Jul
14

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.

Highlights

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

Let's Unpack This a Bit More

Firstly, if I could sum up our entire conversation into one, clear theme, it would be "Protecting the Integrity of the CCIE Program". Indeed, both Yusuf and Ben clearly stated that central theme was the primary guiding principle behind every meeting they have regarding any aspect of the program, every planning session for the future of the program, and every decision made to add, remove and/or change anything in any of the tracks.

The main focus is to ensure that candidates who are attempting the lab exams are what Cisco is certifying them as: Experts. To ensure that no one is able to memorize any aspect of the exam, and to make sure that those of us that are teaching these potential candidates about the technologies involved, are in fact teaching our students everything they need to know about a given group of technologies necessary to become a true expert - something INE has always worked incredibly hard to do. This focus (and the changes it will affect) implicitly deals with the problems that have arisen in the past with a small minority of people who dishonestly try just to memorize parts of the exam, as well as companies who blatantly cater to that small minority by attempting to gain access to a given exam and publish entire exams, or even parts of them.

Now, this has always been a driving focus for the program, however they realized that while some of their efforts in the past to this end have been successful, that many also may not have succeeded in the manor in which they had intended for them to. Case in point: Core Knowledge/Open-Ended Questions (and their complete removal from all tracks). Another attempt at this from long ago -and still in place but soon to possibly change- was the 'detailed score report' (or shall I say 'lack' of detail in the score report). More on that last bit in a moment.

Upcoming Changes to Every Lab

So, onto the specifics of how they plan to accomplish this. With no definites given as to exactly how or when the implementation of any of these initiatives would be implemented, some things were quite frank and very clearly stated. They talked about how their lab grading engine has been in use for some time now, and has reached quite a mature level with it's results-based scoring (both terms of it's accuracy as well as it's modularity). Now would be remiss if I didn't take a quick aside to say when I mention that it has reached a high level of accuracy, some might immediately jump to the conclusion that it wasn't accurate before, and that might have been the reason for their failed attempt. Just to quell those fears, a (human) proctor has always, and will continue to look over and verify a candidate's lab and scripted grading results before issuing the final grade. Now with the fact that the engine grades based on results-based testing (and not on any specific commands input into the configuration), as well as the key point that it is extremely modular (due to it's structured XML nature), any given task can be tested in the same way, however worded in 10-15 different ways on different iterations of any given lab exam. This leads naturally to the ability for them to have upwards of 25 or 50 labs in rotation at any given time for any given CCIE track and blueprint, which makes it nearly imposible for anyone to actually memorize any/all of the questions or versions of lab exams. Thus making those that pass, truly validated as experts. They spoke of a sort-of heuristic logic woven into all of the task wording to accomplish this. Also talked a lot about was how troubleshooting was one of the best things that they added (added 'back' I should say, since it used to be there in the 2-day exam). So look for that to not only continue, but permeate its way through more exams in more ways. No mention was specifically made as to whether any other track outside of R/S would go to the same sort of segregated TS section that it utilizes - so it may happen, it may not. Just have to wait and see.

They have been developing towards this goal for some time now, they know exactly how they will carry it out (however to disseminate that specific knowledge would be completely counter-intuitive to the very idea of integrity protection - so anyone telling you they 'know' how it's being done clearly doesn't know what they are talking about). They mentioned that it will be occurring soon, though when exactly won't ever be known or disclosed, and it won't be necessary to 'announce' it per-se, since it won't require the upgrade/change of any hardware/software or technology-specific topics.

All of what we've talked about up till this point, this obviously doesn't negatively impact any of our readers here, as you all are true learners, true knowledge-seekers - those who wish to not only know, but to truly understand (to paraphrase Einstein, if I may). However, it may have some positive implications that you have not yet considered. Aside from the obvious fact that it preserves the integrity of the prestigious certification that you have (and continue to) worked so diligently towards achieving, another possible benefit from this is that since the CCIE program has/will-have this new ability to have so many exams in rotation (and thus exponentially-if-not-entirely reducing the possibility of memorization of tasks), they can relax a bit on their very ambiguous failed score reports. For those of you who are not yet aware, while some candidates pass on their first attempt, most do not. In fact the average (very loose average) is roughly 2-3 attempts at any given CCIE lab before a 'Pass' is awarded, and you only receive a broken down score report if you fail - if you pass you simply receive a 'PASS' (and frankly, you don't care that you didn't receive a report). Now they didn't state for certain that this would in fact occur (more detailed reports), but they did indicate that it was being discussed internally as a strong possibility - since the grading engine obviously reports back in extreme detail - although he (Yusuf) said it would never include specifically which tasks you got right vs wrong. However, he did also mention that the purpose of the CCIE Program is not to train candidates or provide feedback - it is to test them. It is the responsibility of us, the CCIE training providers, to not only teach, but pre-test and provide accurate feedback to students before they make the actual journey to the Lab and truly become candidates for admission into the prestigious certification that is the CCIE. That by the way, is something that INE is committed to, and indeed already provides more than adequate resources for CCIE R/S, and will soon be adding for the CCIE Voice as well (more on that later).

