Hello my friend,
In this post I’d like to share my vision and my approach how to prepare for CCIE and successfully get this certification. My approach is based on my previous experience with preparation CCIE Routing and Switching, which both written and lab exams I’ve successfully passed in 2015 and got CCIE #49412. So it’s subjective, but it works.
Before you start – understanding
CCIE is NOT about keyboard monkey that knows how to configure everything. It’s about deep understanding of network technologies.
You should have a very clear understanding, why CCIE is necessary for you. At the official Cisco web site, technical webinars or success stories you can find a lot of points, why people aim to get this certification. But their point may be not relevant for you, as you can live in other conditions and may have other career objectives. CCIE means that you are real expert in the topics, what includes the understanding the environment and business cases, where the network technologies work and how they solve business need. CCIE is NOT about keyboard monkey that knows how to configure everything. It’s about deep understanding of network technologies. It’s a first key pillar.
Before I’ve started to prepare for CCIE Routing and switching, I’ve had 7 years of experience in the networking field. 3 latest years I’ve worked as an IP network planner in the biggest mobile OpCo in Belarus, where I’ve had access to the latest technologies and configuration and designing of really big network. So for me the preparation to CCIE Routing and Switching was a revision and structuring of my previous experience. My objective was to structure my knowledge and get an official recognition of me as an expert in networking field. For me it’s really important as I’ve moved from Belarus to Germany and don’t have too many contacts on local market.
Before you start – lab
You have to have access to the lab equipment from the very beginning. You’ll make a lot of labs during preparation even for written exam in order to familiarize yourself with technologies, commands and outputs of different commands. Without lab access you can forget to pass even the written exam, so I advise you either to find the lab or not to lose your time and nerves. The options for lab practice and building of the lab we’ll discuss in separate posts.
Beginning of the study – commitment
You must make a commitment for CCIE preparation. You can make it with yourself, your family or your friends. It depends on your relations with them or on your self-discipline, if you make commitment with yourself. The preparation process is very long and difficult and time to time you will try to get off the race. Commitment will help you not to give up and progress further. My wife helped me a lot during the preparation to the my CCIE Routing and Switching certification inspiring me and encouraging me.
Beginning of the study – time
You should find time to study every day. At least one two hours per day must be spent for the study. The main issue with CCIE is the amount of the material. It’s so huge that you’ll start to forget the first topics before you get the last. It’s really scary and you can try to give up again. I advise you just to speed up your education and spend more time per day on it.
You should follow the blueprints for the exam. There is no single book that covers everything so you will have to look into many sources. In order to keep everything in your head maximum full and ready for the exam I propose you to follow the process, which I’ve followed myself and which shows really good results:
- You read learning materials (books, documentation, videos, etc.) and make notices following the blueprint for the written exam of your CCIE track
- You make technological labs (not full scale) to dig into details of the network technologies, their designs and use cases
- You read the materials again in order to refresh the topics. I promise, some of them will look like you see them for the first time 🙂
- You schedule your written exam (usually you can book the place on the next day)
- You pass written exam
- You make all the technological labs again in order to refresh the configuration of separate technologies
- You proceed with full-scale and troubleshooting labs. I advise here to use at least two different vendors of learning materials. There are a cisco360, INE, IPExpert, Nabrik and so on. For technological labs it isn’t relevant, but for the full-scale labs you should configure a lot of different combinations. The rule “the more the better” is applicable here
- You make a quick revision of the theory according to the lab blueprint of your CCIE track using your notices and or videos
- You schedule your lab exam (Policy says that you should do it in advance at least for 90 days, but if we speak about fixed lab (not mobile) you usually can book a seat for you just on the next days)
- You make full-scale and troubleshooting labs again
- You pass lab exam
Depending on your previous footprint and available time it usually takes about a year to prepare and pass both written and lab exam. The main rule here is always to study both theory and practice simultaneously. Such mix will help you have a complete overview of the technology and solving questions.
Instead of conclusion
As says Richard Branson: “Screw it, let’s do it”. And I fully share this phrase as only hardworking on CCIE topics will bring you to the certificate.
On different forums I’ve seen many threads about the strategy, categorization of the learning materials, tables and so on. My main advice for you is to find your own way and study CCIE topics instead of useless categorization, planning and so on. As says Richard Branson: “Screw it, let’s do it”. And I fully share this phrase as only hardworking on CCIE topics will bring you to the certificate.
If you have any question, I’m glad to answer them here in the comments.