learn, and expect success.


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?
A) Yes.

Q) Will I have to pay anything for get the new version 5 material?
A) No.

Q) I attended an R&S CCIE v4 bootcamp so can I resit a v5 bootcamp for free?
A) Yes.

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?
A) No.

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.


The R&S CCIE Volume 2 workbook has been ported to our new web format (see below). This format allows you to add bookmarks, add notes (both private and public notes) and ensures you always have the latest version. Additionally you can submit feedback directly to the Development and Editing teams from within workbook. We are also working on integrating our IEOC forum directly into the workbook and plan on having it available late October.

For the notes, we are currently implementing a rating system that will allow you to rate a public note posted by someone else. This will allow you to filter public notes that are not above a certain rating if desired. This new public notes feature will be really popular based on the feedback we have received from the beta testers. The R&S Volume 2 in the new web format will be released next week.

R&S Volume 3 workbook has been updated. This updated version will be available later this week in your members site account. This is the last major update to Volume 3 before it is retired and integrated into the new single R&Sv5 blueprint based workbook we are already developing.

Q - Will I automatically get the new workbook when its released next week if I have the current workbook?
A - Yes. The workbook will automatically show up in your members site account next week.

Q - Will I be able to view it offline?
A - Yes. A PDF version will automatically be generated when a change is made to the workbook.

Q - Can I view it on my tablet?
A - Yes the new format is pure HTML5 which is support by all modern tablet web browsers. This is the first step before we release it as an iPad/iPhone app and Android app. The tablet app will allow you to take the workbooks "offline" and still make notes, bookmarks, etc that will sync up when you get back online.

Q - Does this include new material?
A - We had to freeze any development while the workbook was ported to the web. Now that the workbook is up we'll start adding new content. We have 3 additional labs to add to the workbook now.

Lastly Volume I is currently being ported to the web and I'll release it in chunks as each section is finished. Currently the IP Routing section has been ported. I'm reviewing it before release and adding more PfR/OER labs.

R&S Online Workbook


Just a couple slides to show everyone from Cisco's OpenFlow presentation that looks interesting for just about everyone reading this post.

The CSR1000v is here now. IOS XR4U (XR VR) has been around for a while. Is vIOS IOU? How about vNXOS, is it Titanium or something new? Seems that vIOS will be IOU and vNXOS is Titanium.

From what I'm hearing this is being delivered as an "appliance". A web interface is used to deploy topologies simular to GNS3 and web IOU. The future looks bright!


News that everyone has been expecting eagerly: Effective May 10th Cisco is taking the core knowledge section off the CCIE R&S and Voice lab exams! Over a year of existence, this part of the exam received most controversy of all. There has been a lot of things said about how flawed the idea of core knowledge testing was. Firstly, a test of four questions could never properly assess anyone's knowledge. Secondly, error margin was unacceptable high due to vaguely presented questions and unclear grading procedure. Lastly, some recent promo actions that Cisco ran created a lot of controversy in the CCIE community. However, good or bad, it's all gone now, and this fact should be a huge relief for many CCIE candidates. The time that has been previosly allocated to OEQs is now reallocated to the Configuration section, so you now have extra 30 minutes of configuration time.

What next? Hopefully, Cisco has a plan to deal with those who failed Core Knowledge before that change, but passed the Configuration section. Also, we sincerely hope Cisco would introduce more "fine-grained" procedures to thwart brain-dumpers and preserve the exam integrity. Plus, we still have to see Troubleshooting added to SP and Security tracks and OEQ eliminated there as well. We shall see!

The official information could be found at the CCIE page: http://www.cisco.com/ccie


Today we announced that we are offering a free lab attempt if you spend $4995 or more with us this month. A few people have contacted our sales team with questions regarding this offer so I'll hopefully clarify the most common questions here.

Question: Do I need to have failed the lab once before I get this free?
Answer: No. We don't require you to fail before we'll cover your lab fee.