Another one of the initiatives of the program is to make it much more widely accesible to everyone, everywhere. This was the impetus behind the original idea of having the lab able to be taken from any Prometric/Vue testing center. But Vue wasn't really ready to handle the stringent requirements, and thus the attempt didn't ultimately succeed. Then came the CCIE Mobile Testing Labs. Those worked. Well. Really well in fact. And now the push is to make every single track able to be tested in that same mobile fashion. However, there are a few challenges to overcome first, before that can become a reality. Take CCIE Voice for instance - in order for the Voice lab to become truly mobile, everything has to be ported to Cisco's CCIE Lab Delivery System (where everything: the tasks, the desktop for CLI/GUI, etc. are all completely virtualized). This means the phones themselves as well. Softphones won't do. They don't behave at all like hardware phones. So they are working on creating a completely virtualized hardware-like phone, that behaves exactly like a hardware phone (but doesn't remotely control one). When they get that completed, then you will begin to see the Voice lab become available in the mobile testing centers (along with every other lab once their similar challenges are met).

One last thing I asked Yusuf about regarding specifically the CCIE Voice lab exam, was why they hadn't yet allowed for re-reads (the ability that, if you fail an exam but think you should have passed, you can pay $300 USD to have your lab re-graded manually). He mentioned that since the overall percentage since they began offering that option was so extremely low of those who request a re-read actually results in a grade being overturned (we're talking like 1 out of every 5,000), not to mention that that number has dropped even more with results-based scripted grading, that the focus was not to add more of that unnecessary burden on the already taxed proctors, but to reduce it. So while he didn't provide any guidance on when (if ever) they will completely eliminate that practice from the other tracks (R/S, Sec, SP), he did say that the focus is on removing that option from those tracks vs. adding that option to other tracks (Voice, WiFi, Storage).

CCIE Voice

There was a very interesting breakout session this year entitled "CCIE Voice: Cryptography in Cisco Unified Communications", which inevitably led to the question by participants: "If this class is prefaced by the title 'CCIE Voice', does this mean that Cryptography/Security is going to begin being tested in the lab exam?". The answer to this when asked by the attendee and then later in a bit more detail by me was answered with the basic answer of (and I'll paraphrase): "This has been tested in the written exam for some time now, however there is absolutely nothing stopping us from testing this in the lab today with version 7 of the various UC platform servers, and obviously no problem testing it moving forward to UC version 8 (or 9, etc), as even more security has been added to the new version of UC platforms".

Of course, in the main CCIE Voice 8-hour Technical Seminar, the question was asked by some participants (as well as by me in more detail later in private) when we might anticipate the Voice lab being updated to UC platform version 8.x (or beyond, if FCS'd for better than 6 months by time of announcement), to which Ben gave no real guidance publicly, yet in private alluded to (reverting back to our previous mention in this blog post) the desire to virtualize the hardware phones and deliver the exam with the new virtual Lab Delivery System, so that they could support the mobile labs.

Now of course 8.x has been in production for well over a year now in many networks around the globe, but 9.x doesn't FCS (First Customer Ship) until April '12, meaning that they could possibly update the lab to UC platform version 8 anytime (with a standard 6-month pre-announcement of course), but to update to version 9 would mean that they couldn't even announce a new lab based on that version until Oct '12, with it going live around Apr '13 at the earliest. I have no idea at all which they will end up doing, and from talking with Ben, he made it seem like they hadn't reached an internal decision yet either. In fact it probably will largely depend on how quickly they get that virtualized hardware-like phone put into production in all reality.

