Will the day came for me to make my trip up to Raleigh for my CCIE RS hands on lab. 1st a little back ground on me;
1: I've been involved with data and telco services since the 1986s, when I join the military USAF 1837EIS / 1962CG / and later CSPO office of AFCC. I spent approx 8 years 4 months and 2 weeks in the military and departed in May of 1994 at a rank E5 ( SSgt )
2: My ip background started around 1992 with a mix of SCO and Dec Ultrix unix systems. Later on around 1994, I picked up on linux. This was about the time when Bill Gates was paddling Windows 95 as the coolest OS :)
Back them most users where not internet savvy and things like the "WEB" really didn't exist. Also during this time frame, most big networks had no firewalls and where directly attach via wellfleet router of some sort or worst a cisco AGS . A IDS or IPS systems wasn't even a concept. ( yes the good days , in the wild wild west known as the I N T E R N E T )
3: I held a Sun Solaris Administrator certification since 1998 and Cisco CCNA since 1999 as my 1st certifications that I obtained. Cisco was growing in leaps and bounds around this time and the internet dot com bubble was building up
4: I've been CCNA and CCNP certified since 1999 and 2000 respectively and considered myself very well rounded in TCP/IP knowledge. And worked in the financial sector for near 8 years in a heavy BGP and EIGRP multicast environment. Previous to this I worked in with a cisco integrator, and few service providers ( Speedchoice, IBMglobal, Advantis, and Bellsouth )
5: Over the less 7 years, I've been doing more with Juniper and Fortigate , & within the security firewall sector
6: Currently working in a dead-end job, for a DoS mitigation company
In the late 2011, I took the Cisco CCIE RS written lab and pass this with ease after 2 months of studying and reading the CCIE RS version 4.0 book.
My initial goal where to take a trip to the lab within 6months of passing my written exam. Approx 9 months later, I found myself paying the $1,500.00 dollar lab fee, booking a $180.00 round trip flight from Fort Lauderdale and getting mentality ready for the lab.
Approx 3 months before my Lab, I crafted various exhibits covering most routing methods and other technologies that might be within a cisco lab. Before I did any of this, I took the cisco CCIE RS blueprint and honestly graded my level from a scale of 1-10, let's called this a self-assessment phase.
Anything that I considered that was not above a 5, was marked as a area for me to concentrate my studies on. I felt I was 100% honest in grading myself and determining my weakness.
Areas that I've always found myself strong in;
BGP afi:unicast and vpnv4
L2 security features
Areas that I knew I was always weaker in;
QoS ( WRED )
Frame-Relay since I haven't really engaged in FR-routing since the early 2000s and my last real frame-relay roles was in a ISP ( webunited/conteninental broadband ) back in the 2007.
So I laid out my plan and dived in. 1st anything that I had that was not a ISR router, was sold off and I purchased the following items starting back around July 1 2011
2x 3560G-24 ( PoE)
2x 1841 ISR with T1-WIC and one dual-port serial card
1x cisco ASA5510
1x cisco ASA5505
I had a 3640 and 3550-24 (PoE) that I kept for shit and grins that I used as frame-relay switching router and for the switch to build some bigger STP domains.
The above items, where all upgraded to run the CCIE RS ios versions as listed by cisco under their specifications for the lab. For most of my BGP and MPLS simulations, I used GNS3 and w/3700 & 2600 images to represent a PE routers and some type of 12.3 provider code.
One thing that other CCIEs told me, that I used for my guidance, encouragement & ideals. "Think of things you would never do, and expect that on the lab". Also the way you would do it, is not exactly the way cisco would expect you to do it.
With that in mind, & for every week I spent approx 7 hours going over various examples. I used INE exclusively & read every one of their RS blogs for ideals to use in my lab, and to simulation or recreate. I also found a few other links that had great topics on the CCIE courses.
These site , where instrumental in getting me started & with guidance and inspiration on moving forward. If you want to achieve your RS expert cert, I say make a goal and stick with it.
I should have did my CCIE/RS like over 6 years ago or earlier. I knew of numerous CCIE/RSs wanna bees that would say ; "I will do it one day " and then like 10 years later they are still saying the same line. Will I used to be one of those persons, not any more!
A guy that really inspired me was a guy that I worked with at PcQuote by the name of Washco. When he left that organization he was very green with ip services & routing , and had zero knowledge with anything advance to say the least. I say in less than 4 years, he was CCIE RS. If he could do it, I knew that I should have done it.
Will the day came in August, and I flew out to RTP on a Sunday mid-day. I drove around the area around Davis and Kitt road to get an ideal of the area.
1st thing, it was beautiful. The nice pine ferns & big cones on the ground, and it was green scenes with natural woods smells, this was outstanding & a changed for sure from my SouthEast Florida scene.
My hotel was the Indigo and if I had to guess it was approx 10miles away from the cisco campus, sitting on top of a hill. A simple drive down Miami rd and over to Davis road and maybe 4 stop lights away, was the cisco campus from the hotel.
The lab was nice and about comparative to a holiday inn express. They have a small dinning area that's nothing to write about a bar with in the lobby. The rooms was comfortable and quiet. I eat that night at a Mex-Spanish eatery ( "The Mez" ) that was approx 2 miles away. I wasn't impress but the hotel staff made it seem like it was the best thing since slice bread. I had a big plate of Brisket pile high with some sauce that was overly powered the meat. It came with some sorry fried okra pieces. The only thing on the table that was impressive was the Negra Modelo.
Now to the lab, the lab was not what I expected, I actually expected it to be bigger and scarier, but it was just the opposite. The proctor was straight, and to the point on what we can or can not do. The cisco campus was very dainty and simple and plain. My current job SOC office space looked better than the lab now that I think about it.
My 1st attempt I failed. That's all I can say about the lab and stay within the NDA. My goal is to make one more attempt before ThanksGiving 2012 and I hope to have my number at that time. But going thru the lab gave me an ideal of what to expect. I don't any preparation outside of using a online cisco lab provider, can prepare you for the cisco lab.
Go in positive, prepare the best that you can and hope & luck. Whatever you do, take your success and failure in a positive light and make the necessary adjustments to achieve your goal.
Stay tune more to come in the future and look for my update and with my 20K+ CCIE number.
Security and Network Engineer
kfelix "a t" hyperfeed.com