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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 »

Thinking of switching to SP

Posted by Jo on July 31, 2009

As regular visitors will know, I have been preparing for the written exam for over the past month or so. I have been making decent enough progress going through the CCBootcamp Voice Written Study Guide and also trawling through the Voice SRND’s and information on the Cisco documentation site. I was aiming to take the exam in a few weeks time, but am now having second thoughts about it.

While I have been studying for the written I started off putting in 2-3 hours a night of reading, this has now dropped off to 2-3 hours one or twice a week as I feel I have learned as much as I can. I am also finding myself getting bored of the content, maybe this is a sign that I am ready to take the exam. I am also thinking about the practical side of things, and while I do have a stack of Proctor Labs vRack vouchers, I just dont have the time to schedule in full 8 hour sessions after work and at the weekends to go through the workbooks. I also miss the CLI – I know that voice has a great deal of CLI configuration involved, but thats a way off down the line for where I am in my prep.

So, what does all this mean? Well, I may put the voice studies on hold for a while (I still want to do it), and look at SP instead. Since I passed the R&S I feel that I have zoned out a little on the more complex technologies and routing protocols that I dont work with on a day to day basis, such as BGP and VRF’s etc. Of course SP will have its own challenges, but I think that I am more suited to it at present and should be able to make good progress. I will also be able to do a lot of the workbooks on Dynamips, which appeals greatly to me – I will be able to do shorter sessions of 2-4 hours and then longer ones when required – plus I get to go deeper and build on my R&S knowledge.

Jared wrote a good post on the IPexpert blog about doing SP after R&S which makes sense to me. Im hoping that there isnt a major change in the next 6 months or so, but something tells me there may be seeing as Cisco are making changes to all the other tracks, so I will see how I get on.

I have not yet decided on the workbooks to use, but Rick recommends the INE Volume I and II, and also the IPexpert Volume II labs. I will decide on this once I get done with the written exam.

Posted in CCIE LAB, CCIE Materials, SP, written | 2 Comments »