Either way, it doesn't really matter. INE has you covered. The major new things in CUCM ver 8.x that can be tested are the following:

  • Call Control Discovery over the new Services Advertisement Framework (CCD / SAF) with RSVP SIP Preconditions
  • Extension Mobility Cross Cluster (EMCC)
  • SIP Normalization using the Lua scripting language

They can't really test the Intercompany Media Engine (IME) - it's just not technically possible. EMCC is easy, and within the day of them announcing this being tested I'll have a minimum 2-hour video ready. I already have over 4 hours recorded on every aspect of CCD over SAF and another half hour of the RSVP with SIP Preconditions in our new CCNP Voice product (which should be posted to our CDN in about a week). SIP Normalization with Lua -- eewww -- let's hope they don't test you on it - but either way, we'll have a video for you the week they announce it.

There are way too many small new features in UC 9.x to list here, -- I'll do a post covering those in the not-too-distant future, but needless to say, it won't be hard to add content to what we have to cover it. The best news is that everything you are studying today, is 100% completely relevant to any new version of the lab that could be announced, whenever they decide to do so -- so don't loose an moment of sleep over a possible upgrade -- you'll be 98% ready anyhow.

As for the possible testing of Cryptography/Security, I will be adding labs to our Volume II Workbook here in the upcoming month, with at least one of which will specifically address this topic. Our racks will allow you to test those features related to security to coincide with the release of that lab.

CCIE Data Center

Now, onto Data Center. Data Center was easily, hands-down, the single largest topic discussed at this year's Cisco Live! event. Not to mention that VMware timed the announcement of version 5 of their suite of virtualization products (including vSphere, vCenter Site Recovery Manager, vSphere Storage Appliance, and vCenter Heartbeat Center) to be exactly 1 hour prior to (and thus ending with the beginning of) John Chamber's Keynote address at Cisco Live!.

But here's how everything relates to the CCIE program. It was very clear that the CCIE Storage is going to become the CCIE Data Center. In fact, aside from that being very clearly stated, the breakout this year was entitled: "Cisco Data Center/Storage Certification". It was stated that the following would be what comprised the new CCIE DC.

Written exam will include (this is their wording copied verbatim):

 

  • Revised Smaller version of the existing SAN Track blueprint
    • MDS device operation, Advanced FC Features, SAN extension & switch Interop
    • SAN Management will be integrated in the new overall DC management
  • In addition to new topics to include:
    • Basic Data Center L3 topology
    • Data Center Access Layer deployment
      • L2, vPC, Fabric Multipathing, QoS
      • Virtualization
      • Unified I/O, FCoE , DCBX
    • Unified Computing System (UCS)
    • Load Balancing techniques and algorithms
    • Branch WAN Acceleration
    • Data Center Management

Lab exam will look like this (this is their wording copied verbatim):

  • MDS will remain in the lab as well as 3rd party FC switches
  • We will consider adding DC solutions and technologies that can be deployed on the following Cisco Products:
    • MDS SAN Switches
    • Nexus 7000, 5000 and 2000
    • Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS)
    • Application Control Engine (ACE)
    • Global Site Selector (GSS) in case of DR scenario
    • Wide Area Application Services (WAAS)
    • Data Center Management for both LAN & SAN
    • Virtualization with Nexus 1000v

Of all those things that can be tested, the most obvious ones that would almost have to be included are the Nexus line of DC switches and the UCS blade servers, complete with Fabric Interconnects and Virtual Interface Cards. So those are the things that INE will begin immediately to record video-based lessons on, adding them to our All Access Pass. Guidance wasn't provided on exactly when this track might go into live testing, though sources tell us that we may be less than 12 months away from it going live. Watch this blog for announcements soon on when you might expect the first of those Nexus and UCS training videos. Storage wasn't big. Data Center is already huge. The CCIE Data Center is going to be as well.

UPDATE

I mentioned above two things that I forgot to include, so I will add them in here.

First off I mentioned that we will be adding graded mock labs to the Voice track. Please email me directly if you would be interested in participating in a graded mock lab. It would involve using a dedicated rack for 8.5 hours (8 hours for config and .5 for lunch, just like the real lab) with basic minimal access to the proctor (myself) for basic question clarification, but no real assistance (again, just like the real lab).

