I’ve corresponded with Daniel on CLN and he was kind enough to answer some questions…
Daniel can be found here, http://lostintransit.se/ and on CLN
thanks for taking the time… we’ll start at the end game and work backwards… when did you get your numbers and on what attempt… what did you feel like? scott morris famously said that after his first ccie he realized how little he knew… how was it for you?
I got my numbers roughly 6 months ago on October 23rd 2012. It was my third attempt. In my 1st I didn’t pass either section and looking back I wasn’t really ready. The second time I felt really prepared and I passed the TS easily but the config I got too few points due to not verifying enough. In my 3rd everything came together and I knew leaving Brussels I had a really good shot. You just never know though.
When I landed in Gothenburg I checked my e-mail and saw an e-mail from Cisco. I rushed through the terminal and used my laptop to access the CCIE portal. I was so nervous. I finally saw PASS but thought it might be the written score but then I clicked it and there was my number 🙂
I was very happy of course but mostly relieved. I think my fiancee was more happy than I when I came home and told her the good news. Studying takes its toll on the family so she was happy to have me back and away from the studies.
i first noticed you quite some time ago over on INE… they’ve got many outstanding offerings there… what video tracks do you recommend? any bootcamps with the brian’s, and what are they like? anybody else’s bootcamps?
I chose to use the INE workbooks because they seemed like the best product to me. I used their forums (IEOC) to ask questions and I became very active their answering questions, it was a good way of keeping things current in my head by trying to solve others problems.
The ATC is a great product and will help you with some topics that can be difficult on your own like multicast and route redistribution and topics like that. When watching these you are expected to be at an advanced level already so I don’t recommend going for them straight away if you don’t have a strong background in routing and switching.
I took a bootcamp in London during the summer 2012. The instructor was 5x CCIE #2210 Brian Dennis. It was a great experience because he knew the technology really well of course. But so does every instructor. His strength was that he could explain the details of protocols and why they were that way, it’s always a question of scalability vs visibility. I also met a lot of new friends there that I still stay in touch with and many of them are now CCIEs.
how about books… what’s your recommended reading list for the written, and advice on lab materials?
These are the books I used for the written:
Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols
TCP/IP Illustrated, Vol. 1: The Protocols
Internetworking with TCP/IP Vol.1: Principles, Protocols, and Architecture (4th Edition)
CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Guide (4th Edition)
Routing TCP/IP, Volume 1 (2nd Edition)
Routing TCP/IP, Volume II (CCIE Professional Development)
Developing IP Multicast Networks, Volume I
I think it’s important having a strong foundation of TCP/IP before you get into advanced routing. If you can only get one book then go for the certification guide as it covers everything that should be needed for the written.
My approach for the written is to build a strong foundation to stand on before you start with advanced labs. I spent around 200-250 hours just reading before taking the written exam.
Many people stop reading after the written. I think that’s a mistake. You should continue reading even when doing labs to make sure you understand all the concepts. I read the following books before the lab:
OSPF: Anatomy of an Internet Routing Protocol
QOS-Enabled Networks: Tools and Foundations
Interdomain Multicast Routing: Practical Juniper Networks and Cisco Systems Solutions
MPLS-Enabled Applications: Emerging Developments and New Technologies
I also read a lot of RFCs. You can find lots of answers in the RFCs. You don’t have to read them all cover to cover but you will find important answers in the RFCs. These are some I recommend that you read:
RFC 791 – Internet Protocol
RFC 826 – An Ethernet Address Resolution Protocol
RFC 2328 – OSPF version 2
RFC 4271 – A Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)
RFC 3031 – Multiprotocol Label Switching Architecture
RFC 4594 – Configuration Guidelines for DiffServ Service Classes
RFC 4577 – OSPF as the Provider/Customer Edge Protocol for BGP/MPLS IP Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
I used INE for the workbooks and I think they are great. There are other good ones out there as well so you have to make a choice. I recommend that you start with the Vol1 type scenarios which is small, technology focused labs that learn you all the details of the protocols before going for full scale labs mixing it all together.
My advice is to not rush, take your time and also don’t be afraid to try different solutions and break things to see what happens. This will greatly benefit you further down the line. When you get stuck use the vendor forums and ask your peers for help.
Also, when doing labs forget about Google. If you are studying for the CCIE everything you need to know is in the configuration guides and reference guides. You need to know these like the back of your hand. You will greatly benefit from this in your $dayjob as well when you know where to find the relevant information.
did you build your own lab, rack rentals, combination? thoughts on gns3, anki, mindmaps?
