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SP Written and Lab booked

Posted by Jo on September 4, 2009

I decided to bring my written date forward, so instead of doing it on the 5th of September, I instead did it on Tuesday the 1st. I was fortunate enough that I am between projects at work at the moment, so had time to study extra for it and thankfully I passed. It had been a while since I did a CCIE written exam (my R&S was back in July 2007), and they have changed the format slightly. You can no longer mark questions for review so once they are answered they stay answered so you have to be sure before moving onto the next question etc.

Anyway, now the true lab prep begins. I had a look on the CCIE Lab scheduling site for potential dates and its fair to say there are not enough SP seats to go around. My first preference was to take the lab in Brussels again, but there are no dates available until March 2009 which was a bit too far out. The SP lab is not available in Dubai, which would have been perfect to get to from Doha, but was not to be. I decided to get a date in Sydney, as I could then combine this with a holiday with my wife. We have some friends over there who it would be nice to go and visit, so it made sense really. The only issue is the 20 hours of travel time to get there, so I am making sure that we arrive in plenty of time to acclimatise and adapt to the time difference. I will however keep my eyes open for a slot to open up in Brussels in early January or late December, just in case.

I scheduled the lab for February 24th 2010, which gives me until November 25th to make payment and confirm. By this time I should be able to make a decision on my progress made and if I need to get the credit card out. I am not sure if there is a blueprint update planned by Cisco for the SP track (I am sure now I have jinxed it and there will be), but this date puts me inside of a 6 month window if they were to announce anything sooner rather than later. I guess the next step will be to include the Short Answer Questions, and when these were introduced to the other tracks they didnt give 6 months notice, but thats something I am going to be prepared to face anyway.

So in terms of prep now I am cracking on with the IPexpert Volume 1 labs. I have been tinkering with these in my Dynamips setup and have not come across any problems yet. I will aim to go through these a couple of times before the end of October, then crack on with the Volume 2 multi protocol labs from November onwards, which should give me a good indication of readyness as these are a set of evil labs I hear! Maybe Rick will add a few more labs to these over the coming months to compliment them.

Posted in BLS - Volume I, CCIE Blog, ipexpert, Lab Schedule, SP | 3 Comments »

SP Written Reading List and Update

Posted by Jo on August 27, 2009

Ive been doing some good study for the written exam spent reading though a stack of books. I think that I am still a couple of weeks out from taking the exam, and havent booked it yet. Ive been fortunate that this past week I am in between projects at work so have had some time to put the hours in I have read through the following.

MPLS Fundamentals

MPLS Enabled Applications

Routing TCP/IP Volume I – IS-IS, OSPF, EIGRP

Routing TCP/IP Volume II – BGP and Multicast

I am also hoping that my copies of MPLS and VPN Architectures Volume I and II will be waiting for me when I go back to the UK towards the end September. This will probably be too late for my attempt at the written exam, but no doubt will be useful for the lab part of the exam.

There are also a couple of RFC’s that I have read through, but I find these quite difficult to digest, so need to go over these again. I got the IPexpert Volume I and II SP workbooks, so have been through a few of the Volume I labs that cover the basics. These labs cover a range of basic technologies, so I havent been focusing too much on them for the written,  but it has allowed me to get Dynamips set up on my Mac to get to grips with the different technologies. I also have some Proctor Labs SP vRack vouchers waiting for when I need them.

So I am probably going to go for the exam on the 5th September if I feel I am making good progress over the next week. I have more study time available, so should be able to put in a good 3-4 hours a day until that point.

Posted in CCIE Blog, CCIE Materials, CCIE Prep, Dynamips, ipexpert, SP, written | Leave a Comment »

Now doing SP

Posted by Jo on August 7, 2009

Its official, I have put my voice studies on hold and switched over to the SP track. Its a shame to put the work I have done so far for the voice written to the side, but feel I am making the right choice – this just seems a whole lot more logical as there is a lot of overlap with the R&S.

I have not booked the SP written exam yet, but am hopefully going to go for it in the first couple of weeks of September. I have made a start in my reading list, I have MPLS Fundamentals here with me, and while I have read it before in sections, am reading it again from cover to cover – taking notes. I am making good progress, and am onto to Chapter 7 that covers MPLS VPN. My previous job was based on an MPLS VPN network, so Im pretty comfortable with the concepts and configurations with all thats been in the book so far.

I have made the choice to go for the IPexpert SP workbook Volumes 1 and 2, and have started doing some labs from Volume 1 to get back into the swing of things. I have the topologies set up in Dynamips, so its easy to do a couple of hours worth of labbing anytime I choose. I missed my Dynamips labbing days from the R&S. I know it has its quirks, but I am able to work around these and run the topologies fully loaded on my MacBook Pro running at 30-40% utilisation.