Second thing was the reasoning behind the removal of the CCIE stats page from cisco.com. This might sound like a strange reason - I thought so, but after listening to Yusuf talk a bit more about it, it did make good sense in the end. The reason was completely centered around the fact that when one updates his/her cisco.com testing profile with the proper home mailing address, and most importantly home country, and then takes and passes any CCIE exam, his/her CCIE number is forever associated with that country. The problem was, people didn't always stay in that country. They sometimes moved, as is a reasonable assumption. However, the CCIE stats page wasn't designed as a synchronous page that would do a real-time DB lookup each time it was loaded, and so it would always report X number of CCIEs in X country. Yusuf used himself as an example. He's from Pakistan, and so his CCIE was basically 'registered' there (at least so far as that stats page went). Problem is, he moved to Australia for a number of years, but according to that stats page, his CCIE was still in Pakistan. Then he moved to Dubai in the UAE. CCIE? Still in Pakistan. So why should any of that matter? Well, to you and me - it might not. However, when a Cisco Partner in Pakistan (just continuing our example of Yusuf) is told by their Channels team: "You must have 4 CCIEs to become a Gold Partner" (or CCDE's, they count now too for that metric), and maybe the parter reports back: "But there aren't enough CCIEs in Pakistan to accomplish that!", the Cisco Channels team would just pull up that stats page, point to it and show the Partner and say: "Yes there are, see here?" (Again, Pakistan is just an example country, I have no idea how many CCIE/CCDEs there are there, so please don't think I'm being partial for/against that or any other country in any way - nothing is implied). It actually became a very, very big issue with Channels and Partner certifications. And Cisco is a large organization. If any of you have worked for one, you know that a team like the CCIE program has nothing to do with web page programming - that's a completely different part of the business. And to get something changed there requires a requisition to be submitted, go through various levels of approval, and finally implementation. And believe it or not, it took about 4 months for that process to occur, and by the time the implementation of it was being carried out (the removal of that page off of cisco.com), it truly just happened to coincide with a period just following a CCIE R/S change that was resulting in less people passing the lab at that specific point in time. Yusuf stated that it couldn't have been worse timing, however it truly was purely coincidental. He also mentioned that - yes, for a period of time after any type of a change to any lab track, there is always a fall-off in the number of CCIEs awarded for that track, but then it always picks back up. This is perfectly natural for any type of change for a number of reasons. 1) People stop booking a given lab en-masse right after a new version is announced - their basically afraid of what they don't know (aren't we all to some degree?). 2) If you sit a brand new lab version, and have no idea what to expect, you might be thrown for a bit of a loop, and therefore loose a bit of time you would expect to be productive during that lab attempt. By the way, this doesn't have to be. Take a bootcamp course from veterans of the lab such as Brian & Brian (and possibly counting myself as a veteran at this point, I guess I'm getting up there in years :-), my first lab attempt was in '02, so I'm going on 10 years next year .... wow -- although Brian Dennis has his 15 year anniversary coming up in just a few months!), and anyway, you'll be prepared no matter what they throw at you, and there will be no need for you to be counted in with the stats of people that 'don't know what to expect after a new version change'. Anyway, he finally mentioned that while Cisco doesn't (and won't) publish the exact statistics of CCIE Pass/Fail, if you look at the overall average number of passing scores over the life of any blueprint version, those numbers have always been, and will continue to keep trending upward.

----------------------

Well, that's about all I can think of at the moment. I just finished a long flight from Las Vegas to Minneapolis sitting next to Louie Anderson, and to be honest, I'm not sure how I got any writing done. That guy's funny. I need to see him next time I hit the strip.

-Mark

Nov
05

Today my WikiHow of the Day was none other than - How to Study for an Approaching Exam. What an appropriate topic as I peered from my laptop onto the sold-out Tampa 12-day Bootcamp students that were all wrestling with a brutal IPv4 Multicast scenario.

I thought I would share the tips in this WikiHow with our blog readers, and try and tailor it for the CCIE R&S Lab Exam specifically. I hope you enjoy, and can tailor a couple of these to benefit yourself in your own preparation.

Step 1 - Calm down. Yes, that's right, relax. As I talk about in "Secrets" to Version 4 Success, the proper psychology can have a lot to do with whether you pass or fail. Keep focusing on the fact that you might fail, and that makes the possibility all the more real.

Step 2 - Determine what material needs to be covered. Well this is certainly easy for us - we have the Expanded Study Blueprint to guide us!