Question: If I use a payment plan for my purchase will I still qualify?
Answer: Yes. You will still qualify if you use a payment plan but you will not get your lab fee covered until you have completed the payment plan.

Question: Can I make two purchases of $4995 and get two lab attempts covered?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I use the 25% off coupon code for this?
Answer: This is where is can get a little complicated. You need to make a qualifying purchase of at least $4995 without the coupon code. If you want to say buy a one week BC for $3995, CCIE 2.0 Program, and 1000 tokens the best option is to break the purchase up into two transactions. Purchase the one week BC and the 1000 tokens in one transaction to qualify for the free lab and purchase the CCIE 2.0 in another transaction using the 25% off.


Hi Everyone,

we've got a fresh list of the folks (eigth people) who got their numbers last week! Here we go, hope their stories are inspiring!

  • Mihai Grigore CCIE# 25510 (R&S)
  • Daniel Koto CCIE# 25514 (R&S)
  • Jon Harald Bovre CCIE #25493 (Service Provider)
  • Rodolfo Beltran CCIE #25482 (R&S)
  • Mohamed El Henawy CCIE #25453 (R&S)
  • Chris Gray CCIE# 25527 (R&S)
  • Naga Sayeenathan CCIE# 25532 (R&S)
  • Prasanna Ramachandran CCIE# 25551 (Service Provider)

I just wanted to let you know that I got my CCIE R&S number yesterday in Brussels. My number is 25510. I started in early 2007 with the INE workbooks, complete set. At that time, it was still version 4.0. In the meantime version 5 came out. I also used a lot of rack time from INE in 12 hours sessions that started at 6:00AM until 17:30 local time due to the time zone difference. Then we moved to our own rack in the company premises and allowed me to work on it anytime and from anywhere, whenever I had time for this. I stopped counting how many weekends, vacation days I spent on this rack using the INE workbooks.

The last 6 weeks for me were doing the INE R&S WB Volume1 version 5. This is a great source of information, very well written, with lots of details. I cannot recommend it strongly enough! Peter's 400 pages QoS section (but not only) is simply amazing. I must say that all INE materials that I worked with is simply awesome!!!

I would like to thank INE for their products and great instructors. And I am glad to see that the team is growing with new expert names. Brians were great to listen on the CoD. I had to listen CoD 3 times in order to get ALL the details they talk about. Especially Scott, you were simply great during the boot camp last November in Reno!! Anthony was also special !!

All this helped me during my preparation.

Thank you again and all the best for you guys !

Best regards,

Mihai Grigore CCIE# 25510 (R&S)


I passed my CCIE Routing and Switching on 23rd of Sep 2009. Thanks for your awesome Dynamips workbooks that give me deep understanding
of the exam technologies.

Daniel Koto CCIE# 25514 (R&S)


Thanks a lot for the support and great materials and all the tips you put and all the information you put for free on your blog.

Mohamed El Henawy CCIE #25453 (R&S)


Thanks for the great training material it was the key for me in passing the lab

Chris Gray CCIE# 25527 (R&S)


I have passed the CCIE R&S Lab on 24th of Sep 2009 and would like to thank the folks at INE. I started with the 10-day COD and Vol1 & Vol2 workbooks and attended the Mock lab workshop a week prior to my exam. The Vol1 workbook scenarios were good and reflected all the sections in the cisco's official blueprint. Mock lab workshop helped me to develop my configuration speed, identify my weaknesses and build my confidence.
I would recommend INE to everybody who would like to achieve their CCIE certification.

Naga Sayeenathan CCIE# 25532 (R&S)


hi Scott and Team,

I cleared the CCIE SP lab in SJC on Friday Sep 25th. I will post my
best practices in the SP general forum for the benefit of the larger
team. I used Internetwork experts work books, but the real thing for
me was the bootcamp, which just zoomed up my intensity level. Thanks
for doing a great job on that and keeping it fun.

With 9 years of experience in the service provider arena, I think
this complements my resume real well.

Prasanna Ramachandran CCIE #25551

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