I did most of the labs in Dynamips (GNS3). Although be prepared for lots of tweaking and editing configurations. If you read my blog I have lots of good advice though so you don’t have to go through the same procedure I did. Also for INE there are people that have converted the configs for you. People are quick to judge Dynamips for anything that seems strange but the truth is most things you will encounter are due to not having 100% understanding and not a bug. Multicast can be a bit tricky though, so be prepared for that.
I also used the INE rack rentals and it’s really easy to use. I used it for switching and for the Vol2 full scale labs just because things were simpler that way.
If I could start over I would probably either build my own rack or go for the Dynamips + switches combo. This works really well and I have friends that did all of the labs that way.
For the written I did use Anki and I even shared my sets on my blog. I think it’s a nice way of keeping things current but it does take a lot of time though to enter it all in your database. I’m not much into mindmaps, they look pretty and all but they don’t work 100% as a learning tool for me. You need to find whatever works for you though.
i find myself in a constant state of review, which i don’t mind… how do you keep the old stuff fresh while tackling newer complexities…
Ah, the million dollar question. The one every CCIE candidate struggles with. This is a challenge indeed. I think part of it is to accept you can’t keep everything current 100% all the time. As you go through things again and again more of it should stick though. And as your skills advance you should be able to reason yourself to what should be right when you have to choose between solutions.
I kept things current by being active in the forums, it does eat a lot of time though so stay away from them when you are doing labs.
i’ve read about many people who attempt ccie from ccna, skipping ccnp entirely… why even bother with ccna then?
To me going through the certification levels makes most sense. The step between CCNA and CCNP is big. The step between CCNP and CCIE is big. The step from CCNA to CCIE would be humongous. People think the CCNA is broad, imagine having many more topics and you have to be an expert in them all. Also career wise it usually makes more sense to advance in the certifications as you get more experienced on the job. To me a CCIE with no job experience at all does not ring that well.
If you have worked with advanced routing and switching for several years then you could skip the NA and NP and move straight for the CCIE. People tend to overrate their skills though. I thought I knew OSPF when I started studying but the depth needed for the C CIE is something totally different compared to what most people need to know at their job.
i keep a spreadsheet of hours, books read, videos watched, etc. any thoughts there?
I did keep a spreadsheet. I think it’s good to know how much you have studied. People say they don’t have time to study but if you put 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there it quickly adds up. A spreadsheet can help you with that.
favorite author, favorite intstructor?
My favourite book was John Moy – Anatomy of an Internet routing protocol. It gives a lot of background to why OSPF what designed the way it was. It’s like the RFC but easier to read and with more background.
There are lot of good instructors out there. Brian Dennis and Brian McGahan are both super nice and knowledgable guys. Also Petr Lapukhov wrote some great stuff. Then you have Scott Morris, Narbik and many other greats. I have to say the networking industry is full of smart and nice guys.
specific advice for the written; specific advice for the lab?
For the written you just have to be prepared to put the time in reading. Not everyone enjoys reading but it’s a must when doing the CCIE.
For the lab, use the workbooks but don’t forget to create your own labs and scenarios. Try what happens if I do it this or that way. What happens if I have a duplicated RID, why is that bad? How could I detect that easily? You need to be very good at these things and for the configuration part of the lab you must be good at verifying your work. You can know all the technology inside out but if you don’t verify it then the risk of failing is very great. It’s very easy to mistype a process ID or a priority or things like that. Missing points like this will quickly add up, remember there is no partial credit.
Finally I would like to leave you with a story from my 1st trip to Brussels. I was going to fly from Landvetter airport in Gothenburg. My plane was supposed to leave at 16.30 or something like that. Unfortunately someone at the airport had forgotten their suitcase and because of that the whole airport was shutdown in case it contained a bomb. I was sitting there waiting and didn’t even know if my plane was going to leave or not. Did I just pay 1500$ for nothing? Time went by but finally we were allowed to leave after 20 or so.
I landed in Brussels around 23.00 or so. By then there were no shuttles leaving for the NH hotel so I tried to get a taxi. The taxi drivers were very rude though and didn’t want to drive such a short distance. I had to call the hotel which helped me get hold of a taxi. I finally arrived at around 00.00 at the hotel. It was difficult going to sleep and it was not the best way to prepare for the lab. Lesson learned, arrive early the day before or even 2 days early to the lab.