Step 3 - Make a study plan. Some students make the plan real rough - others like to get down to a very high level of detail for each study session. Consider using tools to help you like MS Outlook, MS Project, etc. Notice that Petr just outlined a study plan for Version 4 customers in a recent blog post.

Step 4 - Figure out your study methods. For some students, they love tools like SimpleMindX and SuperMemo, other students find them a waste of time. Some students prefer learning by our many videos, other students prefer to read workbooks. It is imperative that you find the methods that work best for you in your learning, and stick to those.

Step 5 - Take notes and ask questions. We can always learn so much from our peers that have gone before us, and those that are currently on the journey with us. Check out the IEOC when you have a chance and examine some of the threads there.

Step 6 - Find your resources. OK, we all know where those are...www.ine.com, but...if you purchased EVERY single item we sell for R&S, you would never be able to go through it all. Be sure to use your instructors and sales contacts to obtain the resources that are perfect for your needs.

Step 7 - Ask for help. Forums, your instructors, your sales reps - be sure to speak up.

Step 8 - Memorize as much as possible. Sure the DOC-CD is there in the lab; is is even available in the Troubleshooting section. But how much time are you going to have to use that resource when you only have about 10 minutes per Trouble Ticket?

Step 9 - Sneak in study time. Why do doctors always have to make me wait about 30 minutes before I am examined? Well, I will be ready the next time. I will have my iPad handy and I will get in a great Tier 1 study session on some new technology!

Step 10 - Reward yourself. "If I make it through Vol 1 QoS this week, I will take a day off with the family and enjoy no thoughts of CCIE!"

Step 11 - Organize yourself for the test. For me personally, I needed snack items to eat and my own beverages that were caffeine free. Be sure to plan for this during your exam.

Step 12 - Eat properly.

Step 13 - Get some sleep before the big day. You have taken an INE Graded Mock Lab and scored very well. You know you are ready for this Cisco "Mock Lab". There is no reason to lose sleep! You will pass this thing.

Step 14 - Turn up ready for the test. We have had some recent horror stories of hotel shuttle and tax drivers getting lost trying to find the testing center. Be sure to arrive at your testing destination a day early and go find the exact building you test in. Also, be sure you are completely aware of the actual arrival and start time for your facility. Those times have been known to change since your last visit.

Jul
19

The author and poet Maya Angelou said "Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.". Well that is certainly what we have attempted to do with the CCIE Voice Deep Dive self-paced Class on Demand series - that is to bring the human instructional voice element to infuse deeper meaning to what is already fantastic Cisco Documentation. Anyone that has set out and determined to undertake the task of studying for and ultimately passing any CCIE Lab exam, knows that at some point during your studies, the words on paper (Cisco Docs, RFCs, books) - while a absolute phenomenal source of information - can at times seem to loose their impact. Perhaps you have been studying too long, read one too many docs, have the time pressure of your family and friends waiting for you to return to be a part of their life, or perhaps you are just starting out on your adventure and don't know where to begin. Whatever stage you are at or whatever the case may be, it is certainly helpful to have a tutor and mentor there beside you at times, assisting you in understanding what each complex technology's documentation is trying to teach you, in possibly a deeper and more insightful way than you can manage on your own.

Wait no longer for such help to arrive! INE is happy to announce that each Live-Online Deep Dive course that we have taught has been recorded, and you have the ability to access these extensive repositories of knowledge at any time.

Here are a couple of great demo's of just a portion of the latest Deep Dive session we held on Globalization & Localization in order to whet your appetite:

Demo 1: Globalization Prezi - Theory and Reasons

Demo 2: Inbound Calling Party Localization

For each complex topic we have held -- or will soon hold (listings to follow below) -- a separate online class where we dive down deep and explore all the concepts, practical application and troubleshooting associated with each technology topic. We then allow you to purchase each module individually (if you like) so that you can either try small sections of the product, or so that those who only need to plug in small gaps of knowledge can do so at a very deep, intense level - either one without committing to purchase the entire product series.