I will post a schedule on here for my planned labs, and am also hoping to write some techincal articles along the way as I go through them. I am going to try and go for the lab before the end of 2009, hopefully in or around the November/December timeframe. Its a shame that there isnt an SP lab at Cisco in Dubai at the moment, as that would have been very convieneient, but I will worry about that when I am done with the written and can book a lab date.

Posted in BLS - Volume I, CCIE Blog, Dynamips, ip expert, ipexpert, Lab Schedule, SP | Leave a Comment »

CCIE-V: Written Exam Preparation – Links

Posted by Jo on June 18, 2009

I came across a posting on OSL to an article written by Mark Lewis on Network Work entitled ‘How to pass the CCIE Voice written exam’. It has a great breakdown of the different sections on the blueprint along with a recommended reading list – its very imformative reading.

There are also a number of follow up articles that contain some really great information on the various protocols featured in the CCIE Voice exams.

Mark is also the author of the CCIE Voice Exam Quick Reference Sheets, which I am using along with the ccbootcamp study guide to prepare for the exam. I will be blogging fairly soon with an update on my progress so far and detailing the materials and methods that I am using.

Links to Mark Lewis’ articles on Network World:

How to pass the CCIE Voice written exam

Understanding Telephony Protocols

SIP Messages

Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP)

H.323

H.323 Messages

SCCP

RTP and cRTP

I also came across a good white paper on the H.323 protocol on the IEC site:

IEC H.323 White Paper

Have  a read through these and enjoy and hopefully they will be of some use to you.

Posted in CCIE Blog, CCIE Prep, voice, written | Leave a Comment »

Wow! Proctor Labs Voice vRack Enhancements

Posted by Jo on May 13, 2009

If you havent seen it already head over to the IPexpert blog and check out the latest news on the Proctor Labs voice vRack enhancements.

They have added some great new features, I am really ready to get stuck into my voice studies now – I must admit I was losing focus recently due to outside pressures, but  now I am beginning to miss the CCIE study mode and cant wait to get going again… Im even tempted to go for the great deals they have on the Voice vClass – but have to check the times and dates out.

Posted in CCIE Blog, CCIE Materials, ip expert, voice | Leave a Comment »

Hello World!

Posted by Jo on May 6, 2009

Hi there, Im still around here and there.

Ive been totally snowed under with work recently. Ive now been in Doha for 3 months and its flown by really fast  – I did manage a quick break back in the UK last week which was nice (and also brought the love of my life back with me). The DC project Im working on is still rumbling (slowly) on , its a big migration weekend coming up so I dont expect to get much sleep. Its all fun in the end though and I am enjoying it.

So it looks like the guys at Cisco are changing the CCIE R&S blueprint to version 4.0. I have to say I like the look of the new format, the idea of a separate troubleshooting section is a great idea. I almost want to take the lab again to check it out (OK maybe not!). Check out the Mike’s Blog for more details from IPexpert and some great offers. Even though I passed the R&S Im hoping to get access to the new updated materials to check them out. Ive still got some vRack vouchers knocking around so will see what IPexpert send my way in the members section when the time comes. Its always good to keep up with the different technologies that they are adding.

As for my studies, Im hoping that after next weekend the major projects I am working on will be less intensive so I will have time to do some more study. Another hurdle in my way is the lack of VPN access from my ‘shared’ internet connection in the apartment block Im living in. They apparently cannot open up the required ports – which sucks a little. I will be looking for a new place to live sometime in the very near future, so once I have my ‘blisteringly fast’ 2Mb ADSL connection I will be good to go on the study front.

Posted in CCIE Blog, CCIE LAB, ip expert, Life | Leave a Comment »

All quiet on the western front (but busy out east!)

Posted by Jo on March 6, 2009

Hello there,

You may have noticed a severe lack of CCIE Voice updates to this site recently, this is down to me moving out to Doha and being incredibly busy with projects happening at my new job. Without getting too much into the specifics Ive joined the team smack bang in the middle of silly season in terms of workload and currently have 3 projects on the go concurrently that I am looking after.

The main one of these is building a new DC infrastructure (room, power, a/c, and network etc) followed by a period of migrating kit from the old DC out to the new DC – this all has to be complete by the end of the month! I am also overseeing the implementation of a new call centre (supplied and configured by a Cisco ATP and not me!), and when this is done will be looking at a full IPT roll out across the business Im working in (migrating away from a Nortel IPT solution thats in place presently). There are some busy times ahead to say the least.

I was hoping that being out here would give me some extra time to study, but have come across a couple of snags in terms of the projects im working on. Dont get me wrong, I love being busy working with all this stuff, so its great in that respect and Im sure after the beginning of April or end of March the bigger projects will be complete.

Another slight problem I have is that the Cisco VPN client and EzVPN solution into Proctor Labs is blocked by the edge router that provides internet access in the apartment block I’m in! I need to find out what I need to do to get that opened up, so I can study from home and not need to go into the office for it.