The general format for each Class-on-Demand Deep Dive module spends between 4-7 hours on the given topic for that day, and during that time follows this outlined training methodology:

  • Collectively discuss and teach all concepts involved in the technology
  • Whiteboard concepts to further deepen every participant's understanding
  • Define a specific set of tasks to be accomplished
  • Demonstrate how the tasks and concepts are implemented and properly configured
  • Test the configuration thoroughly
  • Vary the configuration to understand how different permutations effect the outcome
  • Debug and trace the working configuration to understand what should be seen
  • Break the configuration and troubleshoot with debugs and traces to contrast from the working set

Thus far, we have held 10 online sessions - each with a median recorded runtime of 6 hours. We have almost 60 hours of Class on Demand content, and we've only just begun! We conservatively estimate that by the time we complete our more than 30 planned modules, that we will have at over 200 hours of Deep Dive recordings.

Below is a detailed index from the 10 currently available sessions:

Module 1 :: Network Infrastructure with LAN Quality of Service

  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Classification and Marking
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Conditional Trust
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Ingress Interface Mapping
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Ingress Interface Queuing
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Ingress Interface Expedite Queue
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 L2 CoS to L3 DSCP Mapping
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Egress Interface Mapping
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Egress Interface Queuing
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Interface Queue Memory Allocation
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Egress Queue-Set Templates
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Weighted Tail Drop (WTD) Buffer Allocation
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Egress Interface Expedite Queue
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Egress Interface Sharing
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Egress Interface Shaping
  • Catalyst 3560/3750 Scavenger Traffic Policing

Module 02 :: CUOS GUI and CLI Admin

  • CUCM WebUI: Service Activation and Stop/Start/Reset
  • CUCM WebUI: Bulk Administration Tool (Import/Export, Phone Reports, etc)
  • CUCM WebUI: DB Replication Status
  • CUCM WebUI: Trace Files
  • CUOS CLU: TFTP Files Management
  • CUOS CLU: Status and Hostname
  • CUOS CLU: DB Replication Assurance
  • CUOS CLU: DB Replication Repair and Cluster Reset
  • CUOS CLU: Trace Files
  • CUOS CLU: RIS DB Search
  • CUOS CLU: Performance Monitor (PerfMon)
  • RTMT: Trace Files
  • RTMT: Performance Monitor (PerfMon)

Module 03 :: CUCM System and Phone - SCCP and SIP Fundamentals

  • CUCM Services
  • UC Servers and Groups
  • Date/Time with NTP Reference
  • Regions and Codecs
  • Location-Based Call Admission Control
  • SRST References
  • Device Pools
  • System Parameters
  • Enterprise Parameters
  • Phone Button Templates
  • Softkey Templates
  • SCCP Phone Basics
  • SIP Phone Basics

Module 04 :: Users, Credentials, Multi-Level Roles and LDAP Internetworking

  • CUCM User Credentials and Policies
  • LDAP Synchronization for CUCM and Unity Connection
  • LDAP Authentication for CUCM and Unity Connection
  • CUCM End Users
  • CUCM User Roles
  • CUCM Multi-Level Administration
  • CUCM Device/Phone/Line User Association
  • UCCX and CUP Basic Users

Module 05 :: Call Features - In-Depth

  • SCCP and SIP Phone Display
  • Phone Firmware
  • Phone Logging
  • Ring Settings
  • Basic and Advanced Call Forwarding Display
  • Auto-Answer Options
  • CallBack (Camp-On)
  • Intercom
  • Advanced Call Hold Options
  • Call Park
  • Directed Call Park
  • Advanced Call Park Settings
  • Call Pickup
  • Group Call Pickup
  • Other Call Pickup
  • Directed Call Pickup
  • Call Pickup Attributes
  • Shared Line
  • Barge and cBarge (Conference Barge)
  • Privacy
  • Built-In IP Phone Bridge

Module 06 :: Media Resources - MTPs, Conf Bridges, Annunciator and Music on Hold

  • IOS Software MTP
  • IOS Conference Bridge
  • IOS Transcoding
  • Media Preference and Redundancy
  • Meet-Me Conferencing
  • Ad-Hoc Conferencing
  • Annunciator
  • Unicast Music on Hold
  • Traditional Multicast Music on Hold
  • Alternate Multicast Music on Hold

Module 07 :: Expert Gateways & Trunks

  • ISDN Switch Types and Advanced CNAM options
  • ISDN Information Elements
  • SIP Trunks - Fundamental and Advanced Options
  • H.323 Gateways - Fundamental and Advanced Options
  • MGCP Gateways - Fundamental and Advanced Options

Module 08 :: Expert H.323 Gatekeeper

  • 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

Module 09 :: Dial Plan - Line Device Approach and the Not-So-Basic Fundamentals

  • Class of Service: Calling Search Spaces and Partitions
  • Gateways, Route Groups, Local Route Groups/Device Pools
  • Route Lists and Standard Local Route Groups
  • Route Patterns and Translation Patterns
  • Digit Manipulation: Calling & Called Party Transformations and IOS Dial Peers
  • Private Line Automatic Ringdown (PLAR)

Module 10 :: Dial Plan - Globalization & Localization of both the Calling and the Called Numbers, and with Mapping the Global Number to the Local Variant

  • Inbound PSTN Calls (Ingress from PSTN, Egress to Phones): Calling Party Globalization :: GW Incoming Calling Party Settings
  • Inbound PSTN Calls (Ingress from PSTN, Egress to Phones): Calling Party Localization :: Phone Calling Party Transformations
  • Outbound PSTN Calls (Ingress from Phones, Egress to PSTN): Called Party Globalization :: PSTN Patterns - a.k.a. "Translation Patterns are the *New* Route Patterns"
  • Outbound PSTN Calls (Ingress from Phones, Egress to PSTN): Called Party Localization :: Digit Manipulation: Calling & Called Party Transformations and IOS Voice Translation Rules & Dial Peers
  • Mapping the Global Number to the Local Variant :: + Dialing and One-Button Missed Call DialBack

So stay tuned to this blog as we will shortly post the upcoming modules soon to be held online and recorded.

Jul
07

RFC, or Request for Comments, are documents published that describe various items surrounding computer networking. Generally, these are memorandums published by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

RFCs can be a great resource. For some unknown reason, most candidates preparing for the CCIE don't take the time to review these documents, which can be very helpful in assisting with understanding the how and why of various networking components. Perhaps the language is a bit dry, or they prefer books with shiny covers.


There are a variety of status classifications. These include, but are not limited to: standards, informational, best current practices. Some are very serious discussions of the deep inner workings, where others are just there for entertainment, such as RFC 1149 and 2549.

If you aren't sure whether a RFC is intended to be serious or entertainment, check the date. If it was one from 1 April of any year, most likely it falls into the category of entertainment.

http://www.rfc-archive.org/1+april+rfc.php

Language is included to define how an item is intended to behave. RFC 2119 lists some of these requirements. Requirements are shown capitalized, and include the following: MUST, MUST NOT, SHOULD, SHOULD NOT, MAY, RECOMMENDED, NOT RECOMMENDED, OPTIONAL.

RFCs are not a "magic bullet" for lab preparation. Most students that are familiar with RFCs tend to be more comfortable with the technologies discussed.

RFCs can be viewed online at a number of sites, including the following:

http://www.ietf.org/rfc.html

http://www.rfc-editor.org/

Most search engines will also give you results for RFCs by number or topic.

Quick quiz.

Four questions on RFCs that most people are generally familiar with. Questions are True or False, and the answers can be found fairly quickly, if you know where to look.

T or F
RFC 3330, which describes Special Use IPv4 Addresses, is obsolete.

T or F
RFC 1812, which discusses requirements for IPv4 Routers, states that subnet bits MUST be contiguous.

T or F
RFC 2827 discusses ingress filtering mechanisms, including the effects of multihoming.

T or F
RFC 1918 does not address security issues.

How did you do? Two of these are true and two are false. If you got all four correct, congratulations. If you've never heard of these RFCs, perhaps it is time to do some additional reading.

Bonus Question:

True or False:
Neither Cisco nor Juniper devices are compliant with RFC 5841.

Jun
21

Join us Friday, June 25th at 11AM Pacific / 2PM Eastern for another installment in the Open Lecture Series.

The topic that will be covered is Privilege Levels and Role Based CLI.

We look forward to seeing you there. Seats are limited.

May
15

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:

CIMG0935

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.

Soon after high school, I had a choice to make, going to college or going for IT certifications. I always liked networking and fixing computers. Even as a kid, people used to come and get me at home to fix their computers and printers.  At that time, college was a very long road (4 years) for me. With the support of my dad, who also had to approve, I decided to go back home and learn networking. Since Senegal is a French speaking country, it was hard for me to find the right course taught by the right people. Since I left the country 3 years ago, I almost forgot all my French believe it or not because I did not speak it for so long.