Anyway, so what does this mean for my studies and this blog? Well I see that IPexpert are releasing more V3 blueprint Volume 1 labs – which is great. I will certainly be looking at these once I sort out my connectivity issues and have a more managable workload. Ive said before Im in no real hurry to get this one done, and am not looking at a lab attempt before the end of 2009 or early 2010 – but I need to get a move on and get started in April at the latest. I will endeavour to keep the blog updated with some techincal stuff when I get to it…

Posted in CCIE Blog, ip expert, Life, voice | 1 Comment »

Thoughts on CCIE Voice 3.0

Posted by Jo on December 21, 2008

We have now all had time to reflect on the new Voice 3.0 blueprint and I have to say that I am pleased that they have announced them! As a relative new comer to the Voice track I must admit that I was not looking forward to learning about the older versions of CallManager and Unity as well as the CatOS and 6608 specific tasks (especially QoS on CatOS).

So what do the new announcements give us…well no more CatOS, which in itself is a bonus and also they have upgraded the software to more recent versions. Doing away with the 6500 platform, VG248, ATA, Fax, Unity means that these areas are no longer relevant so no need to focus on these any more.

Mark Snow over at IPexpert has put together a great post on the blog detailing what the major differences will be on the new exam, and what topics will be useful to study in the current BLS workbooks, I suggest if you are not planning on taking the Voice Lab before mid-July 2009 then you hop on over and check it out. They will be updating their labs and videos and releasing them as they are ready, so I will be looking forward to these, but in the meantime the current workbooks can still be used as they cover 70% of the material. Sure, some of the UI elements will change but the concepts will remain the same.

So what does this all mean for me? Well, I have not been studying over the past month or so and have basically stopped for the year now. Things were a little manic at work and also coming up to Christmas meant there was no time. Now I know what the changes are I will set about working out a schedule that starts early in 2009 to get cracking again working towards the 3.0 blueprint. The changes have given me a new lease of enthusiasm and hopefully I can work though the BLS workbooks using the current material and when IPexpert update them use the new material.

The ‘killer app’ of the BLS for me is the video walk throughs on the Volume III labs, but I guess these will take time to produce based on the new blueprint. Im setting myself a target of attempting the lab by the end of 2009 or early 2010, by which time I expect the training materials to be fully updated.

This will probably be my last post of the year, so wish everyone a Happy Christmas and also a Great New Year when the time comes.

Posted in CCIE Blog, CCIE Materials, ip expert, voice | 1 Comment »

Voice Lab Changes Cometh…

Posted by Jo on December 2, 2008

The update has been announced – the voice lab is changing.

New details can be found here:

https://cisco.hosted.jivesoftware.com/docs/DOC-3569

The changes look quite interesting, I wonder how much of the current blueprint will be useful. I am glad for one that CallManger has been upated to something other than 4.1 (actually CUCM 7.0) and Im not sure if they have done away with the 6500 elements all together?

The Hardware and Software list is here:

https://cisco.hosted.jivesoftware.com/docs/DOC-3641

As an IPexpert BLS customer hopefully they will be able to provide guidance on when the product and Proctor Labs vRacks will be updated to relect the new content.

Im on holiday at the moment out in Sweden, so I will write some more when I get back on all of this. Its good news though I think!

Posted in CCIE Blog, CCIE Prep, ip expert, Lab Schedule, voice | 2 Comments »

Books

Posted by Jo on November 22, 2008

Jared has written a very nice post over at the IPexpert Blog on a recommended book list for the CCIE R&S. Its good to see that I own 4 of the 7 books he lists on there – and I have to say the list is so much shorter than the recommended one listed by Cisco – which does have its fair share of outdated material.

It is an important part of the process to get the fundamental knowledge of all the different technologies before heading into full scale labs from the workbooks, which you can only get from reading. There is no shortcut really. While I personally didnt read any of the books I own for R&S from cover to cover, I did read large chunks of both of Routing TCP/IP Volume I and II. These books are really excellent. I would have liked to read Internet Routing Architectures a little, but found Volume II to cover most of the bases I needed. Of course the Cisco documentation contains a lot of great information too. If you are reading this and are doing your R&S then I would recommend you check out the article and buy the books.

So this brings me onto books I need for my Voice studies. It would be great if Mark or Vik could do a similar blog post for the Voice track. The thing that concerns me a little is that if the lab is due for a change in the new year, then how many of the voice topics will be out of date. Im sure that all of the Call Manager 4.1 stuff will change, along with the Unity and other non-generic topics. So for now I am going to hold off from purchasing any Voice related books until I know whats happening with the lab changes. The CCIE Voice recommended book list is here.

Posted in CCIE Blog, ip expert, voice | 2 Comments »