In 2002, I was able to find a networking academy in Ghana that was run by one of my dad's friend .When he offered to take me, I did not even hesitate. I went to Ghana. The CCNA was 8 months long but I did it in 4 months and I got my CCNA. What a great feeling it was. I went back home and decided to go straight for the CCNP. With that in mind, I came back to the US bought me 3 routers and 2 switches and went back home.  I started my CCNP in November 2002 and finished it in July 2003, 8 months to pass the 4 exams.

While I was preparing for my CCNP, I created my company and started for working for myself and I have ever since. I worked with many companies in Africa, accumulated as much experience as I could. My work involved routing, switching, and voice over IP. If there is one thing I have learned during that period it's that experience and hands-on is very important. I learned a lot about VoIP when I was representing Net2Phone in West Africa. I used to sell their devices and unlimited plans to residential customers and businesses to call to the US and Europe unlimited for $30/month. All you need is a DSL connection and I will set you up the same day.

In 2007, I decided to go back to studying. Why? Because knowledge is never enough. It was very hard for me to restart studying. After being so long in the field I lost track of how to study properly. Since I did a lot of design for companies, I decided to go for the design track this track. I went back and got my CCDA then my CCDP.

I did not want to stop there. Why stop in such a good road? In 2008, I decided to go for the CCIE but I did not where to start. I goggled CCIE training and I had two choices, INE and IPExpert. I emailed both of them and guess who replied to me Brain McGahan himself. He put me in touch with sales, they hooked me up with a good discount and I took off for the CCIE. That's one of my best journeys so far in my career. I have learned so much it is just priceless. I passed the written in August 2008. I also bought me a rack just like iNE’s. Anyways I do not plan to top after the R&S, haven’t you seen Petr???

I was even lucky enough to win the first INE scholarship. I won the Bootcamp COD, and since I had the CCIE End-to-End package already, the sales team was kind enough to exchange it for $1000 worth of tokens. Man those guys rock!!!!!! I also took the Advanced Foundation Bootcamp in May 2009. It was an eye opener and I was able to gauge myself during that time.

In August 2009, I attempted the lab even though I knew that I was not ready but I had an opportunity so why not. Come to find out that I came pretty close to passing because the INE labs are way harder than the real lab. But I was not yet an expert so back to deep digging into protocols and IOS features and I have been doing that ever since.

I am heavily preparing for lab and I will make my next attempt in June. Also I am working with ARTP (our FFC) as a consultant to set an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) for Data and Voice in Senegal. Besides that I enjoy working out at the gym and watching movies.

Apr
07

OK my Open Lecture friends and family, it is time for us to get back to work in our highly detailed exploration of PfR/OER. Join us for the next installment in that ongoing series:

PfR/OER - Measure Phase - Friday, April 16th at 3 PM EST USA

Feb
27

Please join us in the following Live Open Lectures this week!

Tuesday, March 2, 2PM EST US - TCP Intercept Explored

Thursday, March 4, 2PM EST US - Troubleshooting Layer 2 - Catalysts

There was a problem with the recording of Troubleshooting Layer 2 - Catalysts last week, thus the "mulligan".

Enjoy the lectures everyone and we cannot wait to "see you" in class!

Feb
19

Friday, March 5, 2 PM EST US

Join our instructors in the Lab Meet-Up for Lab 4 of Volume 2 for the Version 4.0 exam.

You should not miss the valuable technology and strategy insights shared in this session using Lab 4 as a backdrop.

In this session, we will be giving away 100 Graded Labs Rack Rental Tokens for one lucky individual that submits a question about the lab via the live chat or email. Email your questions to labmeetup@ine.com.

Like Open Lectures, these sessions tend not to run over 2 hours in length. And also like Open Lectures, they are made available for On-Demand viewing immediately following the event.

 

Jan
20

Hello everyone,

We are excited to announce that our CCIE Voice Core Knowledge Simulator has been released! You can try out a sample here. So far, the first 100 questions have been released, and will be followed shortly by additional updates.

The simulation is designed to help prepare candidates for the newly added "open ended" section of the 3.0 Voice CCIE Lab Exam. This new section of the exam consists of four computer based, short-answer questions which candidates have 30 minutes to complete.

The simulator is designed to:

* Pinpoint your areas of weakness on Core Knowledge
* Provide study documents to improve in these weak areas
* Practice with question interpretation and your short-answer responses

Enjoy the questions, and as always, good luck with your studies!

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